THE DRIVE between Washington and Charlottesville is a pleasant and scenic two-hour trip along U.S. 29, but there's more to see and do than just enjoy the rolling piedmont country and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Following are some of the places along the way that Weekend staffers have visited and enjoyed, in north-to-south order.
CLARK BROTHERS TRADING POST -- Opal, six miles south of Warrenton. Everything a hunter could want except the game itself, and a focal point for shooters and collectors; there's a target range out back. 703/439-8988. Open 9 to 5:30 daily.
AILEEN OUTLET STORE -- on the east side of U.S. 29 opposite the Culpeper exit. Sportswear for women at 50 percent off retail. 703/825-5822. Open 10 to 6 Monday through Saturday.
COUNTRY COOKIN' RESTAURANT -- just off U.S. 29 in Southgate Plaza shopping center in Culpeper. Simple cooking at incredibly low prices: specials such as liver and onions or flounder filet are $2.99 with an extensive all-you-can-eat salad, hot vegetables and dessert bar. Open 11 to 9 Sunday through Thursday, 11 to 10 Friday and Saturday. 703/825-6565.
OUR GANG RESTAURANT -- East Main Street, Culpeper. Just two years ago Haywood Giles was a burnt-out computer person in Columbus, Ohio. Now he and wife Ellen are lively and well in downtown Culpeper, serving good food at low prices and wallowing in '50s nostalgia. Among other things, you'll find good coffee, great homemade soup, perfect grilled-cheese sandwiches and super Nutty Burgers (made with peanut butter plus secret ingredients). The table settings are as eclectic as the decor: One recent lunch was served on various pieces of "Virginia Rose" by Homer Laughlin, "American Rose" Limoge, and Currier & Ives. Ellen's the resident china expert, and got us so interested we forgot to leave a tip. Every Friday night there's a sock hop ("from after supper until whenever"), with Haywood playing deejay. 703/825-1963.
E.A. CLORE FURNITURE CO. -- Madison (take Madison exit and follow signs). Since 1830 the Clore family has been making fine furniture in a lovely hollow that has such a great mountain view, one wonders how they concentrate on their work. Clore designs are simple, graceful and sturdy, and some have been in production for more than a century without a jot or a tittle having been changed. Veneer is not spoken here. Open 8 to 4:30 weekdays, 8 to noon Saturdays. 703/948-5821.
GONE WITH THE WIND ANTIQUES -- west side of U.S. 29 seven miles south of Madison. There are a lot of nice antique shops along this route, but if you inquire at them about silver, especially old flatware, you'll probably be referred to GWTW. It only takes about two steps inside the door to see why: The silver displayed is so stunning it takes a while to realize how much gorgeous crystal they have too. Hours 10 to 6 daily, but the owners live there, so if you must come by earlier or later, not to worry. 703/948-4145.
ANTIQUE MALL -- Ruckersville. Basically, this "mall" is a big barn, but it's fun; the oldies offered range from fine to flea- market. Anyone who can visit all 20 stalls and not buy anything probably is dead, and should be invited to lie down. Open 10 to 5 weekends, 11 to 4 weekdays. 804/985-3649.
WONDER BREAD THRIFT STORE -- at the north edge of Charlottesville: Twinkies, cupcakes, breadstuffs -- everything a starving student could want (except a balanced meal). 1720 Seminole Trail (Route 29). 804/973-7476.