Alexandria

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Arlington

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Fairfax County

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Loudoun County

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Prince William & Manassas

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The finer things in life are all yours in Virginia's Cultural Region, where culinary experiences, shopping and history pave the way for indulgence that's just right.

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Home to an energetic mix of history, culture, dining and shopping, Virginia’s Cultural Region brings together Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County and Manassas for a vacation experience like no other. Take some time to appreciate the celebration of diversity that is uniquely Virginia’s Cultural Region, where every satisfying moment is right within your reach. When it comes to a region this rich and full of pleasures, seeing is believing. Take a look at this video to experience it for yourself.

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Alexandria


Enchanting Old Town Alexandria – a waterfront city and where locals and travelers wander cobblestone streets lined with romantic sidewalk cafes, stylish boutiques, historic sites and treasure-filled galleries.

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Arlington


The walkable town that feels monumental, with spectacular Capitol views and honor-filled hills of green.

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Fairfax County


Witness the nation’s roots at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and international artistry at Wolf Trap.

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Loudoun County


If fine wine is an art form, then Loudoun County is a gallery of world-class proportions.

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Prince William & Manassas


Listen for echoes of history on the battlefields and sighs of delight in shops and restaurants.

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Recent Blog Posts

10 Favorite Wine and Craft Beer Tasting Rooms

Whether you’re quaffing an IPA or sipping chardonnay, the tasting is elevated from everyday to extraordinary when you’re in the right setting. With landscapes that make you want to cultivate the good life, Virginia’s Cultural Region seems tailor-made for careful production of fine wines, spirits and craft beer. Enjoy it all with a view in our favorite tasting room experiences.  

Historic Breweries Walking Tour and Pub Guide, Alexandria

Pick up a guide from the Alexandria Visitors Center and take this self-guided tour of 15 pubs and restaurants. With beer as a staple of 18th-century life, Alexandria’s Old Town has long been a brewing mecca and home to the largest pre-prohibition brewery in the south. The city’s rich beer history reveals itself along the way at local favorites like award-winning Port City Brewing Company, Union Street Public House and Columbia Firehouse, along with “Hops Stops” at top places to pause for a brew or snack. To help you drink responsibly, the free King Street Trolley runs seven days a week.  

Port City Brewing Company, Alexandria

When you see the pineapple on top of Port City’s sign, it’s a signal that the brewing geniuses inside are ready for you and open for business. Take a tour of this award-winning craft brewery to learn how its artisanal, hand-made, high-quality beers continue to elevate Alexandria’s brewing scene. Learn about the Hopzooka first hand, breathe in the unmistakable aroma of brewing magic going on and meet the experts. Find out which seasonal brews are on tap and sample your way through a flight menu that includes stouts, porters, pale ales, Belgian whites and more. Whether you leave with a six-pack or a growler, you’re sure to find a favorite.  

The Winery at Bull Run, Fairfax County

Take a trip into the best of the 19th century world of gentle Virginia living and finely crafted wines. The Winery at Bull Run sits in the spectacular 5,000-acre countryside setting of the Bull Run Battlefield Park, a working farm vineyard with views that seem unchanged by time. The preserved 19th century farmland gives you a heritage view of winemaking techniques from the Civil War era, giving the secrets of the past a chance to live on in award-winning Nortons, Viogniers, Petit Verdots and more created onsite. Enjoy a tasting in the Main Barn or take advantage of vistas from the front porch, the vineyard or the Stone Mansion House Ruins patio.  

Mad Fox Brewing Company, Fairfax County

English, German, Belgian and American brews are on tap at this English-style gastro brewpub, home to upscale casual dining. The Mad Fox bar is 63 feet long and the rotating selection of seasonal beers is equally impressive. True aficionados will appreciate the cask-conditioned proper Real Ales served through water-jacketed Angram beer engines. The rest of us will just enjoy every pint at the perfect temperature.  

Capitol City Brewing Company, Arlington

It took a long time after prohibition for brewing to return to the nation’s capitol, but it was worth the wait. Pay a visit to the downtown Arlington location of the first brewpub to open in D.C. since prohibition was repealed, the Capitol City Brewing Company. At this location, you’ll have a view of the pedestrian promenade and a large patio to enjoy craft brews and chef-created regional cuisine. Whether you’re into beer-battered onion rings or Prohibition Porter-infused chili, you can’t beat hearty fare in a lively atmosphere – especially when you have a choice of signature, core and seasonal brews year round.  

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, Arlington

Great food and real beer are Rock Bottom’s stock in trade, offering an unpretentious experience that you can raise a pint to. Try award-winners like Devil’s Thumb Strong Ale, Baltic Gnome Porter, Rudolph’s Red or the Naked Oatmeal Stout. From barrel-aged Sarah’s Two Headed Buffalo to coffee-flavored Dude! Where’s My Vespa, there’s nothing ordinary about Rock Bottom’s seasonal offerings.  

Winery at La Grange, Manassas

Head over to Prince William County for year-round tours, seasonal events and wine tastings in the barrel room and 18th century manor house of the Winery at La Grange. The vineyards at the foot of Bull Run Mountain grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Mensang grapes to create part of this winery’s stellar collection of wines. Your tasting experience might only be rivaled by a visit to the restored 1790 manor house, where tales of ghostly apparitions and mysterious piano music fill the air. The winery provides plenty of ideas for nearby outdoor adventures and park destinations to help you make a day of it.  

Tin Cannon Brewing Company, Prince William

More intimate and specialized than even a micro brewery can claim, this nano brewery creates, kegs and serves craft beers on premise, blending traditional styles and experimental brews for a totally unique experience. Tin Cannon’s Belgian Judy, Busted Pipe Black IPA, Unkel Dunkel, seasonals and experimentals always make it worth the visit. Notice a hint of chipotle peppers and bacon? Tin Cannon calls that Breakfast of Champions – check and see what’s brewing now.    

Hillsborough Vineyards, Loudoun County

Along the hills and ridges of Loudoun County, winemakers have found fertile ground not just for their grapes, but for the total departure from routine that wine lovers find when they visit. Peace and tranquility set the stage for Hillsborough Vineyard’s old world, French country charm. Promising the sweet smell of roses and lavender, the gentle sound of trickling koi ponds, verandas adorned with wisteria, old stone barns, 36 acres of vineyards and spectacular views of distant mountains, your tasting experience will be one for all the senses.  

Breaux Vineyards, Loudoun County

Overlooking the valley between the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains, the setting of Breaux Vineyards is enough to capture your heart, even if the winemaking operation weren’t winning raves for impressive results. One of Virginia’s largest growers, Breaux Vineyards encompass 104 acres of a 404-acre estate, giving you both expansive views and an intimate tasting room experience that reveals a passionate commitment to quality. Tour the winemaking facility and sample award-winning varieties and you’ll be convinced that the Breaux family is on the right track.

5 Greatest Places for Shopping Therapy

  You’ve got an eye for style and can sniff out a bargain like nobody’s business. So it’s only natural you’ve found yourself here in Virginia’s Cultural Region, where shopping is an art form. Here are some of our top recommendations to put you on the trail of amazing finds.  

King Street, Alexandria

You’re surrounded by small town charm, but the style is strictly cosmopolitan. The merchants of King Street in Old Town Alexandria are known for offering unique finds and stylish fashions – nearly 80 percent of the restaurants and retailers here are independently owned, earning stellar reputations for their style-making influence. Whether you’re on the hunt for to-die-for details or classic lines that always work, King Street doesn’t disappoint. Not far away in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, Mount Vernon Avenue offers its own spin on must-have selections, with eclectic, locally owned storefronts offering gourmet goods and making an artful statement.  

Tysons Corner Center, Fairfax County

When you never tire of a great deal and dream of endless selection, Tysons Corner is your kind of place. In fact, it’s one of the top 10 shopping centers in the nation, regularly drawing shoppers from miles away for an unbeatable mix of more than 300 department and specialty stores. Celebrated restaurants, entertainment, fashion, technology, home and beauty – if you can’t find it here, you just need to turn another corner ‘til you do.  

Lee Heights Shops, Arlington

Visiting the friendly merchants of Lee Heights Shops is like having a trusted friend take all the guesswork out of shopping in Arlington for you. Curated selections make shopping a pleasure, whether you’re finding a recommendation at Arrowine Cheese and Spirits, or taking your pick of popular must-have accessories at Lemon Twist and Lemon Chiffon. Needlepoint and toy specialties, fine jewelry and home furnishings – you’ll even find a bistro with New Zealand flair, Cassatt’s, under the colorful awnings of Lee Heights.  

Old Town Manassas and Historic Occoquan, Manassas

You won’t find a specialty shopping experience like this in every city or county – but here there are two. Main Street browsing is irresistible along the quaint streets of Historic Occoquan and Old Town Manassas, making for the perfect way to spend a few hours before a delicious meal. Antiques, jewelry, books, puzzles, coins, art – there’s no shortage of thought-provoking finds here, tucked in alongside clothing boutiques and pet bakeries. In fact, character just might be the most widely available treasure you’ll find here, whether you’re eyeing exclusive jewels at Lil’ Bit of Posh or checking out the elite craftsmanship on display at Hatfields Gunsmiffin’.  

Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets, Loudoun County

You’re feeling the unmistakable tingle on the back of your neck that alerts you to the presence of the shopping trifecta: brand names, great deals, tons of selection. Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets has all that and more, with 110 upscale designer and brand name outlet stores and savings of 25-65%. Whether you’re stocking up on basics or splurging on something extravagant at an unbeatable price, this outlet outing might be just the kind of retail therapy you need, with selection that’s a cut above most others.

5 Must-See Landmarks of Virginia's Cultural Region

There are few places in America encompassing important moments in the nation’s history quite like Virginia’s Cultural Region. From colonial times to current events, this has been the home of leaders and renegades, movers and shakers, all leaving behind plenty of evidence of the American spirit for you to explore.  

MOUNT VERNON

It’s been a running bit since the dawn of the nation that any establishment claiming that “George Washington slept here” was worthy of the first presidential endorsement. But nowhere else on earth welcomed, soothed and inspired George Washington like his riverfront home, Mount Vernon. Today, it’s the most visited historic estate in America, giving you the chance to know America’s first president a bit better. The mansion is beautifully restored, along with four gardens and a working farm. There’s more to discover here than his famous dentures, which are, in fact, on display in the museum. You’ll get a glimpse of his habits, check out Martha’s jewelry, walk the grounds and hear the Potomac drift by just as they did.  

GEORGE WASHINGTON MASONIC NATIONAL MEMORIAL

Just a few miles from Mount Vernon, Alexandria is known as George Washington’s hometown. Towering 333 feet high on a hill above the cobblestone streets of Alexandria is the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, an impressive construction dedicated to Washington’s history as a Freemason. A visit to the Memorial takes you into a realm of great respect for this founding father, honoring his virtues and character as the highest example of what Freemasons aspire to be. Take a guided tour to view a famed bronze figure of Washington along with many artifacts, murals and dioramas, and experience a diagonally ascending elevator ride through the eight floors of the ornate tower. Even if you don’t come away with all your questions answered about the Masonic organization, the view from the ninth-floor observation deck will have you feeling uplifted.  

MARINE CORPS WAR MEMORIAL

Though they may not be able to come up with its correct name as a Jeopardy question, it’s an image familiar to many. The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial depicts a brief moment that happened in the Pacific in the last months of World War II. The raising of the flag by five marines at Iwo Jima on the morning of February 23, 1945 is captured in this 78-foot tall memorial that features a 60-foot flagpole, 16-foot rifle and a canteen that would hold 32 quarts of water. Even more impressive than its statistics is the spirit of heroism and camaraderie it memorializes, expanding beyond WWII and that single moment in time to include names and dates of every principal Marine Corps engagement since the founding of the Corps at its base. Located outside Arlington National Cemetery, just across the Potomac River from D.C., the Memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775. No matter what time of day you pay a visit, it’s a moving and spectacular sight – daytime views include the Washington Memorial and Capitol Rotunda in the distance, while at night the Memorial is lit in dramatic fashion.    

MANASSAS NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK

When Union forces met Confederate troops along the stream named Bull Run here in July of 1861, no one realized the years of conflict that would follow. In fact, citizens and congressmen brought wine and picnic baskets to observe the military maneuvers, soon realizing the serious nature of the event, one of the earliest battles of the Civil War. It was here on the grounds of Manassas National Battlefield Park that a young general named Jackson, from Virginia, held his troops in position by standing “like a stone wall.” A year later, this was the scene of a more famed battle – the details of Robert E. Lee’s Second Manassas campaign come to life on a visit here. Even if you’re not a Civil War buff, the quiet and reverie of these grassy fields and wide vistas have timeless appeal.    

MORVEN PARK

Near Leesburg in Loudoun County, you’ll find a thousand acres of beauty in Morven Park. Once home to Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis, Morven Park is home to the Davis Mansion, a carriage museum, a hounds and hunting museum, spectacular woodlands and a mountainous ridge, along with formal gardens. In addition to its historic ambiance, the park keeps it current with a full calendar of equestrian events and field athletics including soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and Frisbee. You’ll also find more than two miles of hiking trails, including the Ridge Top Trail leading to the park’s highest elevation and scenic overlook.

5 Places to Eat Like a Local

Virginia’s Cultural Region is home to a number of inventive chefs and kitchen masters who have put down their culinary roots, giving you a wide selection of flavors to choose from. Find your way to the head of the table at favorite local restaurants ranging from casual fare to fine dining.  

Del Ray Café, Alexandria

In Alexandria, you’ll truly eat local, as the majority of restaurants are independently owned. Creative individualism leaves a savory taste throughout the city, and Del Ray Café is a shining example of the local movement. Serving French country cuisine made with locally sourced organic and natural products, the setting is a refurbished 1925 home that feels like an old Virginia farmhouse. It’s a great option for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with weekend brunch especially popular. Must be the crêpes. Or the roasted pork belly with polenta. Or maybe it’s the lump crabmeat eggs Benedict. You’ll have to decide.  

Mike’s American Grill, Fairfax County

You just can’t beat the classic steakhouse experience of Mike’s American Grill in Springfield, where the motto is “be nice or get out.” Home of the Drunken Ribeye, the much coveted Black Angus Prime Rib and the “now famous” Ozzie roll, Mike’s serves up hearty fare in a fun warehouse atmosphere filled with vintage baseball memorabilia, local photos and glowing neon.  

Whitlow’s on Wilson, Arlington

Voted Virginia’s most popular bar by Buzzfeed, Whitlow’s on Wilson has been an unmistakable Arlington landmark for more than 25 years. Today, the daily deals, craft beer night every Wednesday and seasonal rooftop tiki bar explain its enduring appeal. Funky charm is the vibe Whitlow’s is aiming for, with live music and special events.  

Malone’s of Manassas

Located in the Gothic Revival structure that was once Manassas Presbyterian Church, frequent award winner and local favorite Malone’s brings a contemporary twist to fine dining in ManassasIn the heart of Old Town Manassas, the menu reveals Chef Scott Bilstad’s playful approach, from Pork and Beans 2.0 to Truffle Mac N’ Cheese and Dirty Chicken Bites. Find out why his locally grown fresh, seasonal food creations are earning rave reviews.  

Carolina Brothers Pit Barbeque, Loudoun County

Traditional southern charm is hot stuff in the hands of the Carolina Brothers, whose pit barbeque is worthy of the name. Sauced with subtle spiciness and slow-cooked to exacting standards, the pork and beef barbeque here is born of owner Danny Hurdle’s North Carolina boyhood in the restaurant his daddy won in a poker game. If that’s not enough to qualify this as real BBQ, the taste definitely is. Stop by this Ashburn locals’ favorite and see for yourself.

10 Favorite Wine and Craft Beer Tasting Rooms

Whether you’re quaffing an IPA or sipping chardonnay, the tasting is elevated from everyday to extraordinary when you’re in the right setting. With landscapes that make you want to cultivate the good life, Virginia’s Cultural Region seems tailor-made for careful production of fine wines, spirits and craft beer. Enjoy it all with a view in our favorite tasting room experiences.  

Historic Breweries Walking Tour and Pub Guide, Alexandria

Pick up a guide from the Alexandria Visitors Center and take this self-guided tour of 15 pubs and restaurants. With beer as a staple of 18th-century life, Alexandria’s Old Town has long been a brewing mecca and home to the largest pre-prohibition brewery in the south. The city’s rich beer history reveals itself along the way at local favorites like award-winning Port City Brewing Company, Union Street Public House and Columbia Firehouse, along with “Hops Stops” at top places to pause for a brew or snack. To help you drink responsibly, the free King Street Trolley runs seven days a week.  

Port City Brewing Company, Alexandria

When you see the pineapple on top of Port City’s sign, it’s a signal that the brewing geniuses inside are ready for you and open for business. Take a tour of this award-winning craft brewery to learn how its artisanal, hand-made, high-quality beers continue to elevate Alexandria’s brewing scene. Learn about the Hopzooka first hand, breathe in the unmistakable aroma of brewing magic going on and meet the experts. Find out which seasonal brews are on tap and sample your way through a flight menu that includes stouts, porters, pale ales, Belgian whites and more. Whether you leave with a six-pack or a growler, you’re sure to find a favorite.  

The Winery at Bull Run, Fairfax County

Take a trip into the best of the 19th century world of gentle Virginia living and finely crafted wines. The Winery at Bull Run sits in the spectacular 5,000-acre countryside setting of the Bull Run Battlefield Park, a working farm vineyard with views that seem unchanged by time. The preserved 19th century farmland gives you a heritage view of winemaking techniques from the Civil War era, giving the secrets of the past a chance to live on in award-winning Nortons, Viogniers, Petit Verdots and more created onsite. Enjoy a tasting in the Main Barn or take advantage of vistas from the front porch, the vineyard or the Stone Mansion House Ruins patio.  

Mad Fox Brewing Company, Fairfax County

English, German, Belgian and American brews are on tap at this English-style gastro brewpub, home to upscale casual dining. The Mad Fox bar is 63 feet long and the rotating selection of seasonal beers is equally impressive. True aficionados will appreciate the cask-conditioned proper Real Ales served through water-jacketed Angram beer engines. The rest of us will just enjoy every pint at the perfect temperature.  

Capitol City Brewing Company, Arlington

It took a long time after prohibition for brewing to return to the nation’s capitol, but it was worth the wait. Pay a visit to the downtown Arlington location of the first brewpub to open in D.C. since prohibition was repealed, the Capitol City Brewing Company. At this location, you’ll have a view of the pedestrian promenade and a large patio to enjoy craft brews and chef-created regional cuisine. Whether you’re into beer-battered onion rings or Prohibition Porter-infused chili, you can’t beat hearty fare in a lively atmosphere – especially when you have a choice of signature, core and seasonal brews year round.  

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, Arlington

Great food and real beer are Rock Bottom’s stock in trade, offering an unpretentious experience that you can raise a pint to. Try award-winners like Devil’s Thumb Strong Ale, Baltic Gnome Porter, Rudolph’s Red or the Naked Oatmeal Stout. From barrel-aged Sarah’s Two Headed Buffalo to coffee-flavored Dude! Where’s My Vespa, there’s nothing ordinary about Rock Bottom’s seasonal offerings.  

Winery at La Grange, Manassas

Head over to Prince William County for year-round tours, seasonal events and wine tastings in the barrel room and 18th century manor house of the Winery at La Grange. The vineyards at the foot of Bull Run Mountain grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Mensang grapes to create part of this winery’s stellar collection of wines. Your tasting experience might only be rivaled by a visit to the restored 1790 manor house, where tales of ghostly apparitions and mysterious piano music fill the air. The winery provides plenty of ideas for nearby outdoor adventures and park destinations to help you make a day of it.  

Tin Cannon Brewing Company, Prince William

More intimate and specialized than even a micro brewery can claim, this nano brewery creates, kegs and serves craft beers on premise, blending traditional styles and experimental brews for a totally unique experience. Tin Cannon’s Belgian Judy, Busted Pipe Black IPA, Unkel Dunkel, seasonals and experimentals always make it worth the visit. Notice a hint of chipotle peppers and bacon? Tin Cannon calls that Breakfast of Champions – check and see what’s brewing now.    

Hillsborough Vineyards, Loudoun County

Along the hills and ridges of Loudoun County, winemakers have found fertile ground not just for their grapes, but for the total departure from routine that wine lovers find when they visit. Peace and tranquility set the stage for Hillsborough Vineyard’s old world, French country charm. Promising the sweet smell of roses and lavender, the gentle sound of trickling koi ponds, verandas adorned with wisteria, old stone barns, 36 acres of vineyards and spectacular views of distant mountains, your tasting experience will be one for all the senses.  

Breaux Vineyards, Loudoun County

Overlooking the valley between the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains, the setting of Breaux Vineyards is enough to capture your heart, even if the winemaking operation weren’t winning raves for impressive results. One of Virginia’s largest growers, Breaux Vineyards encompass 104 acres of a 404-acre estate, giving you both expansive views and an intimate tasting room experience that reveals a passionate commitment to quality. Tour the winemaking facility and sample award-winning varieties and you’ll be convinced that the Breaux family is on the right track.

Last Updated 3/26/15

5 Greatest Places for Shopping Therapy

  You’ve got an eye for style and can sniff out a bargain like nobody’s business. So it’s only natural you’ve found yourself here in Virginia’s Cultural Region, where shopping is an art form. Here are some of our top recommendations to put you on the trail of amazing finds.  

King Street, Alexandria

You’re surrounded by small town charm, but the style is strictly cosmopolitan. The merchants of King Street in Old Town Alexandria are known for offering unique finds and stylish fashions – nearly 80 percent of the restaurants and retailers here are independently owned, earning stellar reputations for their style-making influence. Whether you’re on the hunt for to-die-for details or classic lines that always work, King Street doesn’t disappoint. Not far away in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood, Mount Vernon Avenue offers its own spin on must-have selections, with eclectic, locally owned storefronts offering gourmet goods and making an artful statement.  

Tysons Corner Center, Fairfax County

When you never tire of a great deal and dream of endless selection, Tysons Corner is your kind of place. In fact, it’s one of the top 10 shopping centers in the nation, regularly drawing shoppers from miles away for an unbeatable mix of more than 300 department and specialty stores. Celebrated restaurants, entertainment, fashion, technology, home and beauty – if you can’t find it here, you just need to turn another corner ‘til you do.  

Lee Heights Shops, Arlington

Visiting the friendly merchants of Lee Heights Shops is like having a trusted friend take all the guesswork out of shopping in Arlington for you. Curated selections make shopping a pleasure, whether you’re finding a recommendation at Arrowine Cheese and Spirits, or taking your pick of popular must-have accessories at Lemon Twist and Lemon Chiffon. Needlepoint and toy specialties, fine jewelry and home furnishings – you’ll even find a bistro with New Zealand flair, Cassatt’s, under the colorful awnings of Lee Heights.  

Old Town Manassas and Historic Occoquan, Manassas

You won’t find a specialty shopping experience like this in every city or county – but here there are two. Main Street browsing is irresistible along the quaint streets of Historic Occoquan and Old Town Manassas, making for the perfect way to spend a few hours before a delicious meal. Antiques, jewelry, books, puzzles, coins, art – there’s no shortage of thought-provoking finds here, tucked in alongside clothing boutiques and pet bakeries. In fact, character just might be the most widely available treasure you’ll find here, whether you’re eyeing exclusive jewels at Lil’ Bit of Posh or checking out the elite craftsmanship on display at Hatfields Gunsmiffin’.  

Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets, Loudoun County

You’re feeling the unmistakable tingle on the back of your neck that alerts you to the presence of the shopping trifecta: brand names, great deals, tons of selection. Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets has all that and more, with 110 upscale designer and brand name outlet stores and savings of 25-65%. Whether you’re stocking up on basics or splurging on something extravagant at an unbeatable price, this outlet outing might be just the kind of retail therapy you need, with selection that’s a cut above most others.

Last Updated 3/26/15

5 Must-See Landmarks of Virginia's Cultural Region

There are few places in America encompassing important moments in the nation’s history quite like Virginia’s Cultural Region. From colonial times to current events, this has been the home of leaders and renegades, movers and shakers, all leaving behind plenty of evidence of the American spirit for you to explore.  

MOUNT VERNON

It’s been a running bit since the dawn of the nation that any establishment claiming that “George Washington slept here” was worthy of the first presidential endorsement. But nowhere else on earth welcomed, soothed and inspired George Washington like his riverfront home, Mount Vernon. Today, it’s the most visited historic estate in America, giving you the chance to know America’s first president a bit better. The mansion is beautifully restored, along with four gardens and a working farm. There’s more to discover here than his famous dentures, which are, in fact, on display in the museum. You’ll get a glimpse of his habits, check out Martha’s jewelry, walk the grounds and hear the Potomac drift by just as they did.  

GEORGE WASHINGTON MASONIC NATIONAL MEMORIAL

Just a few miles from Mount Vernon, Alexandria is known as George Washington’s hometown. Towering 333 feet high on a hill above the cobblestone streets of Alexandria is the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, an impressive construction dedicated to Washington’s history as a Freemason. A visit to the Memorial takes you into a realm of great respect for this founding father, honoring his virtues and character as the highest example of what Freemasons aspire to be. Take a guided tour to view a famed bronze figure of Washington along with many artifacts, murals and dioramas, and experience a diagonally ascending elevator ride through the eight floors of the ornate tower. Even if you don’t come away with all your questions answered about the Masonic organization, the view from the ninth-floor observation deck will have you feeling uplifted.  

MARINE CORPS WAR MEMORIAL

Though they may not be able to come up with its correct name as a Jeopardy question, it’s an image familiar to many. The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial depicts a brief moment that happened in the Pacific in the last months of World War II. The raising of the flag by five marines at Iwo Jima on the morning of February 23, 1945 is captured in this 78-foot tall memorial that features a 60-foot flagpole, 16-foot rifle and a canteen that would hold 32 quarts of water. Even more impressive than its statistics is the spirit of heroism and camaraderie it memorializes, expanding beyond WWII and that single moment in time to include names and dates of every principal Marine Corps engagement since the founding of the Corps at its base. Located outside Arlington National Cemetery, just across the Potomac River from D.C., the Memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in defense of the United States since 1775. No matter what time of day you pay a visit, it’s a moving and spectacular sight – daytime views include the Washington Memorial and Capitol Rotunda in the distance, while at night the Memorial is lit in dramatic fashion.    

MANASSAS NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK

When Union forces met Confederate troops along the stream named Bull Run here in July of 1861, no one realized the years of conflict that would follow. In fact, citizens and congressmen brought wine and picnic baskets to observe the military maneuvers, soon realizing the serious nature of the event, one of the earliest battles of the Civil War. It was here on the grounds of Manassas National Battlefield Park that a young general named Jackson, from Virginia, held his troops in position by standing “like a stone wall.” A year later, this was the scene of a more famed battle – the details of Robert E. Lee’s Second Manassas campaign come to life on a visit here. Even if you’re not a Civil War buff, the quiet and reverie of these grassy fields and wide vistas have timeless appeal.    

MORVEN PARK

Near Leesburg in Loudoun County, you’ll find a thousand acres of beauty in Morven Park. Once home to Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis, Morven Park is home to the Davis Mansion, a carriage museum, a hounds and hunting museum, spectacular woodlands and a mountainous ridge, along with formal gardens. In addition to its historic ambiance, the park keeps it current with a full calendar of equestrian events and field athletics including soccer, field hockey, lacrosse and Frisbee. You’ll also find more than two miles of hiking trails, including the Ridge Top Trail leading to the park’s highest elevation and scenic overlook.

Last Updated 3/26/15

5 Places to Eat Like a Local

Virginia’s Cultural Region is home to a number of inventive chefs and kitchen masters who have put down their culinary roots, giving you a wide selection of flavors to choose from. Find your way to the head of the table at favorite local restaurants ranging from casual fare to fine dining.  

Del Ray Café, Alexandria

In Alexandria, you’ll truly eat local, as the majority of restaurants are independently owned. Creative individualism leaves a savory taste throughout the city, and Del Ray Café is a shining example of the local movement. Serving French country cuisine made with locally sourced organic and natural products, the setting is a refurbished 1925 home that feels like an old Virginia farmhouse. It’s a great option for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with weekend brunch especially popular. Must be the crêpes. Or the roasted pork belly with polenta. Or maybe it’s the lump crabmeat eggs Benedict. You’ll have to decide.  

Mike’s American Grill, Fairfax County

You just can’t beat the classic steakhouse experience of Mike’s American Grill in Springfield, where the motto is “be nice or get out.” Home of the Drunken Ribeye, the much coveted Black Angus Prime Rib and the “now famous” Ozzie roll, Mike’s serves up hearty fare in a fun warehouse atmosphere filled with vintage baseball memorabilia, local photos and glowing neon.  

Whitlow’s on Wilson, Arlington

Voted Virginia’s most popular bar by Buzzfeed, Whitlow’s on Wilson has been an unmistakable Arlington landmark for more than 25 years. Today, the daily deals, craft beer night every Wednesday and seasonal rooftop tiki bar explain its enduring appeal. Funky charm is the vibe Whitlow’s is aiming for, with live music and special events.  

Malone’s of Manassas

Located in the Gothic Revival structure that was once Manassas Presbyterian Church, frequent award winner and local favorite Malone’s brings a contemporary twist to fine dining in ManassasIn the heart of Old Town Manassas, the menu reveals Chef Scott Bilstad’s playful approach, from Pork and Beans 2.0 to Truffle Mac N’ Cheese and Dirty Chicken Bites. Find out why his locally grown fresh, seasonal food creations are earning rave reviews.  

Carolina Brothers Pit Barbeque, Loudoun County

Traditional southern charm is hot stuff in the hands of the Carolina Brothers, whose pit barbeque is worthy of the name. Sauced with subtle spiciness and slow-cooked to exacting standards, the pork and beef barbeque here is born of owner Danny Hurdle’s North Carolina boyhood in the restaurant his daddy won in a poker game. If that’s not enough to qualify this as real BBQ, the taste definitely is. Stop by this Ashburn locals’ favorite and see for yourself.

Last Updated 3/26/15

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