Leesburg Delights: Unraveling the Treasures of Northern Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia, nestled in Northern Virginia, beckons travelers with its rich history, quaint charm, and abundance of outdoor beauty. Just a stone’s throw away from the bustling capital of Washington, DC, this historic town offers a refreshing escape with its brick-lined sidewalks, art galleries, and inviting coffee shops. As per this wonderful travel guide to Leesburg, Virginia from Southern Living, whether you’re here for a day trip or a weekend getaway, Leesburg promises an unforgettable experience.

Exploring the Outdoors

Embrace nature’s wonders by embarking on outdoor adventures in and around Leesburg. Discover exotic animals at the Leesburg Animal Park, where llamas, camels, and zebras await eager visitors. Let the little ones revel in pony rides, petting zoos, and playgrounds while you soak in the joy of outdoor exploration.

For hiking enthusiasts, the Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park presents an easy yet rewarding trail boasting panoramic views of the Potomac River. If you crave more rugged terrain, venture to the nearby Appalachian Trail or Virginia’s newest state park, Sweet Run State Park in Hillsboro.

If cycling is more your speed, pedal along the scenic Washington & Old Dominion Trail, offering 45 miles of paved pathways through picturesque landscapes. Pause at King Street for a rejuvenating cup of coffee or a quick bite amidst the charming surroundings.

Immersing in Arts and Culture

Art aficionados will find delight in Leesburg’s vibrant arts and culture scene. Embark on a walking art tour with Loudoun Public Art Tours to admire murals, sculptures, and galleries scattered throughout the town. The Heart of Leesburg Walking Tour unveils the stories behind 15 to 20 captivating artworks, providing insight into the town’s rich cultural tapestry.

Catch a show at the historic Tally Ho Theatre, a beloved landmark dating back to 1932. From live concerts to themed nights, this iconic venue promises an evening of entertainment and nostalgia on Market Street.

Savoring Culinary Delights

Indulge your taste buds with culinary delights along King Street. SideBar offers a classic bistro menu and craft cocktails, while King Street Oyster Bar tempts with fresh seafood fare. For a taste of history, dine at Lightfoot housed within a former bank, exuding charm and elegance. And don’t miss breakfast at Leesburg Diner or Shoe’s Cup & Corkfor a delightful start to your day.

For coffee connoisseurs, the “Leesburg Coffee Corridor” along King Street beckons with a plethora of craft coffee shops. Experience the art of coffee-making at King Street Coffee, SimplyBe Coffee, or Shake & Bops Botanical Café, each offering a unique blend of flavors and ambiance.

Delving into History

Delve into the rich tapestry of Loudoun County’s history at the Loudoun Museum, where exhibits and artifacts illuminate the county’s past. Learn about its role during the Civil War, the evolution of the wine industry, and the legacy of the Underground Railroad depicted in the mural “Journey to Freedom.”

Step back in time at the Oatlands Historic House and Gardens, a National Trust Historic Site showcasing 19th-century architecture and meticulously manicured gardens. Dive deeper into history with guided tours led by knowledgeable historians, exploring the mansion, gardens, and plantation.

Venture beyond Leesburg to explore the Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park, offering insights into the Civil War’s impact on Loudoun County. Commemorate the Battle of Ball’s Bluff with guided tours and living history events, gaining a deeper understanding of this pivotal moment in American history.

Lastly, pay homage to African-American heritage at the Historic Douglass High School, a poignant reminder of Loudoun County’s past. Explore exhibits, artwork, and oral histories that celebrate the resilience and contributions of African-American communities.

With its blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, Leesburg, Virginia, invites travelers to embark on a journey of discovery and delight.

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Discover the Charm of Reston, Virginia

Reston, Virginia, located just 30 minutes from Washington, D.C., is a vibrant town with a unique blend of urban and suburban charm. This planned community, designed for work, play, learning, shopping, and community involvement, offers a myriad of attractions, as per this travel blog article from Southern Living. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, here’s a guide on how to make the most of your visit to Reston.

Explore Nature and Outdoor Activities: Start your journey with a refreshing bike ride on the 45-mile Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Pick up the trail at Bike Lane Brewing & Café, where you can grab a coffee, tea, or pastry before embarking on your scenic adventure. For a day surrounded by nature, head to the expansive 476-acre Lake Fairfax Park. With a campground, carousel, multi-use trails, and a marina offering pedalboat and kayak rentals, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy. Reston also boasts other green spaces like Fred Crabtree Park, Baron Cameron Park, and Hunter Woods Park.

Indulge in Open-Air Dining: Experience the culinary delights of Reston in the open air. Savor Japanese cuisine at Ariake, or enjoy Mediterranean dishes at Cafesano. For a waterfront dining experience with a dog-friendly atmosphere, Kalypso’s Sports Tavern on Lake Anne is a top pick. Red’s Table, offering delicious cuisine and scenic views across Lake Anne, is another excellent choice for open-air dining.

Immerse Yourself in Arts and Culture: Delve into the thriving arts scene of Reston by visiting galleries such as the Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, celebrating its 50th year in 2024. The Reston Art Gallery, open on weekends, showcases rotating exhibitions featuring various art mediums. Additionally, explore the town’s public art installations that add to its cultural richness.

Entertainment and Performances: Catch a live performance at Reston’s CenterStage, a 260-seat theater hosting a variety of cultural events throughout the year, including musicals, author talks, and comedy shows. The venue also features live concerts spanning classical, soul, and bluegrass genres. Don’t miss the summer concerts and annual festivals, like the Reston Multicultural Festival.

Encounter Wildlife Experiences: Say hello to wild animals at NOVA Wild, a 30-acre non-profit zoo supporting international conservation programs. With over 200 animals, including lemurs, llamas, kangaroos, and pygmy goats,NOVA Wild offers a unique drive-thru safari and stroll-thru sections for a close encounter with the residents.

Connect with Nature at Walker Nature Center: Explore the 72-acre Walker Nature Center, offering nature-based programs to foster positive relationships with the environment. The center features wooded walking trails, picnic areas, a small pond, and native plant gardens. Engage in children’s programs, nature camps, bird walks, and wildlife counts.

Dive into Reston’s History at the Reston Museum: Visit the Reston Museum to delve into the history of one of the first planned communities in the United States. Discover artifacts, exhibits, photographs, and artworks showcasing the evolution of Reston from its early days in 1962 to the vibrant community it is today.

Shop, Play, and Stay at Reston Town Center: Experience the heart of Reston at Reston Town Center, a mixed-use open-air space featuring offices, restaurants, shops, a movie theater, and a seasonal ice skating rink. With the convenience of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and the Reston Town Center subway station, exploring the town has never been easier.

Discover Lake Anne Plaza’s Unique Charm: Explore the captivating Lake Anne Plaza, one of five village centers in Reston. Enjoy the weekly seasonal farmers market, boutique shops, and gathering places like Café Montmartre andLake Anne Coffee House. Don’t miss summer festivals, pedal boat and kayak rentals, and the iconic Van Gogh Bridge.

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Winter Wonders in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

When it comes to winter travel, Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains offer a unique and enchanting experience. Nestled in the Appalachian Mountain Range, this region spans over 600 miles, boasting small towns, scenic overlooks, and a drive that’s hailed as one of the South’s most picturesque. To guide you through the winter wonderland, this articlefrom Southern Living turned to Travis Milton, culinary director at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards in Bristol, whose deep connection with the area unveils a side of Appalachia that’s best experienced in the colder months.

Exploring the Scenic Route: Roanoke to Bristol

The interviewed Chef Milton suggests taking the scenic route from Roanoke to Abingdon and Bristol, avoiding the highways to truly appreciate the beauty of Appalachia. This journey offers a glimpse into the vibrant communities and delectable meals that define the region. As you wind through the landscape, the crisp winter air carries scents of charred cinnamon and roasted apples, a testament to the seasonal events like apple butter cook-offs and canning swaps that infuse the area with a sense of community.

Roanoke: Gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains

For those traveling from afar, Roanoke serves as the perfect starting point. The Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airportconnects major cities, and accommodations like Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center or the unique Fire Station One provide cozy stays. The latter, housed in a former firefighting headquarters, preserves historical features for a truly immersive experience.

Abingdon: A Picturesque Retreat

A scenic 2-hour drive from Roanoke takes you to Abingdon, a town described as one of the most picturesque he’s seen. The Martha Washington Inn & Spa, with its rich history, offers a luxurious stay, while short-term rentals provide a more casual option. Abingdon’s charm extends to its trails along the Holston River, the Virginia Creeper Trail, and historic Main Street, where quaint shops and a stunning cemetery await exploration.

Bristol: Small City, Big Culture

The final leg of the journey brings you to Bristol, Virginia, where the Inn at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards awaits. Voted the South’s Best Hotel in 2023, this mountain oasis offers luxury yurts and an outdoor fire pit for a cozy winter night. Bristol surprises with its cultural offerings, from Cheap Thrills Records to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. It’s recommended that you visit HollerHouse for unique Appalachian art and Benjamin Walls Fine Art Galleryfor nature photography enthusiasts.

Culinary Delights in the Mountains

To truly savor the essence of Appalachia, Chef Milton suggests exploring local markets. In Abingdon, the Farmers Market hosts holiday and winter markets, showcasing the region’s diverse culinary offerings. For a taste of Chef Milton’s culinary expertise, start your morning at Hickory in the Inn at Nicewonder, where seasonal delights like buttermilk biscuits topped with fried bologna await. And if you’re in need of a caffeine fix, Bloom and The Girl and The Raven are the go-to spots.

Discovering Appalachian Trails: A Hiker’s Paradise

For those seeking an active winter adventure, the Appalachian Mountains offer an array of hiking trails. Near Roanoke, explore the Star Trail or the Roanoke River Blueway, where winter conditions make hikes more manageable. The Appalachian magic comes alive as snow blankets the trails, providing a serene backdrop for an unforgettable trek through nature’s winter wonderland. Lace-up your boots and embrace the tranquility of these pristine trails, creating memories that last a lifetime.

Embrace the Winter Magic

Winter in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains unveils a different kind of magic. From the snowy trails of Abingdon to the cultural gems of Bristol, each stop along the way adds a layer of charm to your journey. Whether you’re indulging in local cuisine, exploring historic sites, or simply breathing in the crisp mountain air, this winter escapade promises unforgettable moments.

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Harrisonburg, VA: Where Culture, Nature, and Gastronomy Meet

Nestled in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Harrisonburg, often affectionately known as “Rocktown” or “The Friendly City,” offers a storybook fall getaway that you’ll cherish. Situated northwest of Charlottesville, Harrisonburg is enveloped by the stunning landscapes of Shenandoah National Park and George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. This small town beckons with a unique blend of natural beauty and urban charm, making it a perfect destination for a slightly sleepy yet delightful escape. In this blog post from Southern Living, we’ll explore the reasons why you should plan a trip to Harrisonburg this fall.

One of Harrisonburg’s gems is the Culinary District, a downtown area brimming with restaurants that promise unforgettable culinary experiences. For those seeking a culinary adventure, Rocktown Bites Downtown Food Toursoffers delightful walking tours of this district and its myriad eateries. Savor the flavors of the Friendly City while exploring the heart of Harrisonburg’s gastronomic scene. Discover more about these delectable experiences at virginia.org.

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is a hidden gem located on the James Madison University campus. This public greenspace seamlessly blends nature with art exhibitions and events, offering a serene escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. The best part? It’s open year-round, every day, from dawn until dusk, and it’s absolutely free to visit.

While Harrisonburg offers a wealth of experiences for travelers of all ages, the Explore More Discovery Museumstands out as a fantastic destination for those looking to spark curiosity and creativity. With a myriad of events, projects, programs, and classes, this museum provides both entertainment and opportunities for learning, making it an ideal stop for curious minds of all ages.

Harrisonburg takes its title as the Friendly City seriously. It has welcomed over 2,500 refugees since 2002, thanks in large part to outreach from the Mennonite community and other faith groups. The presence of James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University further enriches the community with a diverse population of academics. Harrisonburg is a place that welcomes everyone and leaves them wanting to stay.

Harrisonburg has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years. What was once a town where young people were eager to leave has become a place where folks want to stick around. One such example is Magpie, a modern restaurant and bakery, which, since its founding in 2020, has become one of the most sought-after dining destinations in town. The menu at Magpie changes regularly, offering a mix of hearty classics and lighter fare. Don’t forget to treat yourself to a pastry or two from the adjoining bakery counter – the rye shortbread cookie is a local favorite.

Fall Activities to Complete Your Harrisonburg Experience

To make the most of your fall escape in Harrisonburg, consider these additional activities:

Now that you know why Harrisonburg, VA, is the perfect fall destination, start planning your trip and discover the magic of this charming town. Harrisonburg awaits your visit, ready to enchant you with its natural beauty, culinary delights, and vibrant culture. Don’t miss out on this unforgettable fall getaway!

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Discover Staunton: A Small Town with Big Character

Nestled in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Staunton beckons travelers with its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and breathtaking natural beauty, as per this travel blog post from SouthernLiving. This small town, pronounced “Stan-ten,” boasts six well-preserved historic districts, each adorned with beautifully restored buildings and Victorian-style architecture. Despite its size, Staunton offers a diverse range of attractions and activities for every type of traveler.

Staunton’s arts and culture scene is thriving, with the American Shakespeare Center and the Blackfriars Playhouse at its center. The Blackfriars Playhouse, a re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater, is considered one of the world’s most historically significant theaters. Here, you can enjoy performances of Shakespeare’s timeless classics like “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” as well as seasonal works like “A Christmas Carol.”

For a deeper dive into history, the Frontier Culture Museum, located on the outskirts of Staunton, is the largest open-air living history museum in the Shenandoah Valley. Costumed interpreters bring to life the stories of Native American tribes, European immigrants, and enslaved Africans who settled in Virginia. Music enthusiasts will find themselves in heaven during the Staunton Music Festival, a late-summer event that hosts over 80 renowned and emerging musical artists across more than 20 performances. Best of all, most of the concerts are free to the public. If you prefer live bands, venues like Gypsy Hill Park and Tempest Bar & Lounge regularly feature local talent.

Staunton’s walkable historic downtown area is a treasure trove of boutiques and cafes, making it a delight for leisurely strolls. The town is home to Mary Baldwin University, adding youthful energy to the mix. But it’s not just about shopping and education; Staunton has a rich historical heritage to explore. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum is a must-visit, showcasing historic photographs, artifacts, and even the Pierce-Arrow limousine that carried President Wilson after negotiating the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. You can also explore the very house where the 28th president was born. The Camera Heritage Museum is a photographer’s dream, featuring over 7,000 cameras spanning more than 150 years of photography technology. Additionally, the museum boasts a collection of more than 2,000 vintage photographs of Staunton and Augusta County.

For those who enjoy shopping, Staunton offers a variety of options, especially along Beverley Street, the town’s main thoroughfare. Vintage shops like Billy Opal, Juniper Lane, and Eclectic Retro are perfect for unique finds. Remedy Burger is a must-visit for burger lovers, with options like the signature Remedy Burger and the veggie-centric Broccoli Burger. If you’re craving Salvadoran-style food, Gloria’s Pupuseria serves up mouth-watering pupusas, pasteles, and tamales. For a taste of nostalgia, don’t miss Wright’s Dairy-Rite, which has been serving burgers and fries since 1952. Their curb service adds a touch of old-school charm to your dining experience, and you must try the Wright’s Wheelie– a hot glazed donut topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Sweet Addie’s Waffle Shop, where liege waffles can be adorned with toppings like crushed Oreos, mini marshmallows, and more. They also offer savory waffle combinations, including fried chicken, gravy, and white cheddar mac & cheese.

When it’s time to rest, Staunton has several charming accommodations. Berkeley Place, dating back to 1896, is an elegant boutique inn steeped in history. Recently renovated, this one-time mansion now enchants guests with its historical charm. Gibson’s Warehouse, a boutique property, boasts industrial-chic guest rooms with exposed brick walls and unique design elements. Hotel 24 South combines historic charm with modern amenities, including luxurious pillow-top mattresses, an indoor pool, and the 1924 Lounge for casual dining.

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How to Spend Your Time Visiting Orange, Virginia

Whenever you find yourself in need of a delightful change of scenery and have a chance to connect with the rich history of Virginia, there’s no better place than Orange, Virginia. Thanks to this travel blog post from Southern Living,you can find the best spots within Orange and its outlying towns of Barboursville and Gordonsville; all of which are sure to satisfy your craving for southern hospitality, a rich cultural tapestry, and the comforts of home.

James Madison’s Montpelier

James Madison’s Montpelier, located in Orange, Virginia, is a must-see for history buffs and anyone interested in early American architecture. The sprawling estate was home to the fourth President of the United States and his wife, Dolley Madison. Visitors can tour the mansion, which has been restored to its 19th-century appearance, and learn about the Madisons’ lives through interactive exhibits. Outside, there are beautiful gardens to explore, as well as hiking trails that wind through the property. James Madison’s Montpelier is a fascinating glimpse into America’s past that should not be missed.


Visiting Barboursville is giving yourself a chance to learn about American history first-hand. This quaint little town is home to a number of historical sites, including the Barboursville Ruins. These ruins are all that remain of the estate of James Barbour, who served as Governor of Virginia in the early 1800s. The estate was destroyed by a fire in 1884, but the ruins are still an impressive sight. In addition to the ruins, Barboursville is also home to a number of other historical sites. The Orange County Courthouse is one of the most notable, as this courthouse was built in 1734 and served as the site of several important trials in early American history, including the trial of Aaron Burr for treason. Succinctly, if you’re looking for something to do in Barboursville, be sure to check out these historical sites, as they’re sure to give you a glimpse into the past and provide some insight into America’s early history.

The Market at Grelen

The Market at Grelen is a must-see for any visitor to Orange, Virginia. This open-air market features local vendors selling fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and other food items. In addition to the food, there are also arts and crafts for sale, as well as live music on some days. The market is open from April through October, so be sure to check it out when you’re in town!

Museum of Orange County Heritage

The James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage is a great place to learn about the history of Orange, Virginia. The museum is located within a restored 19th-century home. The museum features exhibits on the history of the town, the Civil War, and James Madison. The museum also has a gift shop and a research library, both of which are favorites among visiting patrons.

Laurie Holladay Shop

Laurie Holladay is a local artist in Orange, Virginia who specializes in hand-painted furniture and home decor. Her shop is located in the historic downtown area, so if you’re looking for a unique piece of furniture or home decor, Laurie Holladay is the artist for you. Her shop offers a wide variety of hand-painted furniture and home decor, and Laurie Holladay also offers custom design services. If you have an idea for a piece of furniture or home decor but don’t know how to make it a reality, she can help! Whether you need help with the design itself or with the execution of the project, she can work with you to create the perfect piece for your home!

Coopers Cookin and Catering

If you’re in the mood for some good ol’ fashioned Southern cooking, then you need to head on over to Coopers Cookin and Catering. This local restaurant is known for its down-home comfort food, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. The menu features all of your favorite Southern staples, like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. And if you’re looking for something a little sweeter, be sure to try the restaurant’s famous peach cobbler. Trust that it’s worth the calories!

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