Think you know Loudoun?
Discover 10 little-known facts about the county that may surprise you – along with some fun activities to enjoy in the areas in question once you find out.
Did you know…
1. The Town of Leesburg, Loudoun's county seat, was founded in 1758 and is not a city, but does take the title as Virginia's largest incorporated town.
Explore Leesburg’s history and architecture with the Leesburg walking tour app or take in the dynamic public art scene on a guided tour with Loudoun Art Tours. Throughout town, check out trendy boutiques, cozy cafés like King Street Coffee and local restaurants housed in everything from old mills to historic bank buildings.
2. Loudoun is home to Virginia’s largest network of dirt roads – around 300 miles, with the non-profit organization America’s Routes dedicated to capturing the images and stories behind these treasured byways.
Drive, hike or cycle these winding dirt roads to historic 18th century villages such as Taylorstown, Morrisonville and Unison, stopping at rural farm breweries and wineries on route.
3. 70% of the world’s internet traffic flows through the data centers of Ashburn, earning it the nickname “Data Center Alley".
Some of Loudoun’s best international cuisine is located in Ashburn. Rupa Vira’s The Signature does authentic Indian vegetarian cuisine such as Aloo Gobi (potato and cauliflower with spices) and Baingan Bharta (mashed eggplant with onion and tomato) while Akira Sushi Bistro is an intimate Japanese eatery offering the freshest sushi, tempura, teriyaki and more.
4. Loudoun has been a celebrity and movie star playground for decades. Elizabeth Taylor lived just outside Middleburg in the 1970s with then-husband Virginia Senator John Warner, while Robert Duvall, now resident in Fauquier, lived in Loudoun for years. Scenes from the 2014 movie "Foxcatcher" starring Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum were shot at Morven Park, and the 2004 movie "Crazy Like a Fox" was filmed at Welbourne Inn in Middleburg and based on the property’s legendary late owner Nat Morison. An episode of the hit TV show "West Wing" was filmed in and around Bluemont.
5. Established in 1728, The Red Fox Inn, the oldest building in Middleburg, was built and owned by a cousin of George Washington – Joseph Chinn. Originally called Chinn’s Ordinary, Washington stayed there regularly in 1748 while surveying the area. The inn was also frequently visited by Jackie Kennedy and the likes of Robert Duvall, Tom Cruise and Robert Redford.
One of the longest still-operating inns in the country, don’t miss intimate four-course Seasonal Virginia dinners in The Tavern upstairs or hand-crafted cocktails and burgers in the historic Night Fox Pub. Be sure to check out the framed thank you notes from Jackie at the entrance.
6. Greenhill Winery’s Blanc de Blancs was included in the 2016 Oscars "Everybody Wins" gift bag. The Middleburg-based winery was also a favorite of Michelle Obama.
Across the road from Greenhill, Cana Vineyards’ winemaker, Melanie Natoli, won the 2022 Governor’s Cup for the best wine in Virginia, becoming the first woman to win the award. The winning vintage? Her 2019 Unité Reserve red blend.
7. When Olympic figure skater Luiz Taifas, founder-owner of ION International Training Center in Leesburg, was a young athlete in Romania, he roomed and trained with his friend Nadia Comaneci, arguably the greatest gymnast of all time.
Budding Olympic skaters can get lessons or enjoy open skate at two Olympics-standard rinks in Loudoun. ION opened in 2019 and has two NHL-sized rinks, while the two rinks at Ashburn Icehouse out east have been drawing figure skaters, hockey players and fun seeking amateurs for 25 years.
8. In 2011, Sterling-based rocket engineers at Orbital, now Northrop Grumman, successfully petitioned Loudoun supervisors to rename the street their offices were on to Warp Drive – the name given to the technology that allows ships in the Star Trek universe to travel faster than light.
Several eastern Loudoun breweries including Crooked Run Fermentation, Lost Rhino Brewing and Old Ox Brewery can be accessed by bicycle on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, just a short cycle ride from Warp Drive.
9. A plaque in Hillsboro pays tribute to one Susan Catherine Koerner Wright, born in the town in April 1830, the daughter of a prominent local wagon maker. Her posthumous claim to fame? Her sons Wilbur and Orville would go on to invent motor-powered flight.
While visiting Hillsboro, enjoy stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and acres of farm fields from Harvest Gap Brewery and the slopes of Hillsborough Winery, Brewery and Vineyard. Make sure to stop for fresh gourmet sandwiches and great coffee at Stoneybrook Farm Market in town.
10. In 1879, iconic African American Civil Rights leader Frederick Douglass spoke to a crowd of 2,000 in Purcellville, addressing them in the area that is today’s Bush Tabernacle and Fireman’s Field.
With its ballfields, ice cream parlors and roller-skating rink, Purcellville is the perfect kids’ playground, but adults can have fun too by sipping whiskey and rye at Catoctin Creek Distillery and sampling craft cocktails at newly opened Bia Kitchen, its handsome wood counter imported from Italy.