One of the best things about living in DC is getting to visit the many historic cities and towns nearby. Within an hour you can be in the country, sipping wine at a vineyard, touring a historic home or visiting a Civil War battleground. I have already shared my favorite Maryland spot, Frederick, but in Virginia it’s gotta be Middleburg. Established in 1787, it is a straight shot out Route 50 from DC. Once you arrive you will note a distinct theme – this town is for horse lovers. Pretty much every shop or bar has a horse or hunting theme and don’t be surprised if you run into someone grabbing their groceries in breeches and a riding helmet.
Jackie Kennedy bought a farm in Middleburg so you know it is the very definition of chic. The best way to start a trip to Middleburg is a stop at one of the area vineyards. I am partial to Greenhill Winery and Vineyards but if you must stop somewhere else (or want to hit two!) I also like Chrysalis Vineyards and Boxwood Winery. After all that wine you will probably need a good lunch before you hit the shops. The town is small and parking is abundant so just grab a spot when you see it – all of my recommendations are within a 2 or 3 block walk from each other.
The Red Fox Inn & Tavern – 2 East Washington Street
I have been going to The Red Fox Tavern for years and consider it one of the most romantic places in the area to dine. Housed in a beautiful fieldstone inn built in 1728 you can sit by the fireplace and enjoy hearty, but refined pub fare. As one would expect they do a great job with southern dishes (yes please to the fried chicken and shrimp and grits) and they have an entire Virginia wine list so you can sample stuff from around the region. It’s a great place to stay if you want to turn your day trip into a weekend.
The French Hound – 101 South Madison Street
On my last visit I discovered another gem, The French Hound, and I am kicking myself for never having visited before. Located in another quaint building, The French Hound does terrific French bistro food. I highly recommend the escargot and the steak frites.
There is also a lovely little bar tucked inside so a good place to grab a drink by the fire before you head home. I cannot wait until it gets warmer to go back and experience their darling patio area as well. Now that you are fortified it is time to shop and sip. There are lots of great clothing and accessory stores in the area as well as art galleries. Also it probably goes without saying that if you are in the market for a saddle or some horse bit jewelry this is the place. However, my focus is always food, of course.
Home Farm Store – 1 East Washington Street
I am totally obsessed with this store. They carry all organic and mostly local ingredients from locally butchered meats to jams and jellies from surrounding farms. They have a great cheese selection as well as local wines and beers and there is always someone at the ready to help you. Housed in another incredible historic building they have managed to make it look really fun and modern – I die for those black and white striped walls!
Market Salamander – 200 West Washington Street
Make sure to also head over to this beautiful market, if for no other reason than a coffee pick me up and one of their flakey pastries. This place was made for putting together a picnic, they have ready-made options and all the fixings for a great basket. (Sorry it wasn’t open last time I was in town, hence no pictures. Take my word for it – it’s super cute and worth stopping).
Mount Defiance Cidery & Distillery – 207 West Washington Street
Right across the street from Market Salamander is a new addition to Middleburg – its very own cidery and distillery. Mt. Defiance makes several types of hard cider as well as rums and brandies. They have a small tasting room (that you can see gets pretty popular) where you can do single or flight tastings of the different ciders and they do sprits and even cocktail flights in their warehouse. How adorable is the pressed tin ceiling and antique fan??
Creme de la Creme – 23 East Washington Street
I always make sure to stop at Creme de la Creme, an amazing boutique that carries housewares and linens from France. They carry some of my favorite brands – Laguilole, which makes my everyday flatware and some incredible cheese knives, Le Cadeaux, amazing melamine plates and serving dishes that look just like French porcelain, and Le Jacquard Francais, a collection of vibrant colorful French linens. You cannot help but feel inspired in this shop (they are also located in Leesburg and Richmond, VA).
Red Horse Tavern – 118 W Washington Street
This place has the best patio in Middleburg – great for people watching and going over all of your purchases! The Red Horse Tavern (noticing a theme here??) is the local watering hole and great for a bite to eat if you want to grab a quick burger or club sandwich. This is where you can really feel the “everyone knows your name” vibe this town has.
Middleburg’s Christmas parade is on my bucket list (so many beagles!!) as are the Middleburg Spring Races. Honestly this town is sort of seasonless. My last visit was in February where you can take advantage of the great fireplaces all over town. In the spring everything is blooming, the summer means sipping VA wine on all the nice patios (and ice cream from Scruffy’s) and fall brings amazing foliage. Every time I visit Middleburg I fall more and more in love with it and I hope you do too.