As summer turns to fall, the 200-year-old Nightmare Manor opens its doors to scare-seeking guests. Inside, actors portraying the spirits of the Manor's former residents who died in a tragic fire frighten explorers with detailed scenes and special effects as they transverse a series of rooms and surrounding property that would strike fear into the heart of any human, whether dead or undead. In addition to this macabre attraction, Nightmare Manor also houses an outdoor theater, bungee run, and bonfire.
In 2001, husband-and-wife team Todd and Anne realized two of their biggest dreams: they started a family and opened The Bike Lane. Throughout the store, bikes by Trek, Electra, Felt, Mirraco, and Surly lean on their kickstands alongside accessories such as water bottles, bells, or high-heeled spokes for date night. Certified staffers leap down from their stationary penny-farthings to perfectly match riders with new bikes through fit services that are free with purchase of a triathlon/TT, road, or mountain bike. In the repair shop, mechanics with 40 years of combined experience service bikes, overhauling brakes, installing parts, or custom-fitting wheels. To stay connected with its network of riders, The Bike Lane organizes educational safety events, advocates for bicycle-friendly communities, and sponsors more than 50 cycling events per year.
Leave it to a DC bus company to build its service upon democratic principles: DC2NY lets its riders vote on issues such as whether or not to make rest stops or watch movies. This novel approach to customer service was developed by a senior management team with decades of experience in the hospitality industry, and it is no doubt part of the reason for a seemingly endless list of customer compliments. Riders also tend to be fans of the modern fleet of buses, which are equipped with free WiFi and bottled water, well-kept bathrooms, and electrical outlets in every other row.
Most of the roundtrip voyages take place between DC or Virginia and New York City, with convenient pickup locations at Dupont Circle and Union Station in DC, Penn Station in New York, and two Virginia-area Metro stations. Weekend trips often have express service with no additional pickups, and the summer season brings routes headed toward Rehoboth and Dewey Beaches in Delaware. For regular commuters, DC2NY offers a membership program, which grants special pricing, rewards points redeemable for tickets, and the privilege of declaring yourself mayor of your seat.
It was supposed to be a utopia. When Professor Angelica D. Ream painstakingly planned her Dream City, she failed to anticipate the demonic intentions of her own family, who twisted the peaceful community into Scream City, a hellscape terrorized by werewolves, bill collectors, and other evil beasts summoned from the underworld. Snaking throughout Scream City is the Trail of Terror, which reaches deep into a haunted forest where a power-hungry werewolf notoriously slaughtered a Dream City farmer. The path is known to shape-shift from year to year, keeping even regular travelers on their curled toes.
Elsewhere, Hades’s Hayride creeps through cornfields menaced by packs of brutish monsters and, allegedly, the most fear-inducing demon ever spawned. Towering over the grounds is Lusion Manor, where Professor Ream concocted Dream City and her evil family now plots their continued reign. Entrants wander each room of the house—including an attic rumored to imprison many of the villagers—which was just expanded to five times the size of the original structure to stave off noise complaints filed against howling werewolves.
Once wanderers have been sufficiently terrified, they can fight back against roving zombies in Paintball Apocalypse. From aboard a double-decker steel cart, battlers shoot glow-in-the-dark paintballs at unarmed zombies as they stagger past. Warriors can power up at the concessions area, where groups scorch marshmallows over open flames and annihilate plates of deep-fried Twinkies, pizza, and funnel cakes. Though the backstory remains in place at Field of Screams every year, each attraction takes on new twisted twists each fall.
If there's one word to describe the success of Willowcroft Farm Vineyards, it's persistence. Owner and winemaker Lew Parker planted the first vines on what is now Willowcroft's home vineyard in 1980, but they didn't grow. They died. Doubt about the feasibility of the project came from everywhere, including the Virginia Extension Service. Lew planted anyway, and in 1981 he grew his first cabernet sauvignon, riesling, and chardonnay grapes. Today, through Lew's hard work and horticultural innovation, Willowcroft bottles 14 different varietals from reds such as the merlot and cabernet franc to whites such as the chardonnay or muscat-ottonel.
Willowcroft's wines maintain a crisp, clean flavor due to the winery's sustainable dry farming, and have garnered a litany of awards since their first vintages in 1984. However, the wine isn't the only draw to the winery. Located atop Catoctin Ridge, panoramic views unfurl from the winery's tasting barn and open terraces, where visitors can enjoy cheese and wine purchased onsite.