Now that I’m stuck thinking about the great, cheap fun Virginia wineries can offer, I have to let you know about a not-so-kept best secret: the Virginia Wine Festival.
I missed it in 2006. The 2007 Virginia Wine Festival won’t take till September next year but it’s worth marking your calendars for now. When I went, I wasn’t expecting anything huge but it exceeded my expectations.
For just about $20, plus the cost of shmoozing your designated driver with water bottles and/or food items, you can literally taste every Virginia wine made and then some! The festival takes place about 2 hours from D.C. in Great Meadows, Va. in a large field, surrounded by the mountains.
Similar to the Linden Vineyards experience, this one is a great way to get out of the city for a day and enjoy the beautiful views (and tasty booze). Okay, a little corny. Wines come in flavors I didn’t even realize existed, like blueberry.
Upon first moving to Northern Virginia, my roommates at the time insisted they were going to spend every Sunday touring the wineries in the area. At first, I was a little leary, having often thought any winery worth visiting must certainly exist in Califorinia or Italy but not in Virginia.
After some manipulation, I jumped on the bandwagon only to realize I was completely wrong about Virginia wineries (well, most of them). Not long after a couple of Sunday drives out into the countryside, I discovered my favorite winery so far: Linden Vineyards. Linden is only a little over an hour from D.C. but it’s shocking the relief from the city life you feel as soon as you arrive. I simply cannot describe it! You must go!
Wine tastings are free. During most of my visits, we go through about 3 red and 3 white wines…each about a 1 ounce pour. Since you’re buying the wine on the premises, it’s much cheaper than it’d be in the store, somewhere in the neighborhood of $15. Select cheeses and meats are a little pricey ($6 for a small block of cheese) but you can bring your own picnic as long as you eat it on the tables in the grass.
From Linden’s site: “For those interested in greater depth, on the weekends we offer a special reserve cellar tasting ($12). You can sign up for it when you arrive. We taste our special single vineyard wines and older vintages. It happens every 45 minutes beginning at 12:15.”
There are plenty of great opportunities at Linden; they often offer seminars and such. Just start with the free wine tasting and lovely ambiance. The photo that accompanies this entry was taken by me when I brought visiting family to Linden. They loved the views.
If you’re into skiing, tubing or snowboarding, this winter, check out Liberty Mountain Resort in Carroll Valley, Pa. It’s only about 1.5 hours from D.C. so it’s great for a day trip, allowing you the joy of the slopes minus the cost of lodging.
A 4-hour bout of hitting the slopes with your own gear costs about $37-46 for a lift pass, depending on the day of the week. Ski rentals for the same time period will cost $31; Snowboard rental, $35.
One thing I’ve learned after embarking on the “snowboarding is my new hobby” as of late, is that by playing it right, one can buy an entire snowboarding set-up and have it pay for itself after 10 4-hour visits to a resort like Liberty.
Visting the extremely helpful and snowboarding dumby-friendly staff at Ski Chalet in Arlington last year was the first in realizing how to go about winter sports equipment in a financially feasible manner. Every year, sometime in September, the Ski Chalet hosts its annual Dilly in Chantilly. The sales are really unbelievable, staff exceptional and lines plentiful. Get there as early as possible to avoid the rush.
Harper’s Ferry, W.V. makes for a short, affordable day trip from the D.C. area. I consider it best in the fall (colorful leaves, mild weather) or summer (outdoor fun) but any time of year, cheap fun can be had in Harper’s Ferry.
Two less expensive things I’ve done in Harper’s Ferry that I’d do again: Took a free, walking, self-guided tour of the historic downtown area and the Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park and tubed my way down the Shenandoah River with a group of friends!
The walking tour of the HFNHP was great exercise to say the least. Bring your walking shoes for a 5-mile “learning hike” about the Civil War and John Brown’s Raid.
Harper’s Ferry is about 1.5 hours from D.C. Look at the Mapquest directions from D.C. to Harper’s Ferry.