You, Me, and History
Getting away and going back in Prince William and Manassas
As we pulled up to the inn just after dusk, I knew I’d made the right choice for our weekend getaway. The grounds of the Manassas Junction Bed and Breakfast were absolutely beautiful; the garden beds overflowed with autumn flowers, and the porch was inviting even in the evening light. As we made our way inside, we were greeted by one of the innkeepers.
“Hello and welcome! I’m Ann,” she explained. “You must be Sharon and Robert. It’s so good to have you!”
Our room featured a four-post bed and a beautiful wood-paneled bathroom with a clawfoot tub. Visions of bubble baths danced in my head while Robert unpacked his belongings. I fell asleep early, tired from traveling but also excited about the weekend that lay ahead.
A perpetually early riser, Robert was up and dressed the next morning before the sun broke the horizon; I emerged from our room a bit later to find him sipping coffee on the porch in the early morning light. It was mid-October, and the autumn leaves were just beginning to put on their annual show.
At breakfast, Ann suggested an early morning stroll in Prince William Forest Park. This turned out to be great advice. We agreed upon the North Valley Trail, a three-mile hike along the creek. Our feet crunched over already-fallen leaves and warm sunlight dappled the trail. We even passed a small waterfall, where we paused to take a short rest.
I worked up a bit of an appetite on our brisk walk, so when Robert asked what I wanted to do next, I replied quickly. “Lunch. And maybe a glass of wine.”
In no time at all we were pulling into the quaint town of Occoquan, the welcoming streets lined with shops and restaurants. A few minutes later and we were seated on the patio at Bottle Stop, a wine shop and restaurant located almost on the banks of the Occoquan River. As I considered my wine selection, Robert ordered a cheese plate.
After sharing Robert’s cheese plate as well as several appetizers, we made a brief stop at the wine shop to pick up a bottle to take home with us and walked back out into the afternoon sunshine.
“It’s funny that you think this bottle will last until we get home,” I teased. “I don’t think it will make it beyond the porch at the inn tonight.”
“That’s because you don’t know my secret plan for the evening,” Robert responded, mysteriously.
“A secret plan? I must know.”
“You will, my dear.” Robert continued walking, stopping occasionally to check out a store window. A sign for a shop called Oh Olive caught his attention, and he wandered inside without another hint of what he had planned.
As I drove away from Occoquan, Robert assumed we were headed back to the inn. But when I made an unexpected turn, it became clear that I had my own surprise.
We pulled up to KO Distillery, a new distillery with tours and a tasting room. As it turned out, we arrived just in time for the next tour, which showcased the process used to make KO Distillery’s flagship products, a gin and a white whiskey. We then were able to taste a bit of each at the gleaming wood-topped bar in the tasting room. Ever social, Robert struck up a conversation with one of the owners, and we learned that KO may just be starting out, but they have big bourbon distilling plans.
We added two bottles of gin to our stash of wine and olive oil and made our way back to the bed and breakfast.
Upon returning to our room, Robert pulled one of my nicer dresses out of a garment bag he somehow snuck along on the trip, and revealed his secret plan for the evening, “Tonight, my lady, I am taking you to dinner and a show.”
It was a wonderful surprise. I quite enjoyed our pre-theatre meal at Malones in Historic Downtown Manassas, both for the quality of food and the unique setting. Upon first glance, Malone’s does not appear to be a restaurant at all. The 1800s Presbyterian Church was renovated, and now houses a lovely fine dining restaurant as well as a large bar and live music venue. The bouillabaisse was exquisite and my filet was cooked perfectly.
After dinner we took a stroll down Main Street and stumbled upon a large “Love” sign, we took advantage of the photo opportunity and asked a passerby to snap a quick photo of us to capture our romantic evening out on the town.
We arrived at the Hylton Performing Arts Center a short time later. It is a strikingly modern structure housing a large theater, dripping with red velvet and lit by cool white lights. Robert had bought tickets to that night’s performance—a staging of The Tempest, one of my favorite Shakespearean plays.
“This was the perfect end to a perfect day,” I whispered to Robert as we left the theater. “Thank you.” He took my hand, and we strolled into the night, smiling.
We rose early the next day and headed out for one of the area’s most well-known attractions: Manassas National Battlefield Park. We began with the introductory movie at the Henry Hill Visitor Center, which discussed both battles that had taken place on the site. It was quite interesting, and it gave our visit to the battlefield a little more weight.
After the film, we headed outside. The autumn sky formed a stunning backdrop for the statue of Stonewall Jackson. Carved on the base were the words that earned him his nickname: “There stands Jackson like a stone wall.”
We passed the rest of the morning wandering the grounds, snapping photographs and exploring. In the distance we could see The Stone House, which served as a shelter for wounded soldiers during both battles.
Having skipped breakfast at the inn that morning, our stomachs were starting to grumble. Fortunately for us, we found no shortage of great dining options in the nearby area. A short drive west on Lee Highway brought us to Grafton Street, a restaurant and Irish pub, where we enjoyed a leisurely Sunday brunch.
“These eggs are perfectly cooked,” Robert announced, “and the hollandaise is superb.” As he closed his eyes briefly, savoring his Chesapeake Eggs Benedict, I reached over with my fork and stole a bit of lump crab meat off of his plate.
“Where to next?” I asked, placing my linen napkin on the table. “Something else historic, perhaps?”
“In a way, yes.” Robert replied.
A few minutes later, as we pulled onto the grounds of The Winery at La Grange, I looked at him, puzzled. “You consider wine to be historic?” I asked.
“No. But this winery is. Come, let’s check it out.”
As always, Robert was right. The Winery at La Grange is located in an 18th century manor house, complete with a supposedly-haunted basement lounge. However, since it was such a gorgeous fall day, we chose to share a glass of red out on the stone patio which overlooked both the vineyard and the mountains in the distance.
The brisk air and gorgeous scenery put me in a very autumnal mood, so when Robert asked what I wanted to do next, I replied “I wish there were a pumpkin patch around here. I feel like drinking cider and picking out pumpkins.”
“Well then, you are in luck,” Robert replied. He took the car keys from my hand and hopped in the driver’s seat, and in no time at all, he had fulfilled my wish.
“This is incredible!” I exclaimed as we arrived at Burnside Farms. “It’s exactly what I had in mind. I’ve never seen so many different kinds of pumpkins. And look—they have cider!”
Robert smiled. “I knew you would love this place.”
We admired and took photos of the quaint grounds and resident goats and chickens before paying for our purchases—several jars of preserves as well as one perfect white pumpkin for our front porch—before reluctantly heading home. The perfect way to wrap up our weekend getaway in Prince William & Manassas.
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