Area and Activities
The Town of Washington was surveyed by a young George Washington in 1749 and remains to a remarkable degree a village in which he would still feel at home. Rappahannock County as a whole, nestled against Shenandoah National Park, has thousands of acres of land in scenic and agricultural easement, preserving a rural way of life (enjoy apple- or peach-picking) with 21st century social and cultural amenities (attend a concert, visit an art gallery).
Whether you wish to spend a quiet day reading in our library or gardens, shop for antiques, hike mountain trails, go wine-tasting, or have a gourmet dinner, you can find it all within steps or a few miles of the Gay Street Inn. Here are just some of the many nearby attractions to help you plan your visit:
Good food and good spirits -- here are our favorites within walking distance:
- The Country Café - (540-675-1066) For a home-cooked lunch or dinner served the old-fashioned way, experience simpler fare within walking distance and without reservations.
- The Inn at Little Washington - (540-675-3800), For dinner at a restaurant ranked among the best in the world by Travel + LeisureTravel Guide, enjoy an unforgettable dining experience at this 2 Michelin Star, 5-star/5-diamond internationally acclaimed “one-of-a-kind” restaurant.
- Tula's Off Main - (540-675-2223) Recently renovated and located only a block from the Gay Street Inn. Tula's has established a reputation for fine dining in a relaxed and casual setting, Tula's also provides guests with a tap-room distinguished by a bar custom made by renowned local furniture designer Peter Kramer.
Good food and good spirits can also be found at many locations within a short drive (5 to 20 minutes) and these are among our favorites:
- Claire's at the Depot - (540-351-1616) For excellent local cuisine and high-quality service in the romantic setting of a restored train depot. (Warrenton)
- Foti's - (540-829-8400) For fine dining in an elegant atmosphere. (Culpepper)
- Griffin Tavern - (540-675-3227) For authentic English pub food in a lively atmosphere (live music most weekends, sports TVs in the bar area). (Flint Hill)
- Public House Restaurant - (540-675-1700) For classic cuisine served in a restored school house try this all-American steakhouse. (Flint Hill)
- Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen - (540-987-8790) For gourmet, made-to-order pizza to eat in or take out. (Sperryville)
- The Headmaster’s Pub - (540-987-5008) Located in the Old Schoolhouse Building, this popular local “watering hole” offers an extensive selection of East Coast micro brews as well as live music every weekend. (Sperryville)
- Thornton River Grille - (540-987-8790) For fine dining and good wines in a casual, intimate atmosphere. (Sperryville)
- Bar Francis - (540-987-9533) Located next to Thornton River Grille, Bar Francis features locally-inspired alchemistic cocktails & classics, wine, and beer along with small bites.
Vineyards and Wineries
The grapes of Rappahannock increasingly have been bringing home major awards from around the country. Tastings in beautiful settings, opportunities for picnic lunches and special events abound at these and other local vineyards and wineries.
- Desert Rose
- Gadino Cellars
- Gray Ghost Vineyards
- Glen Manor Vineyards
- Linden Vineyards
- Little Washington Winery
- Magnolia Vineyards
- Narmada Winery
- Pearmund Cellars
- Rappahannock Cellars
Located just a few minutes away in Sperryville, two micro breweries and an award-winning craft whiskey distillery provide unique hand-crafted ales, small batch beers, and classic American spirits. Sperryville also boasts an amazing coffee café that roasts and grinds its own coffee beans for a truly outstanding cup of java. And just around the corner in Little Washington, incredible wines are paired daily with delectable artisan confections in a wide variety of flavors.
- Central Coffee Resources
- Copper Fox Distillery
- Pen Druid Brewing
- The Ale Works & Biergarten at Hopkins Ordinary
- Wine Loves Chocolate
Art, Antique and Gift Stores
R.H. Ballard Art, Rug & Home is a "destination shop" not to be missed. There are many other fine retailers in the area, including in the historic downtown districts of Front Royal, Culpeper and Warrenton. The town of Washington features several art galleries, and the famous gift shops at the Inn at Little Washington, all within a block or two of the Gay Street Inn. A few of our other local favorites:
- Antiques at Middle Street
- Copper Fox Antiques
- Gay Street Gallery
- Ginger Hill Vintage Finds
- Geneva Welch Gallery
- Haley Fine Art
- Kevin H. Adams’ Studio
- Middle Street Gallery
- Peter Kramer, Cabinet Maker
- Rare Finds Antiques
- School House Antiques
Concerts and Movies
- The Castleton Festival - Established by the late Loren Maazel, the Festival sponsors classical music during its summer season in Rappahannock County.
- The Rappahannock Association for Arts in the Community sponsors Friday night lectures and other cultural events.
- The Theatre at Washington offers world-class concerts, comics and movies on selected weekend evenings. Walk just two blocks – and home-made popcorn to boot!
Horseback Riding, Biking, and Golf
Interested in horseback riding? The Marriott Ranch in nearby Hume offers scheduled trail rides and special services. Call (540) 364-3741 / 354-2627 for more information or to schedule a ride.
Interested in biking? Bring your bicycles or rent bikes for as little as $25 per day from a local cyclist – we can make the arrangements for you.
Interested in playing a round of Golf? Schoolhouse Nine in Sperryville--Rappahannock’s first golf course--features 9 challenging par-3 holes ranging in length from 85 to 171 yards. The course meanders through a series of native wildflower meadows bordered by the Thornton River. Call (540) 987-5008 for more information or to schedule a tee time.
- Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns are quite simply among the most beautiful underground caverns in America. No matter the weather, the underground lake, wedding-cake stalagmites and pipe organ made of rocks are breath-taking for young and old alike.
- Shenandoah National Park
With hundreds of miles of hiking trails and gorgeous views by car from Skyline Drive, this unspoiled mountain park is truly a national treasure. Autumn, of course, is spectacular, but the park puts on a new face for every season and has activities to offer everyone.
- Shenandoah Caverns
With its snaking, soaring caves, Shenandoah Caverns has amazed visitors for nearly a century. The caverns are kept at a comfortable 56 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, and elevators and easy-to-traverse terrain make this natural wonder accessible to people of all ages and physical ability.
If you need to get around Rappahannock during your stay, we recommend Integrity Chauffeur & Transportation. They can arrange a winery tour, get you to-and-from a wedding or special event, or provide limousine service from the airport. Call (540) 229-7466 for more information.