Sunday-morning visits to the grocery store are vastly improved by samples of toothpicked sausage bites and tiny cups of squash soup. Humanity's mysterious love affair with trial-sized morsels is in full effect with today's deal: for $20, you get access to one walking food tour of the Strip District from 'Burgh Bits & Bites, a $38 value (including tax and service fees). Tours meet at the Old St. Patrick's Church courtyard and depart at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Call ahead and namedrop your Groupon to reserve your spot on a tour.
The sun has risen over Ridgefield Farm & Orchard for more than a century, dusting its orchard's apple trees, its winding cornfield maze, and its acres of pumpkins with warm, nurturing rays. Generations have flocked there from across the country, snipping fresh buds from flower gardens during the summer months or scampering though the pumpkin patch come fall. The advent of autumn also marks the beginning of the farm’s apple-picking season, when dwarf orchard trees grow heavy with juicy gala, empire, and 13 other varieties. After the annual pumpkin-picking and Halloween celebrations have passed, the grounds offer up an abundance of firs and spruces to be used as Christmas trees or stacked up and tied together into one giant Christmas tree. Throughout the year, the onsite country store peddles seasonal produce and housemade jams to boast the bounty of the farm's fields and to keep visitors fueled.
About 90 minutes from Washington, DC, Historic Rosemont Manor is nestled atop a picturesque knoll looking eastward over the Shenandoah Valley. Gardens, trails, and walking paths crisscross the manor’s expansive grounds, but nature lovers venturing off property can visit the nearby State Arboretum of Virginia, which offers free admission every day of the year to visitors drawn by its 300-tree ginkgo grove, sinuous trails, and other attractions. At Cedar Creek Battlefield, an attached museum details one of the Civil War's most crucial battles, and walking trails lead pedestrians through the battlefield’s earthworks. Local ranches lure equestrians with the clip-clop of horseback rides, and hot-air balloons allow travelers to fly like a majestic eagle or a mutant birdman as they soar over the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering pristine views of the landscape.
A 30-acre swath of lush, Red Oak Mountain terrain surrounds Capitol Vineyards' historic facilities, where owners Lauren Shrem and Matthew Noland forge an eclectic collection of French-style wines from Virginia grapes. With help from a resident French winemaker and vintners across the state, they press an array of vintages, dispensing the elixirs during events inside the facility's historic, rustic tasting room. Constructed as a post office in the 1800s and used as a general store in the early 1900s, the site still bears its original wooden bar, floors, and grizzled prospector.
Vintage Piedmont unites a grandiose group of family wineries, each cozily sprawled within a 15-mile distance of the others. Ernest oenophiles can mosey among them at their own pace, ensuring no one exhausts their seeing-eye elephant. Barrel Oak Winery boasts a pastoral setting, 20 acres of vines, and a BowHaus white that blends vidal blanc, sauvignon, viognier, and more for a bright flavor ($24). At Philip Carter Winery, the 2009 chardonnay intermixes lemon zest, a vanilla bouquet, and pear notes ($24). Desert Rose Ranch & Winery sustains an unpretentious atmosphere, unlike snobbish grape groups for third cousins of royalty. Varietals include the Hitch Hollow chardonnay aged in French oak barrels, or the Sparky, a European-style rosé. Rappahannock Cellars and Hume Vineyards regale taste buds with delectable drinks from locally grown grapes. At each libation station, take home two commemorative wine glasses and receive 10% off bottles of wine.