Virginia’s Most Romantic Mountain Getaway Is Closer Than You Think
Looking for a romantic getaway close to home? Just 60 miles west of DC, Rappahannock County will provide you with the respite you both deserve. A picturesque region, nestled against the Blue Ridge Mountains, this area boasts a booming wine scene with eclectic boutiques, beautiful accommodations, and world famous eateries. Its bucolic setting in the foothills and close proximity to DC make it the ideal weekend getaway. In just 36 hours you can visit nationally acclaimed restaurants, sip award-winning wines, and bask in the glow of a mountain sunset.
1. BREATHE IT ALL IN, 4 P.M.
Upon your arrival, why wait to embrace the beauty of this Shenandoah National Park gateway community? Make your first stop at Rappahannock Cellars for a premium wine tasting ($12). You will be greeted by one of their fabulous wine attendants and walked through your many options for tasting award-winning wines. They also have a light fare menu available should you need a snack to hold you over to dinner. If wine is not your cup of tea, don’t despair. Dida’s Distillery is located on the same stunning foothills property. The winery and distillery share a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains where these former California winemakers now offer groundbreaking vodka, gin, and brandy, all made from their own grapes. Relax with an aperitif and breathe in the beauty.
2. “EXCEPTIONAL CUISINE WORTH A SPECIAL JOURNEY”, 7 P.M.
Located in the historic village of Washington, Virginia, The Inn at Little Washington remains the first and only three-star restaurant in the nation’s capital and the only Michelin-rated restaurant in Virginia. Here, the dining rooms are pure fantasy – a wondrous cocoon of whimsical luxury and romance. Chef/Proprietor Patrick O’Connell’s creations arrive as if served by invisible hands, each course more dazzling than the last ($265). Their 14,000 bottle wine cellar includes the finest offerings from Bordeaux, Burgundy, California, and Virginia. After dinner, consider a stroll around the charming town of Washington. It is one of the few unspoiled villages left in America and it hasn’t changed much since 1749 when George Washington first surveyed and named the streets.
In addition to world famous dining, The Inn offers a range of beautifully appointed accommodations. All guest room reservations include a welcome cocktail, afternoon tea, house breakfast, complimentary valet parking, and a guaranteed dining reservation. Across the street from The Inn you will find the Tavern Shops, housed in the old Tavern building. Built in 1740, it now houses a series of five charmingly decorated period rooms offering a wide variety of tableware, furnishings, gifts, antiques, jewelry, kitchenware and delicacies from their kitchen.
3. RISE AND SHINE, 8:30 A.M.
If last night’s accommodations did not include breakfast, take scenic Fodderstack Road east to Flint Hill. There you will find a local gem, Skyward Café. With a full breakfast and lunch menu to choose from you can’t go wrong with the Lox of Love ($13). This mile-high tower of smoked salmon, capers, cucumbers, red onion, and cream cheese on a toasted bagel is worth every minute of the 10-minute drive! Want something lighter? Freshly made smoothies, pastries, coffees, espresso, and teas enjoyed on the front porch or lawn will start your morning off on the right foot. After breakfast, take a stroll through the quaint village of Flint Hill where you would be remiss not to visit the charming Horse N Hound saddlery and pet supply shop. Owner Sheila Whaley is always on hand to offer suggestions or answer questions. Even if you are not a rider, this shop is a must on our list of places to visit. Filled to the brim with outdoor gear, home goods, unique gifts, pet treats, natural fibers, and knitting supplies, you will have fun exploring the possibilities. Don’t forget to take home a special treat for Fido or Felix!
4. PEACE, LOVE, AND ART, 10 A.M.
The 60’s and 70’s saw many young people looking for a place to escape and get off the grid. It was then that Rappahannock County became a haven for artists of all kinds. Now, decades later, they still call it home and no visit would be complete without a tour of some of the many studios and galleries.
First stop, Gay Street Gallery in little Washington, where gallery owner and resident artist Kevin Adams loves to talk about what’s on his easel at the moment. Along with Kevin’s work, Gay Street Gallery also presents the works of award-winning artists from across the country. Just a few steps away, you will find Middle Street Gallery, an artist-owned gallery run by its members. Established in 1983, this sunlit gallery includes all aspects of the fine arts as well as new developments in art-making. Around the corner, Geneva Welch, a nationally known artist, displays her watercolor and oil paintings of animals and country scenes. The gallery carries her limited edition prints and original paintings along with gift items from other artists and designers.
5. DETOUR AHEAD, NOON.
A seven-minute drive will take you to Sperryville for more art but halfway there, a quick stop at Little Washington Winery and Brewery is sure to delight. Owners Donna and Carl Hickerson are always eager to talk wine (and beer) and their enthusiasm is contagious! The offerings here are plenty for a drop-in visit but if you want to stay awhile we highly recommend one of their wine classes (reservations required). These fun, wine-snob-free classes ($40) are an opportunity to learn about and experience wines from around the world. Class offerings include 15 Rules of Food & Wine Pairing, Around The World in 80 Minutes, The Aromas of Wine, and a local favorite, Wine Boot Camp! Grab a light snack to compliment your wine and get ready for more amazing art in the Blue Ridge.
6. HOOKED ON A FEELING, 1:30 P.M.
One stop, two shops! You can’t miss the iconic red schoolhouse that Cottage Curator and Gallery 3 Fine Art call home. At Cottage Curator, artist/curator Jackie Bailey Labovitz welcomes visitors with a smile and an understanding of art that only comes with 30 years of experience organizing art collections around the world. Jackie now assists residential clients with the purchase and placement of her own art as well as artworks by other local, regional, and nationally recognized artists. Next door at Gallery 3 Fine Art, local artists Mary B. Allen and Carole Pivarnik exhibit their work and maintain working studios. Pop in to see what’s on their easels and enjoy some casual conversation about the local art scene.
Take the swinging footbridge across the Thornton River and you will find yourself in downtown Sperryville, a charming and welcoming village. You can’t miss Haley Fine Art on Main Street. The building is as warm and welcoming as gallery owner Andrew Haley who is always ready and available to answer questions. As Haley so eloquently wrote, “Rappahannock slows people down. It’s an expansive place where people can breathe and see. People don’t come here for reason — they come for the feeling.” Next stop, Thornton River Art, is just a few doors down in a delightful old storefront. The gallery features an eclectic collection of local art including fine art, stained glass, mosaics, pottery, weaving, jewelry, metal art, and more. From thoughtful and creative gifts to heirloom quality art, Thornton River Art showcases the innovative and inventive energy of Rappahannock County.
7. DINNER IS CALLING, 7:00 P.M.
Serving as a Wells Fargo stagecoach stop in the 1860s, Glen Gordon Manor is now home to the beautifully appointed bed and breakfast, spa, and award-winning Houndstooth restaurant. Situated on 45-acres with spectacular views of the Blue Ridge, Houndstooth’s prix fixe menu ($115) delightfully blends new culinary ideas along with classic styles. Chef/owner Dayn Smith helms Houndstooth, a restaurant that received Wine Spectator’s 2018 Award of Excellence and where Smith focuses on the bounty of the Shenandoah. If you find yourself wanting more at this luxury retreat, sign up for the Epicurean Package which includes a cooking lesson, wine tasting, and a five-course meal.
8. SUNDAY TIMES, 11:30 A.M.
Enjoy a leisurely morning before heading out to Griffin Tavern for a traditional Sunday brunch. This tavern, housed in a historic home, is all about good food served right! A comfortable, casual dining experience, friendly wait staff, and unbeatable home-style cooking keep locals and visitors coming back for more. The menu changes daily but the Sunday Omelette ($15) served with flank steak, caramelized onion, buttermilk blue cheese, arugula, and a side of homefries is a highly recommended mainstay. For a vegetarian option, try the Veggie Love Eggs Benedict ($16) — tomato, grilled onion, spinach, and two poached eggs on green onion and cheddar biscuit with hollandaise and homefries. So. Good.
9. RAPPAHANNOCK ROAD SHOW, 1 P.M.
You never know what treasures await you in this eclectic collection of antique shops! Here you’ll find everything from the finest English Chippendales to primitive collectibles and everything in between. The first stop, Antiques At Middle Street, is a conglomeration of beautiful and interesting finds in the world of collectibles. Brightly lit rooms showcase vintage furniture and other unique pieces, all surrounded by an extensive display of art.
Further down the road, Hazel River Arts and Antiques is a labyrinth of booths that will draw you in, igniting your treasure hunting skills. A trove of unique and rare finds, art, collectibles, and furniture await you. Happy hunting! Heading west to the River District, next stop is Copper Fox Antiques. Located in a former apple packing plant, Copper Fox is 30,000 square feet of antiques, architectural salvage and collectibles, all under one roof. Hope you brought your walking shoes!
10. THIS IS NOT GOOD-BYE, IT’S SO LONG, 3 P.M.
Before departing the Sperryville River District, take a private tour of the original Copper Fox Distillery. Yes, it all started here! The only distillery on the planet to mature their whisky with toasted Applewood, the tour takes you through the entire process, from floor malting to bottling. Of course, a whiskey tasting is the best way to help you select your favorite adult beverage to take home. This one of a kind distillery is something you will want to share with friends and family!
As your weekend winds down, make one last stop at Hopkins Ordinary Ale Works where they brew small batch craft beer in the cellar of their bed and breakfast by the same name. Owners Sherri Fickel and Kevin Kraditor make their brews using local barley, malted at Copper Fox Distillery. Hopkins features seasonal ingredients whenever possible, such as hops, honey, fruit, and herbs. Some local favorite brews are Little Devil Blonde, Second Breakfast Stout, and Innkeeper’s IPA. Can’t decide? Grab a flight, have a seat in the biergarten beneath a mighty hardwood, and savor your last few minutes.
Foster Harris House (Washington, VA)
At Foster Harris House bed and breakfast, guests indulge in the luxurious feel of a five diamond resort surrounded. Owners Klaus Peters and his wife, Gisele have created a luxurious B&B experience in this charming, historic home where no detail is too small. With panoramic views of the Virginia countryside, their five luxury guest rooms are just steps from The Inn at Little Washington and a short drive from Shenandoah National Park. A four course gourmet breakfast is included, starting at $329.
Glen Gordon Manor (Huntly, VA)
This captivating retreat, situated on 45 acres of pastures, lawns, and gardens, offers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and neighboring farms and vineyards. Romantic guest rooms and suites exude a warm radiance with their thoughtful appointments. Hand-selected luxury fabrics, antique furnishings, and beautifully curated art in combination with modern conveniences as well as onsite spa and seasonal pool offer more opportunities for your relaxation. A full gourmet breakfast is included, starting at $199.
The Inn at Mount Vernon Farm (Sperryville, VA)
Six unique rooms highlight the charming and personal history of this 8th generation farm. Guests may select from individual rooms or suites, including a free standing summer kitchen that has been restored into a two floor guest cabin. Common areas include an elegant living, sitting porches, a cedar hot tub, and outdoor pergola overlooking the bocce court. Daily breakfast includes French press coffee, fresh fruit, homemade granola, pancakes, eggs and breakfast meats from the farm, starting at $183.