Where to Go, What to Know
Travel writer Walter Nicholls recently spent time in Rappahannock County, Va. Here is his reporter's notebook.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


From Washington, go west on Interstate 66 to Route 29 south toward Warrenton. Take Route 211 west to Washington, Va.


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.


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).


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.

-- W.N.

DRIVE TIME About one hour from the Beltway COST A tank of gas and $165 and up per night for lodging

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