Things To Do In Leesburg: An Idyllic Day Trip Or Weekend Escape From DC

Updated: 4 days ago

This post is sponsored by Visit Loudoun

 

I lived in Washington, DC for years, YEARS, and never explored Loudoun County. What a waste. As I’m now learning Loudoun County, which is just a short drive Northwest of DC, has a host of outdoor activities, cute historic downtowns, wineries, and more to explore. The town of Leesburg, the seat of the county, makes an idyllic escape from DC. If you want to plan a casual girls’ getaway, a romantic weekend, or even a quick day trip from DC, you should consider visiting Leesburg.


Anela sits at a round metal table smiling, with a flight of three mini cocktails on the table in front of here at Catoctin Creek, a distillery in Loudoun County
Anela with cocktail flight at Catoctin Creek in Purcellville

How To Get to Leesburg

Located just a 45-minute drive from Washington, DC, Leesburg is easy to get to and explore. You’ll likely need a car to visit, as it’s easier to get around and explore Leesburg with a car if you want to leave the historic downtown area. Though if you’re a strong and confident cyclist like my husband, you could also plan to explore Leesburg for a weekend by bike. The Washington and Old Dominion Trail goes all the way from Arlington to Purcellville, right through Leesburg. It’s paved the entire way, over 45 miles, and is quite popular with locals. A confident cyclist could ride out to Leesburg and also explore the area by bike as there are lots of gorgeous country roads and you can easily avoid highways when visiting most local destinations.



What To Do In Leesburg

I spent a weekend in Leesburg exploring with a friend and we had so much fun! I think the area is perfect for a day trip from DC. There’s also so much to do locally that could easily fill a weekend trip with friends or a long romantic weekend with a partner.

A single hand holds up a paper bag stamped with the logo from The Global Local in front of a doorway
Explore shops like the Global Local in historic downtown Leesburg

Explore The Historic Downtown

Downtown Leesburg offers a LOT to explore. The downtown area is very walkable and lined with shops, restaurants, historic sites, and more. Take your pick of the numerous breweries (and cocktail and wine bars!), snag goodies from local makers, and even pick up a new favorite book or two.


Don’t Miss

The Global Local - This vibrant shop offers a curated selection of local goodies as well as products from sustainable makers around the world. If you like vibrant prints and gourmet food items, this is the shop for you.


Muz & Rose - This boutique has everything from ethically made jewelry to cute travel bags and vintage finds! I loved the selection of gold jewelry in the shop! Think minimal and modern but with just the right amount of shine.


Birch Tree Bookstore - This local independent bookstore has a fabulous selection and is a great place to browse for your next vacation read. If you’re not sure what you want to read next, ask! I got some incredible book suggestions that I really enjoyed when I visited Birch Tree.


That’s just a sampling. Check out Visit Downtown Leesburg to find more to explore in downtown Leesburg and check to see if there are any local events that overlap with your visit!


Visit Local Wineries, Distilleries, and Breweries

Loudoun County isn’t called DC’s Wine Country® for nothing. The county is home to over 50 wineries and tasting rooms, as well as a variety of breweries and distilleries. There is plenty to explore, sip, and taste while you’re there!


Don't Miss:

Stone Tower Winery - This family-owned and operated winery is one the largest in the region! Stop by for a tasting and soak in the gorgeous grounds. For groups smaller than eight people, you don’t need to make a reservation in advance. Though you should also consider booking a tour in advance to get a sense of the history behind this incredible operation!


Catoctin Creek - Located in Purcellville, a quick drive from Leesburg, Catoctin Creek is the first family-owned distillery in Loudoun since before prohibition. The Roundstone Rye is the most awarded Virginia whiskey and is considered Catoctin’s flagship product. Visitors can shop for spirits and other goods as well as sample via the tasting menu. I love that Catoctin Creek offers a cocktail flight on the tasting menu. It’s a great option for someone who might not be in the mood to sip straight spirits.


Enjoy The Outdoors

Loudoun County also offers a plethora of outdoor activities. From parks to golfing to horseback riding, there’s a multitude of ways to enjoy the outdoors. I got some sun checking out the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, which connects to Leesburg just south of the historic downtown area. Check out Visit Loudoun for more information on the plethora of outdoor activities in and around Leesburg.



a hot chicken biscuit sandwich from Buford's in Leesville, held up on a round silver plate
Don't miss the Nashville biscuit sandwich from Buford's Biscuits

Where To Eat And Drink

Leesburg proper has a lot to offer in the culinary space for a town of its size, especially downtown. When you expand your radius to consider nearby areas, you won't lack for food options. Below are just a few to get you started, all in Leesburg close to shops, breweries, and more!


Don’t Miss:

Bkd Bagels - Open daily in historic downtown Leesburg until 2 pm, Bkd is a great stop for breakfast or lunch! Snag hand-rolled, small-batch, fresh bagels, or choose from their menu of outstanding bagel sandwiches.


Buford’s Biscuits - I would drive from DC to Leesburg just to visit Buford's Biscuits. Buford’s makes everything from scratch, uses local ingredients, and really has the biscuit perfected. Snag any of the biscuit sandwiches, all served on cathead biscuits, and try out the seasonal jams and the house-made gravy flight!


Dolce & Ciabatta - The pastry case catches your eye immediately when you walk into this Black-owned bakery in Leesburg, for good reason! The danishes, croissants, and other pastries are all made fresh every morning. Dolce & Ciabatta also has a menu of breakfast and lunch sandwiches and an espresso bar if you need something more substantive than pastries.


Goosecup - Downtown Leesburg has numerous coffee shops with very different vibes, but Goosecup is a good place to start. This coffee shop and cafe is beautifully designed. It has indoor and outdoor seating, cocktails, and wine, as well as a food menu.


King Street Oyster Bar - Located right in downtown Leesburg, King Street Oyster Bar is a casual spot with a fabulous oyster selection. You can try numerous types of raw oysters and even snag a few grilled oysters while sipping a cocktail or glass of wine and people-watching downtown at this spot. King Street Oyster Bar also offers a happy hour daily from 3 pm to 6:30 pm that includes $1 oysters, cocktails, wine, beer, and a limited food menu!



Where To Stay In Leesburg

I loved my stay at Stone Gables Bed & Breakfast in Leesburg! This family-operated bed and breakfast is close to downtown but makes you feel like you’re in a quiet countryside getaway with lush greenery, a pool, and plentiful outdoor spaces on the grounds. The owners are a wealth of local knowledge and there are so many thoughtful touches and amenities to make your stay feel like home. You’ll find a coffee and tea bar with takeaway cups and breakfast served daily with multiple options to choose from that will be cooked to order. I’m already plotting on how I can make it back to Stone Gables with my husband!



For many DC folks, the city can almost convince you that the surrounding areas don’t exist. While I personally know how easy that can be, there is so much happening in nearby regions worth exploring! Loudoun County offers a host of towns with vibrant local scenes. From great local wine to good food you’re missing out if you don’t explore beyond DC proper. When you do, add Leesburg to your list!