We’ve been saying for weeks that summer is here but summer only really kicks off this week - Wednesday, June 21 - the longest day of the year, also known as the Summer Solstice.
The longest day is celebrated by cultures throughout the Northern Hemisphere with sunrise gatherings, midsummer festivals and late-night parties, most famously at Stonehenge, England, site of those strange, balanced rocks built to align with the solstices.
So how to celebrate the perfect longest day in Loudoun?
I’ll start mine with a different kind of alignment: a yoga class at Five Peaks. There are yoga studios throughout Loudoun, but Five Peaks, owned by yogi-entrepreneur Lauren Christian, has studios in Lansdowne and Purcellville and practices the hot form of yoga I like with a focus on Drishti (steady gaze) and Ujjayi breath. The Lansdowne location has a 6 a.m. class, which will hopefully set my mind right.
After that I’ll drive to Leesburg and make my way to King Street Coffee for my morning joe. Leesburg is home to the Coffee Corridor – at least seven great cafes and coffee bars within a few blocks – but I go to King Street for the locally roasted Lone Oak beans and the red Adirondack chairs in the sun. My drink? A whole milk latte with an extra shot. Baristas Chaz and Adrienne pour it perfectly.
I don’t usually eat breakfast but why not live large on the longest day? Because it is the summer holiday, I’ll take my kids Madeline (16) and Whitaker (13), for a perfect New York-style bagel at BKD Bagels across the street. My son and I opt for salmon and cream cheese; my daughter likes a plain toasted with butter.
We’ll walk downtown Leesburg after this. My daughter adores the trinkets at Sunflower Shack, the local artisan finds at Muz & Rose and browsing the vinyl at Dig! Records & Vinyl. If she plays her records right, I might buy her a vintage LP. My son could spend all day at Play it Again Sports looking at baseball gear.
By noon it should be getting hot. There are so many great public pools in Loudoun, from Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling to Franklin Park and its waterslide in Purcellville. My daughter has a summer job at the Lovettsville Community Center pool though, so we’ll go there. It’s less busy than most county pools, they have deck chairs to lounge on and the water is always clear and refreshing.
Time for a late lunch. My friend Will lives a life of leisure, and he often calls me to meet him at either Tuscarora Mill or King Street Oyster Bar for a wine-fueled lunch. I’m going to suggest 1863 Kitchen & Taproom in Lovettsville instead, down the road from the pool. The chef is an unsung hero of Loudoun’s culinary scene and the ship’s galley bar here is the perfect place to tuck into Classic Fish and Chips with Peppadew Remoulade and a glass of Husky Buff pilsner from nearby One Family Brewing.
My wife and I both like wine and she’d want to join me for an afternoon winery visit. I opt for Walsh Family Wine outside Purcellville. I like the reds, but this being a long summer day, something lighter is in order. I will try the Twin Notch Sauvignon Blanc or the always excellent Rose. The winery has great outside seating too, with views of vines, pines and hills and plenty of shade.
One of our family summer traditions is to watch the Purcellville Canons collegiate league baseball team at Fireman’s Field. Unfortunately, they’re away from home on Summer Solstice. Not to worry. We’ll load up the bikes and take a late afternoon cycle ride on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail from Hamilton Station Road to Purcellville. I love the views, the sun on the Blue Ridge and how the trees and farm fields turn a luminous green.
We deserve our early dinner now. I love Monk’s BBQ and Bia Kitchen in Purcellville, but we’ll opt for a table on the back porch of Magnolias at the Mill, adjacent to the bike trail. The crispy tempura calamari is world class as are the fried green tomatoes, so we will start with those. For entrees I like the Wagyu Smash Burger (the beef from nearby Ovoka Farm), while my wife usually goes for the Almond Crusted Trout. Drinks-wise bartender Katherine makes a great gin martini and we’ll ask General Manager Matt Perkins to recommend a bottle of local red.
If we finish by 8 p.m., it’ll probably still be light outside. It’s been a long day though and I’m not for those late-night summer solstice parties of the kind that take place at Stonehenge.
It’s home to see the sunset, read a book and hit the hay.
Happy longest day!