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    Resolution No. 1: Explore Loudoun

    photoTimes-Mirror File Photo/Trevor Baratko Classic horse and carriages circled the Oatlands property Sept. 23 during “Old-Fashioned Day.” More than 20 horses pulled carriages, some new and other restored, around the Loudoun County National Historic Trust site.

    So how are those New Year’s resolutions going so far?

    Well, in addition to going back to the gym, quitting smoking or starting a saving account, how about one more …Get to know Loudoun.

    For many of our recent residents, Loudoun was a place to lay your hat. But now that you’re here, there’s a golden opportunity to learn about what the county has to offer. The following is just a sample of what Loudoun has to show you, but it should be enough to get you started.

    Historic sites

    Founded in 1757, Loudoun County has a lot of history, but that’s a boon for those looking to explore on a day trip or looking to get out a bit during a business stay.

    Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park remains a strong historical asset to the county, commemorating the site of this key Civil War Battle. The park includes the national cemetery, a monument and several hiking trails. Other major battles in Leesburg occurred in Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville.

    Visit Loudoun maintains a complete list of the many Civil War historical sites in the region, but one of the more interesting is the Aldie Mill, an early 19th century grist mill where Union soldiers hid to escape Confederate partisan John Mosby. Both Ball’s Bluff and Aldie Mill are maintained by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. NVRPA.org.

    Dodona Manor, former home of Gen. George Marshall, is located near the center of Leesburg. Restored in the 1990s, it now hosts the George C. Marshall International Center. GeorgeMarshall.org.

    Morven Park is the former home of Gov. Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922). It includes 1,000 acres and boasts two museums: the Museum of Hounds and Hunting and the Winmill Carriage Museum. It maintains an active Equestrian and Event Center, the main mansion and numerous smaller buildings. Morvenpark.org.

    A National Trust site, Oatlands is an 1804 Greek revival-style mansion sitting on 360 acres south of Leesburg. It is known particularly for its four-acre English gardens. Oatlands.org.

    History buffs should also consider a visit to the Thomas Balch Library, which focuses on history and genealogy. The Balch collection includes more than 32,000 books, periodicals and government records. It is at 208 W. Market St. in Leesburg. Leesburgva.gov.

    Nearby is the Loudoun Museum, which makes the perfect beachhead for further exploration throughout the county. Located at 16 Loudoun St. SW in Leesburg, it remains a valuable resource for information on the region. Loudounmuseum.org.

    And for those thinking of a unique way to skip into Maryland, consider a trip on White’s Ferry. In operation since 1886, it is the last ferry operating on the Potomac River. The ferry runs from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

    The Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area also passes through Loudoun. Extending from Gettysburg to Monticello, the area is notable for the vast number of historical sites within the corridor, many of them in Loudoun. Hallowedground.org.

    photoTimes-Mirror File Photo/Michelle Gabro Pran Gurura and his family, of Ashburn, enjoy a day at Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park in Leesburg during the artillery dedication of two mountain howitzers and one James rifle on July 9.

    Wineries and agro-business

    The growing success and popularity of wineries in Loudoun has made the list of them too long to list here. However Visit Loudoun maintains a healthy reference guide of the different winery locations and specialties at visitloudoun.org/Experience-Loudoun/Wine-Country.

    Guided winery tours are available through Reston Limousine, Point to Point Limousines, DC Metro Food and Tours and Trail’s End Cycling.

    And if your interest in agriculture goes beyond the grape, try loudounfarms.org for information on Loudoun’s farms.

    Even eastern Loudoun has something to share through the Heritage Farm Museum at Claude Moore Park, 21668 Heritage Farm Lane in Sterling. Visit heritagefarmmuseum.org.

    photoTimes-Mirror File Photo/Beverly Denny Visitors at 868 Estate Vineyards can have a wine tasting and take home the glass in the tasting room of the new winery in Neersville. The owners partnered with the existing Grandale Farm Restaurant set on an historic farm so that they could offer both gourmet meals and wine tastings in various indoor and outdoor settings on the estate.
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