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area & attractions

The Town of Washington was surveyed by a young George Washington in 1749 and remains to a remarkable degree a village in which he would still feel at home.  Rappahannock County as a whole, nestled against Shenandoah national park, has thousands of acres of land in scenic and agricultural easement, preserving a rural way of life (enjoy apple- or peach-picking) with 21st century social and cultural amenities (attend a concert, visit an art gallery).

Whether you wish to spend a quiet day reading in our library or gardens, shop for antiques, hike mountain trails, go wine-tasting, or have a gourmet dinner, you can find it all within steps or a few miles of the Gay Street Inn.  Here are just some of the many nearby attractions to help you plan your visit:


Walk to the 5-star/5-diamond dining room of the Inn at Little Washington, ranked #1 in the world by travel + leisure.  For simpler fare within walking distance and without reservations, the Country Café serves home-cooked lunch and dinner the old-fashioned way.  Good food and good spirits can also be found at many locations within a short drive (5 to 20 minutes) and these are among our favorites:   

  • Tula's Off Main (540-675-2223) Recently renovated and reopened as a full service restaurant, Tula's is located a block from the Gay Street Inn. Quickly establishing a reputation for fine dining in a relaxed and casual setting, Tula's also provides guests with a sophisticated tap-room distinguished by a unique bar custom made by renowned furniture designer Peter Kramer.
  • griffin tavern (540-675-3227) For authentic english pub food in a lively atmosphere (live music most weekends, sports tvs in the bar area).
  • Thornton River Grille (540-987-8790) For fine dining and good wines in a casual, intimate atmosphere.
  • Iron Bridge Wine Co. (540-349-9339) For an astonishing collection of wines that can be tasted by the half-glass with outstanding “little plates” (and big plates) of gourmet food to pair.
  • Claire’s at the Depot (540-351-1616) For excellent local cuisine and high-quality service in the romantic setting of a restored train depot.
  • Foti’s (540-829-8400) For fine dining in an elegant atmosphere.
  • Rudy’s Pizza (540-987-9494) For gourmet, made-to-order pizza to eat in or take out.
  • 24 Crows (540-675-1111) , the casual but fabulous lunch-only version of the famed but erstwhile four and twenty blackbirds, by the latter’s semi-retired restaurateurs.

award winning vineyards and wineries

Award-Winning Vineyards and Wineries
The grapes of Rappahannock increasingly have been bringing home major awards from around the country.  Tastings in beautiful settings, opportunities for picnic lunches and special events abound at these and other local vineyards, wineries and distilleries.  And if you don’t want to worry about driving while tasting, we’ll be happy to arrange for a professional driver to do all the work for you – either in your own car or in a rental sedan or limo. Just ask us!

Natural Wonders
shenandoah national park
  • Shenandoah National Park
    With hundreds of miles of hiking trails and gorgeous views by car from skyline drive, this unspoiled mountain park is truly a national treasure.  Autumn, of course, is spectacular, but the park puts on a new face for every season and has activities to offer everyone.
  • Luray Caverns
    No matter how kitschy the ads make it sound, Luray Caverns are quite simply among the most beautiful underground caverns in america.  No matter the weather, the underground lake, wedding-cake stalagmites and pipe organ made of rocks are breathtaking for young and old alike.

theatre at washington

Concerts and Movies

The Theatre at Washington offers world-class concerts, comics and movies on
selected weekend evenings.  walk just two blocks – and home-made popcorn to boot! The Chateauville Foundation sponsors world-class opera productions and classical music recitals at the private concert hall of our resident maestro, the acclaimed Loren Maazel. The Rappahannock Association for Arts in the Community sponsors friday night lectures and other cultural events. 

rh ballard art

Art, Antique and Gift Stores
R.H. Ballard Art, Rug & Home is a "destination shop" not to be missed. There are many other fine retailers in the area, including in the historic downtown districts of Front Royal, Culpeper and Warrenton.  The town of Washington features several art galleries, and the famous gift shops at the Inn at Little Washington, all within a block or two of the Gay Street Inn.  A few of our other local favorites:

horseback riding

Horseback Riding & Bicycle Riding

In nearby Hume, the Marriott Ranch offers scheduled trail rides and special services. 
Call for information:  (540) 364-3741 or 2627.

Bring your bicycles and we’ll give you maps and directions for easy or challenging routes through scenic countryside.  Or rent bikes for as little as $25 per day from a local professional cyclist – we can make the arrangements for you. 




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