Warrenton is the quintessential small town with big ambitions. That’s why director Clint Eastwood set important scenes of his film J. Edgar at the Fauquier County Courthouse on Main Street. You can’t miss seeing the regal yellow building, which sits high on a hill at the crossroads of five downtown streets. The town got its official start in 1810 but served as a way station even earlier, when founding fathers Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and James Madison took up lodging on their travels through the Virginia countryside. Fast forward to today, when visitors travel to Warrenton to experience the elegant blending of the old with the new.
If you arrive on a Saturday morning, spend time at Warrenton’s lively farmers market. Or make it an evening so you can dine at Denim & Pearls, an upscale whiskey bar, or Claire’s at the Depot, serving Southern comfort food in a historic train station. The drive alone is transformative, as you’ll be struck by the surrounding beauty of Fauquier County with its sprawling vineyards, green pastures, and views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Look for the trademark four-wheeler parked out front of Red Truck Rural Bakery, the result of owner Brian Noyes rehabbing a former gas station into an aromatic kitchen. Peruse the wall of famous patrons, like President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Andrew Zimmern, who special-order the same goodies that you can buy right here. 22 Waterloo St., Warrenton
Many a long-time Washingtonian has fond memories of the warthog insignia that appeared on clothing sold at Britches Great Outdoors, the esteemed men’s shop on M Street in Georgetown best known for rugby jerseys and button-down flannels, both coveted must-haves in the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Thanks to Matt Carson, who loved the store and opened this location in 2019, a new generation of warthog fans has discovered Britches. 20 Main St., Warrenton
Deja Brew Cafe is a veteran-owned gathering space in the heart of town. A steady stream of customers arrive for the single-origin fair-trade coffee, and the menu also has breakfast turnovers and savory quiches in the morning, plus snacks and cocktails at night. 22 Main St., Warrenton
If you can never have too much bling but hate being pressured, meet the welcoming staff at Hartman Jewelers. They offer the kind of personal service and expertise that make choosing that important piece of jewelry stress-free. The store doesn’t play games with prices—everything is marked upfront. 36 Main St., Warrenton
Raise your glass at Molly’s Irish Pub—a tavern where everybody knows your name, even when it’s your first visit. We favor the wee potato-leek soup and fancy grilled cheese. 36 Main St., Warrenton
In the cellar below Molly’s, Altered Suds Beer Company resembles a speakeasy where local bands put on shows. This funky, friendly brewery lets you bring in food from Molly’s to enjoy with your flights of beer brewed on site. 36-A Main St., Warrenton
Love to shop for unique treasures from faraway lands? Latitudes Fair Trade Store has dreamy merchandise with origins in India, Guatemala, Ghana, and Kyrgyzstan, to name a few. Among the colorful treasures sourced directly from their makers are felt flowers, handwoven raffia baskets, repurposed sari throws, and baby clothes made from organic Egyptian cotton scraps. 78 Main St., Warrenton
Creating that perfect silhouette is easy when Studio Luxe Boutique owner Brandi Norrell gives you a hand. Her broad assortment of casual clothes fits women sizes XXS to XXL. Many of the designs are inspired by the boho look, like flowy skirts and flowery dresses, cute straw hats, and lacy bralettes. 92 Main St., Ste. 102, Warrenton
At The Town Duck, you’ll find what you didn’t even know you wanted, like Swiss gardening shears, Printfresh cotton pajamas in every hue, Garnier-Thiebault tablecloths, or Baum’s fancy pecans. 100 Main St., Warrenton
The titles in The Open Book are expertly curated by owners Cammie Fuller and Rachel Sirene. Shelves are lined with bestsellers and classics, but the nonfiction and biography sections are especially notable for the diverse voices represented. 104 Main St., Warrenton