Fall 2011 Travel: Rappahannock County, Virginia

Sperryville Village in Virginia. (See more photos below.)Drive time: About 4 hours.

It isn’t easy to live in the shadow of a legend, let alone two. With the world-renowned Inn at Little Washington as its most famous resident and Shenandoah National Park as its next-door neighbor, this tiny agricultural yet artsy area is a find all on its own. Beneath its sleepy exterior lies a dynamic community of conservation-centric farmers to make any locavore swoon and professional folks who open their studios and homes to help you release your inner artist.

For a true taste of Rappahannock County, plan your visit around either the September farm tour or November’s studio-and-gallery tour. (Note: Many local businesses are closed on Tuesdays and/or Wednesdays, so check their websites.)

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Stay Here

With just four guestrooms in a century-old converted farmhouse, the Blue Rock Inn is a real charmer. Price range from $195 weekdays, $245 weekends; full breakfast is included. The dining room has a globally influenced menu (mid to high $20s), and the pub serves light fare at moderate prices. 12567 Lee Highway (Route 211), Washington; (540) 987-3388, thebluerockinn.com.

Located high up on a knoll overlooking the Miller family’s 840-acre organic farm, the 1827, five-guestroom Inn at Mount Vernon Farm can best be described as country chic. Rates are $249 to $359, including full breakfast. 147 Mount Vernon Lane, Sperryville; (800) 765-0604, theinnatmountvernonfarm.com.

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Eat Here

Amid the local art and gift items, there’s a small counter at 24 Crows that serves a daily-changing menu of soups and sandwiches ($4-$7), some of which are surprisingly exotic. 650 Zachary Taylor Highway, Flint Hill, (540) 675-1111.

Griffin Tavern offers classic pub and other comforting fare, including meringue pies made by a local home baker. Dinner under $20, lunch $10 and under. 659 Zachary Taylor Highway, Flint Hill; (540) 675-3227, griffintavern.com.

Thornton River Grille
offers everything from burgers ($11) to tenderloin ($29), with some really nice seafood preparations in between. 3710 Sperryville Pike, Sperryville; (540) 987-8790, thorntonrivergrille.com.

To-Do List

Shenandoah Mountain Guides (301-695-1814, teamlinkinc.com) will take you on a variety of full-day adventures ($80/person), including rock climbing in out-of-the-way spots, rappelling, fall foliage hikes and canoeing.

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• Arts and crafts classes: Glassblowing at Oldway Art Center (11774 Lee Highway, Sperryville; 540-987-8474, oldway.net; $120/two hours; no experience necessary). Plein Air Painting (Washington, 540-675-9984, nora-harrington.com; $160/three hours).

• Pottery: Sperryville Pottery (42 Main St., Sperryville; 540-987-1000, sperryvillepottery.com; $68/one hour private instruction).

• Culinary classes: “Raising a Kitchen Garden” at Artemisia’s Garden (540-987-3306, artemisiasgarden.com; call for prices for four-to-five-hour lessons). “Healthful Meals from Seasonal Ingredients” at Laughing Duck Gardens (Washington, 540-675-3725, laughingduckgardens.com; $75). “Gluten-Free Baking” at Triple Oak Bakery (Sperryville, 540-987-9122, tripleoakbakery.com; $65).

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Copper Fox Antiques is a mind-boggling 53,000 square-foot treasure trove of early American to modern kinds of furnishings and collectibles. 7 River Lane (Route 1003), Sperryville; (540) 987-8800, copperfoxantiques.com.

Ginger Hill Vintage Finds & Antiques is a fun place to troll for treasures among the early- to mid-20th-century indoor and outdoor décor. 12625 Lee Highway, Washington; (540) 987-8440, gingerhillantiques.com.

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Gadino Cellars offers an elegant cabernet Franc, French-oaked chardonnay and delightful signature blends. Tastings $5. 92 School House Road, Washington; (540) 987-9292, gadinocellars.com.

• At the Theatre at Washington, musical and dramatic performances are the norm—mostly on weekends—in this intimate venue. $10-$20. 291 Gay St., Washington; (540) 675-1253, theatre-washington-va.com.

Thrifty Tips

• Spend a day or two exploring and tasting farm-to-table firsthand on a self-guided Rappahannock County Farm Tour of nearly 20 county farms, orchards and wineries. Sept. 24 and 25. $5. (540) 675-5330, farmtour.visitrappahannockva.com.

• As part of the Rappahannock Studio & Gallery Tour the first weekend in November, you can see the works of more than 50 local artists at a representative exhibit and grab a map to visit your favorites at their studios throughout the county. $10. (540) 675-3193, raac.org.

• The smell alone is intoxicating at Copper Fox Distillery, which specializes in single-malt whiskey. Free tours on Saturdays. No tastings, but you can purchase on-site. 9 River Lane, Sperryville; (540) 987-8554, copperfox.biz.

River District Arts Rappahannock Central is a new collective of nine local artists’ studios, plus a gallery featuring local, national and international artists. 3 River Lane, Sperryville; (540) 987-8770, riverdistrictarts.org.

Our Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs Party is July 25!