This mid-March weekend was the ultimate spring getaway for H and me in Lynchburg—it was just warm enough to venture outside after the long winter cooped up indoors. My niece’s second birthday was on Saturday, so we planned a weekend in Lynchburg around the birthday get-together. We love exploring downtown Lynchburg (or at least I do, and H tolerates it) and seeing local historic sites, so we had a lot planned.
We drove to Lynchburg on Friday after work, stopping in Charlottesville for some greasy Cookout goodness. Every time we drive to Lynchburg from DC, I take 29-business so we come over the hill from Amherst County and see the gorgeous view of downtown across the James River, preferably while blasting Wagon Wheel or another Old Crow Medicine Show song. We got to Lynchburg tired from the drive but looking forward to a full day on Saturday!
Saturday morning we woke up and went to Mama Crockett’s Cider Doughnuts downtown with my dad, renowned doughnut connoisseur. Mama Crockett’s started as a food truck (that’s right, Lynchburg, Virginia is now cool enough to have food trucks) and eventually opened a super-retro storefront downtown with a metallic aquamarine interior. We all ordered apple cider doughnuts; I got mine with Nutella dip and H got his with an apple cider slushie, which is evidently a thing (?). The store was empty when we got there, but by the time we got our doughnuts the line was out the door.
Post-doughnuts, we stopped at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market so I could buy some fresh daffodils, and then we tagged along with my dad on a few more errands. The weather was bright but chilly—I wore a white cable-knit sweater, light-wash jeans, and suede smoking slippers. I finished the outfit with my Barbour to block the wind, these awesome tortoiseshell sunglasses, and a huge leather tote.
That afternoon, H and I visited Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s restored summer home. Driving to the house was like traveling back in time—we turned onto a gravel road and went from a suburban neighborhood to rolling hills of farmland. We wound our way through the fields and arrived at the visitors’ center, where we joined the next tour. The tour guide led our group through the house, which is octagonal, with a two-story dining room in the center and smaller rooms that form the angles of the octagon. The house has been restored but has minimal furniture, so we could see the architectural bones of the house that Jefferson planned so carefully. We explored the wing and basement, which held the kitchen, smokehouse, workrooms, and slaves’ quarters, on our own.
I realized that although I had been to Poplar Forest before, the wing and basement hadn’t been restored the last time I visited. Jefferson’s unique design ideas, which didn’t always hold up to reality, make Poplar Forest interesting—he originally built only an outdoor staircase for the servants to get from the kitchen to the dining room, but something (probably the colder meals in the winter) convinced him to add an indoor staircase. They also documented the restoration process at Poplar Forest in one bedroom, which is only partially restored so you can see the ghost marks from timbers on the brick walls, and the basement.
After we had seen the house, we checked out the gardens, although it was too early for much to be blooming. The house is landscaped perfectly so your view from the outside is like Jefferson’s would have been—just trees and farmland. Once we were done exploring, we left for my niece’s birthday party. I had changed from what I wore to the farmer’s market into a dark floral dress, black tights, and black heeled booties, with my Barbour jacket for warmth, so we could go straight to from Poplar Forest to the party.
My niece’s birthday party was small, just my sister-in-law’s family and my family, and we were thrilled to see my niece and get a chance to hold my newborn nephew. Instead of a big cake, there were cupcakes with fabulous icing, and after we sang happy birthday and ate cupcakes we watched my niece open her presents. My niece is almost too little for presents—once she unwraps one, she wants to open it and start playing with it right away, not unwrap another present.
The party wound down around five o’clock, so my parents and H and I headed to dinner at El Jefe, a taqueria in a converted garage downtown. I was worried that it would be crowded since a friend had mentioned on social media that she was going to a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl downtown that Saturday, but we decided that a tequila bar wouldn’t be involved in a St. Patrick’s Day bar crawl. We were wrong—Lynchburg only has a few bars (and the Irish pub had the bad luck to lose their liquor license a few days before), so El Jefe was packed. We found a table on a heated patio, though, and the tacos were delicious as always.
Sunday morning we were up early for church downtown, and then we went to Market at Main, another Lynchburg favorite, for brunch. H and I went to my brother and sister-in-law’s house again to spend a little more time with them, my niece, and my nephew. We headed home after that, happy after a weekend full of good food and family time.
Did you go anywhere this spring? What’s your ideal spring getaway? Let me know in the comments!