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Fun Fall Getaways for Foodies

By Natalie Kaar

While the blogosphere may be filled to the brim with food- and wine-related websites offering everything from star chefs’ and sommeliers’ most treasured tips to videos of the world’s most outrageous eating competitions, culinary connoisseurs can be entertained for hours just sitting at the keyboard. Yet, eventually it becomes time to back away from the browser and begin to taste! That’s why on the following pages, we’ve assembled a little research that will allow Northern Virginians to get out the door sooner and start experiencing the fresh fall splendor. From small food and wine tastings to major ethnic food festivals, prime places for picking up picnic fare to seasonally-themed menus and cutting-edge cooking classes, when it comes to this season’s cool culinary escapes, we’ve got them covered.

 

Dynamic Local Foodie Destinations
(less than 120 miles away)

Goodstone Inn & Estate

Courtesy of Goodstone Inn & Estate

Amazing foodie everyday finds and fun weekend festivals practically abound in each and every Northern Virginian’s backyard. One fine example is the Virginia Wine Festival (see table) coming up Sept. 19 and 20 at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville. Featuring over 50 wineries pouring from over 350 vintage wines, plus loads of great food, educational seminars and lively entertainment, the event is one not to be missed among area wine aficionados as well as social wine drinkers looking to learn more about local offerings.

For those wishing to make a weekend of it, do it up in style and have a designated driver whisk you away to Middleburg’s refined Goodstone Inn & Estate. After all, while there, guests not only become enamored with their gorgeous surroundings but delighted by dining in Goodstone’s restaurant, where Chef Tarver King utilizes produce from the estate’s garden for his multi-course menu—each course building on the one before it. Call to see about monthly wine dinners.

Also close to home, especially for inside-the-Beltway residents, is a fall event perfect for foodies who know how to party: The Das Best Oktoberfest at National Harbor. Last year the event drew over 5,000 revelers. To prepare for an even bigger crowd this year, the event is promising over 200 types of beer (instead of last year’s 100), over 300 percent more German food stands than last year, an expanded wine and schnapps area, 50 percent more bars, taps and staff, plus, as always, plenty of Oompah bands.

The Das Best Oktoberfest at National Harbor

Courtesy of The Das Best Oktoberfest at National Harbor

For more laidback ladies and gentlemen hoping for a calmer culinary escape, National Harbor is also home to the luxe Gaylord National Hotel, featuring a variety of in-house foodie treasures: Old Hickory Steakhouse, featuring inventive, contemporary cuisine utilizing produce from the terrace garden and an impressive collection of both handcrafted cheeses and award-winning wines; Moon Bay Coastal Cuisine, where an excellent wine list is featured—and on display as the “wall of whites”—alongside seafood from America waters, including sushi and sashimi, served up with modern twists; and Pienza Italian Market, best known for its Sunday brunch, featuring an outstanding array of traditional and unique specialties plus strolling musicians.

What’s more, just a short drive on I-66 away from western Northern Virginia residents, are the perhaps unexpected culinary jewels of Front Royal. Not only is the picturesque town surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains, but it’s home to the Valley Smokin’ BBQ Festival this year, which is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society and features teams and judges from all over Virginia and as far away as Ohio, Kansas, Florida and New York. There are great everyday foodie finds in Front Royal, too. For instance, check out Front Royal’s Around Your Kitchen, a home chef store, which offers a variety of cooking classes twice a month; Vino E Formaggio, a gourmet wine, beer, cheese and specialty store where special fall-themed wine and cheese pairings can be found; and Shenandoah National Park’s “Shenandoah Seasonings” Culinary Workshop at Skyland, www.visitshenandoah.com/culinary.

Finally, another close-by destination perfect for exploration this fall—especially for parents of UVA students who happen to love learning about wine—is none other than Monticello, in Charlottesville. Not only is Thomas Jefferson’s gorgeous estate home to the Heritage Harvest Festival on Sept. 12, but on Sept. 16, 18, 23 and 25, as well as Oct. 7, 9, 14 and 16, Monticello will feature 45-minute Jefferson and Wine Tours. The tours will explore Jefferson’s exposure to European wine, his attempts to grow wine grapes at Monticello, the storage and service of wine at his home and related topics, and will include a tasting of Virginia wines. Tours are offered at 5:45 p.m. on the dates listed, and tickets are $45. For more information and to reserve tickets (required), visit www.monticello.org or call 434-984-9880.


Favorable Farther-Flung Foodie Escapes
(still less than 250 miles away)

Since those who are able to secure a babysitter for a few days and aren’t prone to car sickness may prefer to escape a little farther from their everyday stresses, we’ve also looked into fun fall getaways for foodies in places more than a two-hour drive away from Fairfax, yet still close enough to home to not warrant a flight—well, except for a flight of wine, perhaps.

Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival

Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival (Courtesy of Market Works LLC)

To the north, first of all, there is Hershey. With a plethora of out-of-this-world special events and programs to knock the socks off any chocoholic year-round, it’s always a good time to visit. This fall, however, standout offerings include Restaurant Week Sept. 13 to 17 where 10 restaurants, places that offer items like cocoa-seared scallops, will offer three-course menus for $30, and Oktoberfest at Hershey Lodge, where from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4, Bavarian-style beverages and food will be offered at Hershey Grill, The Forebay and The Bear’s Den. Yet regardless of when you visit, don’t miss The Hershey Story, the all-new museum on Chocolate Avenue with participatory classes in everything from tempering, molding and dipping to making chocolate from scratch in its Chocolate Lab, as well as Countries of Origin chocolate tastings at its Café Zooka.

Enjoying al fresco dining in Virginia Beach

Enjoying al fresco dining in Virginia Beach (Courtesy of Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Another northern star escape not to be overlooked is Garrett County, Md., home to the all-season Wisp Resort and the annual Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival, this year held Sept. 11 to 13 in McHenry, Md. The three-day event, a fundraiser for the American Red Cross, features handcrafted works by local and regional artists, wine tasting from over 200 Maryland and national wineries, live music, children’s activities, wine pairing dinners, lodging packages and more.

And, to the south, terrific food and wine escapes are every bit as plentiful, including in the Virginia Beach and Hampton necks of the woods. Two events that you’ll want to be sure to check out this fall in those areas are Neptune’s Fall Wine Festival in Virginia Beach and Hampton’s Five-Alarm Chili Cook-off Festival & Safety Expo. The former features wines from over 20 Virginia vineyards along with plenty of great food and live music at Virginia Beach’s 31st Street Park. And, the latter takes place in Hampton’s Carousel Park and features a competition for best chili, which anyone can enter, as well as the opportunity to sample some of the best-tasting chili in the area, plus safety demonstrations and special activities for kids.

The south also seems to be as big of a proponent of Oktoberfest as the north. Don’t miss the historic Virginia town of Staunton’s celebration at the Frontier Culture Museum. While in town, you should also check out Cranberry’s Grocery and George Bower’s Grocery which both sell local fresh goods, as well as the many Staunton restaurants that serve farm-to-fork fare, including the casual Newtown Baking to the contemporary Zynodoa to fine dining establishment Staunton Grocery. For announcements regarding special tastings, dinners and events, see the restaurants’ websites. You’ll also want to make time for a tour of Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” fame.

Taste of Our Towns Food Festival

Courtesy of Taste of Our Towns

Fun foodie finds also exist in “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia,” especially in Greenbrier County, home to the AAA Five-diamond Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs. The area is also home to events like the Taste of Our Towns Food Festival at Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, where great food, wine, beer, entertainment and plenty of kid activities combine to draw around 10,000 event-goers each year.

And, finally, back in Virginia, foodies can certainly keep it real in Roanoke as well, especially this fall. The upcoming season promises to bring events like the Harvest Festival, an all-day farmer’s market complete with “Eat Fresh, Eat Local” cooking demonstrations at Market Square, and the annual Sun Trust Big Lick Blues Festival & Rib Cook-off, a totally rockin’ rib fest featuring music all day into the night, both Oct. 3. Plus, Roanoke features regular foodie-friendly events, like beer and wine tastings at Roanoke’s Wine Gourmet each weekend.


Front Royal

Front Royal (Courtesy of Warren County Visitor Center)

Some Perfect Places for Fall Picnics in Our Fave Foodie Locales
» Floating along the South Fork of the Shenandoah River in a canoe or sitting alongside the Shenandoah shore in Front Royal
» At one of the three picnic spots on Goodstone’s meticulously maintained 265-acre property
» In Virginia Beach at one of its three state parks: Lynhaven Beach along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Red Wing Park, Princess Anne Park or Little Island Park
» At Buckroe Beach, Sandy Bottom Nature Park or Grandview Nature Preserve in Hampton
» In the Hershey Gardens
» In Garrett County, Md., atop Wisp Resort after taking a chairlift ride, at Swallow Falls State Park or on a boat sailing along Deep Creek Lake
» At any of the shelters in Roanoke’s Wasena or Smith parks along the Roanoke River or at Elmwood Park downtown
» In Greenbrier County, W.Va., at Academy Park in Lewisburg, by the Greenbrier River, at Greenbrier State Forest or the Blue Bend Recreation Area
» In Staunton, streamside on the grounds of the newly rehabilitated Villages at Staunton or on Canon Hill at the crest of Mary Baldwin College’s campus, in Gypsy Hill Park or at Thornrose Cemetery


Courtesy of Gaylord National

Courtesy of Gaylord National

Perhaps You Didn’t Know…
» Approximately 20 Virginia Beach area restaurants carry the Virginia Green certification and are committed to eco-friendly practices like recycling, energy conservation and greater water efficiency.
» A new restaurant named Harvest recently opened on the grounds of The Hotel Hershey, featuring regional American cuisine with a heavy focus on local and organic products from nearby Lancaster County. The restaurant strives to keep as much as possible coming from within a 100-mile radius of Hershey.
» Gaylord National’s acclaimed Old Hickory Steakhouse features a unique cheese cave where, while enjoying award-winning wine, guests can create their own cheese course under the tutelage of Carolyn Stromberg, the D.C. area’s only full-time Maitre D’Fromage.




Events

Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival (McHenry, Md.) 
Sept. 11-13
Food: Y  |  Beer: N  |  Wine: Y
Price: $25 for adults age 21 and up (includes entry, wine tastings and glass), $5 for admittance only, free for kids age 5 and under at Saturday’s festival; various prices at Friday prix-fixe wine dinners and Sunday brunches
Payment Accepted: cash, credit cards
Kid-friendly: Y  |  Pet-friendly: N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 180
May Bring Your Own Food: N
Onsite Parking: Y

Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello (Charlottesville)
www.monticello.org
Sept. 12
Food: Y  |  Beer: N  |  Wine: N
Price: $5 per car
Payment Accepted: cash
Kid-friendly: Y  |  Pet-friendly: Y
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 100
May Bring Your Own Food: Y
Onsite Parking: Y

Neptune’s Fall Wine Festival (Virginia Beach)
Sept. 12-13
Food: Y   |   Beer: N  |  Wine: Y
Price: Reg. ($25 in advance, $30 onsite), $400 for umbrella table for eight
Payment Accepted: cash, credit cards
Kid-friendly: N  |  Pet-friendly: N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 200
May Bring Your Own Food: N
Onsite Parking: N (parking nearby)

Restaurant Week in Hershey (Hershey, Pa.)
Sept. 13-17
Food: Y  |  Beer: Y  |   Wine: Y
Price: Three-course dinner for $30 at 10 Hershey restaurants Payment Accepted: cash, credit cards
Kid-friendly: Y   |  Pet-friendly: N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 134
May Bring Your Own Food: N
Onsite Parking: Y

Virginia Wine Festival (Centreville)
Sept. 19-20
Food: Y   |  Beer: N  |  Wine: Y
Price: Adult single day ($25 in advance, $30 onsite), DD and teen single day ($16 in advance, $22 onsite), kids’ single day ($5 in advance, $8 onsite)
Payment Accepted: cash, credit cards
Kid-friendly: Y   |  Pet-friendly: N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 7
May Bring Your Own Food: Y
Onsite Parking: Y

Oktoberfest at Hershey Lodge (Hershey, Pa.)
Sept. 20-Oct. 4
Food: Y  |  Beer: Y  |  Wine: Y
Price: TBD prices for special Bavarian-inspired menus and beverage offerings at Hershey Grill, The Forebay and The Bear’s Den
Payment Accepted: cash, credit cards
Kid-friendly: Y  |  Pet-friendly: N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 134
May Bring Your Own Food: N
Onsite Parking: Y

Das Best Oktoberfest (National Harbor, Md.)
Sept. 26
Food: Y   |   Beer: Y  |  Wine: Y
Price: VIP ($50 in advance only), Reg. ($25 in advance, $30 onsite), DD ($20 online and onsite)
Payment Accepted: cash preferred
Kid-friendly: N   |  Pet-friendly:  N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 19
May Bring Your Own Food: Y
Onsite Parking: Y (for an extra fee)

Five Alarm Chili Cook-off Festival & Safety Expo (Hampton)
757-727-1210
Oct. 3
Food: Y  |  Beer: N  |  Wine: N
Price: TBD price for tastings (generally around 50 cents each)
Payment Accepted: cash
Kid-friendly: Y  |  Pet-friendly: Y
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 170
May Bring Your Own Food: N
Onsite Parking: N (parking nearby)

Harvest Festival (Roanoke)
Oct. 3
Food: Y   |   Beer: N  |  Wine: N
Price: Free admission
Payment Accepted: cash preferred among vendors
Kid-friendly: Y  |  Pet-friendly: Y
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 225
May Bring Your Own Food: Y
Onsite Parking: Y (free parking around town)

Oktoberfest at the Frontier Culture Museum (Staunton)
Oct. 3
Food: Y  |  Beer: Y   |  Wine: Y
Price: Adults: $10, Seniors: $9.50, Students (age 13 to college students): $9, Children (ages 6 to 12): $6; Children (under age 6): Free
Payment Accepted: cash, credit cards
Kid-friendly: Y  |  Pet-friendly: N (but kennels available)
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 142
May Bring Your Own Food: N
Onsite Parking: Y

Sun Trust Big Lick Blues Festival & Rib Cook-off (Roanoke)
Oct. 3
Food: Y   |  Beer: Y  |  Wine: Y
Price: $20 in advance (online or at area Sun Trust locations), $18 in advance for Sun Trust customers who purchase tickets at the bank, $26 onsite, $22 onsite with student I.D., free for kids under age 12
Payment Accepted: cash, credit cards
Kid-friendly: Y   |  Pet-friendly: N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 225
May Bring Your Own Food: N
Onsite Parking: Y

The Valley Smokin’ BBQ Festival (Front Royal)
Oct. 3
Food: Y  |  Beer: Y   |   wine: N
Price: $7 in advance, $10 onsite
Payment Accepted: cash
Kid-friendly: Y   |   Pet-friendly: N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 54
May Bring Your Own Food: N
Onsite Parking: Y

Taste of Our Towns Food Festival (Lewisburg, W.Va.)
Oct. 10
Food: Y   |  Beer: Y   |  Wine: Y
Price: Free admission, tasting tickets are $1 each; prices of tastings vary
Payment Accepted: cash, credit cards
Kid-friendly: Y  |  Pet-friendly: N
Approx. Distance from Fairfax (miles): 240
May Bring Your Own Food: Y
Onsite Parking: N (may be shuttle from farther lots)




Lodging Specials Onsite or Nearby

Deep Creek Lake Art & Wine Festival
Check out the Art & Wine Weekend Package at Wisp Resort ($319) featuring two nights of lodging at Wisp Resort hotel, two breakfasts at DC’s Restaurant, a $25 gift certificate toward a wine-pairing dinner at participating restaurants, admission to Saturday’s festival and two commemorative wine glasses at www.wispresort.com.

Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello
For area lodging deals, visit www.monticello.org/visit.

Neptune’s Fall Wine Festival
For special packages at the Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront, see www.hilton.com/en/hi/hotels/specials.jhtml?ctyhocn=ORFVHHF.

Restaurant Week in Hershey
To find out about special promotions at Hershey, visit www.hersheypa.com/specials.

Virginia Wine Festival
For special rates at Middleburg’s Goodstone Inn & Estate (about 20 minutes away), visit www.goodstone.com.

Oktoberfest at Hershey Lodge
To check for special deals at the Hershey Lodge, visit www.hersheylodge.com/rates/holiday.php.

Das Best Oktoberfest
Take advantage of a discounted room rate ($139) at Westin National Harbor, 240-766-3621. Or, see gaylordnational.com.

Five Alarm Chili Cook-off Festival & Safety Expo
See www.hamptoncvb.com/go/visitors/where-to-stay.

Harvest Festival
Stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott—Roanoke Airport (540-265-1119) for two nights or more before Dec. 31 and receive a $50 voucher for your next two-night-minimum stay at Marriott properties worldwide.

Oktoberfest at the Frontier Culture Museum
Receive the third night free when you stay two nights at North Augusta Street Inn Bed and Breakfast (866-466-1733) Friday through Saturday.

Sun Trust Big Lick Blues Festival & Rib Cook-off
Ask for the “Big Lick Blues” ($79) Special at Roanoke’s newly renovated Best Western by calling 540-362-2400.

The Valley Smokin’ BBQ Festival
Take advantage of the “September Special” when you spend two or more nights and receive one night free, at the Quality Inn Skyline Drive in Front Royal, by calling 540-635-3161 and giving code “SEP017”—for Sunday through Thursday only.

Taste of Our Towns Food Festival
Call 1-800-453-4858 to ask about the “Meal Plan Package” ($749 per night double occupancy; $899 per night family rate), for luxurious overnight accommodations as well as breakfast and dinner daily at The Greenbrier, a AAA Five-Diamond resort in nearby White Sulphur Springs.


(September 2009)


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