When I was a kid, I absolutely loved reading Choose Your Own Adventure books. I always thought they were so whimsical and creative, and got a kick out of getting to choose each decision step by step to see where the story would take me.
A few weeks ago, when it came time to celebrate my boyfriend Scott’s birthday, did I choose to buy him a gift like a normal girlfriend? Of course not! Instead, I developed an elaborate travel-related day trip for us inspired by the style of those books… a Choose Your Own Adventure Itinerary!
I selected Loudoun County, Virginia as the hub for most our activities. With its abundance of attractions, small towns, popular restaurants and gorgeous natural beauty all within a fairly short, drivable range it was just perfect for this kind of an itinerary.
Our day was a rousing success, and it was such a great idea that I thought it would be cruel to keep it to ourselves. For our trip, I surprised my boyfriend with envelopes that contained clues, making him decide step by step and kept him guessing the whole day.
If you wanted to surprise someone else with this, you could create your own clues, too. Or not! This itinerary would still be fun even if you knew where the day was headed in advance.
The pictures you’ll see below are from our own adventure… but I doubt any two journeys would be the same. I hope you enjoy this very fun Choose Your Own Adventure Itinerary into Loudoun, Virginia as much as we did!
DECISION #1: MORNING ACTIVITY
DECISION #2A: INDOOR: ACTION OR EDUCATIONAL
A.) ACTION: Shadowland Laser Tag (4300 Chantilly Shopping Center, Chantilly, 703.263.1004, web)
Get your competitive spirit going! Running around in the dark in a virtual game of high-tech tag is super fun (even if you aren’t a teenager…)
B.) EDUCATIONAL: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum (14390 Air and Space Museum Pkwy, Chantilly, 202.633.1000, web)
This museum houses all of the huge aviation vessels that can’t fit in the Air and Space Museum down on the Mall, in two gigantic airplane hangers. Admission is free, but parking costs $15 until 4 pm.
DECISION #2B: OUTDOOR
A.) USE YOUR LEGS: Hike at Scott’s Run Nature Preserve (7400 Georgetown Pike, McLean, 703.759.9018, web)
Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is one of the area’s most convenient, yet lesser-known hiking areas. Wooded trails lead you through a relatively short hike to a waterfall along the banks of the Potomac. You can hike to the waterfall and back to your car within a few short miles.
B.) USE YOUR ARMS: Miniature golf at Dulles Golf Center and Sports Park (21593 Jesse Ct, Sterling, 703.404.8800, web)
This 18-hole miniature golf course features replica light houses from all over the U.S. Features like fountains, moguls and stone traps makes for a bit of a fun challenge. ($8.00/ person for 1 round of mini-golf.)
DECISION #3: LUNCH: SIT-DOWN or TAKE OUT PICNIC
A.) SIT DOWN: The Wine Kitchen – Leesburg (7 S. King St., Leesburg, 703.777.9463, web)
Featuring contemporary American small plates and creatively themed wine flights (think: “Pinot Envy” or “Roll Out the Red Carpet”), the Wine Kitchen is one of Leesburg’s most consistently well-rated restaurants.
B.) TAKE OUT: Sandwiches at South Street Under then a picnic at Rust Nature Sanctuary (South Street Under: 203 Harrison St. SE, Leesburg, 703.771.9610, web) (Rust Nature Sanctuary: 802 Childrens Center Rd. SW, Leesburg, 703.669.0000, web)
If you’d rather avoid a sit down restaurant for lunch, why not grab and go? Pick up sandwiches from South Street Under (the BBBLT is a favorite) and head to the nearby Rust Nature Sanctuary for a picnic.
DECISION #4: AFTERNOON ACTIVITY: HISTORY OR ANIMALS
A.) HISTORY: Morven Park (17263 Southern Planter Ln., Leesburg, 703.777.6034, web)
Morven Park is the historic home of Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis. Trip Advisor rates it as the top attraction in Leesburg, and visitors come to meander through the rolling, green grounds and one of the estate’s three museums.
B.) ANIMALS: Leesburg Animal Park (19270 Monroe-Madison Memorial Hwy, Leesburg, 703.433.0002, web)
With a petting/feeding zoo area with llamas, bunnies, cows, sheep and more, as well as a number of exotic animals like zebras, camels, and lemurs, the Leesburg Animal Park is for animal lovers of all ages. ($11.95/ adult, $9.95/child)
DECISION #5: TASTE: STRONG, FRUITY OR HOPPY
A.) STRONG: Catoctin Creek Distilling Company (120 W. Main St., Purcellville, 540.751.8404, web)
A favorite of local mixology bars and hipsters alike, Catoctin Creek’s distillery and tasting room is located in Purcellville. You can sign up for one of their tours (on the hour, $5) or stop in for a tasting of their spirits, including the popular Roundhouse Rye (tastings are $5 for standard, $10 for premium).
B.) FRUITY: Bluemont Vineyard (8755 Foggy Bottom Rd, Bluemont, 540.554.8439, web)
If you’re like me and feel that wine’s always better with a view, then you’ll love Bluemont Vineyard. One of the crown jewels of Virginia wine, I will go so far as to say that it’s one of the prettiest vineyards I’ve seen… ever. And, yes, the wine, made up of 100% Virginia grapes, is excellent, too!
C.) HOPPY: Corcoran Brewing Company (205 Hirst Rd., Suite 105, Purcellville, 540.441.3102, web)
D.C.’s craft beer scene is booming, and the trend has begun to reach far into the more rural parts of Virginia. Corcoran Brewing Company features a selection of IPAs, lagers and ales– many which feature local ingredients and names. Promising “Great Beer with a LoCo Attitude” this spot is open until 10 pm Wednesday through Saturday, and ’til 6 on Sundays.
DECISION #6: DINNER
A.) FANCY: Restaurant at Patowmack Farm (42461 Lovettsville Rd., Lovettsville, 540.822.9017, web)
The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm isn’t your average restaurant. The team here are true farm to table artists, creating menus that are thoughtfully created each week featuring many of the home-grown ingredients found on their own farm or in the surrounding area. Offering 3 distinct tasting menus titled “Grown,” “Raised” and “Found,” this is a fun end to your own “Choose Your Own Adventure Day.” Just be sure to book in advance (and be prepared for a bit of a steep price tag…)
B.) NICE, BUT A LITTLE MORE CASUAL: Market Table Bistro (13 E. Broad Way, Lovettsville, 540.822.3008, web)
Located in the heart of the quaint and historic Lovettsville, Market Table Bistro is known for seasonal and creative cuisine. It proudly touts an impressive roster of local farms and food artisans that provide key elements to the menu, like Georges Mill Cheese– located just 2 miles from the restaurant. People come for contemporary spins on traditional American dishes like Wasabi Deviled Eggs with Maryland Crab ($9) or Chesapeake Catfish with dirty wild rice, picked red onions and bacon vinaigrette ($22).
That’s our adventure… what will YOUR adventure be?