Road Trip! Destination: Leesburg, Va.
While Washington, D.C., has long been a tourist magnet for lovers of history, culture and cherry blossoms, there's a town close by rich with a special identity of its own. Leesburg, Va., is 40 miles outside of D.C., and getting there from here doesn't require a second spent on the beltway.
The town is in Loudoun County, known as “D.C.'s Wine Country,” and offers visitors a quaint downtown loaded with retail and dining options, a variety of attractions steeped in history and, of course, plenty of places to sample the best of what the region's vintners have to offer.
Leesburg played a key role during the American Revolution and Civil War and the town is within minutes of historic battlefields, preserved mansions and other sites. The town's historic district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and cited as one of the best preserved and most picturesque downtowns in Virginia.
The town plays host to frequent festivals celebrating both the region's past and present.
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six miles south of Leesburg sits Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, the original Loudoun winery whose first grapes were planted in 1981. Today, Loudoun features more than 30 award-winning wineries and tasting rooms.
Loudoun's wineries are grouped into five driving “clusters,” and for those interested in taking time to visit them all, the rides on scenic winding roads, past farms and estates can make for a lovely trip.
Guests can enjoy everything from tours to tastings or simply spend an afternoon sipping the day's selection paired with crusty bread and creamy cheese while overlooking the lovely northern Virginia landscape.
Anyone looking to take a piece of the past home with them can visit one of the many antiques shops in Leesburg and just beyond. The Leesburg Antiques and Collectibles Dealers Association member shops represent more than 120 dealers in the area.
Among the must-visit stops is the Leesburg Antique Emporium, housed in an old department store in the heart of town at the corner of Loudoun and South King streets. It is a market forum for more than 40 dealers and offers a selection of furniture, accessories and collectibles.
In nearby Old Lucketts Store, treasure hunters will find an entire shopping center of renovated homes turned antique and home decor shops.
For a list of local shops, visit www.leesburgantiques.com.
Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets is an outdoor shopping village featuring more than 110 designer and name-brand stores.
Savvy shoppers can find savings at stores like Ann Taylor, Barneys New York, Burberry, Coach, Cole Haan, J.Crew, Juicy Couture, Kenneth Cole, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Nautica, Polo Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Theory, Williams-Sonoma and others.
Details: 703-737-3071 or www.premiumoutlets.com
Leesburg was home to Uniontown native George C. Marshall, a five-star general who served as Chief of the Army, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense. He authored the “Marshall Plan” to revitalize Europe after World War II, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
His home in Leesburg, known as the Marshall House or Dodona Manor, is preserved as a National Historic Landmark. It is open to the public for tours.
Details: 703-777-1880 orwww.georgecmarshall.org
A National Register Historic Property, Morven Park was once the home of Virginia Gov. Westmoreland Davis. The park continues to reflect the ideals advanced by Gov. Davis — civic responsibility, agricultural sustainability and improvement of life for rural Virginians — through programs offered at its three museums, sports/equestrian complex and 1,100 acres of open space.
More than 85,000 people visited Morven Park in 2012, participating in the educational and recreational programming or enjoying the Greek Revival mansion, beautiful scenery, historic gardens, sports fields, Civil War encampment site and hiking trails. Public events occur year-round including equestrian competitions, festivals, sporting events, Civil War re-enactments and hands-on learning programs.
Details: 703-777-2414 or www.morvenpark.org
Visitors can enjoy walking through Leesburg's Historic District, maintained closely to early-period standards.
There's much to do, whether it's a stop at the Loudoun Museum or Thomas Balch Library, visiting the old Courthouse, shopping at the various retailers or sampling some of the local dining options.
Surrounding a national cemetery, this regional park preserves the site of the Battle of Ball's Bluff, the first Civil War engagement to take place in Loudoun County. Hiking trails and interpretive signs aid visitors, who can learn about the battle fought on Oct. 21, 1861.
When Confederate forces pushed the Union troops back across the Potomac River, many of the homes along King Street served as hospitals for wounded soldiers. Today, Ball's Bluff National Cemetery honors the many soldiers who fought and died there.