A Day Off in Warrenton

Editors’ picks for 24 hours in one of our favorite Fauquier County towns.

Main Street in downtown Warrenton.

In 1909, nearly half of Warrenton was destroyed by a fire that started in a downtown stable. A corps of dynamiters used explosives to level buildings in an attempt to block the fire’s spread, but not before it had devastated the west side of town. Today though, this historic town in the heart of Fauquier County is ablaze with hot new restaurants, shops and things to do. Set against the backdrop of wine and horse country, Warrenton makes a charming day-off destination. Here are some ideas to get you started.

9:30 a.m. Put Some Gas in It

Fuel up at Red Truck Bakery, a rural hotspot named for the red pickup truck that owner Brian Noyes keeps parked out front. A second location recently opened in Marshall, and travel and lifestyle magazines (even President Obama) have been singing its praises. Be sure to try one of the warmed croissants with delicious fillings like spinach and feta. Sweet more your speed? Noyes’ take on fruitcake, inspired by a visit to Cuba, will make you re-think everything you have ever known about the dense dessert. RedTruckBakery.com

10:00 a.m. Historic Haunts

After breakfast, walk over to The Fauquier History Museum at the Old Jail, which once housed four jail cells, each holding 40 prisoners. The jail now serves as a history museum for the Town of Warrenton, Fauquier County and the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is one of the best-preserved jails in the state. Is it haunted? Many would say yes. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for students and free for children under 10. FauquierHistory.com

11:00 a.m. Walk this Way

Now that you’ve explored some of Warrenton’s history, head back outdoors and hit the ground running (or walking or biking) at the Warrenton Branch Greenway. This leisurely out-and-back greenway stretches 1.5 miles, following a segment of the old Warrenton Branch Spur Railroad which was completed in 1852, serviced passengers until 1941 and was cut off in 1988. An added bonus? You may find some locomotive artifacts along the way. AmericanTrails.org

12:30 p.m. Hungry for More?

Kick back and relax at Sibby’s, a Southern soul-food jaunt located on South 2nd Street. A hidden gem frequented by locals, Sibby’s is famous for being the “Home of Boss Hawg BBQ.” With mouthwatering barbecue, perfectly cooked collards and sinful sweet potatoes, you won’t leave hungry. SibbysBBQ.com

1:30 p.m. What’s In Store…

Walk off that hearty barbecue lunch with a visit to Main Street, a half-mile district of shops, art galleries and restaurants. Latitudes Fair Trade Store is one shop not to miss. During a trip to Guatemala in 2009, storeowner Lee Owsley was inspired by a weaving class taught by indigenous Mayan woman; later, she felt compelled to help the women by marketing their products at home. Latitudes’ first location opened in Warrenton in 2010 and other locations have since opened in Fredericksburg and Staunton. With products ranging from apparel to housewares to coffee, you won’t go home empty handed. LatitudesFairTrade.com

4:30 p.m. Hop to it!

A bit of a drive, but worth it, is Old Bust Head Brewing Company, which is located in a warehouse that once served as a secret Army listening post. The company takes pride in its attention to sustainability, so you can feel good about indulging. Enjoy live music and try one of the craft beers, like the Vixen Irish Style Red Ale. Feeling more adventurous? Make it a stout float and add ice cream for a truly unique treat. OldBustHead.com

7:00 p.m. Dinner at the Depot

A trip to Warrenton wouldn’t be complete without dinner at Claire’s at the Depot. Opened by owner Claire Lamborne in 2005 inside the old train depot, Claire’s prides itself on local, seasonally focused dishes. Start with the Asian beef lettuce wraps, and then move on to main dishes like the veal scallopini and house-made pappardelle pasta. It’s so good you may cry. Specialty drinks like the elderflower prosecco cocktail are inventive and worth a try. ClairesRestaurant.com

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