Dale City, VA
Dale City rests along the shores of beautiful Occuquan Bay at the northeastern tip of Virginia. Only 16 miles southeast from the historical town of Manassas and 27 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., Dale City tourism hinges on fun, fulfilling outdoor recreational opportunities and historical adventures.
Adventurers of all ages enjoy Prince William Forest Park, one of the top attractions in Dale City. Located to the southwest of the city, the 15,000-acre park offers visitors 37 miles of hiking trails that weave through towering woodlands and 21 miles of paved and unpaved bike trails. Campers pitch tents at any of the park’s four campgrounds or reserve one of the cabins, many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Nearby the park, historians stop by the Weems-Botts Museum, just 8 miles south of Dale City. The museum is housed in an 18th-century home and depicts the history of Dumfries, one of the oldest towns in Virginia. The home is rumored to be haunted, so beware ghostly encounters!
Also nearby, the Marine Corps Museum offers many fascinating and educational exhibits like the Making Marines gallery, where visitors can experience a virtual boot camp.
History buffs may also want to make the short journey to Manassas National Battlefield Park, located about 30 minutes to Dale City’s northwest. Here, the first major land battle of the Civil War resulted in a victory for the South and caused a surge of confidence for the Confederacy.
Nature Preserves are a key component of Dale City tourism, offering families and nature lovers a myriad of outdoor adventures. The largest preserve in the area is the 2,277-acre Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge. The preserve is located 15 miles east of Dale City across Belmont Bay and was the first national wildlife refuge created specifically for the bald eagle.
Just outside the refuge, tourists journey back to the antebellum era with a visit to Gunston Hall. Once a 5,500-acre tobacco and corn plantation, the Georgian-style home belonged to leading Virginia statesman and Virginia Declaration of Rights author George Mason IV.
Another of the top attractions in Dale City are the shops at the Stonebridge at Potomic Town Center which host retail staples like Old Navy, Chico’s and REI. Shoppers snack on all-natural, non-fat frozen yogurt treats from Bluberi or grab a light lunch at Zoe’s Kitchen where Mediterranean flair blends with vegetarian-friendly recipes.
For a romantic dinner, there is no better destination than Bistro L’Hermitage in the Occoquan Historic District. The restaurant’s menu features delicious French fare from master chef Dawn Burkart.
After a dessert of creme brulee, diners stroll the streets of Historic Occoquan. The 18th-century mill town-turned-artists-colony was a finalist in the 2012 national “Prettiest Painted Places” competition and is an excellent daytime destination as well. Afternoon tourists can browse antique stores and visit the Mill House Museum which offers information on self-guided walking tours and ghost tours throughout town.