Sunrises. Sunsets. Birds you don’t usually see. Moments you don’t typically slow down for.
Paddling any of the waterways on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula is like one long Instagram-able moment.
You probably already know that Virginia is the LOVE state, a label that goes back 50 years when a copywriter from a Richmond advertising agency coined the slogan “Virginia is for history lovers.” His bosses, in what could be called an early attempt at diversity and inclusion, removed the word history, thinking it was too limiting.
“Virginia is for Lovers” became the Commonwealth mantra – history lovers, beach lovers and yes, paddling lovers! Moving the ball forward many decades later, the Virginia Tourism Corporation introduced its LOVEworks program in an attempt to strengthen that message by encouraging local communities to promote the Commonwealth with the unique LOVE letters that have become backdrops for life’s memories, such as family photos, road trips and . . .
Paddling trips! Because those are always special occasions. Celebrate your next trip on the water with a photo in front of one of the LOVE signs at your destination. To find LOVE on the MidPen, check out:
LOVEwork at the Inn at Tabbs Creek: If you’re not a guest at the Inn, the owners ask that you call ahead to arrange a photo (they’ll be happy to take your picture if you’d like). This is one of Virginia’s coolest LOVEwork signs. Standing 6½ feet tall and 25 feet long, it was inspired by the history of the property that dates back to 1872. Local watermen donated the old commercial crab pots for the L; the buoy floats that mark crab pots make up the E. An old shed door and windows from the property combine for the O, and the V is actual shutters surrounded by fishnet rope. The sign is visible via watercraft from Tabbs Creek just off the East River. A stand-up paddleboard is underneath the sign.
The Deltaville Maritime Museum and Holly Point Nature Park boldly shows off LOVE in patriot red – letters that stand 8 feet in height and 4 inches wide. You can dock at the park and you can’t miss the sign, which is gorgeous on a sunny day and lovely at sunset.
If you’re paddling on the Rappahannock River in Tappahannock, you’ve got two great options if you’re looking for LOVE. The sign in Tappahannock Town Point Park at Newbill Drive and Queen Street features elements that represent the community: crabs, the river, dogwood, an eagle, a golfer, grapes, a sunset and a canoe that symbolizes the landing of Capt. John Smith in Tappahannock in 1608.
You can also stop at the NN Burger that’s just off the river. Of course, you’ll have to get one of the hamburgers or the new lobster roll (and if you’re really hungry, a Freakshake). Right outside one of the largest LOVE murals in Virginia.
If you’re paddling in Middlesex County, don’t miss the LOVEwork sign at Middlesex County Museum in Saluda that shows off the region’s love for history, agriculture, boating and oysters. A local Eagle Scout created the sign with a nautical feel.
Whitley’s Peanut Factory in Gloucester Point celebrates LOVE or all things that distinguish Gloucester County with its LOVE sign. The L is a Guinea boot, homage to the region’s watermen, and the O is a daffodil, a flower so popular in Gloucester that it has its own festival. The V, fittingly, represents two kayaks and the E is an image of the bricks in Court Circle on Gloucester Main Street along with a plaque designating the county’s founding in 1651.
A new mural on the Gloucester Point Beach Building painted by Gloucester High School senior Allison Farley touts the water, birding, crabbing and the daffodil smack in the middle of the O.
Urbanna has a portable LOVE sign that is being refurbished. Plans call for it to return in 2023.
Don’t forget to use the hashtag #LOVEVA when you post your photos.