You know those days that are just kind of perfect? Schedules line up, the weather is sublime, everyone is in good spirits, there’s a dose of spontaneity, the stars seem to align…and something about it all just feels extra special.
We had one of those days recently. It was over Labor Day weekend, after the second week of school, which Owen missed because he was out sick (after not missing a single day last year, go figure). Anyway, it was the first day he was really feeling better, and we were all ready to get out and enjoy the beautiful day.
As we were deciding what to do that morning, my friend Margaret texted asking what we were up to. We threw out a few ideas, and I mentioned Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard, which I’d heard about from my friend Besa of Mom in DCity.
Long story short: Within a couple of hours, we were at the Dickerson, MD, locale enjoying the lovely scenery, awesome company, picnic lunch, relaxed family-friendly vibe, and a couple of bottles of the house special.
So, a vineyard may not be the first type of place that comes to mind when you’re planning a day out with the kids. But one visit to Sugarloaf, and you’ll understand why it’s a great option for a family outing.
For starters, they welcome children. Our crew was among many with kids in the mix, and they even have a designated Play Area for running around, kicking balls, tossing Frisbees, and other kinds of all-ages fun. (2018 Update: The website now says no balls, Frisbees or yard games, but it also says children are welcome.)
There are a few areas where you can set up camp for the day. We opted for one of many big round tables with umbrellas for shade in an open grassy space between the parking lot and grape fields, behind the big red barn. A wine tasting tent is also there, and you can sample a variety for $10. A level below that area is a patio with more tables. It’s closer to the road, but also where live music is performed — a guy on guitar entertained the crowd for hours that day. Behind the patio and next to the Play Area is a long stretch of grass, and folks are invited to bring blankets and chairs to hang out there, too.
The barn is at the center of it all — that’s where they make and sell wine and snacks, and indoor seating is available. Crackers, cheese, and summer sausage are the only munchies they have for sale (all of it the packaged, grocery store variety), but you can BYO food for a bigger picnic. That’s just what we did — a couple of coolers full of food made for a nice feast and nibbling throughout the day. Of course, we also purchased wine — outside alcoholic beverages are not permitted — and they also offer sangria by the glass.
There is terrific hiking nearby, and many folks actually make a stop at the Vineyard a reward after summiting Sugarloaf Mountain, located less than a mile away. It’s about a six-mile hike total up and down the mountain; we decided to skip it since Owen was just back to good health. Something to save for next time, as I hear it’s a great hike with fantastic vistas from the top.
Along with the picnic, we played games with the kids in our field, threw a Frisbee in the play area, spent some time on the patio listening to the music, and just relaxed, hung out, and savored the day.
A perfect day, at that.
Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard is located at 18125 Comus Road in Dickerson, MD, less than an hour’s drive from DC. Hours are 12-6pm daily, and last call is at 5:30pm. Admission is free, but plan on spending anywhere from $19-30 per bottle of wine or $6 a glass for sangria. There are some tips and policies to be aware of before you go, which you can read here. Sugarloaf occasionally hosts special events, including a Grape Stomp coming up October 3-4 and 11-12. And, generally, fall will be a great time to go when you can enjoy both the foliage and the fun.
Wait, it gets even better! On the way back to DC, we stopped at Honey Pig in Germantown. If you haven’t been to the authentic Korean barbeque, I highly recommend going. The food is delicious, and it cooks on a grill right in the middle of your table. Plus, kids love the variety of fruity drinks and Korean pop music videos playing on TV’s around the restaurant.
Honey Pig in Germantown is located at 19743 Frederick Road. There are also a few other locations around the area.