WanderLove Besties Weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains
Life is filled with so many commitments: family, work, errands, pets, and more. When was the last time you were able to get away and spend quality time with your closest girlfriends? Why not give them a call, pick a date, and get ready for the trip of a lifetime in the heart of Virginia’s Piedmont – Rappahannock County! There’s no need to go far from home to escape the everyday stress of job and family. In just 60 short miles, you can slip away from DC to the trendy and quaint villages of Rappahannock County, home to world renowned restaurants, shops, and wineries. Boutiques and specialty shops are 100% locally owned and operated, making Rappahannock a virtual cornucopia of original styles and tastes. Stroll through the villages and discover some true treasures.
Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or a week, a Rappahannock girls’ trip is the perfect chance to kick back, relax (or go wild!), and catch up with your favorite ladies. Rappahannock is great for relaxing, shopping, and pretending you never have to go back to your real life – the perfect spot for a girls’ weekend getaway!
1. WINE WITH EVERYTHING, 3 P.M.
With the city and all its responsibilities far behind you, take a deep breath and relax! You have arrived in Rappahannock County where life is better enjoyed at a slower pace. First stop, a mid-afternoon pick-me-up at Wine Loves Chocolate in the town of little Washington. This unique shop has set out to prove that wine does indeed go with chocolate … if you do it right. Their 20-minute pairing adventure will teach you how to achieve perfect Choco Vino pairings every time! If that’s not enough, they have a DIY Truffle Bar where you can build your own perfect box of chocolates. Grab an empty box and go! These boxes make perfect gifts for those you left behind in the city or a midnight snack. You decide.
2. DINNER AL FRESCO, 5 P.M.
Time to unpack and settle in for your glorious girls’ weekend. Rappahannock is home to many beautiful inns, B&Bs, and vacation rentals but what you won’t find here are hotel chains. There are several ways to secure your accommodations – AirBnB, VRBO, or the local lodging list which can be found HERE. Your options are only limited but your imagination — from a whimsical fairy cottage on five acres to a working farm with an adorable herd of goats to a private five-bedroom, five-bathroom nature retreat with private pool, tennis court, and billiards – all can be yours for the weekend. After settling in, grab an aperitif and enjoy a breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountain sunset as French chef Sylvie Rowand, owner of Laughing Duck Gardens and Cookery, prepares dinner. You are welcome to join in with hands-on training or simply sit back and relax. One thing is certain, you will love the energy and knowledge Chef Rowand brings to the kitchen. Ingredients are sourced from small family farms in Rappahannock County and surrounding Piedmont, including her own very large gardens and apiaries. Seasonal asparagus, black raspberries, golden oyster mushrooms, watermelon radishes, and yerba luisa are a special treat, fresh from the garden! Your menu will be customized to your tastes, the season, dietary requirements, and budget. Bon appetit!
3. GOOD MORNING, RAPPAHANNOCK, 9 A.M.
Time to fuel up for a day of adventure! Grab your hiking gear and head west to the Thornton Gap entrance to Shenandoah National Park. Along the way, stop by Off The Grid café for a nourishing breakfast and some necessary trail provisions. OTG offers fresh local cuisine for everyone. Many menu options start with a vegetarian or vegan base but in addition to tofu, chicken or pork can be added for carnivores. For breakfast, you can choose from an extensive menu including a build your own smoothie ($6) or the Eggacado, a house creation ofsliced hard-boiled egg, avocado and shiitake bacon on a toasted craft roll ($9). Healthy never tasted so good! Don’t forget those provisions and a cup of locally roasted joe ($3) or OTG hemp tea.
4. TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, 10 A.M.
Head south on 211 for five miles to the Thornton Gap Entrance to Shenandoah National Park. A fee ($30 per car) is required to enter the park but it is definitely worth it! Not only are the trails pristine but the views from Skyline Drive are stunning (and Instagram-worthy). Continue south on Skyline Drive for approximately 8 miles to the Whiteoak Canyon parking lot. The waterfalls along this trail are some of the most spectacular in all of Shenandoah National Park. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, bring plenty of water, and on summer days a bathing suit is highly recommended. Crystal clear mountain pools dot this trail, inviting hot and tired hikers to sit and soak, or for the more adventurous, take a trip down one of Mother Nature’s natural rock slides.
5. PIE IN THE SKY, 1 P.M.
After hiking Whiteoak Canyon, head into Sperryville to Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen. Here you will find an extensive menu of beautifully curated sandwiches, salads, and pasta but the highlight of this stop is their hand-thrown pizzas, crisped in an Italian wood-burning pizza oven, right before your eyes. Comfortable, shady outdoor seating is available on their rooftop patio tucked into the treetops of Virginia hardwoods. Most weekends you’ll find a local musician strumming and humming away the afternoon.
6. ME TIME, 2:00 P.M.
What girls’ trip would be complete without a visit to the spa for a little quiet, reflective me-time? Abracadabra Massage and Wellness can address all your wants, needs, and desires. This charming yet unpretentious spa in downtown Sperryville offers a wide range of services including the common and not so common – massage therapy, holistic esthetics, cupping, reiki, acupuncture, ozone sauna, readings, and herbal wellness consulting. The Keep It Simple package ($165) is an all-time fav at this local oasis. The package includes an ozone sauna session, freshly prepared alchemized juice, and a 60-minute therapeutic massage. The juices are given in a series of small servings during your visit and each shot has special properties to help the body detoxify and re-center. At the end of your session, you’ll take home a large green juice, made from local medicinal greens and organic celery, kale, and parsley. Abracadabra! Now that’s magical.
7. DINNER ALFRESCO, 7:00 P.M.
Tonight’s dinner is in the picturesque garden of The Blue Door Kitchen and Inn in Flint Hill where you will dine under twinkling lights surrounded by majestic evergreens. A gentle breeze blows continuously, making this a night to remember. If you prefer, indoors offers a tranquil décor that will beckon you to enjoy a leisurely dinner with your besties. A cozy bar just off the patio is a great place to start or finish the evening, with craft cocktails and an extensive wine selection. Locally sourced dishes are prepared from scratch by Chef-Owner Andrea Pace who apprenticed at the acclaimed Villa Mozart in Merano, Italy. The menu changes weekly to feature fresh, local ingredients but when available the wild rockfish, local organic bok choy, glazed carrots, and fingerling potatoes in Livornese sauce ($34) is outstanding. For dessert (you’re on vacation) try the warm chocolate tortino, banana ice cream, and Tahitian bourbon vanilla. Heaven.
8. BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS, 9 A.M.
Start your day the Rappahannock way at the eclectic Before and After creek side café where the staff is not only friendly but talented. Here you will find quiche ($11) that doesn’t require an eight hour flight but your first bite into a mix of sharp cheddar, fluffy eggs, bright red bell pepper, and pistachio sized pieces of country sausage, will make you feel like you’re in France. Paired with a perfect espresso and you’ll be saying “Merci beaucoup” for this recommendation. If adventure is what you crave, try the lavender cardamom latte ($5), a local favorite that doesn’t disappoint.
8. ARTIST DATE, 10 A.M.
Time to awaken your inner artist with a private group lesson at River District Potters (reservation required). This unique artist’s studio is housed in a former apple packing warehouse in Sperryville but inside you will find a cozy, creative space and kindred spirits in artists/owners Sara Adams, Susan Hornbostel, Doris Jones, and Nancy Nord. These four talented women share the pottery studio and display their work in the adjacent gallery. Sara will help you pick a project, from serving trays to wine coolers, and provide fun and exceptional instruction to bring your idea to completion.
8. SHOP ‘TIL YOU DROP, NOON
A leisurely tour of the villages of Rappahannock will fill you (and your trunk) with some wonderfully unique home and body goods. First stop, and just across the parking lot, is Wild Roots Apothecary. Owner herbalist, Colleen O’Bryant, a self-proclaimed steward of plant medicine and sacred connection has established a flourishing herbal wellness business. The shop itself is a labyrinth of handcrafted herbal products ranging from beauty treatments to cold remedies to cocktail elixirs. You can also learn how to make your own elixirs in one of many classes offered at the apothecary (pre-registration required). From the moment you enter through the beautifully hand-painted front door, you will feel welcome.
Down the lane, Sperryville ARTist Cooperative features new, emerging, and independent artists and craftsmen who celebrate the natural beauty and farmland heritage of Virginia’s Piedmont Region. The gallery supports traditional and non-traditional expression and includes fine art, experimental, innovative, and urban art. This rustic, yet inviting artist-operated gallery exhibits an enticing collection of multidimensional, paintings, mixed media, photography, and art of social commentary. Great gifts, too!
At nearby Ridge Line Designs you’ll be amazed by the diversity of design, materials, and prices in this unique jewelry shop. Estate pieces and one of a kind creations as well as custom designs abound. The inventory is ever changing. Owner and master jeweler, Gina Sweat, is always on-hand to discuss that custom piece you’ve been dreaming about!
Next it’s off to the town of Washington where beautiful French Jacquard table linens ($20 and up), fine gifts, women’s accessories, vintage items, tabletop, fine art, sculpture, and exotic rugs fill the R.H. Ballard Shop & Gallery. Owners, Joanie and Robert Ballard are always available with a beautiful and carefully curated gift idea. Downstairs from the shop, a fine art gallery mounts high quality art exhibitions from regional and international artists. You’ll quickly see why Ballard’s was named one of the “Top 50 Shops in the South” by Southern Living Magazine.
A visit to little Washington would not be complete without a stop at The Inn at Little Washington’s Tavern Shops. The former tavern building was constructed in 1740 and now houses a series of 5 charmingly decorated period rooms offering a wide variety of tableware, furnishings, gifts, antiques, jewelry, kitchenware, art and delicacies from The Inn’s kitchen. They proudly feature James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner Patrick O’Connell’s three books and have signed copies available. While you’re browsing, one of their freshly baked oatmeal cookies just might be the ‘pick me up’ you’ve been looking for.
LeFay Cottage (Washington, VA)
Escape to your getaway home away from home! Located on five acres on the site of a former Christmas Tree Farm, LeFay Cottage is nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the heart of Virginia’s “Horse and Wine Country.” This enchanting guest house is furnished in a sumptuous English Country style where no expense is spared in creating an ambiance of luxury for guest comforts. From the luxury linens to a stocked kitchen, the cottage offers guests a welcome respite from the hectic pace of life. With so much to do here you may never want to leave this beautifully appointed three bedroom cottage (starting at $525).
Mountaintop Getaway in Little Washington (Washington, VA)
This amazing mountaintop getaway on Reality Mountain is surrounded by Virginia wine country and overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains. With breathtaking views and 50 wooded acres of mountain retreat, this private venue provides the ultimate experience for discerning guests. Multiple accommodations are available on this breathtaking property and include many amenities such as king-sized bed, stone fireplace, spa-like baths, and private porches. The private pool overlooks the mountains where you’ll also find world class hiking, biking, yoga and more. An added bonus, take home some eggs from their happy hens who roam the property (starting at $400).
Cardinal Springs Farm (Sperryville, VA)
Enjoy the serenity of the Blue Ridge in a historic, completely renovated 1860s farmhouse or a new, upscale Barn Loft. Experience farm life at its best on a secluded 130 acre farm less. Swim, fish, and canoe in pristine ponds. Hike miles of mountain trails. Marvel at our lush gardens, friendly farm animals, and stunning views. Farmhouse sleeps up to seven and Barn Loft sleeps four (starting at $385).