From Washington, go west on Interstate 66 to Route 29 south toward Warrenton. Take Route 211 west to Washington, Va.
WHERE TO STAY
More than a dozen places in the county offer accommodations; a partial list is available from the Rappahannock Bed & Breakfast Guild, http://www.bnb-n-va.com. In the town of Washington, prices offer a wide range: from the storied Inn at Little Washington (540-675-3800, http://www.theinnatlittlewashington.com), where a standard room on Saturdays goes for $655, to the nearby Gay Street Inn (540-675-3288, http://www.gaystreetinn.com), where a cozy room in an 1860s farmhouse is $165 a night. I'm fond of the Middleton Inn (540-675-2020, http://www.middletoninn.com), also in Washington, where the pretty Churchill Room with working fireplace is $375 a night.
WHERE TO EAT
The Epicurious Cow (known to regular customers as ECOW), a grocery and informal cafe in Amissville (540-675-2269, http://www.epicuriouscow.com), serves terrific build-your-own breakfast burritos ($6.99, 10 a.m. to noon Saturdays and Sundays), made with organic eggs and fillings such as sweet garlic and smoked bacon. For lunch, you can't go wrong with the Cuban sandwich ($7.99) or shrimp tacos ($6.99). For fine dining, the Thornton River Grille in Sperryville (540-987-8790, http://www.thorntonrivergrille.com) is a favorite of locals for shrimp and grits ($9) and New York strip steak with sauteed shiitake mushrooms ($26). The only bar scene of note in the county can be found in Flint Hill at the Griffin Tavern (540-675-3227, http://www.griffintavern.com).
WHAT TO DO
A spin down Skyline Drive and hiking in Shenandoah National Park ( http://www.visitshenandoah.com) are major draws. For antiques shopping, there is the funky 53,000-square-foot Copper Fox Antiques (540-987-8800, http://www.copperfoxantiques.com) in Sperryville. There are six wineries in the county (check out http://www.virginiawines.org). They include Smokehouse Winery in Sperryville (540-987-3194, http://www.smokehousewinery.com), which makes mead, or honey wine. To view the more than 300 varieties of Japanese maples for sale at Eastwoods Nurseries in Washington, Va. (540-675-1234, http://www.japanesemaples.com), call for an appointment. It's also best to make an appointment if you want to exercise llamas at West Wind Farm in Castleton (540-937-3644, http://www.westwindllamas.homestead.com).
For maps to area farms and attractions, visit http://www.rappahannock.com.
DRIVE TIME About one hour from the Beltway COST A tank of gas and $165 and up per night for lodging