So rich was agriculture in Loudoun County, Virginia, in the late 18th century—and so vital to provisioning the Continental Army—that the region earned the nickname, “The Breadbasket of the Revolution”.
These days, the area once renowned for its abundant wheat, is known best for its vineyards. And, with some 40 wineries in a 521-square-mile area, this county, west of the Nation’s Capital, proudly uses the moniker DC’s Wine Country.
Visitors could easily make a weekend of hopping from winery to winery, touring vineyards and cellars, and tasting their way through the region, but DC’s Wine Country has a lot more going for it than just grapes. Consider these additional ways to enjoy Loudoun County.
INDULGE YOURSELF AT A AAA FOUR DIAMOND RESORT
Loudoun County boasts two AAA Four Diamond Resorts: Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg and Lansdowne Resort and Spa in Leesburg.
Salamander Resort & Spa encompasses 340 acres in the historic equestrian town of Middleburg (population 673), once favored by ardent horsewoman and First Lady Jackie Kennedy. Beyond the 24,000-square-foot spoil-yourself spa, the 168-guest-room resort offers a roster of activities ranging from archery to zip lining and an equestrian program with pony rides, trail rides, and riding lessons. Be sure to dine at Salamander Resort’s Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant with a menu celebrating the region’s culinary history as well as its local farms and purveyors.
The 296-guest-room Lansdowne Resort & Spa occupies 500 acres overlooking the Potomac River, less than an hour’s drive from DC. It’s main claim to fame? The 45 holes of golf on championship courses designed by Greg Norman and Robert Trent Jones Jr. Families will love the pool scene: four outdoor pools and an indoor lap pool.
Courtesy of Oatlands Historic House and Gardens
TOUR HISTORIC MANSIONS AND GARDENRS
Remember that factoid earlier about wheat farming? Oatlands Historic House & Gardens in Leesburg was the center of a 3,408-acre wheat plantation established in 1798. This summer, Oatlands unveiled a new audio tour of the first and second floors of its 1804 Greek revival mansion. By the time of the Civil War, 133 enslaved men, women, and children worked Oatlands plantation and household. A separate guided tour delves into the reality of their lives. Save time to explore Oatlands’ formal English gardens and to hike the recently unveiled trails through woodland and meadow
Also in Leesburg, you’ll find the Davis Mansion at Morven Park, a Georgian-style home overflowing with art and furnishings collected by avid traveler, Marguerite Davis, wife of Virginia’s World War I-era governor, Westmoreland Davis. From 16th-century Belgian tapestries to 19th-century Japanese artifacts to Hudson River Valley paintings, the collection is a treasure to behold. Guided tours focus on the life of the Davises in the early 20th century as well as stories of the employees who kept the 1,000-acre estate running.
Courtesy of Waterford Foundation
IMMERSE YOURSELF IN EQUESTRIAN ART AND ARTIFACTS
Loudoun County is also horse country, and Morven Park houses two museums related to that equestrian heritage. The Museum of Hounds and Hunting showcases art, artifacts, and memorabilia related to foxhunting and other forms of hunting with hounds. Pop into the Winmill Carriage Museum to see a collection of 40 antique horse-drawn coaches, carriages, and sleds, including a coach used by Tom Thumb in the Barnum & Bailey Circus.
A nine-foot-tall hammered-lead sculpture of a horse’s head is the dramatic piece that greets visitors at the National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg, which exhibits art related to horsemanship, fishing, and wildlife. The temporary exhibition Thrill of the ‘Chace: Steeplechasing in Art opened Sept. 9.
Courtesy of Visit Loudoun
HAVE AN ADVENTURE
At Harpers Ferry Adventure Center in the county’s northwestern tip—bordering West Virginia and Maryland—you can face your fears while having fun on land and water. Laze your way down the Shenandoah River on a flat-water tubing trip, or brave whitewater rapids (Class I–II with an occasional III) on the Potomac River in a tube, kayak, or guided raft.
The center’s Aerial Adventure treetop course features 50 challenges at heights of 10 to 40 feet, while the zipline course has a 100-foot sky bridge and 7 ziplines, including one that will have you whizzing along a 425-foot-long cable.
TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO AN 18TH-CENTURY QUAKER VILLAGE
A National Historic Landmark District, Waterford is an entire village of 18th- and 19th-century buildings surrounded by farmland. A walking tour of lower Main Street alone includes such choice buildings as the old town jail, the circa-1812 post office, the turn-of-the-20th-century country store, and one impeccably restored private home after another.
The Waterford Foundation that preserves this National Historic Landmark village also operates the Waterford Craft School, which offers day and weekend-long classes in heritage crafts. Think broom-making, quilting, leather-working, beer-brewing, and—new this year—cider-making. Classes are typically offered April through July but will be extended this year into early December. The popular annual Waterford Fair is going virtual this year, with the works of juried artisans available for purchase at WaterfordFoundation.org/shop-our-artisans.
Courtesy of Visit Loudoun
SHOP FOR ANTIQUES AND VINTAGE WARES
Broaden your shopping horizons beyond Leesburg Premium Outlets to include the county’s host of stores selling antiques and vintage wares. Middleburg boasts several choice shops, notably The Shaggy Ram, known for its European antiques, furnishings, and home accessories, but the mother lode of stores is located in Lucketts and Leesburg.
For one-stop shopping, look for the pink silo with black polka dots on James Monroe Highway (Route 15) in Lucketts, where you’ll find five antique and vintage stores. Among them are The Hummingbird’s Nest, specializing in shabby chic and primitives; Rust & Feathers, a multi-dealer shop that includes architectural salvage; and On a Whim—owner of the silo and a matching polka-dot cow—which stocks a mix of antiques and reclaimed and repurposed furnishings and home goods. You can’t leave town without stopping in The Old Lucketts Store, where more than 35 dealers display cool finds in a restored 1879 general store.
Walkable downtown Leesburg is among the best-preserved historic town centers in Virginia. Shopping options include boutiques selling modern clothing and home furnishings, a used bookstore, and packed-to-the-gills Black Shutter Antique Center, featuring goods from 40 dealers.
Courtesy of Visit Loudoun
ENJOY FARM-TO-TABLE DINING
When you’re smack-dab in the middle of farm country, you’ll want to treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant focused on farm-to-table dining. Among the best is The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, where the surrounding organic farm serves as the pantry of James Beard Finalist, Chef Tarver King.
In Purcellville, dine at Magnolias at the Mill, sister restaurant to Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg; both are located in historic mills and feature refined American fare.
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You’ll find gourmet dining at the luxury Goodstone Inn in Middleburg, set amid 265 acres of hillside and farmland. The tasting menu served up by Executive Chef Jan Van Haute at the inn’s Conservatory has been ranked among the top fine-dining experiences in the state by Northern Virginia Magazine, and its impressive 820-label wine cellar gets the nod from Wine Spectator.
In downtown Leesburg, opt for the Wine Kitchen, which features a seasonal American bistro menu, wine flights, and 40 wines by the glass, all served up in a cozy 1840s building.
Okay, so we’ve circled back to wine. Go on, have a glass. This is wine country, after all.
Note: Call before visiting any of the attractions, restaurants, stores, or resorts to get up-to-date information about what’s open and what restrictions may be in place.