Our 10 fun things to do in Shenandoah County Virginia mix hiking, quaint towns, country flavors, local wine and brews, ...
A scenic drive in Loudoun County, Virginia takes advantage of a wealth of small roads and beautiful views, perfect for a leisurely drive and an escape from the city. Pepper your drive with craft breweries and wineries, delicious dining, and historic sites, and you have the ideal way to spend a quiet day in the country.
Here’s the route we took on our scenic drive in Loudoun County, along with highlights and stops we highly recommend. Aldie, the start of our drive, is only an hour west of DC (without traffic).
Snickersville Turnpike: Aldie to Bluemont
The Snickersville Turnpike (SR 734) is a quiet, two-lane road, that passes farms and fields, and preserves much of it’s early character. George Washington travelled the road as a surveyor, and by 1786 it was the first operating turnpike in America, praised by Thomas Jefferson as a success.
The road is peaceful now, but it was once the site of fierce conflicts, including one of the bloodiest cavalry battles of the Civil War. Survivors of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry, who lost more than 100 men in the battle, erected a monument to mark the spot where the heaviest fighting took place, on a sharp curve in the road north of Aldie. Stop to read about the battle and imagine this peaceful corner in the midst of war.
Further on, the road passes over the double-arched stone Hibbs Bridge, built in the early 1800s and preserved thanks to the efforts of a community association.
Homes along the turnpike span many periods, and you’ll see early stone and log construction, classic Victorian farmhouses, and post-Depression cottages on your drive. We’re always impressed with the sturdy, beautiful stone walls that line the road past many farms.
The Turnpike passes through the towns of Philomont, Airmont, and Bluemont where you can stop at a classic general store for a snack and a souvenir. The Philomont General Store has been in continuous operation since 1913.
Near the turnpike’s northern end, you’ll find the town of Bluemont and one of the prettiest winery views in Virginia at Bluemont Vineyards. Prefer beer? Head next door to the sister site, Dirt Farm Brewing, for tasty craft beer and that same gorgeous view.
Things to Do from Snickersville Turnpike
- Visit the Massachusetts 1st Cavalry Memorial and learn about one of the bloodiest cavalry battles of the Civil War.
- Visit the Philomont General Store and shop for food and souvenirs. Try the Virginia salt and pepper peanuts!
- Enjoy Virginia wine or beer with amazing views at Bluemont Winery and Dirt Farm Brewing.
- Shop for fresh, local produce at Great Country Farms (also owned by the winery and brewery family in Bluemont). If you visit in October, you can enjoy pumpkin patch fun.
Even if you skip all of the stops, the Snickersville Turnpike will help you slow down to enjoy the beautiful scenery on this historic Virginia Byway.
Northwest Loudoun County: Purcellville and Waterford
There are plenty of scenic roads and small towns to visit when you leave Bluemont, but we particularly like the towns of Purcellville and Waterford when we’re visiting this corner of Loudoun County.
Dine and Drink in Purcellville
From Bluemont, it’s a short drive on route 7 to Purcellville, a small town packed with a wealth of great places to dine and drink. From barbecue to refined dining, and rye to craft brews, there is a destination for every mood.
If you’re in the mood for a drink, visit Catoctin Creek Distillery. They create quality whiskey, brandy, and other spirits from organic ingredients, and offer tastings and tours.
Need a break from the car and a chance to walk off all that deliciousness? The W&OD trail ends at the old Purcellville train station, and it’s a good option to get in a little exercise before you continue your drive.
To reach our next stop, Waterford, we like Route 690 and Wheatland Roads because they offer a quiet drive with plenty of scenery and nice wineries. You can also take a side trip up a dirt portion of old 690 to visit Old 690 Brewing Company, one of the first farm craft breweries in Virginia.
You’ll have many wineries to choose from in this area, and they all take advantage of the beautiful countryside to deliver peaceful views with their wines.
Step Into the Past in Historic Waterford
Waterford is one of the most beautiful small villages in Northern Virginia, famous for it’s historic homes and the annual Waterford Fair. Founded by Quakers in 1733, it was the first settlement in Loudoun County, and many of the structures that existed during its heyday as a flour milling town in the 19th century have been preserved.
Visit the Old Waterford Mill and take a short hike at the preserved Phillips Farm. You’ll find the trailhead out behind the mill, along with a guide to this easy 1.5 mile out-and-back hike.
At the Union Cemetery, you’ll find the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers, as well as a segregated section where African Americans were buried.
Stroll the downtown streets to enjoy scenic and historic Waterford buildings, and visit the Waterford Corner Store. The store offers unique crafts and foods created by local artisans, plus a nice selection of books about the area.
If you want to see the past come to life, plan to attend the next Waterford Fair, which opens historic buildings for tours and fills the streets with artisans, musicians, and re-enactors.
Things to Do in Northwest Loudoun County
- Stop in Purcellville for a meal and a brew.
- Take a walk on the W&OD or at Phillips Farm.
- Head to Old 690 to visit one of the first farm/craft breweries to open in Virginia.
- Visit a beautiful Loudoun County winery.
- Stroll the streets of Waterford and visit the Waterford Corner Store.
If you prefer to explore beyond the pavement, you’re in luck. Loudoun County has over 300 miles of unpaved roads, more than any other county in Virginia. Here’s a terrific route to explore the unpaved roads of Loudoun County, visiting some of the same towns we discuss here.
What’s your favorite scenic drive in Loudoun County?