18th Century to Outer Space: Road Trip Through Fairfax County, VA View All ItinerariesTake a road trip from the 18th century to outer space in Fairfax County, Virginia where you will walk in the footsteps of notable resident George Washington at his beloved Mount Vernon home and admire the famed architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright or the varied art mediums at the historically significant Workhouse Arts Center (a former prison with fascinating ties to the women’s suffrage movement), before standing in awe at the overlooks of Great Falls Park – where the Potomac River crashes over the rocky terrain – or in front of the iconic Space Shuttle Discovery at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. This four-day suggested itinerary breaks down some of the must-see attractions of the Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia region, but can also be highly customized to your interests, as this is just a sampling of the offerings available in Fairfax County, located in the heart of Northern Virginia and just west of America’s capital city. *Please check with individual locations prior to traveling to get updated information on opening status, hours of operation, and current availability due to covid-19. If you need travel assistance or additional trip ideas, contact Visit Fairfax.* DAY 1 George Washington’s Mount Vernon – Fairfax County, VA. Credit: Cameron Davidson Start your journey at the most visited historic estate in America, George Washington’s Mount Vernon. You’ll get a glimpse into 18th-century living through its beautiful grounds, intriguing museum exhibits, and immersive programs honoring Washington’s legacy. You can even travel to the estate by boat, just the way George did. Stop for lunch at the Mount Vernon Inn to enjoy dishes from Washington’s lifetime, including Virginia’s famous peanut soup and a delicious pot pie! Nearby, you can learn about Washington’s other passion – his whiskey and grain business! The reconstructed Distillery & Gristmill is 3 miles away, and shuttles run between both sites daily. Learn from the master distiller how Washington made his famous rye whiskey – now the official state spirit of Virginia and only available for purchase on-site. Next, make your way to another nearby famous historic site. For architecture enthusiasts, this is a 2-for-1 must-see. Woodlawn Historic Site was originally part of George Washington’s farm land. In 1799, he gifted the site to his nephew, Lawrence Lewis, and Lewis’ new bride, Eleanor “Nelly” Parke Custis, Martha Washington’s granddaughter, in hopes of keeping Nelly close to Mount Vernon. Fun fact: This house was designed by William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Woodlawn also has a captivating history with the Quakers, social activism, and wartime. Read our in-depth blog to learn more about this site’s fascinating past. Adjacent to Woodlawn, on the same property, sits a masterpiece by the famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Pope-Leighey House is one of the very few FLW works found on the east coast – and the only public one in Virginia. The design stands as a classic example of Usonian architecture: a style intended to be both distinctly American and affordable for middle-class families. See firsthand how Wright masterfully blended the house with the environment, something that he liked to call “organic architecture.” While in the southern part of Fairfax County, be sure to add the brand new National Museum of the United States Army to your must-see list. This museum, opening Veterans Day 2020, will tell the story of the U.S. Army’s 200+ year history through the eyes of the soldier. The museum features various galleries and exhibits, a 306-degree multi-sensory theater, a fully interactive Experiential Learning Center, cutting edge simulation and virtual reality experiences, and a gourmet cafe. You don’t need to have connections to the military to appreciate the stories behind those who have sacrificed to protect us. (The museum will operate on a timed-ticket system until further notice.) In the evening, enjoy dinner with an international flair at The Block in Annandale. (After all, Annandale is known for having the best Korean food in the entire D.C. area!) At this modern food hall, you can try a variety of dishes from different vendors all under one roof. From tasty Hawaiian poke bowls to beautifully crafted shaved ice desserts and specialty cocktails, you are sure to have an unforgettable dining experience – not to mention a very Instagrammable palette. Get a sneak peek at The Block in this feel-good video. For lodging in the area, browse these Fairfax-based hotels. DAY 2 The Winery at Bull Run – Fairfax County, VA. Credit: April Greer for Visit Fairfax Begin your day at the inimitable Workhouse Arts Center, home to 60+ artists-in-residence and a place that offers hands-on workshops including ceramics, eco-art, culinary and/or cocktail classes. You can browse the artist’s galleries, watch them work, or even stay for a performance in the theater. This is also your chance to pick up a unique handmade gift from the gift shop. But the history of the Workhouse Arts Center is truly what sets it apart; it was a former prison for non-violent criminals and played an important role in the battle for women’s voting equality. Make sure to visit the new Lucy Burns Museum on-site to learn about the “Silent Sentinels,” who were imprisoned here after picketing the White House. Their story was a turning point in the passage of the 19th Amendment. (Read more about Fairfax County’s ties to this movement here.) Spend a relaxing afternoon with a glass of wine in hand at one of Fairfax County’s prettiest vineyards – The Winery at Bull Run. Situated adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield Park, this historic property allows you to experience the rich Civil War history of our region while enjoying Virginia wine and scenic views. Grab a rocking chair on the deck of the preserved Hillwood house, or see if you can spot the bite marks on the bullets encased in a small display inside the tasting room. Learn from the wine educators as you taste the award-winning wines or a seasonal glass of sangria or cider. Wrap up your day at the vibrant and walkable Mosaic. This trendy urban village features hand-selected stores and gourmet dining along a pedestrian-friendly sidewalk lined with trees. Explore the local boutiques for unique gifts, catch an independent flick at the elegant Angelika Film Center, or, for the more adventurous, try your hand ax-throwing or paint-and-sipping. From health-focused, seasonal fare at True Food Kitchen to all-American cuisine, coffee, and beer at local brewery Caboose Commons, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dinner options. Enjoy outdoor markets, art exhibits, and live music during warmer months. For lodging, stick with your initial hotel in the Fairfax-area or hop on over to Tysons for a variety of accommodation choices. DAY 3 Great Falls Park – Fairfax County, VA. Credit: Instagram user @rkat414 Start your exploration of the great outdoors at a local favorite: Great Falls Park. This National Park Service-operated site is home to one of the nation’s first canals (more ties to George Washington), and of course, the surprising and stunning Great Falls of the Potomac. From the three falls overlooks, watch the rushing waters of the Potomac River crash over the rocky terrain. This is one of the most photogenic sites in the area – a real gem, given its proximity to a major metropolitan city. After your photo op, enjoy a hike along Mather Gorge’s dramatic clifftops or take an even longer adventure along the Potomac Heritage Trail. You can also bicycle, bird watch, rock climb, or take a guided tour. Just leave the kayaking to the professionals, who you may see practicing their craft over these Class V rapids! Next, head to one of the loveliest botanical gardens in the region – Meadowlark Gardens, which is also home to the unique – and authentic – Korean Bell Garden. This traditional public Bell Garden is the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere and is a symbol of the friendship between Virginia and South Korea. Fun fact: in the spring during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, you can enjoy the bloom of cherry blossom trees around Meadowlark’s Lake Caroline and in the winter, you absolutely don’t want to miss the Winter Walk of Lights holiday show. End your day with a picnic under the stars and a live performance at one of the country’s top live music venues. Wolf Trap is America’s only National Park dedicated to the performing arts and features a year-round calendar of events. (Note: Wolf Trap, unfortunately, had to cancel its 2020 season due to covid-19, but is looking forward to welcoming guests for its 50th anniversary season in 2021!) Because Wolf Trap is a National Park, you can also expect to find the familiar trails and scenic nature escapes on-site – children will especially love the summer venue, Wolf Trap Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, nestled in the parkland’s wooded areas. Fun fact: Bring your own food and drinks (and yes, alcohol is even permitted!) to enjoy on the lawn during shows at the Filene Center or enjoy Wolf Trap’s outdoor restaurant, concession options, or picnic caterer. For lodging, remain at your Tysons-based hotel or pick an accommodation in the Reston area. DAY 4 Space Shuttle Discovery at the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center in Fairfax County, VA. Credit: Dane Penland/Smithsonian Kick start your day with a cup of coffee from local roasters Weird Brothers Coffee in Herndon. This family-owned shop is sure to bring a smile (and caffeine jolt!) to your face. Then, head to one of the area’s most jaw-dropping museums: the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia is the larger companion facility to the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Together, the two locations house the largest collection of air and space artifacts in the world! Its two huge hangars display thousands of aviation and space artifacts, including a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde, and the iconic Space Shuttle Discovery – the most traveled, and record-breaking, of NASA’s orbiters. With special programs offered throughout the year, there’s always something extra exciting happening at this must-visit museum. After you pick your jaw back up from the floor and spend the morning exploring this massive museum, you’ll probably be hungry. For lunch options, drive just 10 minutes for tasty barbecue and beer at Ono Brewing Company and its on-site food vendor, Odd BBQ. Relax in Ono Brewing’s expansive tropical-themed tasting room or outside under their tiki lounge and enjoy the beer of your choice from their unique self-serve beer wall. (Yep, you heard that right!) When you’re ready to eat, Odd BBQ specializes in unique creations that combine the flavors of Korean and American barbecue. Check out this brief video highlighting some of the exciting options at Ono! End your day on a sweet note with a chocolate-making class at River-Sea Chocolate Factory & Liquid Chocolate Cafe. Just steps away from Ono Brewing Company, this intimate, husband-and-wife-owned chocolate factory crafts artisan chocolate using premium quality cacao sourced from small-scale sustainable farms around the world. Enjoy a tasting, tour, or chocolate making/bar decorating class. Don’t forget to buy a few tasty bars to take home with you!