The Small-Town-Loving Weekender: Occoquan, VA
Shops and sustenance in the cute riverside town of Occoquan, complemented by a sunset stroll through Mason Neck State Park.
You know when you hit that point in winter when you start to get cabin fever? The holidays are over, there's no sign of spring, and you feel this sudden despair that all your go-to weekend activities are outdoors?
I got that cabin fever this February and decided to escape DC and brave the cold for a day in Virginia. Collin and I headed to the quaint riverside town of Occoquan (pronounced Ah-koh-kwahn) and the nearby, more easily pronounced, Mason Neck State Park.
1:30pm: Leave DC
2:15: Arrive in town of Occoquan. Walk around shops, maybe get some coffee/tea
3:30: Leave for Mason Neck State Park
3:50: Arrive at park. Walk some trails until sunset on the bay
6:00: Leave park for dinner in Occoquan
8-8:05: Drive to Workhouse Arts Center for the Second Saturday Arts Walk (if you're there on the second Saturday of the month!)
9:00: Drive home!
We left home in the early afternoon and did the relatively short drive to Occoquan. Occoquan sits on the edge of the Occoquan River, and the downtown historic and shopping district is six or so blocks (nice map here).
We were surprised and delighted to find that not only were there great shops to walk around, but that we accidentally came during their Chocolate Walk! If you stopped by Town Hall, you could get a checklist to fill out with shops to visit. Each shop had free chocolate samples. If you visited all the shops, you were entered into a contest to win a chocolate diamond necklace from the local jeweler. We did not win the chocolate diamond but I got a ton of free chocolate, which is a win in my books.
Apparently Occoquan has themed days like this throughout the year, like an Easter "Peep Show," Spring and Fall Arts and Crafts Shows, summer concerts, a Halloween "Haunt the Town," and a Christmas tree lighting. The full list is here. We definitely want to come back for some of these, especially once we are looking for kid-friendly activities!
After a fun walk through town, we headed to Mason Neck State Park. We had read that park is a great one for winter walks and especially for sunsets. It was $7 to enter but once we got there we almost had the park to ourselves because it was so cold. We mostly stuck to the Bayview trail and did a couple laps of that and nearby branch trails. They are all very easy and mostly flat, with boardwalks in some places. Our favorite part was walking along the beach and of course, seeing the sunset.
There's a lot more to explore there--more trails, a playground, etc.--but we had dinner reservations back in Occoquan so we headed back to town. We ate at Madigan's Waterfront, which I'm sure has some awesome water views during the daylight. We got the Sweet Corn Hush Puppies and both got the Admiral's Platter. Oh...and more chocolate for dessert. =]
Only a few minutes outside downtown Occoquan, they had the Second Saturday Arts Walk at the Workhouse Arts Center. While we fully intended to stop by after dinner, my pregnancy fatigue was kicking in and we decided to head home! We'll have to come back another time.