This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

As part of a series on long weekend getaways, we’re showing you how to make the most of your summer Fridays, school breaks and the season’s extra-long days. Check back every week for inspired itineraries and easy city escapes.

You don’t have to fly across the country to Napa and Sonoma for high-quality wine. If you live in the DC metro area, you’re just an hour and a half drive (depending on how clogged the Beltway is on Friday) from hundreds of acres of unspoiled vineyards growing high-quality grapes.

The Piedmont region of Virginia covers a wide swath of rural landscape that’s ideal for grape growing. It’s lush, serene and full of exciting places to eat and drink. (If you’re not a wine drinker, beer and whiskey are also being produced here.)

Charlottesville — home to the University of Virginia — is the largest city nearby, but we recommend spending your time in its surrounding countryside, which has a lot to offer travelers beyond simply eating and drinking (though we won’t fault you if that’s all you want to do). Here are five ways to spend a blissful long summer weekend exploring Virginia’s wine country.

Stay at the Inn at Little Washington

If you’ve got the funds, the Inn at Little Washington is a must. Led by owner and chef Patrick O’Connell, the Inn — which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year — is home to one of the most awarded restaurants in the country. Make your dinner reservations early, opt for the wine pairing and be sure to order the cheese course (trust us). After a meal like that, you likely won’t be able to move too far, so sleepover in one of the Inn’s French countryside-inspired rooms.

Book with your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card at to earn 10x miles on your stay. (You can also take advantage of the Rewards program to earn one free night for every 10 paid nights, effectively boosting your return to 20% when you pay with the Venture card.)

Bonus: On Saturdays during the summer and fall, the Inn hosts a local makers market with goods from their neighbors like the Farm at Sunnyside and Bread & Water.

Take a winery tour

There are dozens of wineries in the region, so you can easily find some just by driving around the area and following signs. If you want more structure, one of our favorites is Barboursville Vineyard, housed in a classic stone building from the 1800s. Its flagship red Bordeaux blend, Octagon, is rightly acclaimed and (if you ask nicely), you can forage for black walnuts and hen of the woods mushrooms on the expansive property.

For a full range of Virginia wines, head to Early Mountain Vineyards, owned by AOL founder Steve Case. Aside from producing their own tasty bottles (try the just-released 2017 rosé), they serve a wide range of Virginia wines in their tasting room, so it’s a great way to taste vintages from a variety of local vineyards all in one stop. Other vineyards worth stopping at include Rappahannock Cellars, Michael Shaps Wineworks and Glen Manor Vineyards.

(Photo courtesy of Copper Fox Distillery)
(Photo courtesy of Copper Fox Distillery)

Save room for beer, whiskey and food

Not everyone is a wine person. (Or maybe you don’t discriminate, and you want to try it all.) The adorable town of Sperryville — just over an hour from Charlottesville — happens to be the home of two craft breweries, a distillery and a high-end tasting menu. Hopkins Ordinary is a small B&B in Sperryville that brews its own beer in the cellar using just one barrel and local barley malted by neighbors Copper Fox Distillery. It has a three-seat tasting room and a patio that morphs into a (super low-key) bar on weekends during warmer months.

Down the road are Penn Druid, an experimental small-batch brewery that uses wild yeast in their excellent beers, and Copper Fox Distillery, which makes bourbon, rye and single malt whiskey. They offer free tours every day and tastings can be had for a small fee. Because all that booze will probably make you hungry, reserve a table at the newly minted Three Blacksmiths, which is a tasting menu only affair highlighting handcrafted foods from Rappahannock County and nearby for just 16 diners a night.

Go on a wellness retreat

If you’re looking for a more health-conscious getaway, the Piedmont region is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, meaning there are stellar hiking opportunities at a range of levels. Shenandoah National Park is a good place to start — it has 200,000 acres of forest, trails and waterfalls to explore. For a complete wellness retreat, visit the newly-opened Eupepsia Wellness Center on 256 acres near the Jefferson National Forest. The only other Eupepsia location is in Dubai. At the Virginia property, travelers can participate in retreats designed to help them distress and relax; or to aid with fitness and weight management. The spa’s facilities include a hydrotherapy area, a salt cave, hot stone chairs and flotation therapy pools. There’s also a state-of-the-art fitness center; yoga and meditation; and horseback riding.

Learn about US history

This region is full of history and it’s home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home and plantation, which is open to visitors. Various tours are offered, including one focused on the Hemings family — slaves to the Jeffersons — and another inspired by the hit Broadway show, “Hamilton: An American Musical.” And President James Madison’s estate, Montpelier, is not too far away and has a comprehensive multimedia exhibit on slavery, a Constitution-focused tour, and a tour that highlights First Lady Dolley and other women of the estate.

Featured photo by ablokhin/Getty Images

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.