Another new feature I’ve been planning for a while! I’ve been living in Loudoun County for nine years now – first in its suburban east, and then (because I like land and history and the fantasy that I might someday own goats and maybe a horse) in its beautiful rural west. Loudoun has a lot to offer, as do its neighbors like Fauquier and Clarke, and I’m excited to showcase some of my experiences and hopefully inspire readers to come and explore this lovely part of Virginia.
So, whether you have plans with your sweetheart for Valentine’s weekend, or you just want to hang out with your friends or take yourself on a fun date (because you deserve it!), here are a few of my favorite spots for romance and relaxing in Loudoun County.
For a unique, small-town shopping trip: The Aldie Peddler – Aldie, VA
This little shop is one of my favorite places in the world. Wally, the chatty and charming proprietor and proud, though unofficial, Mayor of Aldie will make sure you feel like an old friend, and you won’t leave empty-handed (trust me). Great wines from all over the world, gourmet snacks, quality outdoor furniture, and fun kitsch, all in a sweet little shop in an old house, in a Loudoun County village that dates back to 1810.
For brunch, or to spend a weekend: The Red Fox Inn and Tavern – Middleburg, VA
The Red Fox is one of the oldest taverns in the country, and it’s a beautiful spot to sit down and enjoy some delicious brunch favorites. If you’re feeling a little more luxurious, book a room and stay for the weekend in Middleburg, the nation’s picturesque horse and hunt capital, full of good places to eat, fun shops, and friendly locals.
For dinner, and most especially for dessert: The Conche – Leesburg, VA
Upscale dining with a creative, cocoa-inspired menu, worth a visit for the chocolates and desserts alone. Indulge your sweet tooth – you deserve it!
For an interesting stroll or a short, easy hike: The Village of Waterford – Waterford, VA
The entire Village of Waterford is a National Historic Landmark, and it shows. The residents here take incredible care to maintain their properties to the highest historical standard, and when you walk through this little gem, you’ll truly feel like you’ve gone back in time. You have a couple of walking options, depending on what you’re looking for. There’s a walking tour through the Village itself:
Or a short hike that starts at the Village’s Old Mill:
For a laid-back wine tasting: Zephaniah Farm Vineyard – Leesburg, VA
This vineyard sits on a family farm, and tastings are conducted in the family’s house, which dates back to 1819, or in their new timber-frame barn.
At the house, you’ll be invited to choose a comfortable spot on the first floor, where you’ll sample lovely wines at a leisurely pace surrounded by unique decorations and a few family heirlooms. You’ll feel relaxed, looked after, and right at home.
For a craft brew and a good view: Bear Chase Brewing Company – Bluemont, VA
There are lots of breweries in Loudoun County, and quite a few of them boast a pretty amazing view. Bear Chase is one of the newer additions to this list, and they’ve done everything right. Enjoy a beer and a pizza by their cozy fireplace, or on their covered porch, or on their extensive lawn. Fair warning, though – they get busy. I’ve always been able to find a spot to sit and relax, though, and there’s usually good music on the weekends. And just look at that view:
Bear Chase also sits near the Raven Rocks Trailhead and Bear’s Den overlook, so it’s a perfect spot for a post-hike beer with your sweetheart (or your bestie, or yourself, because like I said, you deserve it).
For cider, spirits, and a dance with the Green Fairy: Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery – Middleburg, VA
If wine and beer aren’t your style, head to Mt. Defiance. Named for the battlefield that sits just west of Middleburg, Mt. Defiance has a rustic cider barn on the east side of town, and a steampunk-chic distillery on the west. At the barn, grab a glass of their famous Cider Kir – a dark red mix of their Farmhouse cider and Cassis liqueur – and sit in a rocking chair in front of the fireplace or on the patio.
At the distillery, you have lots of choices – cute mini-cocktail flights, seasonal specialty cocktails, and for those brave enough to try, Absinthe. Now, I’m kidding about being brave, because Absinthe won’t make you hallucinate, but it is pretty strong, and it tastes kind of like licorice. I happen to like licorice, and the process of preparing Absinthe to taste is interesting to watch; but, if it’s just not your thing, then try the chocolate pairing, which features chocolates from The Conche, and is just really delightful.
And there you have it. I know there are places I’ve surely missed that deserve to be on this list, so feel free to drop a line in the comments if I’ve not mentioned any of your favorites, or if there are places in Loudoun you’ve always wanted to visit. But regardless of that, I hope I’ve given you some good ideas for this weekend, or really any weekend, and I hope you enjoy whatever you do, because, like I said (several times, in fact), you deserve it!