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Road trip through Virginia to see LOVEwork sculptures

In 2013, RR created a LOVEwork made from Goodyear tires, checkered flag vinyl, racing helmets and sheet metal that was once part of NASCAR racecars.Virginia Tourism Corporation, www.Virginia.org LOVEwork at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

Love is in the air. And throughout Virginia, it’s also on walls, outside museums, and in vineyards and parks. More than 50 years ago, a state tourist campaign said that “Virginia is for Lovers,” and the slogan stuck. So much so that in 2013, when the Virginia Tourism Corporation announced it would be offering financial assistance for communities and businesses who wanted to build structures around the slogan, many rose to the challenge. There are now more than 250 LOVEworks—large-scale sculptures, murals, and statues—celebrating the state of love.

“A lot of them reflect community effort,” said Leah Harms, Virginia Tourism brand manager, who oversees the LOVEworks program. 

“We’re so proud of the communities that have been so creative in building these LOVEs, and we’re thrilled to see it take off with visitors and locals.” 

There are myriad LOVEworks throughout the Tidewater region, with more—both permanent and seasonal—continuing to spring up. If you’re looking for a love-filled road trip, see if you can visit all of them, or maybe just start with the ones below. 

While most LOVEworks are accessible regardless of weather, it’s always a good idea to call in advance or visit virginia.org/love to make sure the site you want to visit is open. 

1. LOVEwork in Chincoteague

4083 Main Street, Chincoteague, Virginia.

Each Adirondack chair is 10 feet tall and weighs more than 500 pounds. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

Each Adirondack chair is 10 feet tall and weighs more than 500 pounds. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

Love invites you to relax and unwind with these giant Adirondack chairs on Chincoteague Island. One of the LOVEworks’ earliest installations, these 10-foot-tall white chairs were recently rebuilt in poly lumber. 

Take a walk on the wild side: Located on nearby Assateague Island, the 14,000-acre Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is home to wild ponies. It’s also a popular spot for migrating birds, making it an ideal location for birdwatchers year-round. fws.gov/refuge/chincoteague.

2. LOVEwork at Richmond Raceway

600 E. Laburnum Avenue, Richmond, Virginia.

A LOVEwork sculpture made from Goodyear tires, checkered flag vinyl, racing helmets, and sheet metal that was once part of NASCAR race cars. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

A LOVEwork sculpture made from Goodyear tires, checkered flag vinyl, racing helmets, and sheet metal that was once part of NASCAR race cars. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

This race-themed sculpture created by the Richmond Raceway features an L made from Goodyear tires, an O wrapped in checkered flag vinyl, and a V made of G-max racing helmets. The E is made of sheet metal that was once part of cars—including those of Virginia drivers Elliot Sadler and Jeff Burton—that took to the track during NASCAR races. The base for each of the letters is made from metal used to create the interior retaining walls at the raceway. 

Unleash your speed demon: Adrenaline chasers can live out their pedal-to-the-medal dreams at the Raceway, which offers visitors the chance to do a solo drive in a NASCAR race car. After an instructional session, drivers suit up and slide in for their timed ride, which takes them around the D-shaped quarter-mile track with 14-degree banking turns. The track also offers ride-along options for those who prefer to have their need for speed satiated from the passenger side. Cost starts at $99(866) 455-7223; richmondraceway.com.

3. LOVEwork in Chesapeake 

306 Cedar Road, Chesapeake, Virginia.

The central theme of the Chesapeake LOVEwork is the beauty of nature and the great outdoors. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

The central theme of the Chesapeake LOVEwork is the beauty of nature and the great outdoors. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

With miles of waterways and green spaces, the city of Chesapeake sought to use its LOVEwork to highlight the area’s natural beauty as well as the many animals that call Chesapeake home. The 6-foot sculpture carved out of loblolly pine features an L in the shape of a blue crab and an O made of two river otters. A blue heron makes up the V while a black bear and two cubs come together for the E.

Take home a souvenir: If you’re feeling inspired after seeing the beautiful wood-carved LOVEwork, head over to AR Workshop Chesapeake, which allows visitors the chance to make their own wood carvings. (757) 392-2789; arworkshop.com/chesapeake.

4. LOVEwork in Smithfield

319 Main Street, Smithfield, Virginia.

The LOVEwork in Smithfield is inspired by what Smithfield is best known for: ham and bacon. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

The LOVEwork in Smithfield is inspired by what Smithfield is best known for: ham and bacon. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

Smithfield may be famous for its ham, but it’s bacon that gets the spotlight in its LOVEwork. Designed by an art student, the Smithfield sculpture includes two slices of bacon as the V, inviting visitors to take “a big bite” out of all there is to do in the town. 

Get smoked: Head over to the Isle of Wight County Museum, home to the world’s oldest ham. The cured ham dates back to 1902, when it was overlooked in a warehouse and then toured around the country by P.D. Gwaltney Jr. as a marketing stunt to show the powers of his smoking method. Today, the ham (which has its own Twitter account and live feed) can be found behind a glass counter at the museum, which also houses the world’s oldest peanut. historicisleofwight.com.

5. LOVEwork in the town of Montross

15725 Kings Highway, Montross, Virginia.

Montross’ riverside culture, culinary offerings, beaches, and vineyards are represented in the town’s LOVEwork sculpture. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

Montross’ riverside culture, culinary offerings, beaches, and vineyards are represented in the town’s LOVEwork sculpture. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

Located in the Chesapeake Bay, the LOVEwork in Montross emphasizes the small town’s (population: around 390) love of the water and neighboring tourist attractions. The waterman’s boot that makes up the L symbolizes the community’s riverside culture, while the oyster standing in for an O alludes to the nearby Virginia Oyster Trail. The shark tooth that makes up the V highlights the community’s love of beachcombing and Fossil Beach, located at nearby Westmoreland State Park. The E features a painted wine bottle and grapes, a nod to the various vineyards in the region. 

Pay a presidential visit: Before he became our first president, George Washington lived on a tobacco farm in Colonial Beach. While the home in which he was born burned down in 1779, a memorial home was built near the spot in 1930, and visitors can now tour the space, as well as the colonial farm, beach, and park that surround it. nps.gov/gewa/index.htm.

6. LOVEwork at Waller Mill Park in Williamsburg 

901 Airport Road, Williamsburg, Virginia.

The LOVEwork sculpture highlights the outdoor features that Waller Mill Park is known for: fishing, boating, pedal boating, canoeing, and kayaking. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

The LOVEwork sculpture highlights the outdoor features that Waller Mill Park is known for: fishing, boating, pedal boating, canoeing, and kayaking. | Photo courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation

The LOVEwork at Waller Mill Park highlights all the things that make this park such a popular destination for those looking to enjoy the great outdoors. The L is made of a disc golf basket and colorful discs while the O represents the dog park. Two neon green kayaks make up the V, and the E consists of red and white paddles, symbolizing the lake’s boating options. 

Go back in time: A stroll through Duke of Gloucester Street is like leaping back into the 18th century. The buildings along this eight-block corridor have been restored to their former glory, harkening back to when Williamsburg was the capital of Virginia. Stop by the wigmaker or blacksmith or one of the dozen other shops located on this main strip. 

Betsy Abraham is a freelance writer who is always willing to go off the beaten track for a good story or spectacular view. Follow her on Twitter @WideEyedIndian. 

AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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