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While nearby Washington, D.C. might get the most attention as a hotbed of cultural activity, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover the rich history and charm of what lies in Northern Virginia. Easily accessible via Washington-Dulles International Airport, the area is home to hundreds of American historical gems, scattered throughout quaint small towns that still maintain the architecture and ambience of life decades ago.
Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest you rent a car and head to Northern Virginia’s Loudon County. Though it’s just 30 minutes from the nation’s capital, Loudoun County feels worlds away from the congestion and commotion of city life. You’ll enjoy scenic drives along winding country roads or stopping in historic Leesburg, Virginia, for an afternoon of antique shopping like you won’t experience anywhere else. A popular retreat for wine lovers, Loudoun County is also home to some of the nation’s most beloved vineyards, clustered into five areas. To make the most of your wine experience and the area’s award-winning destination restaurants, we recommend extending your trip into a long weekend — you’ll be glad you did.
No visit to Northern Virginia is complete without a visit to Alexandria. Boasting more than 250 years of history, this Norman Rockwell-esque town is the epitome of Americana, located just six miles northeast of Washington, D.C. In addition to being home to droves of centuries-old historical attractions and events, Alexandria is also known for its charming downtown area, known as “Old Town.” As the third-oldest historic district in the nation, Old Town Alexandria is dotted with 18th- and 19th-century buildings that house unique boutiques, restaurants, theaters and antique shops.