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Visit the charming town of Clifton Virginia to explore an historic downtown, delicious dining, a lovely winery, and excellent hiking along Bull Run. Tucked into southwestern Fairfax County, the small town is an ideal escape from Northern Virginia’s busy streets. Only 30 miles from Washington DC, Clifton Virginia makes is a wonderful, relaxing day trip.
Here are five ways to enjoy the charms of Clifton:
Clifton is registered as a National Historic District and its historic houses are well-marked and full of interesting small-town history. Park near the red caboose, and read about Devereaux Station, the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and their role in the Civil War.
Next, stroll up Main Street until you reach the houses, many surrounded by picket fences. Most of the houses are marked with signs explaining their history and offering interesting tidbits about who lived in them. A few of our favorite signs are below, including one about the house on Main Street where Jeff Arch wrote the screenplay for Sleepless in Seattle. The town is small, so it won’t take long to check out the history on a few side streets too.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite (or, like us, are always ready for a meal), choose from a handful of delicious dining options. We often eat at The Main Street Pub, located in the old Clifton General Store, to enjoy delicious BLTs, burgers, and fish and chips. The bacon is stacked high and crisp, just the way we like. Other lunch options include Clifton Cafe next door, or Trattoria Villagio across the street. If we arrived closer to dinnertime (and were a little better dressed) we would definitely consider the bar or dinner at Trummer’s on Main.
Another excellent way to work up an appetite or a thirst is a hike on the Bull Run – Occoquan Trail. Follow the signs to Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, driving down Yates Ford Road to the end. Park in the public lot and take the access trail down to the stream. [Hemlock Overlook Park is operated as an education center by Adventure Links (great programs for kids), but you can use the access trail without entering the Adventure Links property.] Once you reach the stream—aka Bull Run—you can head north or south, following the Bull Run – Occoquan trail along the water. The hike is peaceful, shady, and often populated with Great Blue Herons and turkey vultures.
Finished your hike and oh so thirsty? Lucky for you that the hike parking area is right across from one of our two favorite Fairfax County wineries. Paradise Springs Winery is beautiful inside and out, and it conveniently opens at 11:00 AM. They offer cheese, breads and other foods to accompany the wine, or you can bring your own picnic lunch. If you hike late on a Friday you can stay for the music.
In Clifton Virginia, the food and wine are yummy, the town is quiet, and the pace is relaxed. Take your time; have a seat outside the general store or at the town park. Maybe stop in at Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot for a sundae or a shake, hot dogs or fries. Feel that stress melting away?
Clifton only has a few hundred residents, but the town swells during special events like the Wine Festival (June 21st), Fourth of July parade, and Labor Day Car Show. Check the Clifton town website for upcoming events.
What is your favorite spot in Clifton Virginia?
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