Virginia hosts ‘100 Miles of Lights’ this holiday season

It might not even be Thanksgiving yet, but holiday travel planning is well underway. If you’re looking to be razzle dazzled this holiday season, the state of Virginia offers a festival of lights that has been bringing visitors back year after year. The 100 Miles of Lights celebration is a series of world-class light displays spread across six cities: Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach. While exploring the glitzy trail, visitors will find drive-through light displays, twinkling cityscapes, and other sparkling spectacles.

The whole shebang kicks off in Norfolk this Saturday with the Grand Illumination Parade, an event that sets downtown Norfolk ablaze in lights and is followed by a parade featuring festive floats, marching bands, giant balloons, dancers and more. Nearby, the Virginia Beach boardwalk will also be shimmering with Holiday Lights at the Beach (pictured above), which is expected to draw 30,000 cars to the boardwalk before the new year begins.

Newport News Regional Park will become home to Celebration of Lights (picture above), a two-mile drive of 750,000 lights and 200 displays, including the animated “Winter Wonderland” and “Santa’s Enchanted Kingdom.” Over in Richmond, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden will features more than half a million lights, botanical decorations and trains for GardenFest of Lights. New this year, the “Virginia is for Lovers” LOVE artwork will be on display, allowing families and couples to take holiday photos.

Besides these long-running events, Colonial Williamsburg will host a Grand Illumination on December 4, while Hampton will host the Holly Days Parade on December 11.

If getting the whole family to go to Virginia seems like a Christmas miracle, you may be in luck: The Virginia Tourism Corporation also just announced the “Virginia Snowmotion Sweepstakes.” The grand prize includes a free ski or snowboard lesson, complimentary equipment rental and lift tickets, a $200 gift card for dining, and a three-night, four-day stay at Wintergreen Resort for a family of four. Also included in the promotion is round-trip airfare and car rental to explore the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. To enter, visit

Not able to make it to Virginia? Check out more of the best Christmas light displays in the United States.

Thirsty? Drink up at one of these top 10 roofdeck bars

It’s been a long day, it’s hot outside, and you need a cold beverage – stat! Maybe you’re celebrating a good friend’s promotion, or commiserating over a failed board meeting. Whatever the reason, rooftop bars were created for a reason – to relax, rejoice and re-hydrate while taking in some of the best views. Here are the top 10 roofdeck bars not to be missed:

1. Sky Terrace, on the Hudson HotelNew York, NY

The Sky Terrace is an outdoor bar featuring some of the most amazing views New York and the Hudson River. Grab a chair or hang in an hammock. Caveat: the rooftop is only accessible if you are staying in the hotel or know someone who is.

2. 230 Fifth Rooftop Garden – New York, NY

Another from the New York, NY area is the 230 Fifth Rooftop Garden. Situated in the heart of Manhattan this 22,000 square-foot rooftop bar can accommodate about 350 people. The rooftop has 1940s furniture surrounded by palm trees and fountains, giving it a most tranquil atmosphere. Order up some eats from the mostly Malaysian-influenced menu and sip on a specialty cocktails. The bar is open year round, and guests get complementary robes during the colder season.

3. Float, on the Hard Rock Hotel – San Diego, CA

In San Diego‘s Hard Rock Hotel lives the Float, featuring a comfortable bar, spacious pool deck for lounging and multiple fire-pits for keeping warm on those cold Southern California nights.

4. Spire Bar & Lounge, on The Hotel – Miami, FL

The Spire Bar and Lounge is located in The Hotel in Miami, and is a great place for young spring breakers. Located in Miami’s Art Deco District this stylish bar offers great views of the Miami skyline and beach, both of which may be enjoyed with the bar’s extensive cocktail and tapas menus.

5. Rooftop Lounge, on The Townhouse Hotel – Miami, FL

Also in Miami is the Rooftop Lounge at the top of The Townhouse Hotel. During the day this is an excellent place to kick back and relax by the pool. At night, the roofdeck turns into one of South Beach’s great social hot spots. There are regular parties every Friday and Saturday nights with a maximum capacity of 250 people. The affordable drinks and panoramic views make this a rooftop you don’t want to miss.6. Medjool Sky Terrace – San Francisco, California

Medjool Sky Terrace in San Francisco is the rooftop of the world-famous Medjool Restaurant. It Features a Mediterranean style tapas menu, cocktails, and breathtaking 360-degree views of San Francisco. Medjool Sky Terrace does not take reservations, so in order to take advantage of the bar and lounge it is best to arrive at a reasonable hour.

7. The Peabody – Memphis, TN

A well known hotel for rooftop parties in Memphis is The Peabody. Playing host to parties for some 80 years now, The Peabody Hotel is a historical and elegant place, perfect for vacationers and residents, alike. The cover? A mere $5. The result? A night to remember in Memphis.

8. Sky Bar, The Hilton – Virginia Beach, VA

On the rooftop of the Virginia Beach Hilton is Sky Bar, offering exceptional views from the 21st floor. On a clear night, you can see all the way to North Carolina. Featuring a specially prepared menu, high-end beers, wines, and spirits and the infinity-edge pool, this is the perfect place to experience this hotel’s full beauty.

9. Above Beverly Hills, The Thompson Beverly Hills – Los Angeles, CA

Rising above the not-to-clean air of Los Angeles lies the Thompson Beverley Hills rooftop bar, located just off Rodeo Drive. Only to hotel patrons and their invited guests, this rooftop bar has become a favorite LA hot-spot for those looking out for the newest place to see and be seen. T

10. Highbar, The Gramercy Park Hotel – New York, NY

Nestled on the top of the world famous Gramercy Park Hotel is the Highbar. A likely place to see celebrities, this 18th floor New York terrace bar offers panoramic views of Manhattan. Open until 3 a.m. on weekends, the Highbar hosts drinks and simple foods, such as hot dogs and hamburgers.

Aaron Gruenert is a writer