Virginia was a Confederate stronghold during the Civil War, but an area in the northern part of the state became a place for the Union Army to rest and refuel. Later, in 1902, that area became the town of Clifton.
Today Clifton is a popular destination for foodies, history buffs and nature lovers. You can cover a day’s meals and years of history during a stroll along the quarter-square-mile town’s Main Street.
Start with bacon and eggs at Main Street Pub in a converted Texaco station. Then grab a crepe at the Clifton Cafe, where the staff says Erin’s Eclectic Berry is a favorite. Top those off with chef Jon Cropf’s New Zealand venison with chestnuts, smoked barley, kale and huckleberry, at Trummer’s on Main. “It has all those fall and winter flavors,” said Cropf, who took over the kitchen in late September and changes the menu every few weeks.
In between meals, check out the great history. Many of the homes, especially in the historic district, date to the 1800s, a testament to strict regulations honoring the town’s place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Next year look out for the Holiday House tour, where for an afternoon several homes are open for viewing. (It was Saturday.) Two other sites usually closed to the public are also on the tour: Clifton Primitive Baptist Church, where freed slaves could worship, and the Southern Railway Caboose.
Next to the train tracks that run through Clifton, the caboose marks where Devereux Station stood on the Orange and Alexandria Railroad as the Union’s southernmost point from the early 1860s to 1868. Then it became a passenger stop, called Clifton Station, and put the town on the map.
Finally, walk the trails of the 20-acre Webb Nature Sanctuary. The park features a small stream, orchids and a lot of quiet. Or try Randolph Buckley Park — also known as 8-Acre Park — where Clifton resident M.D. Stoney was headed with her dog recently. “It’s pretty. You see deer and wild turkey out there,” she said.
Thrill-seekers might prefer Adventure Links at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, which has rope courses and a 300-foot zip line for groups with reservations.