Why Loudoun County, Virginia, Is The Perfect Fall Escape For Foodies And Wine Lovers

Craft beers, boutique wines, scenic heights—to name a few.

<p>Sonheim Photography</p>

Sonheim Photography

With postcard-worthy vineyard views, a slew of charming small towns, and a burgeoning food and wine scene, it’s easy to forget that Loudoun County, Virginia is just one hour from our nation’s bustling capital.

While Loudoun County offers plenty to do year-round—be it shopping or savoring farm-to-table cuisine—fall is arguably the best season to visit this dynamic destination. During this time, visitors can expect stunning fall foliage, ample outdoor activities, and fun-filled seasonal events. From sipping craft beers and boutique wines to embarking on a scenic hike, here are a few recommendations on what to see, do, eat, and explore in Loudoun County this fall.

Around Town

<p>Courtesy of Breaux Vineyards</p>

Courtesy of Breaux Vineyards

October—which just so happens to coincide with Virginia Wine Month—marks peak harvest season for local Loudoun County vineyards. Embark on your own self-guided winery tour via the Virginia Governor’s Cup Gold Medal Wine Trail, which features the crème de la crème of Virginia wineries, cideries, and meaderies. Several of the state’s best wineries can be found in Loudoun County, including 868 Estate Vineyards, Breaux Vineyards, Cana Vineyards and Winery of Middleburg, and Maggie Malick Wine Caves. Other must-visit Loudoun County wineries include Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, Fabbioli Cellars, Zephaniah Farm Vineyard, Fleetwood Farm Winery, and Lost Creek Winery.

If you prefer beer over wine, you’re in luck. Loudoun County’s LoCo Ale Trail connects more than 30 breweries. Highlights include B Chord Brewing for fresh brews and live tunes, while Lost Rhino Brewing Co. and Belly Love Brewing offer unique craft brews. Also, don’t miss the chance to brew your very own beer at The Craft of Brewing.

Up for more adventure? Head straight to Bluemont Vineyard and wander through their adult corn maze (look up seasonal dates in October) while sipping on craft beverages, cozying up by one of the bonfires, and listening to live music. Alternatively, make your way to Leesburg’s Stone Tower Winery, which is set atop Hogback Mountain and spans over 300 acres. Don’t miss the Harvest Hike, a guided, 1.5-mile trek through the vineyards. Also in Leesburg—best known for its historic downtown dotted with mom-and-pop shops and restaurants—is Pumpkin Village. Open seasonally until November 6, this autumnal oasis offers a fun and family-friendly lineup of activities like wagon rides, a petting zoo, giant slides, face painting, and oh-so-much more. For more family fun, visit Wegmeyer Farms or Temple Hall Farm for prime pumpkin picking ops.

The fun continues in Middleburg, which dates all the way back to 1787. Best known as the nation’s horse and hunting capital, this quaint town is home to a handful of acclaimed eateries and bed-and-breakfasts (including the award-winning Goodstone Inn & Restaurant and the 1728-era Red Fox Inn and Tavern), as well as an abundance of eclectic shops such as The Christmas Sleigh and The Tac Box, Inc. Ashburn is another beloved Loudoun County town. Bordered by the 45-mile Washington & Old Dominion Trail, Ashburn is especially popular amongst bikers, hikers, and joggers alike. Here, breweries, shops, and restaurants abound.

Last but certainly not least, mark your calendars for the annual Waterford Fair, which takes place every October. There’ll be contemporary crafts, local libations, musical performances, and historic home tours. Stick around town (or, in this case, village—which, by the way, just so happens to be a National Historic Landmark) and stroll down Main Street, which is where you’ll also find the charming Corner Store, which sells locally produced and handmade keepsakes. Then, check out the 1.5-mile-long Phillips Farm Interpretive Hiking Trail, which meanders through old farmland.

Where to Eat

Gourmands will especially love the abundance of farm-to-table fare found throughout Loudoun County. Local haunts include King Street Oyster Bar (with locations in Leesburg and Middleburg), The Conservatory at The Goodstone Inn (Middleburg), The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm (Lovettsville), and Harrimans Piedmont Grill (Middleburg). However, several new hotspots have popped up in recent months. In Ashburn, travelers can feast on seasonal American cuisine at Farm & Fork Kitchen (don’t miss the local heirloom tomatoes and prosciutto, corn chowder, and seared Chesapeake Bay Rockfish). Also in Ashburn, savor Cajun-inspired Southern staples at Bourbon Bayou Kitchen, where menu options include Cajun fried oysters, alligator nachos, braised pork belly, shrimp and grits, and cast-iron cornbread. New to Loudoun County is Rebellion Bourbon Bar & Kitchen, which opened in Leesburg this past summer. Here, patrons can enjoy comfort food like candied bacon, chicken tenders, and burgers— paired with over 170 (!) varieties of bourbons, whiskeys, and spirits.

Where to Stay

<p>Courtesy of Salamander Resort &amp; Spa</p>

Courtesy of Salamander Resort & Spa

Check into the family-friendly Salamander Resort & Spa, a Southern Living favorite. The property—which is flanked by vineyards, horse farms, and the Blue Ridge Mountains—boasts a tranquil spa, an on-site equestrian center, ample on-site activities, and several bars and restaurants. Plus, each of the 168 upscale rooms and suites is equipped with a private patio or balcony.

Meanwhile, couples will especially appreciate a stay at the Goodstone Inn. This luxury property is set along 265 acres of rolling hills and boasts 18 elegantly appointed guest rooms spread across six historic cottages. You also can’t go wrong with a stay at the wellness-centric Lansdowne Resort and Spa, a riverside hotel that’s famous for its 12,000-square-foot luxury spa. 

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Read the original article on Southern Living.