Article & Photos by: Sofia Tate
Since Autumn is officially here and Thanksgiving feels like it’s just a couple more midterms away, it’s only natural to get in the holiday spirit. Thoughts of apple pie and pumpkin patches are beginning to become regular, and the weather is now (sometimes) perfect for boots and leggings, a staple in any wardrobe. Though the foliage enveloping the streets of Georgetown is quite photogenic, it isn’t comparable to the countryside that lies only an hour outside of DC.
A quick drive of about an hour into Virginia is absolutely worth it if you are looking for a small town weekend filled with some of the best food in the area. There are enough bakeries to take up a whole day of taste-testing, and that’s not even taking into consideration the cute boutiques that line the main streets of these quaint little towns. To make planning your trip a little more manageable, I put together a list of the must-try places in the area so you can maximize your time away from the Hilltop. Keep reading for a few of my favorite destinations perfect for a relaxing weekend away.
Upper Crust, Middleburg, VA
Number one on the list is a shameless shoutout to my hometown and the bakery I went to almost every week when I was a kid. There is not a single thing on the menu at the Upper Crust that isn’t absolutely incredible, but by far my favorite is their homemade s’mores bars. I don’t know what kind of magic they put in them, but I have never refused one if it was offered, or refrained from buying one while in the store. My second favorite item is their Jimmy Cake, a fluffy yellow cake with a butterscotch and caramel coating. Their sandwiches are also amazing (especially the Rooster), but a staple from our bakery runs was always their homemade croissants. They have ham and cheese and spinach and feta filled, but you can’t go wrong with their classic plain butter. The Upper Crust is an absolute must-try; they have a dessert to satisfy every type of sweet tooth, especially if you’re a pie fan!
West End Wine Bar & Pub, Purcellville, VA
There are so many amazing southern brunch places in the area, but West End is definitely at the top of the list. Even their bread and jam basket that precedes the meal is incredible, and that’s gotta stand for something because I have had a lot of subpar bread baskets in my day. But go easy on the bread: their ice cream-battered french toast and duck fries are pretty filling, and you definitely shouldn’t leave before trying them both. The whole brunch menu is a modern twist on classic southern cooking, a trend the DMV area has come to know and love. Their eggs benedict is also amazing, with the perfect amount of hollandaise for dipping some duck fries. Make sure you make a reservation before the morning of your brunch though, the place gets pretty packed on the weekends with people lining up to stuff themselves with Southern-inspired goodness.
Market Salamander, Middleburg, VA
Some locals might smirk at this recommendation purely because the restaurant’s ordering situation is a little slow and ineffective, but it is oh-so-worth the wait. I have never craved chicken tenders much in my life, but these are not just any chicken tenders. They come lightly battered, perfectly crisp, and you can never have just one. They pair perfectly with their mac n’ cheese, and the homemade honey mustard dipping sauce is an essential companion. Finally, there is no better way to finish off your meal than with a Scookie. Yes, a butterscotch scone cookie with pecans that is the size of your face. The whole experience is perfect for sharing with friends, or just grabbing a table for one at the forgotten seating area upstairs so that no one judges you for eating six chicken tenders at once.
Literally Any Thrift Shop in Middleburg or Upperville, VA
There are some pretty good finds in any of the area thrift shops purely due to the amount of expensive clothing from the ‘80s that local women have been purging from their closets. Considering how many ‘80’s trends have come back into style, it is worth a stop to look for some vintage tops. There is usually one thrift shop in every town, and although it often takes some digging, I have found some truly great items with a little perseverance.
Tully Rector, Middleburg, VA
Though the store may harbor a lot of tops and pants meant for older women, the sales women who work there are incredibly sweet and will have three things picked out for you before you’ve even made it through the first rack. They offer a really good selection of shoe and boot brands, plus their sweaters are well-made and perfect for this coming fall and winter. If you are thinking about checking this one out I recommend going during the town’s Sidewalk Sale, when they sell their inventory for great prices throughout the whole weekend.
Of course there are so many more cute knick knack shops and amazing art stores in the surrounding small towns, as well as some really great restaurants, but it’s more fun to discover those places on your own as you explore the area. These are just a few places to get you started. There are also some incredible hiking spots nearby, and I would recommend Sky Meadows for a beautiful view of the Paris Valley that isn’t too tough of a climb. A drive further out into the surrounding farms of Middleburg and Upperville is also worth the gas just to see the Blue Ridge mountains decked out in fall reds. So if you’re feeling like you need a little more grass, a lot more calories, and a thinner wallet this fall, then a trip out of DC should definitely be at the top of your to-do list.
SOFIA TATE is a freshman in the College who spends large amounts of time watching food videos and memorizing Pitbull songs instead of doing her work. She loves turtlenecks, and enjoys watching excessively dramatic teen shows on ABC family.