The explosion of artisan trails is one of the most exciting things to happen in travel over the last few years, and the Top of Virginia Artisan Trail is part of it! There’s no better way to get a taste of local flavor as you experience scenic landscapes, artisan studios and farms, eclectic shops, historical sites, unique eats and special places to stay. Best of all, you choose where you want to stop along the trail, and there are options to please everyone.
The Top of Virginia Artisan Trail meanders through Winchester and into the picturesque Virginia countryside of Clarke and Frederick Counties, and along with a stop at Blandy Farm, it was one of the highlights of my trip to Winchester last September.
Blandy Experimental Farm (also home to the State Arboretum of Virginia) has over 700 acres of plants, animals, habitats and history to explore, and it can be visited on foot, on a bike, by car, even on horseback. Yep, Blandy Farm is very pet-friendly, so bring your dog (and your family) for a walk!
Wander the trails to see conifers, flowering trees, shrubs and wildflowers or sit quietly and enjoy an afternoon of birdwatching. There’s never a shortage of things to see and each season has special highlights. Don’t miss the Ginkgo Grove in the fall when the leaves are awash in gold.
Or the flowering dogwoods of Dogwood Lane in the spring.
There are also a variety of gardens, one of my favorites being the Pollination Garden where plants are grouped according to their primary pollinator.
Blandy Farm hosts various events, tours and public programs throughout the year, including the popular annual Garden Fair on Mother’s Day weekend and monthly Full Moon Walks. Blandy Farm is a place you’ll want to return to again and again.
Top of Virginia Artisan Trail
It’s no wonder this spectacular historic Virginia mansion (now B&B and special events venue) is so popular, its prominent hilltop location oversees 60 acres of exquisitely beautiful estate grounds along with the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.
There are eleven guest suites (and one honeymoon suite) at Rosemont Manor, and they’re each named for one of the famous guests who’ve stayed at the Manor over its life.
Although I wasn’t an overnight guest at Rosemont Manor, I’m thankful to have visited, and while I was there I sat in a rocking chair on the Grand Portico and felt all my cares drift away. That sweeping view was nourishment for my soul, and I would have been happy to remain there for the rest of the day. As it was, I had just 30 minutes or so to soak up the Virginia countryside, and I enjoyed every second.
Barns of Rose Hill
Housed in two renovated historic dairy barns, this cultural arts and community center in the town of Berryville is home to two galleries, live jam sessions, concerts, movies, classes and workshops, but if you do nothing other than browse the galleries and admire the artwork, it’s worth it.
When I visited late last summer, I was able to see an exhibit entitled “Journeys in Woven Color” created by six different Central Virginia textile artists.
Allow yourself a few minutes after visiting the Barns of Rose Hill to wander historic downtown Berryville. There are a number of artisan trail stops including Modern Mercantile, Fire House Gallery Cordial Coffee and Center Ring Design Pottery. I highly recommend it.
Visiting the Top of the Virginia Artisan Trail sites was a genuine pleasure. I’d previously hopped along the Monticello Artisan Trail in the Charlottesville area (and loved it), so it was really fun to experience another region.
For help in planning a trip to the Winchester area reach out to the Winchester-Frederick County Convention & Visitors Bureau and contact the Artisans Center of Virginia for more information on the Top of Virginia Artisan Trail or any of their artisan trails.