Winchester and the surrounding scenic and historic Shenandoah Valley is an easy drive from the Baltimore-Washington metro region.
The area was surveyed by a young George Washington on behalf of Thomas, 6th Lord Fairfax, who’s buried right downtown.
Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson spent time living here and the City of Winchester changed hands 72 times during the Civil War. Patsy Cline was also from here. Winchester has always been known for its apples: celebrities flock to the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and White House apple sauce is made in town.
On New Year’s Eve, Winchester drops a lit apple during its “First Night” celebrations. There are many cultural and fun things to do in Winchester, many of which are on their pedestrian walk. You can get to Winchester from Huntington in five-and-a-half hours.
Where to eat: The Half Note Lounge, located in the George Washington Hotel, is a chic place with high gloss bar and comfy sofas. It’s a good place to order a nicely presented artisan cheese plate or a juicy burger.
Peru’s Chicken is hidden in a secluded office complex on Valley Avenue, across the street from a strip mall, but that’s no excuse to miss it. They serve authentic Peruvian fare, including homemade sides and fresh salsa, at bargain prices. They also have burgers and burritos on the menu.
What to do: Winchester’s pedestrian mall and surrounding blocks have many unique boutiques, including Kimberly’s, Simply Charming and Bell’s, which has been in business for 80 years.
The Old Court House Civil War Museum is on the pedestrian mall, in a courthouse that also served as a hospital and prison during the Civil War. It has samples of angry graffiti that prisoners from both North and South carved into their cells. The museum exhibits are eclectic, having been donated by a local artifacts collector.
The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is located on the estate grounds of the founder of Winchester, with graceful tea room, garden and house as well as the museum. It serves as a great jumping off point for discovering the rest of the valley.
Their collection includes fine furniture and paintings as well as miniature homes furnished to the nines.
Winchester was the hometown of country music star Patsy Cline. Her childhood home has been preserved to give the feeling of what it looked like when she was a young lady.
The gift shop carries specially commissioned and unique items.
Where to stay: The Marriott Courtyard located in Frederick County, is convenient to area attractions and has amenities such as free WiFi, indoor pool and hot tub, as well as a congenial bar in the lobby.
There are some organizational discounts available, but generally, rooms start at about $79 a night.
The George Washington Hotel has been hosting VIP’s and high society since 1924. It’s right in the heart of Winchester, with an on-site restaurant, indoor pool and whirlpool and elegant ballrooms. Rates here start at $99 per night.