Twelve years ago my wife and I packed up our Volvo station wagon and two young kids and moved from Brooklyn, New York to Waterford, Loudoun County – swapping a sprawling metropolis of eight million people for the bucolic charm of a Quaker village with a population of 280.
I’ve never regretted it once.
For me, the charm and appeal of Loudoun is that it’s a rare combination of country living alongside urban style and sophistication. Sure, we have open space – fresh mountain air, farm fields, dirt roads, stone-fenced lanes, parks, lakes, rivers and hiking trails – but we also have trendy towns and historic villages lined with galleries, museums, cafes, restaurants, cocktail bars and boutiques. The best of both worlds in other words. All that and Washington, D.C. is only a 40-minute drive away.
This week is National Travel and Tourism Week. In anticipation of several months of sunshine and summer visitors, we asked local residents to tell us their favorite things to do in Loudoun in summer.
Lou Casciano, Realtor and Farmer
I’ve lived in Loudoun my entire life. It’s one of those unique places where you can live and work in a beautiful rural setting but still be close to a large metro area. I still have connections with the friends I grew up with and a lot of my family is still here. Come summer our main focus is the Loudoun County Fair. My children are in 4-H and they raise pigs, sheep and goats and enter them in the fair. The fair is the ultimate summer spectacle for all the family. Early in the summer we like to canoe and tube Goose Creek. The North Fork of the creek runs close to our farm south of Leesburg. We’re also very close to Stone Tower Winery – my wife’s favorite – and Quattro Goomba’s. We’re lucky to be able to enjoy great local wine and craft beer just a few miles from our home. We also love TopGolf and The Ballpark Loudoun. Another summer highlight is Polo in the Park at Morven Park on Saturdays. It’s the perfect afternoon: a picnic on the lawn with friends and family watching incredible horses and riders. Come evening we have so many restaurants to choose from. Tuscarora Mill has long been a favorite and I like the outdoor seating under the tent in summer.
Rana Marraccini, Human Resources Manager, Inertial Labs
I’ve been in Loudoun for almost 25 years. My husband and I started off in Sterling and now live in Paeonian Springs. Last summer we were away in Italy, so I’m looking foward to staying closer to home this year. I’m a history buff. I can spend hours in Leesburg and Middleburg. I love daydreaming about all the people who have walked those streets over hundreds of years.
I like it when they close off King Street in Leesburg on summer weekends, extending the sidewalk. You can sit at a table outside, sip a glass of wine and watch people walk by like you are in Europe. Lightfoot, SideBar and the Wine Kitchen are some of our favorite spots.
In Middleburg you can easily visit four or five places in a day. We will start at a winery, enjoy a cocktail at Red Fox Inn, go for dinner at Goodstone and end with smores and a bourbon around a firepit at the Salamander. Everything is so close in Loudoun. It feels like a single neighborhood.
My favorite winery is The Barns at Hamilton Station. I go sit on the deck out back, the setting is amazing and the wines are great. I like a red blend called Harmony. It’s a real crowd pleaser. I walk in and Susan the tasting room manager immediately pours me a glass. She knows.
Page Smithers, Flower Farmer, Blue Sky Farm
I’ve lived in Loudoun for eight years. My husband Bill introduced me to Purcellville. I fell in love straight away - the stone-fenced fields, country lanes, mountain views and horses. Loudoun is good all year but in summer it really comes alive. In the mornings I love sitting on the sun-filled deck at Doppio Bunny Coffee in Purcellville. I like the oat milk latte and honey matcha latte. The shop also sells CSA subscriptions to my flowers so I may be biased.
Summer is great for music. We’ve seen cool bands at Harvest Gap Brewing, which is just down the road from our farm. What’s better than drinking craft beer while listening to acoustic guitar and watching the sun set over the Blue Ridge? We’re big Bluegrass fans, too. I’m looking forward to the Bluegrass Brunch on Sundays at Dirt Farm Brewing where the Short Hill Mountain Boys and other local bands will play.
There are so many great parks. Oatlands Historic House & Gardens and Franklin Park in Purcellville are two favorites. We also like the Upperville Colt & Horse Show in June. It’s the oldest horse show in the nation. When in Middleburg, I always stop in at Greenhill Winery – I love the Sauvignon Blanc – and then go to King Street Oyster Bar. The oysters and jumbo lump crab cakes are excellent. Closer to home, Bia Kitchen in Purcellville does great cocktails in a really stylish bar.
Kuda Bhejana, Day Trader and Web Developer
I’m from Africa but I moved to Loudoun from Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2018 when I finished college. I came to pursue a career in politics in Washington, DC and Loudoun was the best place to live. My home is in Ashburn, near One Loudoun. Summer is my favorite season in Loudoun and there is so much to do. I love all the history. The George C. Marshall's Dodona Manor in Leesburg, the Civil War battlefields like Ball’s Bluff, all the historic towns. So much happened in this area! I also like sports. My friends and I play a lot of golf at Brambleton Golf Course in summer. It’s an 18-hole public course, part of Nova Parks. I also practice a bit at TopGolf. One of my favorite restaurants is Parrando’s Tex-Mex Grill in Goose Creek Village, Ashburn. I get a table outside in the sun, order guacamole and fajitas and pretend I am back in New Mexico. When I want to entertain visiting friends, I take them to Loudoun Kitchen & Bar in Leesburg. There is live music during the weekends and I can play pool with my friends and family.
Tim Thomas, President & CEO, NV Pools
My wife Dawn and I moved to Loudoun from West Virginia in the spring of 2011. We had a list of 20 areas in Northern Virginia we thought we could move to. The first one we saw was in Waterford. We didn’t look at any of the others. Right away we loved the schools, the scenery, the green rolling hills and all the things we could do together as a family.
There are so many great parks. Ida Lee, Franklin Park, the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. We love to ride our bikes on the W&OD from Paeonian Springs to Purcellville. In Purcellville we’ll get the kids ice cream at Tipped Cow or Gruto’s and then cycle back. I also love all the dirt roads and back roads in Loudoun, especially the Old Waterford Road. We live about 10 minutes from the Potomac River. I’ve kayaked it and even fished it a couple of times and we often take dogs down there for a walk and to let them splash around in the water.
For years we have been going to Polo in the Park at Morven Park. We take a cooler of beer and wine and a picnic basket and watch the horses. My girls like riding horses and my wife Dawn and I like wine and beer so it’s a win-win.
Dawn is also a frequent visitor of farmers markets, which really come alive in summer. She loves Brossman’s Family Farm and Farmer John’s on Route 15 – they both do amazing fresh produce. Summer is also a great time to sit outside at a restaurant or a brewery. We love Bear Chase in Bluemont for craft beer. They do a beer called Work. I like the beer and the name. We also like Los Tios Grill – the Mexican restaurant at Market Station. The kids run around on the deck and we sit in the sun and order those huge margaritas. Nothing better.