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Out and About: Clifton, Virginia

Clifton, Virginia-- sunset on the train tracks


Last night, I fell in love with the small town of Clifton, Virginia.

Perhaps it was the lack of stoplights or the epic sunset after an otherwise rainy day. Or maybe it was the Amtrak zipping across Main Street or the ease in which I was able to buy cupcakes from one shop and sample wine from another within a mere 5 minute span. But either way, I came to Clifton with no expectations and left utterly charmed and eager to return.

Clifton, Virginia-- Church

Many of the buildings in Clifton’s easily-walkable downtown are over 120 years old, with the oldest dating back to 1771


Clifton has been on my radar for awhile now thanks to the high accolades of Trummer’s on Main, one of Northern Virginia’s most esteemed restaurants. So, when I opted to spend the 3 day weekend lying uncharacteristically low (thanks to my dear, sweet, jet-lagged boyfriend, Scott, who just returned from a 10-day work trip in Africa), I decided a mini-road trip for us to celebrate his return was in order.

It’s an easy 45 minute drive from downtown D.C., out I-66 West then onto VA-645, which quickly turns into a rural back road lined with white-fenced horse fields. Within minutes, the frenetic energy of the city and beltway traffic dissipate. Locals affectionately have nicknamed Clifton “Brigadoon,” and when you arrive it’s easy to feel transported back in time as you enter the town limits.

Here are some of my favorite discoveries from my visit.

Clifton, Virginia-- Downtown Main Street

A view of downtown Clifton– about a dozen stores and restaurants line Main Street


Clifton, Virginia-- Cupcaked exterior

Cupcaked is a picture-perfect boutique cupcakery that could rival some of DC’s best.


Clifton, Virginia-- Cupcaked

We left with a pair of cupcakes: toasted marshmallow and chocolate chip cookie dough (yum!)


Clifton, Virginia-- Little Villagio market vespa

A sleek Vespa sets the tone for the stylish Trattoria Villagio Market and Restaurant


Clifton, Virginia-- Little Villagio market menu

The Little Villagio Pizzeria e Mercato has artisan Italian goods and deliciously creative pizzas for carryout. (The adjoining Trattoria‘s menu looked amazing and I will be returning to try it another time!)


Clifton Virginia-- Clifton Wine Shop

Above the Trattoria is the cheery Clifton Wine Shop, a must-visit for wine and gourmet olive oil tastings with lots of bottles for purchase and locally-made products.


Clifton Virginia-- Trummers on Main exterior

We had about 45 minutes to explore the town before our dinner reservations at Trummer’s on Main.


Clifton, Virginia-- Trummers on Main- Sunday dining room

Inside Trummer’s, we were instantly greeted by no less than 4 people before being seated at our table in the Winter Atrium.


Clifton Virginia-- Trummers on Main- Sunday menu

For Sunday dinner, they have a 3 course prix fixe menu for $38. Initially, I was disappointed that we wouldn’t have access to the full menu. But we soon discovered that not only did this menu feature most of their most popular items, but that at $38, it really was a great deal.


Clifton, Virginia-- Trummers on Main- Wine Bucket List

Sundays are also special because of their “Bucket List” wines. All of their wines that were opened on Saturday’s service are available for highly discounted rates. Whites/Sparking: $5/ glass; Reds: $7/ glass


Clifton Virginia-- Trummers on Main- butternut squash soup

My first course: The silky butternut squash soup with ricotta salt, pumpkin seed pesto and a pumpkin seed oil. YUM!


Clifton, Virginia-- Trummers on Main- Short Rib with grits entree

2nd course: Coffee & chicory crusted beef short rib, with Anson Mills grits, parsnip chips, collard greens and red eye gravy


Clifton, Virginia-- Trummers on Main- popcorn ice cream

3rd course: the popular popcorn ice cream dessert with butter sable crumble, peanut butter powder and caramel corn


I’m already planning my return visit to Clifton– can’t wait to try the Trattoria and also the nearby Paradise Springs Winery (thanks to Lucinda at the Clifton Wine Shop and fellow blogger Christina at My View from the Middle Seat for the tip!)

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9 Responses to Out and About: Clifton, Virginia

  1. Courtney P January 22, 2015 at 10:11 am #

    I love Clifton! Paradise Springs Winery is a must on your next visit. They have the best reds I’ve tried in Virginia (so far). Trummer’s and the antique shop across the street are great too.

  2. Jeff Hardmunson January 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    I’ve been coming to Clifton for years from DC. It great to walk around this little piece of VA history. The people are great and the different restaurants offer a great variety. I think you missed one of my favorites, the Clifton Cafe. They make some of the best coffee around, not to mention the 30+ Different crepes are fantastic. If tried 8 so far!

    • Bonnie H. January 22, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

      I agree; the Clifton Cafe has awesome, creative and delicious crepes!

  3. Rachel January 22, 2015 at 6:11 pm #

    Clifton is my hometown. It’s a beautiful little town. If you go in the warmer months you should try Petersons Ice Cream Depot, and if you want to meet a bunch of the locals definitely check out the Main Street Pub. Formerly a general store, they have transformed the back of it into a cute pub setting and it has great burgers.

  4. kevin Mahorney January 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm #

    Also be sure to check out a local band called The Colin Thompson Band! PS, their drummer is a cutie!!!!!

  5. Karen January 22, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

    You have to see the shop All that Glitters! If you are looking for amazing jewelry, handbags, and gifts this is the place for you.

  6. Alicia January 24, 2015 at 8:14 am #

    Don’t pass up the wonderful Antique store La Bella Luce across from Trummers! Wonderful treasures from Italy and a great staff.

  7. Gail Sullivan January 24, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    My husband and I moved to Clifton in 1976, raising our children there. We moved to Williamsburg in 2001. We always loved the little town and its charm. We haven’t been back in years and it is wonderful to see the changes that have taken place in this beautiful unspoiled area of Fairfax County. Sometimes change is good. 🙂

  8. Fabiana February 24, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    What a cute town! Looks like my perfect idea of a relaxed place to spend a long weekend.

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