Clifton is small town charm nestled within surrounding suburban communities. While the downtown part is small, the charm is in abundance. From the historic homes on Main Street to the grand trees and rolling hills – Clifton provides the rural experience and only is a short distance for most of the DMV.
One of our favorite stops in Clifton is the local Italian spot, Trattoria Villagio. The left side of the restaurant is an upscale, rustic spot that exudes romantic vibes. Tucked behind the cozy tables and bar is an outdoor courtyard. There in the (usual) winter they open an outdoor lounge, equipped with heaters, blankets, and movies on the screen. The right set of doors to Trattoria Villagio is Little Villagio – an Italian market and take out pizza spot. One of our favorite things to do is grab a pie from Little Villagio and drive up the road to Paradise Springs Winery. If picnicking is your style, ask Little Villagio for plastic ware and plates with your order. Fun fact: Trattoria Villagio and 2 Silos Brewing in Manassas are affiliated with one another (their logos are on the takeout bags).
If an upscale meal is your plan, another option is Trummers on Main. This American Bistro is a great spot for brunch and dinner alike. Their menu ranges in price and variety, with items like baked flounder, hand cut pasta, and prime rib. Their dessert menu is also worth a peek if you have the room, most notably their table side s’mores that your roast yourself!
If the experience you are looking for is 21+, try a wine tasting at The Wine Attic located next door to Trattoria Villagio. Up the set of stairs in, the attic, you’ll find an expansive variety of wines and other adult beverages. If tasting from home is more of your comfort, they also provide curbside pickup and delivery for a 10 mile surrounding area.
Most notably our favorite spot is Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot. Located in the old train station, this outdoor creamery hits the sweet spot – pun intended. In addition to their well known ice cream and milkshakes, is their sandwich and hotdog menu. Fun fact #2: Peterson’s has converted an old bus into a walk up ice cream spot at 2 Silos Brewery.
Around the corner and across the street from Peterson’s, is a large field and playground that is perfect for littles to run off their sugar high. Another spot to see with little ones is the red train car located next to the tracks that run directly through town. Both of these places add a little small town magic to any Clifton outing.
Up the road from Main Street is Paradise Springs Winery. This gorgeous property gets very busy as it is one of the closer wineries to more neighboring suburban and urban areas. However, the property is expansive enough that social distancing is possible. We recently went on a Wednesday evening for dinner and it was the perfect time to be there. Paradise Springs is dog and family friendly, however the outdoor porch is adults only. If you can, try to plan an outing soon as the trees in Clifton are gorgeous right now and provide the perfect backdrop for a fall outing.
For the adventurous and outdoorsy (or those who want to earn their keep at any of the aforementioned spots), check out Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. The grade descending down towards the river can be steep and muddy, and those parallel to the river are a bit narrow. With that said, it is can be an easy hike for the family that can be varied in length.
Another spot to hike nearby is the Bull Run Occoquan Trail. Similar to Hemlock, trails vary in difficulty and length. It is also another popular spot for hikers and canoe launching, however the trails are wide and it is easy to keep your distance from others.
While these are just a few of the places we love to visit when we go to Clifton, there are other options as well. Horse Hippie is a free trade retailer, Clifton Café for a European style bistro experience, Belle Jar for interior design inspiration and antiques, and The Main Street Pub. Hopefully this mini guide provides you with ideas for your next outing and shows you that sometimes small towns can provide big memories.