Settled in 1764 and named Purcellville in 1853 after prominent businessman Valentine Purcell, this bustling Blue Ridge piedmont settlement still has something of a frontier feel to it. The low-slung buildings of downtown, including a renovated grain mill turned restaurant and a former Buick dealership turned whiskey distillery, are reminiscent of a Western film set, while the handsome Victorian homes in the neighborhoods give it a Norman Rockwell charm. The W&OD Trail, built on the bed of the former Washington & Old Dominion railway line, ends in downtown, adjacent to the now restored Purcellville Train Station, bringing in cyclists from across the region.
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The heart of downtown has several thrift and antique stores including Re-Love It where you can pick up a second-hand Armani jacket or a retro vinyl record player, and It’s Bazaar featuring bargain 70s furniture and a top floor of cast off coats, costumes and wigs. Don’t miss the three floors of vintage clothing at Nostalgia Boutique in a Victorian on East Main Street a short walk away.
Take in an evening game at Firemen’s Field, home ballpark to collegiate summer baseball team the Purcellville Cannons. Hot dogs, burgers, cold beer, cheap tickets ($5 for adults, $2 for kids) and Major League prospects swinging for the fences – what could be more fun? Sticking with outdoor fun, Franklin Park set on 203 acres west of town has it all: swimming, tennis, fishing and ultimate frisbee. There are also multiple ball fields under lights and the Franklin Park Arts Center hosts a wide range of plays, musicals and exhibitions.
When Becky and Scott Harris founded the first Loudoun distillery since Prohibition in 2009, they were complete novices. Fast forward a decade and Catoctin Creek Distilling Company’s award-winning goods are sold the world over, and Becky Harris is arguably the leading female whisky maker in America. Buy bottles of brandy, gin and flagship Roundstone Rye on the premises and try a craft sampler cocktail at the horseshoe shaped bar.
Magnolias, in a restored grain mill, is a farm-to-fork favorite; Monk’s BBQ down the street does some of the best brisket and pastrami in Northern Virginia and Market Burger Fries and Shakes sells juicy, grass-fed beef patties with toppings and the richest malts and shakes. Ever popular Italian and Mediterranean focused restaurant Anthony’s does a superb mezze platter and has a lively wine list. For something more upscale, book a table at the fabulous West End Wine Bar and Pub where Chef Jeremy Thrasher uses farm fresh ingredients in imaginative dishes such as the Martin’s Beef Tenderloin with asparagus, confit baby potatoes, au poivre sauce and vanilla salt.
Coffee, Cafés and Tea
Happy Creek Coffee & Tea is a 100% gluten free café that does every kind of coffee imaginable including pour overs, nitro cold brew on draft and a variety of latte drinks. La Petite LouLou Creperie down the road is Purcellville’s Parisian bistro: café au laits, croissants and cookies as well as savory and sweet crepes made right in front of you. If tea is more your thing, Dominion Tea downtown sells more than 100 loose leaf teas sourced from around the world.
Belly Love Brewing offers a popular trivia night in the shopping and dining complex near The Pub restaurant. Try the purple-hued Belgian triple with blue starflower petals called The Duke; when you hold it up to light it changes from purple to red and orange. Another not-to-miss option is the quirky nano brewery Adroit Theory, which specializes in barrel-aged beers, using everything from wine to whiskey barrels.
For the Kids
The Tipped Cow, adjacent to Monk’s BBQ, does sublime hand-crafted artisanal ice cream. If it’s soft serve the little ones like, Gruto’s on Main Street has been a Purcellville staple for a generation. To complete the all-American tableau, Bush Tabernacle roller skating rink is straight out of the 1950s.
Not to Miss Events
Western Loudoun Art and Studio Tour, June
Also postponed this year, this popular self-guided driving tour takes place all over western Loudoun during a weekend in June, a map directing visitors to the galleries and studios of some of the area’s leading artists and artisans. Purcellville is a busy hub for the event, with the downtown Purcellville Train Station turning into a gallery space.
Independence Day Parade, July 3
Saturday July 3 is Purcellville’s big parade. The procession includes everything from fire trucks and tractors to private vehicles and folks on foot, ending at Emerick Elementary just south of historic downtown.
Franklin Park Fireworks, July 4
The popular Purcellville park’s annual fireworks extravaganza is back July 4 this year, with celebrations starting at 5 p.m. Outdoor activities include group games, inflatables for small kids to play on, a scavenger hunt and glitter tattoos, while music is spun by DJ Bifocals who promises to pump up the patriotic tunes during the fireworks. There’s food truck grub if you get hungry and the fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. A large turnout is expected, so arrive early since.
Purcellville Wine & Food Festival, July
While on hold this year, be sure to return in July 2021 for the ninth Purcellville Wine & Food Festival Tents are erected at Dillon’s Woods, adjacent to Firemen’s Field, where Loudoun wineries sell their vintages alongside beer from local breweries and restaurants and food trucks featuring tasty treats.
Christmas in Purcellville
Held every festive season over several days in mid-December, Christmas in Purcellville includes a lighting of the tree downtown, a parade though the street, a Christmas market at the Bush Tabernacle featuring work from local artists and artisans and a tour of neighborhood holiday lights, which people can take by bus or do independently in their own vehicle. It may be mid-summer, but the holidays are coming folks…
Visit https://www.purcellvilleva.gov/720/Events-Activities for a list of more events.