SWEET STUFF: Warrenton, Virginia
Housed in a former Esso station in downtown Warrenton, the Red Truck Bakery (22 Waterloo St.; 540-347-2224) exudes quirky charm with its communal table and country-contemporary look. Owner Brian Noyes takes a locavore approach, using eggs, chickens, produce, and cheeses from nearby farms. Rosemary focaccia and harvest wheat with fruit elevate sandwiches—think egg salad on potato bread—while chilled carrot-ginger soup and an intense brownie turn a simple lunch into a midday feast. Closed Sunday.
Don’t miss: Boozy Moonshine Double Chocolate cake doused with rye from the Copper Fox Distillery in nearby Sperryville and the smooth Counter Culture coffee. Those in the know call ahead to reserve favorite items before they sell out. And keep an eye out: actor Robert Duvall and his wife, Luciana, sometimes stop by.
While you’re there: Stroll the brick sidewalks of downtown Warrenton, with its shops and historic buildings including the Old Jail Museum and the Old Courthouse, whose clock tower chimes on the hour. Poke your head into the Town Duck (100 Main St.; 540-347-7237) for ceramics from Italy and Zimbabwe and quirky lamps.
Distance from DC: About an hour.
BEEF TO GO: Delaplane, Virginia
August means peaches, and at Hollin Farms (1524 Snowden Rd.; 540-592-3574) 800 peach trees bear about a dozen varieties. Berries and vegetables are ripe for the picking as well.
The farm is also known for its lean, grass-fed, antibiotic-free natural Angus beef and pastured heritage pork. Getting it takes some planning: You make arrangements via e-mail or phone to have a quarter, side, or whole animal butchered into steaks, ribs, roasts, and other cuts, then pick it up at Gore Custom Meats (1426 Double Church Rd., Stephens City; 540-869-1029), about 35 minutes from the farm. The vacuum-packed frozen meat, in one-to-three-pound packages, keeps well in the freezer.
Insider tip: Veteran peach pickers seek out prized white-fleshed varieties such as Sugar Giant, Klondike White, and White Lady as well as yellow freestones including John Boy. Note that Gore’s closes at noon on Saturdays, and you’ll need a couple of large travel coolers to keep the meat frozen.
On the way back: Stop for lunch at Ashby Inn and Restaurant (692 Federal St., Paris; 540-592-3900), about 30 minutes from Gore’s, where you can dine al fresco on fried pickles, white gazpacho, lamb meatloaf, and cherry cobbler with brown-butter ice cream and take in a Blue Ridge Mountain view. Or take advantage of your time in Delaplane to visit three local vineyards: Aspen Dale Winery at the Barn (3180 Aspen Dale La.; 540-364-6178), Barrel Oak (3623 Grove La.; 540-364-6402), and Vintage Ridge (8517 Maidstone Rd.; 540-364-3371) .
Distance from DC: About an hour.
BBQ WITH A SIDE OF HISTORY: La Plata, Maryland
Hickory-smoked meat is worth traveling for, as any ’cue fan knows. Better yet, Johnny Boy’s Ribs (7540 Crain Hwy.; 301-870-2526) is in Charles County, where an open pit—a BBQ purist’s dream—is legal. Dine at picnic tables on meaty ribs, smoked chicken, and pulled pork; we like it with slaw on a bun. Regulars douse everything with the terrific house brew, Mama Sophie’s Red Sauce.
Insider tip: The barbecue-obsessed bring a cooler and stock up on pulled pork by the pound and 16-ounce containers of sauce. They travel and freeze well.
While you’re there: Channel your inner history buff in the nearby village of Port Tobacco, home to the One-Room Schoolhouse (Chapel Point and Causeway rds.; contact Ron Black for hours, 301-932-6064), built in 1876, and a restored plantation, Thomas Stone House (Rose Hill Rd. between rts. 6 and 225; 301-392-1776). Stone was Maryland’s youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence. You can also check out the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum in Waldorf (3725 Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Rd.; 301-274-9358), about 15 minutes away. Mudd treated John Wilkes Booth, who fled here after assassinating President Lincoln—Booth broke his leg leaping from the balcony at Ford’s Theatre.