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Leesburg Day Trips
Five fun outings in Leesburg—from a fun day with the kids to a nice afternoon in the outdoors. By Gwendolyn Purdom
Comments () | Published May 21, 2010

Girls’ Day Out
Round up your girlfriends for a day of retail therapy and pampering. Start the morning with bargain hunting at Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets (241 Fort Evans Rd., NE; 703-737-3071), where chains such as Gap and Polo Ralph Lauren join discounted versions of upscale stores such as Barneys New York, Joe’s Jeans, Burberry, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Stop for lunch and a glass of wine at the downtown cafe Lightfoot (11 North King St., 703-771-2233), housed in a converted 19th-century bank. Then head to Lansdowne Resort’s Spa Minérale (44050 Woodridge Pkwy., Lansdowne; 703-729-4036), where treaments range from manicures and pedicures to a $220 Simply Indulging package that includes a massage and facial.

Bring the Kids
Introduce your little critters to the llamas, giant tortoises, and other wildlife at Leesburg Animal Park (19270 James Monroe Hwy., Leesburg; 703-433-0002). At the petting zoo, kids can feed barnyard animals, antelope, and deer. There are hourly pony and wagon rides; summer weekends bring camel rides, too. The picnic tables are a nice spot for a packed lunch.

In the afternoon, a 15-minute drive brings you to Historic Morven Park (17263 Southern Planter La., Leesburg; 703-777-2414), which has more than 1,000 acres of gardens and fields plus exhibits. The mansion, which once saw the Civil War rage on its grounds, houses a collection of antique vehicles in its Carriage Museum. The park’s living-history programs give kids a glimpse into the daily life of the 17th Mississippi Regiment, which fought in the battle of nearby Ball’s Bluff. The programs—on the weekends of June 26 and 27, September 11 and 12, and November 20 and 21—include firing demonstrations and camp cooking.

Party of Two
For a day of romance, begin with a stop at Leesburg’s year-round Saturday Farmers Market (Virginia Village Shopping Center, on Catoctin Cir., SE). Fresh local produce, bread, cheese, pies, and pastries are for sale from 8 to noon on Saturdays from May 1 through October 30 (9 to noon in the winter). Then pack up your goodies for a picnic lunch at the Audubon Naturalist Society’s Rust Sanctuary (802 Children’s Center Rd.; 703-669-0000). The 68-acre preserve has forests, meadows, and formal gardens to explore hand in hand.

Next, head to an afternoon winetasting at Tarara Winery (13648 Tarara La., Leesburg; 703-771-7100). Reservations are required for an hourlong tasting session of seven wines paired with food in the winery’s boardroom, which overlooks orchards and a lake. End the day by watching the sunset over the Potomac from Tarara’s patio. One too many glasses of wine? Downtown Leesburg’s historic 1760 Norris House Inn (108 Loudoun St., SW; 800-644-1806) has six guestrooms.

Step Back in Time
In the morning, head to Dodona Manor (217 Edwards Ferry Rd., Leesburg; 703-777-1880), former home of World War II general George Marshall and his wife, Katherine. The George C. Marshall International Center, housed in the restored mansion, features a museum and exhibitions on Marshall’s achievements. Then carve out the afternoon for another trip to the past at Oatlands Mansion (20850 Oatlands Plantation La., Leesburg; 703-777-3174), an early-19th-century estate and National Trust Historic Site. The former wheat plantation offers guided tours of the house and its history, and guests can explore the formal terraced garden and grounds on their own.

A stop at Green Tree (15 South King St., Leesburg; 703-777-7246) for lunch keeps with the theme: Specialties are Thomas Jefferson-era inspired dishes such as green-herb soup and rabbit fricassee.

The Great Outdoors
Start the day with a morning hike around Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park (Ball’s Bluff Rd., Leesburg; 703-737-7800), where signs and trails guide you along the site of the October 1861 skirmish. The Civil War battlefield is one of seven Loudoun County sites on the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail’s Foothills to Falls Loop.

You can pick up a driving tour guide from the Loudoun Visitors Center (112-G South St., SE, Leesburg; 800-752-6118 ext. 11) to link up to other nearby stops including Algonkian Regional Park (47001 Fairway Dr., Sterling; 703-450-4655) and Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve (21085 The Woods Rd., Leesburg; 703-669-0316), where you can spot bald eagles, white-tailed deer, and red foxes. Tired of walking? Hitch a ride on horseback at Serene Acres country farm (19312 Walsh Farm La., Bluemont; 540-554-8618). An hourlong ride through the Bluemont countryside with a riding instructor starts at $65.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 05/21/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Articles