“There are no traffic lights in the county, nor will you find any supermarkets or chain fast food restaurants. This is where you come to get away from all of that.”
–Rappahannock B&B Guild
Before I moved from New Jersey to Virginia, I thought Ho-Ho-Kus was the neatest town name I’d ever heard. Then we arrived, and I discovered Rappahannock. “Now that,” I thought, “is a very cool name.”
A very cool name, for a very cool place.
If you don’t know, as I didn’t, the name Rappahannock comes from the Algonquian word lappihanne and means “where the tide ebbs and flows.” It’s an apt description of the idyllic, quietly sophisticated Rappahannock County where indeed, you couldn’t find a Mickey D’s if your life depended on it.
Nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Rappahannock is a place of pretty, tucked away towns, lovely boutiques and art galleries, quaint bed and breakfasts, award-winning wineries, and several terrific restaurants (including the renowned Inn at Little Washington). Simply put, it’s a great place to spend the day, and an even better place to spend the weekend.
Why? Because there’s just so much to see and taste and do.
So do it. Treat yourself or your honey, and don’t forget to bring your hiking boots. If you’re like me, and you try to offset calorie consumption with calorie destruction, you’ll appreciate the hiking opportunities the area affords. A brisk trek along the Thornton River Trail goes a long way toward burning off that crème brûlée, plus you’ll have room for the next delectable morsel that makes your sweet tooth swoon.
On the following pages you’ll find just a few of the places to stay, eat, and experience that beautiful, relaxing Rappahannock County has to offer visitors. Rappahannock.com has a complete list. So, read this, check that, and then get in the car and go.
It’s worth the trip.
Blue Door Kitchen & Inn / 675 Zachary Taylor Hwy. / 540-675-1700 / TheBlueDoorKitchen.com
Formerly the Public House, the Blue Door Kitchen & Inn offers locally-sourced, modern American cuisine and four beautifully appointed guest rooms on a spectacular five-acre country estate.
Middleton Inn / 176 Main Street / 800-816-8157 /MiddletonInn.com
This award-winning, pet friendly B&B offers guests a choice of four beautifully appointed rooms, daily gourmet breakfast, and a spacious front porch on which to sip a complimentary glass of wine and watch the sunset. In addition, it’s within walking distance of the Inn at Little Washington.
The Inn at Little Washington / 309 Middle Street / 540-675-3800 / TheInnAtLittleWashington.com
The double Five Star, double Five Diamond Award winning Inn at Little Washington is celebrating its 40th anniversary by extending its Friends & Neighbors benefits program. Residents of Fauquier, Rappahannock, Culpeper, and Warren Counties can enjoy the restaurant’s seven-course tasting menu at a significant savings every Monday for the remainder of the year.
Hopkins Ordinary Bed, Breakfast, and Brewery / 47 Main Street / 540-987-3383 / HopkinsOrdinary.com
Relax in one of five spacious guestrooms or the private guest cottage, then make your way to the cellar to enjoy the small batch craft beer brewed onsite.
Eats & Drinks
Griffin Tavern / 659 Zachary Taylor Hwy. / 540-675-3227 / GriffinTavern.com
Located in a renovated 1800s home with three cozy dining rooms, outdoor seasonal seating, and a hugely popular pub, Griffin Tavern serves casual, home-style dishes, and is the gathering place for locals and visitors alike.
Before & After / 31 Main Street / 987-8392 / BeforeAndAfterSperryville.com
This country-chic espresso and wine café serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here, locals come to meet and work, and hikers and other visitors come to energize before a day of exploring, and after to share stories of their adventures.
Three Blacksmiths / 20 Main Street / 540-987-5101 / ThreeBlacksmiths.com
Opening this month, this sixteen-seat restaurant will serve a fixed weekly menu of locally sourced, seasonal, handcrafted fare in its intimate, inviting dining room.
Thornton River Grille / 3710 Sperryville Pike / 540-987-8790 / ThorntonRiverGrille.com
Thornton River Grille prides itself on serving great American food with a worldly flair. Both casual and elegant, visitors can feel free to wear heels or hiking boots. Plus, right next store you can start or end your evening with a drink at Francis (Bar-Francis.com), where a cheerful bartender will craft delectable cocktails from locally sourced ingredients.
Foster Harris House Luxury Bed & Breakfast / 189 Main Street / 540-675-3757 / FosterHarris.com
This luxurious B&B offers five charming guest rooms, a four-course gourmet breakfast, and now a prix fixe dinner on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights by reservation.
Tula’s / 311 Gay Street / 540-675-2223 / TulasRestaurantAndBar.com
The local destination for exceptional fine dining, Tula’s proudly serves American Rustic Cuisine. It also offers a superb spirits list showcasing locally-distilled products, award-winning wines, flavorful craft beers, and specialty cocktails.
Wineries & Distilleries
Grey Ghost Vineyards / 14706 Lee Hwy. / 540-937-4869 / GrayGhostVineyards.com
Named “Best of the East” by Vineyard and Winery Management Magazine for four consecutive years, Gray Ghost offers high quality wines, knowledgeable staff, and beautiful picnic grounds.
Narmada Winery / 43 Narmada Lane / 540-937-8215 / NarmadaWinery.com
At Narmada Winery, guests can enjoy a selection of tasting flights, each with a slightly different flavor profile. From reds to whites, rosés to dessert wines, there is something to please every palate.
Copper Fox Distillery / 9 River Lane / 540-987-8554 / CopperFox.biz
Try single pours of Copper Fox’s award-winning spirits or have one of its expert mixologists create a refreshing, custom cocktail just for you.
Pen Druid Brewing / 7 River Lane / 540-987-5064 / PenDruid.com
Owned and operated by brothers Lain, Van, and Jennings Carney of the psych-rock band Pontiak, Pen Druid Brewing started between tours, when the three would brew beer at home. Stop in for a taste of the only beer that reflects – and rocks – the terroir of Rappahannock.
Gadino Cellars / 92 Schoolhouse Road / 540-987-9292 / GadinoCellars.com
This family-owned vineyard specializes in making high-quality wines and produces more than 14 different varietals, including Pinot Grigio and Nebbiolo. Relax with a glass outside or in the tasting room.
Quièvremont Winery / 162 Gid Brown Hollow Road / 540-827-4579 / Quievremont.com
This popular boutique winery specializes in estate-grown grapes and Bordeaux-style wines.
Copper Fox Antiques / 7 River Lane / 540-987-8800 / CopperFoxAntiques.com
Antique lovers will revel in this 30,000 square foot facility that features old, new, primitive, rustic, vintage, mid-century modern, architectural salvage, and so much more.
Haley Fine Art / 42 Main Street / 987-1000 / HaleyFineArt.com
Discover your new favorite local or regional artist at Haley Fine Art, and bring home a painting, sculpture, or photograph for your collection.
Happy Camper Equipment Company / 15 Main Street / 540-987-5088 / HappyCamperEquipment.com
New to the neighborhood and located in a prime spot near the entrance to Shenandoah National Park, this outdoor supply shop has everything hikers and campers could ever need.
Ridge Line Designs / 10 River Lane / 540-987-5056 / On Facebook at @RidgeLineDesigns
A gem of a shop that features a large selection of antique and modern Estate jewelry, as well as handmade pieces in silver, gold, and semi-precious stones.
Antiques at Middle Street / 325 Middle Street / 540-675-1103 / AntiquesAtMiddleStreet.com
Adjacent to The Inn at Little Washington, this shop is a conglomeration of beautiful and interesting primitives, kitchen collectibles, toys, knickknacks, and works of art.
August Georges / 195 Main Street / 540-227-5115 / AugustGeorges.com
Incredible furniture and accessories, bedding, tabletop, travel bags, specialty foods, throw pillows, robes, and rugs abound in August Georges. Good luck leaving empty handed!
RH Ballard Shop & Gallery / 307 Main Street / 540-675-1411 / RHBallard.com
This stunning shop and gallery bursts with an artful mix of French tablecloths and linens, fine art, Italian dinnerware, French glassware, fine gifts, and unique women’s accessories.
Wine Loves Chocolate / 353 Main Street / 540-227-8010 / WineLovesChocolate.com
Wine does indeed go with chocolate. Take the 20-minute tasting and learn how to pair the two perfectly.
With more than 500 miles of trails in and around the county, deciding which to try can be a bit daunting. Stop in at the Visitors Center (3 Gay Street, Little Washington) for guidance or visit the following websites before your trip.
National Park Service / NPS.Gov/Shen/PlanYourVisit/Maps.htm
Check out the site for suggested hikes, important safety information, and printable trail maps.
HikingUpward / HikingUpward.com
The site includes information similar to that of the National Park Service site, plus extras like lists of “Spectacular Summer Hikes,” “Top 5 Hikes in Virginia,” and a collection of hiking books by state that are available for purchase.