Fun Day Trip from DC: Visit Old Town Manassas
The Opera House and Old Town Manassas
The Opera House and Old Town Manassas
If you’re visiting DC, or any large city in Northern Virginia, make sure to plan an easy day trip to the small city of Manassas. With the majority of the attractions in or near Old Town center, you can easily park your car and walk around this charming town to get a great history tour combined with good food, antique shopping and family fun.
Okras Cajun Creole- Alligator Bites
First stop of the day, grab some lunch. Okras serves Cajun creole, a unique option so far from the bayou. But don’t let that detour you, Okras is a town favorite. Besides ordering the gator tail for an appetizer, consider sharing a big bowl of gumbo or chowder, a house specialty, with the table.
Pick a seat on the outside patio to enjoy people watching from one of the town’s busiest streets. During the summer, plan a trip for dinner on Thursdays, when they shut down the main street and have live bands and performers at night.
After lunch, leave your car parked and walk around Old Town. One of our favorite shops is Prospero’s Books, a bookstore with over 85,000 books, mostly rare and with a large selection of Civil War era and themed books.
We got lost in their back room with the one of a kind and very rare selection. We also went home with several old maps of different areas of the US from different time periods, a unique souvenir for our travel friends. Even if you don’t buy anything, it was really interesting to see these hundred plus year old books in person.
The Manassas Museum
Continue your walk to the Manassas Museum, which covers the city’s Civil War history and beyond, and is just over the railroad tracks. This small museum, with many pieces of the exhibits donated from the city’s residents, is perfect for families with kids since you could see the entire museum in under 2 hours.
Check out the museum’s calendar for upcoming events to get a more interactive experience. In October, they have a Coffee with a Curator, a unique intimate gathering to learn more about select pieces from the museum curator himself. There are also cemetery tours several times this month, which rely more on the history of ‘who came before us’ than ghostly encounters.
Plan your trip to Manassas Museum early and ask about a tour of the Liberia Plantation, a short car drive away. The history of the Liberia House, which was used as a hospital after the Battle of Manassas and later President Lincoln visited, is as fascinating as the grounds are beautiful.
The museum is currently taking donations to restore the house and surrounding grounds back to what it looked like in the late 1800’s.
Inside the Manassas Museum
Back inside the Manassas Museum, spend some time reading through each part of Manassas’ history. With so many artifacts from different periods of time, you can really get a sense of what it was like to live in Manassas during different historic events.
Pizza at Monza
After you’ve worked up an appetite again, head back towards Okra’s but this time eat across the street at Monza. This restaurant serves ‘fancy’ personal pizzas, big salads and delicious pastas. The ingredients are what makes this place somewhere to come back to over and over again. Some of our favorite things were the baked oysters with spinach and pine nuts, the buffalo chicken pizza and Jack’s Special Pasta, with crabmeat, scallops and shrimp.
If you like beer, consider yourself in heaven. The bar at Monza serves over 100 craft beers for you to try.
Manassas Junction B&B
If 12 hours in Manassas isn’t enough for you, plan to spend the night at one of the city’s two B&Bs. We stayed at Manassas Junction B&B, complete with a jelly and jam tasting when we woke up in the morning, fresh potatoes from their garden and fruit from a local farm.
Nothing made the morning sweeter than starting it off with a great breakfast with foods sourced locally; Talk about an instant connection with the city I had spent the previous day learning all about and touring.
The LOVE Sign
Last but not least, make sure to take your picture near the LOVE sign and post about it on Facebook and Twitter. Using the hashtag #LOVEVA, you’ll see other people who have taken a photo with one of the special LOVE signs throughout Virginia.
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