It has been a while since my last blog post. Between a busy time at work (report card writing and parent-teacher conferences were within a week of each other), recovery from vaccine #2 (which totally knocked me out), and several bitterly cold and icy weekends, we haven’t done nearly as much exploring as I would have liked. During periods like this when the weather is unpleasant and our time is limited, I try to find mini-adventures that still get us out into the fresh air. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share a fun example of an easy winter excursion: hunting for LOVEwork signs.
Although “Virginia is for Lovers” has been our state’s tourism slogan for more than 50 years, the LOVEwork campaign has only been around since 2013. Basically, cities, towns, and individual businesses and institutions throughout the state are encouraged to produce giant LOVE signs that highlight their particular location’s unique attributes. The result is more than 200 expressions of LOVE all over Virginia, and the number is still growing.
I have hinted previously on the blog that I am a huge fan of tracking down and photographing LOVEworks. The banner photo from this post was taken several years ago in Chincoteague, and those of you who have read previous posts may recognize the photos below of Natural Bridge’s park-themed LOVEwork and Colonial Beach’s golf cart Lovework.
While the aforementioned LOVEwork locations are definitely worth the trip, I thought it might be fun to highlight the local LoveWorks signs that we visited here in Northern Virginia this past month. Allow me to show you some local LOVE:
Leesburg is actually home to two LOVEworks, but we have only visited one so far. Located along the W and OD trail and in plain view of Transition Triathlon, this sign’s cycling theme makes a lot of sense. However, I was surprised to learn that the gears seen in the design are real bike parks that were donated by local cycling shops – how cool is that?! This LOVEwork sign is a great stopping point if you are taking a stroll on the trail or letting the kids run around in the pretty park right across the street.
How can you not have a LOVEwork sign when the word LOVE is right there in your town’s name? I’m so glad Lovettsville came through with their own contribution. The flora and fauna depicted in the design pay homage to the town’s rural history, and the pretty lettering adds a whimsical touch. The LOVEwork stands in a park in the center of town, where interpretive signs explain the location’s significance during the Civil War. My husband was intrigued by the wing restaurant located right across the street, which we look forward to checking out in the future.
The Purcellville LOVEwork was close enough to the Lovettsville location that we decided to visit both in one trip. One of the things I love most about this particular installation is its commitment to its theme. As the O announces, the sign highlights the areas wineries, and the V is home to three beautifully painted grape varieties, but what really got me were the first and last letters. The E features labels from all 35 of Loudoun County’s wineries, and the L is a mesmerizing pattern of real, hand-glued wine corks. The sign is located in Purcellville’s adorable town center, which is home to many of the fabulous local businesses highlighted here.
One of the state’s most recent LOVEwork installations happens to be located right in our town! We decided that Valentine’s Day would be the perfect occasion for our first visit. This particular design’s concrete, carbon fiber, and glass materials echo the recent development of the surrounding area. It would make a good place to visit when enjoying a meal next door at Founding Farmers, or prior to a trip to DC from the adjacent Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station. The sign is also a short drive from the shops, restaurants, and ice/concert pavilion at Reston Town Center (which currently has its own more temporary LOVE sign), as well as the charming farmer’s market, festivals and businesses at our beloved Lake Anne Plaza. You can even pair your visit with a walk on Reston’s impressive trail network. Can you tell that we LOVE where we live?
This is just a small snapshot of hundreds of LOVEwork art installations all around the state. Are you planning your own LOVEwork road trip? Check out the ever-expanding Google Map of all of the current locations here. Do you have a favorite LOVEwork? Please share in the comments – we are always looking for new ones to visit! Thanks for reading, and Happy Valentine’s Day!