An Unexpected Family Vacation Gem In Gordonsville, Virginia
Local Author, Ellen Knecht
I don’t think I’ve ever told someone about my excursions to Gordonsville and not been on the receiving end of a funny look or an “Excuse me, where?”
I’m telling you, I’ve been to a lot of places. And, Gordonsville is the tiny town that keeps me coming back for more.
Gordonsville is less than two hours from Williamsburg. So, obviously it’s an easy drive, and you are rewarded with beautiful rolling hills at the end. There are plenty of places for coffee breaks and potty stops if needed. But, if luck is on your side, you can do the drive without stopping. It’s so close you don’t even have to budget for food!
Truth be told, this trip was planned around a BBQ restaurant. We were craving a weekend away from life (and laundry, and dishes, and obligations) and had a small budget. We had driven through Gordonsville several times on a quest for BBQ at the amazing BBQ Exchange and always commented on how adorable the town was. Therefore, this was our big chance.
- Where We Stayed
We actually ended up booking an Airbnb. We’ve traveled a lot with our kids, and the key to our success has been staying in places that have a space where the parents can talk after the little ones are tucked in.
For $125 a night, we were able to rent a fantastic outbuilding of an 18th-century mill. It was amazing. There was a separate living space, loft bedroom, and an amazingly cozy master bedroom.
Not to mention, there were homemade baked goods and yogurt, wine and coffee, and everything we needed to get going in the morning and evening without having to step foot outside. Also, it was situated near a stream where the kiddos were able to run around and play in the water while the adults relaxed. Talk about perfection.
- What We Did
Upon arrival, our hosts greeted us and made sure we were situated, and we chatted a bitabout our plans. We wanted to make sure we had a good balance of activities for adults and kiddos.
They recommended a place called The Market at Grelen. So, the next morning, we set off for what we thought was a market and restaurant. But, it was so much more. The market was lovely (I love a good market). We ordered lunch, and there was great food for the adults and the littles —another win in my book.
Their patio was huge, lovely, and casual, so the kids could make noise and drop food on the ground without stressing me out that we were ruining someone else’s dining experience. They ate and played while we enjoyed a pop-up wine tasting on the patio before heading to the orchard to do some peach picking. It was the best way to get some wiggles out before the afternoon!
And, down the road, a short distance away is Barboursville Winery—my favorite Virginia winery, which says a lot. It’s roomy and a little noisy with a great area outside for kids to run and roll down the hill. Our two-year-old mercifully fell asleep in his stroller while the other two enjoyed some time on their devices. All in all, the wine is delicious, and the atmosphere is amazing. We were able to take our time with the tasting, chat with the employees about wine, and even choose some bottles to take home with us. Needless to say, between Grelen and Barboursville, everyone was happy.
On the way back to our accommodations, we stopped to get some burritos at a place that was well-reviewed on TripAdvisor. I always check my TripAdvisor app to see where restaurants stand and read some reviews to make sure I know what we are getting into.
There are some highly-reviewed restaurants in Gordonsville that I look forward to trying one day —without the kids. But, this time, we took the burritos back to the Airbnb and sat out by the stream eating and playing while the sun set.
It was fantastic and relaxing—two words that don’t usually accompany a trip with three kids. After the sun set, we headed in for cupcakes, LEGOs (courtesy of our home away from home), and some TV.
And, after we got the kids settled in bed, we relaxed with a glass of wine in the porch swing and discussed for the hundredth time how much we love Gordonsville, and how peaceful and ideally located it is.
Our hosts showed us the water wheel adjacent to their home on our last morning. They even told us about the history and were so kind to the kiddos. Best of all, they filled our hands with fresh-from-the-oven cookies. And, as we packed up to head back to reality, we reflected on the simplicity of the weekend.
It was a lovely place to stay—a relaxing escape from the real world, with great food, great wine, fabulous hosts, and an adorable little town. For a weekend away, Gordonsville really is the perfect home away from home for Williamsburg locals like yourself, and of course, don’t forget to pick up some BBQ on your way back!
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