Recently my husband and I belatedly celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary at The Inn at Little Washington. We were delighted to find that the Inn lived up to its hype and its magic followed us well beyond the charming town of Washington, Virginia.
Splendor, American Style
In the heart of the Hunt Country of Virginia, Chef Patrick O’Connell’s inn continues to treat visitors to the finest culinary and hospitable offerings known to the free world, and we can now include ourselves among the legions of its fans. For more beautiful photos of the Inn, visit Alison’s Avad Fan post, Re-treating at the Inn at Little Washington.
We had planned a one-day stay, and after all calories were consumed and farewells made to the gracious staff, LDB and I left town with an exchange of Where to now? While we had expected the dose of fabulousness we found at the Inn, the remainder of our anniversary getaway became a stroke of serendipity.
With an incredible picnic basket from the Inn stowed in our backseat, we had provisions for anything. On a whim, we chose a visit to Skyline Drive, the 105-mile scenic route through the Shenandoah National Park.
I am embarrassed to admit that, as residents of Virginia for over 20 years, we have never taken the time to explore either the Park or the Drive. Our daughters had trained with their cross-country team in the summers there, and, after making the drive, we have new-found respect for their conditioning.
Entering the Park at the Thornton Gap Entrance Station, located between mile posts 31 and 32 along the Drive, we were immediately greeted with one of the 75 scenic overlooks that dot the Drive.
With every twist and climb in the road, we couldn’t suppress our oohhhhhs and aahhhhhs at nature’s beauty in our backyard.
The Shenandoah Valley seen below
is bound on the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains (where the National Park sits), to the west by the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachian Mountains, to the north by the Potomac River and to the south by the James River. After driving for a while, we found a picnic area and planted ourselves behind a shelter to shield the chilling wind.
We watched several hikers brave the snowy conditions, but we were content with our not-so-rustic fare from the Inn under our protective refuge.
The remainder of the drive proved no less majestic,
and although our appetites were quite satisfied, our eyes continued to feast
on the ice falls beside the road.
Winter isn’t the best season to visit the Park. Most of the amenities are closed, including the Visitor Centers, food and dining services, lodging, gift stores, campgrounds, camp stores and other entertainment. However, we didn’t have to contend with crowds or lines of cars, and there was not a mosquito in sight! I really wanted to see some of the famed wildlife or hike one of the umpteen trails, but I guess that gives me reason to return.
Part of the allure of the Inn at Little Washington is its rural setting. You have to drive out of your way to get there, and when you finally do, its sumptuous interiors provide a complementary contrast to the Virginia countryside. By accident, we discovered one of Virginia’s natural treasures not far away from this man-made vision of extreme comfort and light years away from the daily grind. Isn’t that the very definition of serendipity?
p.s. Didn’t you love the picnic basket we received from the Inn? This one is similar.