There’s nothing quite like a scenic road trip through Virginia - getting away from the hustle and bustle of Washington D.C. and discovering hidden gems all along the way. For those of you heading to the Virginia mountains to rock your socks off at LOCKN’, we’ve put together a trip that will crank your weekend getaway up to 11.
photo credit: Cameron Davidson
—Fueling Up for the Trip—
For a quick bite, there’s no shortage of gourmet doughnut shops in Northern Virginia, but we’d recommend giving the people over at Good Company Doughnuts & Café a try. While they’re relatively new to the NOVA game, opening their doors back in 2016, owners Charlie and Kate Murphy come from doughnut royalty. Mrs. Murphy’s Donuts is a New England treasure, and this generation of Murphy’s have discovered their own magic with Good Company.
Speaking of royalty – those looking to indulge themselves a little more have to try the Southern treats at Tupelo Honey. The iconic Asheville, NC restaurant opened the doors to their Arlington location in 2015 and have been spoiling both locals and visitors with gourmet comforts ever since. With a litany of awards that include “Best Southern Restaurant” and “One of the 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America” by OpenTable and a menu that includes a variety of Shrimp & Grits, bennies, and their famous “forever free” fried chicken, Tupelo Honey is a “can’t miss.”
—Discover Something New—
The mystery and allure of Stonehenge has brought visitors to the English isles for over 5,000 years. Lucky for you – you can have (almost) the same experience at Foamhenge in Cox Farms. This full-size replica of the famous standing stone ring sits atop a bluff surrounded by the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Located in Centreville, all it takes is a quick detour to swing by this famous roadside attraction. Just be sure to check their website before you go to get the details on hours of operation.
Looking for a pit stop that’s a little more, “out of this world?” The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center houses thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, and the Space Shuttle Discovery. The museum offers free docent tours offered daily as well as a number of interactive exhibits that allow you to experience the thrill of high-speed flight. It’s also a well-known spot for movie buffs who can relive some of the scenes from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
—Grab Some Lunch—
Getting hungry? So are we - and few things can kick the cravings like some amazing Virginia barbecue. As you pass through Culpeper, try a spot called Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ that’s sure to knock your saucy socks off. With nearly 20 years of barbecue experience under his belt, owner Shawn Moss has been serving up incredible pork and brisket out of his family-run joint since 2013. We recommend trying the Sweet & Sassy Smokehouse sauce – the O.G. concoction that got the magic started.
If your palate is a bit more adventurous, then give the delicacies at Natraj Indian Cuisine a try. They serve authentic Indian dishes blended with herbs and spices picked straight from the foothills of the Himalayas. With a welcoming atmosphere and a lineup of dishes that will also satisfy vegan and gluten free customers, it’s become a local favorite. Can’t decide on what to order? They have a lunch buffet that’s the stuff of legend.
—Enjoy the Sunshine—
Looking for a chance to stretch your legs and grab a bit of fresh Shenandoah Valley air? There’s plenty of pit stops that’ll help you get your daily dose of vitamin D. Graves Mountain Farm sells freshly-picked apples from their packing shed daily, featuring Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Empire, Stayman, Rome, Mutsu, York, Winesap, Granny Smith and Fuji. Don’t miss this taste of the Blue Ridge Mountains – and we recommend coming back in September when you can pick your own!
photo credit: M.A.P Drones
If apples aren’t your thing, or maybe you’re looking for a little more variety, then Yoder’s Country Market is the spot for you. Part store, part farm, part delicatessen, all incredible. Enjoy everything from hand-dipped ice cream, to Amish-made baked goods, to local jams and spices. Once you finish browsing the shop, head out to the barnyard, where you can feed the goats and watch them cross the 15-foot high skywalk.
—Take in Some Culture—
Charlottesville offers a thriving arts and culture community that blends innovation with rich tradition. So if you’re a bona fide art freak, then the works on display at IX Art Park are sure to inspire. This open-air concept is a self-described “mural-festooned mecca” that showcases the collective creativity of the Charlottesville community. The mix of interactive street art and inspired sculptures (don’t skip out on the park’s incredible LOVEwork) is a cultural attraction you can’t miss. The best part? It’s free, and open from dusk to dawn seven days a week.
photo credit: Chad Williams; IG account: @echadwilliams
History buffs are sure to enjoy the contents of dorm number 13 in the West Range building – better known as the former residence of cultural icon Edgar Allan Poe. The famed author was one of the University of Virginia’s earliest students, and the room has been open to the public as a museum since 1909. Now maintained by The Raven Society, No. 13 acts as a shrine to Poe’s time at UVA, decorated with period furniture and various Poe artifacts.
—Time for a Quick Happy Hour?—
Down for a little LOCKN’ pregame? The Virginia Distillery Company has a number of award-winning whiskies that’ll get the job done. Their process marries whiskeys made at their distillery with whisky from Scotland and aged at least another 12 months in barrels sourced from local breweries. Visitors who want a glimpse at how it all goes down can book a tour on their website in advance. If you have to choose just one to try, go with the Port Cask Finished Virginia-Highland Whisky. If it’s good enough to win “Best American Blended Malt” at the World Whisky Awards three years running, we imagine your taste buds will thank you for the experience. (Of course please enjoy responsibly!)
If you’re in more of a “just coffee, thanks” mindset, then Mudhouse Coffee Roasters is our recommendation. They have four locations between Charlottesville and Crozet, and serve fair-trade coffees sourced from all over the world. The company even has its own coffee farm located just outside of Bouquete, Panama, which allows them to learn more about the art of coffee while ensuring the quality of the beans. Fun fact: their head roaster placed in the U.S. Roaster Championship this past March – so give Eric Stone a big congrats when you see him.
—That Mountain Sound—
You’ve rocked the road and now you’re ready to rock it at LOCKN’! Dance your heart out to those jam-worthy performances echoing around the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And if you're looking to fill any free time during your Lockn' vacation, use our guide to Nelson County for tons of extra adventure in the Blue Ridge Mountains.