Clarke County, Virginia: Family Fun or Weekend Getaway
Sponsored Advertising Content: Southern Living has partnered with Virginia.org to form a guest blogger network. Today's post is provided by guest blogger Elisabeth Pendergrass of District of Chic. Check back every Monday and Thursday for new ways to explore the state of Virginia.
If you're looking for a vacation spot that's just as fun for couples as it is for families, look no further than Clarke County, Virginia. Last year, my husband and I celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary here and spent a whole weekend roaming around this scenic area. Now that our baby boy has arrived, we thought it would be fun to come back for a family day trip with our little one.
We started the day by stopping in the charming little town of Millwood to grab picnic supplies at the Locke Store - their made-to-order sandwiches and hot food, like quiche and chicken pot pie, are delicious. Also try their house-made boursin, baked goods, and chutney. And while you're at it, you might as well grab one of their delicious frozen soups and a bottle of wine to take home for dinner. The store stocks a great selection of both local and international wines.
Our next stop was the State Arboretum - a garden lover's dream, this hidden jewel is rarely ever crowded. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better place for relaxing walk and picnic spots are abundant. As you might have guessed, this park is very picturesque. On our recent trip, we ran into a group taking prom photos for this very reason. There are a number of events held here throughout the year - our favorite being the Garden Fair, which features vendors selling a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees, including native Virginia varieties (pics of last year's here).
Where to Stay
For a truly special weekend getaway, check into L'Auberge Provençale. This is where we stayed for our anniversary and it's truly a foodie's paradise! Run by a French expat and his wife, the inn isn't your average sleepy bed and breakfast. The food easily rivals some of the best in DC. During our stay, we were able to take advantage of two equally impressive dining experiences: a made-to-order picnic highlighting fresh ingredients from their garden and local farms and an incredible five course tasting menu at their flagship restaurant, La Table Provençale - an experience that easily warrants a trip on its own.
Other Things to Do
Nearby Sky Meadows is a great spot for a picnic and hike. You can also check out the historic Mount Bleak House while you're there and see how a middle-class farming family of the 1860s lived. If you're more in the mood for a scenic drive, head on over to Skyline Drive, a 105-mile National Scenic Byway that traverses Shenandoah National Park. There is also an abundance of galleries and antique stores in the area. The Burwell-Morgan Mill hosts Art at the Mill in both the spring and the fall and it's a great place to scope out work by local artists. Just down the road, the Red Schoolhouse Antiques has a beautiful and reasonably-priced selection. If you're ever in the market for a cool campaign trunk or dining room table, this is the place to go. There are also a number of wineries in this area, but Bluemont Vineyard might have the best view. Sitting at an elevation of nearly 1000 feet on an eastern slope in the Blue Ridge Mountains, you can see clear across the valley below while enjoying your glass of wine.