Northern Virginia really comes alive during the fall season! From local farms, to community events, to little downtowns becoming busy in preparation for the holidays, to the natural panoramas bursting with foliage…this area has a lot to enjoy this time of year! Here are some of the best ways you can celebrate the season:
We’ve already showed you many of the amazing fairs and festivals that take place each year in Northern Virginia. Check out our list of some of these local festivals—with a number at local farms, designed specifically for kids, or for adult wine and beer lovers!
There are so many local farms and so many festivals that take place in the area that we couldn’t include even include them all! If you’re looking for a complete list visit www.virginia.org, but here’s a couple more that we think are worth mentioning (and visiting!).
The Temple Hall Park Corn Maze and Fall Festival! Celebrate the harvest at this Northern Virginia park and working farm, with tons of games and activities for kids. Don’t just pick your pumpkins—watch them being shot out of a cannon! And their corn maze has a reputation for being one of the best in the region—it’s 24 acres large! https://www.novaparks.com/events/temple-hall-fall-festival
If you enjoy farmers markets but like wine even more there’s another festival at 868 Estate Vineyards just for you! The Farm Market Festival at 868 Estate promises a day full of local wine, local food, local artisans and vendors, and live local bands. https://868estatevineyards.com/visit/farm-market-festival-fall-2017/
If fall puts you in a more reflective mood then you may feel at home at Morven Park this October during the NoVa Wellness & YogaFest Retreat. Exploration of self, guidance through meditation and various yoga techniques, tranquil nature walks through the beautiful grounds, and educational discussions will all be included. http://novawellnessyogafestretreat.com
Stroll downtown Leesburg this weekend during the 6th Annual Leesburg Fine Arts & Crafts Festival. The historic downtown and the Friends of Leesburg Public Arts will showcase over 100 artists from Virginia and across America. http://www.paragonartevents.com/S-59-Leesburg+Fall+Fine+Art+Festival.html
Also coming up soon is the Loudoun County International Festival, hosted in Leesburg as well. Reggae steel drum performances, Irish and Scottish bagpiping, Estonian folk dancers, a traditional Chinese Lion Dance and much more will all be showcased. Plenty of entertainment, activities, food trucks, and merchandise and craft vendors will be there. https://www.virginia.org/listings/Events/LoudounCountyInternationalFestival/
The Middleburg Film Festival also takes place in the fall, and in the past has drawn huge names like Emma Stone to the historic cobbled streets of Middleburg. Films include festival favorites, foreign films, world premieres, and Academy-Award contenders. Come see some and stay for the Q&A sessions with world-renowned filmmakers, actors, and special guests. http://middleburgfilm.org/
Fall is one of the best times of the year for hiking—a moderate pace won’t get you sweating like it would in the summer and you don’t need to bundle up in a coat yet! Plus you get to watch the leaves change and feel them crunch underfoot. The scenic overlooks on many of these trails become truly breathtaking during this season!
If you’re near Broad Run and can take on a trail ranked “moderate” for difficulty there’s the Bull Run Mountain Loop nearby. 4.3 miles long, featuring a river and what’s left of an old gristmill. You’ll see some great foliage, and the remains of a civil-war era railhouse!
Take the Potomac Hike: Riverbend to Great Falls Park if you’re looking for a mostly level, dirt trail with constant river views! You can even stop at the visitor’s center to learn about the history and geology of the route you’re trekking. Plenty of dramatic, and beautiful, falls overlooks along the way.
For those near Arlington a great way to enjoy the outdoors in fall is with a trip to Theodore Roosevelt Island. Located in the middle of the Potomac, this 91-acre nature sanctuary was built as a tribute to Teddy Roosevelt. The island is only accessible via a pedestrian bridge from Arlington and there aren’t any actual hiking trails, but plenty of places to walk, enjoy the scenery, or take a picnic!
Trails at Mason Neck State Park offer a variety of views— marsh, woods, and bay vistas await! There are several different easy and moderate trails to enjoy, with lots of wildlife on display. Bring binoculars if you have them—you’ll most likely spot some herons or bald eagles! The Bay View Trail is a great one for fall, you’ll get to take in the picturesque bay as well as the woods and changing foliage.
Enjoy open fields, wooded hills, and gorgeous views at Sky Meadows State Park. The park includes 17 miles of trails, including one 4-mile loop trail that features incredible views of the valley. Walk a segment of the Appalachian Trail, or choose from many others of varying levels of difficulty. Bluemont Vineyards is nearby, if you’d like to continue your afternoon drinking in wine…and more gorgeous views from their large deck.
We’ve already told you about all of the fantastic local farms that let families pick their own produce here: U-Pick Farms in Northern Virginia. But plenty of these farms also create artisanal products, sell organically and ethically raised meats, keep their own bee hives for raw honey, and jar their own pickles and preserves. Some also sell wreaths, flowers, or homemade crafts. Agriculture is alive and well in Northern Virginia and the fantastic farmers markets and farm stands in the region prove it!
If you love eating local there’s another way to support farms in the area—plenty offer CSA subscriptions! Community Supported Agriculture means that you invest in a portion of their harvest and each week when the crops are picked you’re able to pick up a share. Fresh, and in-season local fruits and veggies that a farmhand set aside just for you, what could be better? Here’s a list of some Northern Virginia farms that have their own CSA programs: https://www.localharvest.org/fairfax-va/csa
With fall brings plenty of delicious fall foods and warm drinks! Visit almost any farm in the area for a cup of hot apple cider, or Great Country Farms in Bluemont for freshly baked apple cider donuts. Stop by Mom’s Apple Pie in Leesburg or Round Hill for some of the best baked goods around, their sour cherry pie is fantastic! Marker-Miller’s Orchard in Winchester makes all of their baked goods, fudge, and ice cream in-house! Enjoy the Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ Festival in Leesburg this October for samplings of craft brews and the best barbecue Northern Virginia has to offer! (Beer, Bourbon, & BBQ) The second week of October is Culpeper’s Downtown Restaurant Week, a variety of local eateries are serving up special menus—with special prices! (Culpeper Restaurant Week)
Farm to table dining is big in this area, and never better than when the fall harvest is coming in! In Alexandria visit Restaurant Eve or Vermillion, both spots that the Obamas have enjoyed, both spots that feature seasonal locally-grown Virginia produce. If you’re near Fredericksburg visit Bistro Bethem, where fresh fish and house-made charcuteries are on the specials board. Or FoodE where 85-90% of their daily menu offerings are sourced directly from their local farm partners. In Lovettsville enjoy a meal at Market Table Bistro—which has partnered with five Loudoun County farms, ten local wineries, and one LoCo distillery to bring you the best the area has to offer. Likewise, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville serves up elegant, European-inspired food with ingredients sourced from their own farm and several other local ones. All of their meats are organic and free-range, and the seafood is wild caught. If you look around you’ll find plenty of other local gems serving up meals based around seasonal produce from nearby family-owned farms.
Or set aside a day to take the 5-hour long Wine Trolley Tour sipping your way through the historic town of Fredericksburg. (Wine Trolley Tour) Northern Virginia is known for it’s wine country as well, lots of vineyards are open for tours and have gorgeous views over the valley and the changing foliage. And in addition to tasting rooms many of these wineries have delightful food menus. On weekends Loudoun Valley Vineyards serves up some southern comfort food from chef Zan Dial to pair with your drinks. Potomac Point Winery in Stafford serves up delicious fall desserts during this season, like apple dumplings with pecans and raisins, coconut bread pudding, and chocolate mousse with cherries marinated in wine.
There are plenty more of great ways to enjoy fall in NoVA…Stay tuned for part 2 next week!