Imagine, lying only minutes from the hustle and bustle of the D.C. Metro area, is a very special Virginia city that embodies a charming and inviting, laid-back, small-town feel. While, technically a city, Manassas, especially its Old Town district, captures the hometown feel of a bygone era. Case in point, when one of the townsfolk was asked what he did for fun on Saturday night, he proudly replied, “ There’s the ice cream social.”
And when that same question was put to city councilman, Jon Way, he said, “Well on Saturday nights we go over there (to the grounds of the Manassas Museum) and watch a movie. We had a John Wayne (movie) there the other night.” Ice cream and John Wayne. For sure, Andy and Barney must be close by.
Many of the town’s activities, especially in the warmer months, center around Harris Pavilion, in the heart of Old Town. For much of the year, you’ll find a variety of events, from ice cream socials, to an appearance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, in the Pavilion. On Thursdays and Saturdays, from late March until early November, there’ll be a crowd of local folks down there for their popular farmers’ market. And, during the winter months, there is ice skating.
Manassas is also a great destination for history buffs. The Manassas Museum makes an excellent starting point for your excursion back to the fascinating beginnings of this town that got its name from another town…Manassas Gap,in Western Virginia. Originally known as Manassas Junction,because that’s where you caught the train to Manassas Gap, the name was eventually shortened to just Manassas.
That railroad junction played a major role in the first land battle of the Civil War at Bull Run, just outside of town. The battle was fought for control of the railway upon which the Confederate capital, Richmond, depended for the shipment of troops, food, and other necessities. The folks at the Manassas Battlefield Park at Bull Run do an excellent job of driving home the realitiesand the horrorsof war and of telling the story of the two Battles of Bull Run. Even if you don’t have a major interest in Civil War history, the Battlefield Park is truly a must see during your visit, especially now as the nation observes the 150th anniversary of the war, beginning this year.
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway that can truly take you back in time, to both a gentler era, as well as to one of the most tumultuous chapters in the history of our nation, visit Manassas. The city as well as neighboring Prince William County, both of which are only about an hour’s drive from Metro Richmond, offer attractions and activities for virtually everyone. Visit their official website to plan your visit to the area.