Little Washingon activities
April 8, 2009 8:23 AM   Subscribe

What to do in and around Washington, VA, this weekend?

My wife and I are celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary with a trip to "Little" Washington, VA. We're staying in town, and, yes, doing dinner at The Inn at Little Washington (yum!). I know there are a bunch of wineries in that area, and there's a lot of scenery to be seen, but I was wondering if the hive mind had any suggestions for other stuff to do/see. We'll be driving out there Saturday morning from the other Washington (DC), coming back on Monday.
posted by MrMoonPie to Travel & Transportation around Washington, VA (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You are only about 45 minutes from Old Rag Mountain. The hike to the peak and back down is probably the best day hike in VA. For a less strenuous day, you could take a leisurely drive through Shenandoah National Park.
posted by COD at 8:49 AM on April 8, 2009

It's definitely true that the area is chock-full of wineries, and that the countryside is beautiful. You might enjoy a jaunt up onto nearby Skyline Drive, which follows the ridgeline much as the Blue Ridge Parkway does farther south.

You're about half an hour from Luray Caverns (and its Great Stalacpipe Organ), if that interests you.

You are only about 45 minutes from Old Rag Mountain. The hike to the peak and back down is probably the best day hike in VA.

Hmm, I'll have to remember that. Anything that can compete with McAfee Knob and Dragon's Tooth (both near Roanoke) has to be a good hike.
posted by musicinmybrain at 9:17 AM on April 8, 2009

Thirding the Old Rag hike. I'll emphasize the strenuousness of the trail, though. It's not for the completely-out-of-shape.
posted by speedo at 10:04 AM on April 8, 2009

Old Rag looks to be a bit more strenuous than we're looking for--are there any easier/shorter walks/hikes? Is Old Rag worth doing even if we don't do the whole thing?
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:20 AM on April 8, 2009

Old Rag has two ascents. If you take the fire road (instead of the main ascent) up and down, it is not a strenuous hike. There are big rocks at the top where you guys could climb up and have the most scenic picnic you have ever had.

Take some time and do a back and forth on Skyline Drive. The scenery is AMAZING in the fall, but should be pretty solid now too.

There are 3 caverns in the area (Skyline, Luray, Endless). If my memory serves me correctly, Luray is the best.

Now might be alright season to do a little gentle canoe-ing. It might still be a bit chilly, but it is certainly an idea if you are in to that sort of thing.

Washington is really not a very big town. Aside from outdoorsy things, you are going to be a drive from anything meaningful. To the extent that you can, try to take advantage of that and relax.

Good luck!
posted by milqman at 11:38 AM on April 8, 2009

About Skyline Drive - The scenery is pretty amazing, especially if you enjoy mountain views and wild animals. You're practically guaranteed to see deer (by the dozens), and you stand a chance of seeing all sorts of other animals too - bears, skunks, raccoons, chipmunks, birds, etc. HOWEVER, without any leaves on the trees right now and not much blooming yet, the whole beautiful scenery thing is kinda less than stellar right now.
posted by geeky at 11:50 AM on April 8, 2009

If you want less strenuous hikes...there are short hikes all along Skyline Drive, many of them terminating at waterfalls and scenic vistas. Given all the rain the last couple of weeks, I would think the waterfalls might be particularly cool to check out this weekend.
posted by COD at 12:00 PM on April 8, 2009

White Oak Canyon is an easy hike and has some nice waterfalls.
posted by Wet Spot at 3:49 PM on April 8, 2009

If you can get your hands on it, there's a guide to Hikes to Waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park. There's another guide to Short Hikes in Shenandoah National Park. You may be able to get copies in DC-area bookstores or outdoor sporting equipment stores, or from one of the shops within SNP. They're slender pamphlets; my copy of "Short Hikes" cost $1 a few years ago.

Note that for Skyline Drive, White Oak Canyon, or anything else in SNP, you'll need to buy a park pass at one of the entry stations.

If you happen to be really into the local food / sustainable agriculture movement, you might want to arrange a farm tour at Waterpenny Farm, a place in Sperryville that is doing some interesting things. I don't suppose they'll have much growing yet, but the owners are nice and would probably enjoy talking about their farming techniques.
posted by Orinda at 5:04 PM on April 8, 2009

Thanks for the suggestions, all. We ended up hitting a few wineries, driving a bit on Skyline, and hiking the (short) Dark Hollow Falls hike. Our dinner at the Inn was, as anticipated, fabulous, and our stay at the Foster Harris House was luxurious and relaxing--there's a bit more detail on my blog, if you're interested. Mostly, we didn't do much, but that was kind of the point.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2009

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