If you’ve traveled on major highways like Route 66, I-95, I-64 you’ve seen the white metal LOVE signs at the rest stops. Even downtown Manassas has one at the train tracks. We’ve been known to take a family selfie at these signs, and two summers ago I was inspired to research their origin and our state’s slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers.” I discovered that Virginia’s “LOVEworks” campaign is comprised of more than 140 LOVE signs and each represents the culture of its community.
Always trying to keep my family active (or as my husband might argue, not letting anyone rest), I decided in June of 2017 that we were going to hit as many LOVE signs as we could within a two-hour drive. Thus began our “Summer of Love.”
LOVEwork at Luray Caverns
Truth be told, our first foray with the LOVEworks signs began six years ago at Luray Caverns. The kids were much younger and loved climbing on it, and we loved the new and fun photo op.
LOVEwork at Airlie
Airie is a hotel and conference center in Warrenton that, in addition to being a historic building, is a pioneer among environmentally friendly hotels. Their LOVEwork sign was the first in Warrenton, and true to its reputation, is constructed with 95% recycled material. In the L are wine bottles, the O is an old farm tractor tire, the V is a trellis with vines growing in it and reminiscent of the Pont des Art Bridge in Paris, the E allows ‘love locks’ to be attached. After couples bring their lock and attach it, there is a special box in the tractor tire used to throw away the key. (Very romantic!)
LOVEwork at Culpeper Depot
Despite its incorrectly spelled name (there really ought to be two p’s in pepper), Culpeper has a fascinating history. It was originally named Fairfax; was a crossroads for armies marching through Virginia during the Civil War; and is home to The State Theater, an art deco theater opened in 1938. The theater has had several lives, including playing a part during segregation and being reborn and partnering with The Library of Congress. It is currently closed but shines a light on the fact that movies and the arts have always been a part of the city’s history. We discovered a quaint walking town, and a historic train station. Across from the train station is the Culpeper Loveworks sign called “Reel LOVE” because it is made of movie reels. There is a train that can take you from Manassas to Culpeper if you’re curious.
LOVEwork in Leesburg
In Leesburg, there’s an entrance to the W&OD (Washington & Old Dominion Railroad) trail, well-known for bikers and trail runners. The LOVE sign here was designed by a local artist and metal fabricator and is made of wheels and tire spokes.
LOVEwork in Purcellville
At the end of the W&OD trail is Purcellville. The Purcellville LOVEworks sign represents Loudoun County’s winery industry and has wine labels and corks from all 35 Loudoun wineries and art from local artists as well. Purcellville is an old town, founded in the 1740s, and we found that it was chock full of boutiques and antique stores that our entire family enjoyed exploring. (It must be noted that the adults did not care so much for finding relics from our childhood in said “antique” stores.) It too was a critical juncture in the Civil War and as such, the “Great Road” was constructed to connect the city to Leesburg and eventually on to Alexandria, as the precursor to the W&OD trail. Sadly many of Purcellville’s historic buildings were destroyed in two fires, but the town was able to survive thanks to the railroad. The historic train station was a treat and you can learn more about the city in it.
LOVEwork at Morias Vineyard
Bonus – we went to a winery and it had a LOVEwork sign! No history here, but, this particular winery is constructed completely out of cement, even the sign.
LOVEwork in Orange
Orange County is best known for being home to James Madison, father of our Constitution and his home, Montpelier. The LOVE sign was constructed by a local blacksmith and the L is representative of the Constitution, the O represents the civil war and the county’s involvement in it, the V has vines representing Orange County’s wine industry and the E has horseshoes representing the equestrian history and culture of the area. The sign and Orange County’s beautiful historic buildings were fun to explore.
LOVEwork in Liberty Mills Farm
This LOVEwork sign was a tricky one to find. Waze steered us in the wrong direction and we were driving around farmland for quite some time until we located it. Set on Virginia’s largest corn maze (25 acres!), Liberty Mills Farm also has pick your own strawberries and produce. The sign is a nod to Virginia’s agricultural heritage and growing agri-tourism.
I’ll admit that I now understand our state slogan. Virginia is full of rich history, agriculture, emerging environmental efforts and let’s not forget the wineries. I encourage you map out a trip like this. We spent countless hours in the car without staring at screens, actually talking to each other (except for the occasional car nap), and at times it felt like we were driving through a movie set – the towns were so beautiful! It’s one of the best memories I have of time spent with my family and what’s not to LOVE about family time?