Leesburg has countless attractions in it’s own right – from shopping in Historic Downtown to enjoying a proper afternoon tea (or the annual Point to Point horse race) at Oatlands Plantation. There’s so much to do and see in Leesburg, you’ll never have to worry about getting bored!
An added bonus for residents who love mini-escapes (but may not want to venture far from home due to money or time constraints) is Leesburg’s prime location within driving distance of some of the coolest visitor attractions in the country. From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay to, you can plan a different adventure every weekend – all within a convenient day trip.
There are almost too many awesome destinations to list in one place, so here are my personal favorite Top 5 Day Trips from Leesburg:
1. Washington, DC
This one is pretty obvious but how great is it to live with a 40-minute drive of our nation’s capital? Whether you’re entertaining out-of-town family or getting the kids up close and personal with our country’s rich history, there is no shortage of things to do in DC.
Join visitors from around the world who line up for photos outside the majestic Presidential mansion at The White House. Learn more about the history of U.S. Government and experience the hub of American democracy by taking a tour of the stately U.S. Capitol Building.
Take a stroll around the National Mall to view our country’s most iconic landmarks including the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, World War I Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, World War II Memorial, and Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, among others.
The Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum complex, is home to 19 museums and galleries along with the National Zoo. Best of all, many of these attractions are free to the public. Some of my personal favorites are the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, the American History Museum, and of course, the National Zoo – home to Bei Bei, the youngest of the 4 giant pandas residing in the park. Art lovers will delight in the extensive collections found at the American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and the Phillips Collection.
Across the street from The Smithsonian museums, you’ll find the Newseum – a “must-see” attraction spotlighting the history of broadcast, print, photography, and radio news from around the world in an interactive venue. This innovative center also focuses on current events such as the 2016 Presidential Election.
If all that sightseeing has worked up an appetite, D.C. has become a foodie haven. Many of the world’s most renowned chefs have flocked to our nation’s capital in recent years to create one of the hottest restaurant scenes in the U.S. Rose’s Luxury in Capitol Hill was touted as Bon Appetit Magazine’s Restaurant of the Year in 2014.
From Congressional favorite Old Ebbitt Grill to local landmark Ben’s Chili Bowl, there’s something for everyone in DC’s ever-growing restaurant offerings!
Another hot spot for DC visitors is historic Georgetown, home to some of the nation’s ritziest real estate, Georgetown University and a host of upscale shopping and dining options set along the picturesque C&O Canal.
Last but not least, downtown DC is home to several professional sports teams including the Washington Capitals, Washington Nationals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, and DC United.
With a full DC itinerary, you may end up taking several day trips a year to enjoy all this world-class city has to offer!
2. Old Town Alexandria
Famous for being the home of George Washington, Alexandria still retains its historic charm and draws thousands each year to its cobblestone streets along the Potomac River.
A mere 40-minute drive from Leesburg, Old Town Alexandria makes for a perfect day trip. You can even bring your pooch, as Old Town is one of Northern Virginia’s most pet-friendly locales.
The main thoroughfare is King Street, a bustling street filled with shops, restaurants and cafes. Take a leisurely stroll along King Street and head towards the waterfront and the renowned Torpedo Factory. The Torpedo Factory is located in a former munitions plant and now serves as home to largest collection of publicly accessible working artist studios in the U.S. Browse an array of multimedia art among more than 82 artists’ galleries and meet the talented faces behind the works.
The Potomac River waterfront serves as a community gathering place for visitors and boaters alike. Take a sightseeing cruise to view Mount Vernon and DC landmarks from the water or hop on a water taxi to National’s Park to cheer on the home team.
3. Middleburg, VA
Take a 30-minutes scenic drive down Route 15 and follow the road to the bucolic town of Middleburg. Right in the heart of horse country, Middleburg is a delightful village that instantly takes you back in time.
Home to several notable celebrities, Middleburg caters to the equestrian set and is surrounded by beautiful horse farms in the sprawling countryside. Grab a front-row seat to some of the many horse-centric events that take place throughout the year, including the Middleburg Hunt Races, Upperville Horse Show and Virginia Fall Races. The Middleburg Hunt is one of the country’s oldest fox hunting clubs, dating back to 1906. A not-to-be-missed event is the annual Christmas Parade, led by the horses and hounds of the various hunt clubs.
The streets of Middleburg are lined with boutique shops, quaint eateries and historic inns and taverns like the Red Fox Inn. The town’s love of horses can be found in many of the locals’ favorite gathering spots including Cuppa Giddy Up coffee and the Red Horse Tavern. The unique downtown shops feature everything from one-of-a-kind home accessories found at Crème de la Crème to handcrafted chocolate horses at Middleburg’s Finest Chocolates. No trip to Middleburg is complete without a stop at the oldest store in town, The Fun Shop, which carries everything from equestrian art to greeting cards.
Middleburg has also established a national reputation for its wineries which include Three Fox Vineyards, Greenhill Vineyards, and Boxwood Winery. For the ultimate luxurious Middleburg weekend, book a weekend spa experience at the lavish Salamander Resort.
4. Annapolis, MD
Need a water fix? The Chesapeake Bay and the historic town of Annapolis is less than an hour and a half drive away.
Annapolis is the capital of Maryland as well as home to hundreds of Navy Midshipmen attending the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy. Many of the town’s events center around the Academy – from noon marching formations to tailgating at Navy football games.
Boaters of all kinds flock to Annapolis by the droves. Known as the “Sailing Capital” of the US, sailing clubs abound and the town is home to some of the largest boat shows in the country. Walk down to City Dock at the waterfront (also known affectionately as “Ego Alley”) to get up close to some of the most spectacular boats on the East Coast.
You’ll experience the influence of the Chesapeake and the avid boating community everywhere you travel along the the brick streets of Annapolis, especially in the shops and restaurants that begin at the State Capitol and line the streets all the way to water’s edge. When in the bay area, don’t miss a chance to sample the state’s most well known natural resource – the Maryland Blue Crab. Many restaurants offer waterfront views and local favorites include the Boatyard Bar & Grill, Carrol’s Creek Café and Cantler’s Riverside Inn.
5. St. Michaels, MD
About a 45-minute drive from Annapolis and across the Chesapeake is the maritime village of St. Michael’s. One of the most popular sites in this historic water town is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum that traces the Bay’s extensive history from Skipjack boats to modern day engine-powered vessels. A fun thing to do in St. Michael’s is to enjoy the sunset from the deck of one of the many Skipjack or charter cruises leaving from the town dock each day.
Stay at one of the town’s quaint bed and breakfasts for the weekend and enjoy one of the many water-centered festivals that take place from fall through summer.
Living in Leesburg is the perfect starting point for these and countless other adventures that don’t involve long car rides or expensive hotel stays. Just another reason to adopt Leesburg as your new home!