After several years of construction, the train is finally in the station. November 15 marks the official opening of the Metrorail Silver Line in Loudoun, with three stops - Washington Dulles International Airport, Loudoun Gateway in Sterling and Loudoun Station in Ashburn - finally connecting DC’s Wine Country® to the capital by public rail. While the train is sure to be a boon to commuters, it’s also an opportunity for businesses and attractions close to the stops to share some of the limelight.
Here we select 10 must-visit places within walking distance to a station or a short Uber, Lyft or taxi ride away.
Washington Dulles International Airport Station
Get off at this stop and you’re steps away from catching a flight to Cape Town or Cancun. You’re also a short drive away from finding out all about the history of flight. Among the exhibits at this sprawling museum and cultural center are the space shuttle Discovery, the Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb, the Concorde and flight capsules from the Apollo moon missions. The museum is also home to a spectacular IMAX surround sound theater, the perfect place to see movies like Top Gun: Maverick.
Stressed after a hard day’s work in the city? Order a rideshare and make your way to this vast, three-story Korean-inspired wellness complex on Route 50, just minutes from the station. Modeled on the traditional Jjim-Jil Bang spas of South Korea, a pass gets you access to state-of-the-art steam rooms, saunas, thermal baths, mud rooms and a restaurant and juice bar, as well as to a vast rooftop swimming pool complex replete with waterfalls, showers and hot tubs. You can also order authentic Korean, Thai and Japanese massages, scrubs and facials from skilled professionals.
Loudoun Gateway Station
Get the blood flowing and the muscles flexing at this 16,550 square-foot indoor ropes center – the largest of its kind in the U.S. Guests wear a full body climbing harness for safety and get to scale high ladders and hazards over the 120-obstacle course, making split second decisions on direction to go and risks to take along the way. While it’s excellent physical fitness, it also teaches teamwork, perseverance, responsibility and problem solving.
Fancy a thirst quencher after a long ride? Cold craft beer awaits only eight minutes’ drive away at this popular Sterling brewery named for the famous image of the frog hurled into a cloud of smoke from the force of the LADEE spacecraft launch on Wallops Island in 2013, captured by a NASA photographer. Aside from the cute frog icon on all the cans and bottles, the brewer also makes space themed beers like the Halo Orbit sour and the barrel-aged Roscosmos Russian Imperial stout, as well as a Wallops Island brown ale, a two-time winner at the Great American Beer Festival. Space out.
Beer, cocktails and tacos under one roof? This stylish complex in Sterling houses a taproom of popular Crooked Run Fermentation brewery, an outpost of spicy New-Mexican restaurant Senor Ramon Taqueria and the trendy craft-focused cocktail bar Nectar where skilled bartenders mix up a variety of classic and original cocktails. There’s a lively post work crowd to hang out with, too. If you fancy a breakfast snack before your commute, the facility also houses cozy brunch spot Daybreak Kitchen & Biscuit Co. The world is your oyster – or at least your avocado on toast.
When stopped at the western-most station on the Silver Line, exit the train and you’re in the modish shopping, dining, residential and office precinct named Loudoun Station. There’s an AMC Cinema here, an outpost of the lively Mexican restaurant Señor Tequila's and various other franchise restaurants such as Blackfinn Ameripub. It’s not all chains however. If you are in Loudoun to visit friends or family, The Cornichon is the wildly successful cheese and charcuterie catering business of female entrepreneur Regina Alvir run out of the kitchen of The Famous Toastery. Alvir curates delicious boards and boxes of cured meats (salami, soppressata, ham), cheeses, pickles, fruits, nuts and more. The artful presentations are perfect for gifts, private gatherings, office parties and other celebrations.
Traveling with the family? Let off steam at this vast indoor entertainment complex in the northern corner of Loudoun Station that features a range of hi-tech games for kids and adults, from bowling and laser tag to virtual reality and a variety of arcade games. There’s also a full-service bar and restaurant (TVs tuned to live sports), an outdoor patio and event rooms for private parties. Get in the Zone!
Long before the Silver Line the only train system out this way was the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. Built in 1900, the W&OD ceased operating in 1968 but since the 1970s its former railway bed has been transformed into a paved scenic hiking, cycling and in parts equestrian trail – “the skinniest park in Virginia.” Load your bike on the train, exit at Loudoun Station and make your way to Old Ox Brewery, 3.4 miles north, to access the trail. The path runs for about 20 miles in Loudoun, from Sterling in the east through Ashburn and Leesburg before ending in Purcellville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge out west, winding through lush farmland along the way. Happy riding.
If you’re not a cyclist, maybe you want to bring your ice skates on the train. Long before ION International Training Center started hosting professional skating in Leesburg, there was the Ashburn Ice House. Now in its 25th year, and located just two miles from the station, the facility features two NHL size rinks, a video arcade, a small restaurant and a spacious second floor lounge area from which to watch the skaters below. There are several hours a day for public skate, as well as lessons, ice hockey leagues, synchro skating teams and a pro shop to buy all the right gear. Ice, ice baby.
Some restaurants are so successful they become institutions. Less than a 10 minute rideshare from Loudoun Station, Clyde’s at Willow Creek Farm, sister restaurant of the famous Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, D.C., is one such place. It’s a vast barn-like space with multiple dining rooms, private rooms, a carriage house cigar lounge, a buzzy bar and a shaded al fresco terrace that in spring and summer feels like you could be dining in Provence or Tuscany. The Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes are a hit as is the spectacular Maine lobster with coleslaw, French fries and lemon butter.
While the Metro may stop in eastern Loudoun, it is putting visitors much closer to the 50 -plus vineyards that make up DC’s Wine Country®. In the coming months transportation companies like Cork and Keg Tours will offer full-service tours that pick visitors up from Loudoun Station for curated experiences at up to three craft beverage venues, such as wineries, breweries and distilleries. For additional transportation opportunities from Metro to the vineyards, check out our transportation page here.