These 5 hike and beer day trips combine a little exercise in the great outdoors with the relaxing payoff of a cold Virginia craft brew. ...
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. The combination of scenery and stops offer an ideal way to spend a quiet day in the country.
The map shows our recommended route for a scenic drive in Loudoun County. Read on for highlights and stops you can enjoy along the way. Aldie, the start of the drive, is only an hour west of Washington DC (without traffic).
Snickersville Turnpike Scenic Drive: 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. 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. One of the bloodiest cavalry battles of the Civil War was fought along the turnpike. The 1st Massachusetts Cavalry lost more than 100 men in the battle. The survivors 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 north, the road passes over the double-arched stone Hibbs Bridge. Built in the early 1800s, nthe bridge was preserved thanks to the efforts of a community association. Pull off onto Hibbs Bridge Road for a better look at the bridge’s design.
Homes along the turnpike span many periods. 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.
The Snickersville Turnpike passes through the towns of Philomont, Airmont, and Bluemont. All three towns have classic general stores where you can stop 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.
Take a short (or optional longer) hike to a beautiful westward-facing at Bear’s Den Overlook in Bluemont. After your hike, beer-lovers will appreciate the craft brews and views at nearby Bear Chase Brewing Company.
Things to Do on a Snickersville Turnpike Scenic Drive in Loudoun County VA
- 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 Vineyard, Dirt Farm Brewing, and Bear Chase Brewing, all in Bluemont.
- 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.
- Take a short hike to the spectacular view at Bears Den Overlook Hike in Bluemont Virginia.
Even if you skip all of the stops, the Snickersville Turnpike is a chance to slow down and enjoy the beautiful scenery on this historic Virginia Byway.
Northwest Loudoun County: Purcellville and Waterford
There are many 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, Virginia.
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.
You can’t beat the brisket, ribs and pulled pork at Monk’s BBQ and they offer a great craft beer selection. Head to Market Burger for delicious burgers, or Magnolia’s at the Mill for a more romantic meal.
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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 bike 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. 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. We love the back yard pond with views of the foothills at Doukenie Winery in Hillsboro.
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, Waterford was the first settlement in Loudoun County. 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, attend the annual 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?