10 Best Things To Do in Centreville, Virginia

June 24, 2022

If you're thinking of exploring Centreville, Virginia, then this post details the 10 bet things to do in this place.

Located about 20 miles (32 km) from Washington, D.C. in Fairfax County, Centreville is today a suburb of Washington, a quiet, pretty place. If you are planning a trip to this lovely city, you might be wondering what are some of the things to do in Centreville.

Fall colors in Centreville, Virginia
Fall colors in Centreville, Virginia

10 Best Things To Do in Centreville, Virginia


    But, during the Civil War, the whole area was a location of several fierce battles and the city celebrates its past by offering some great museums, historic houses and well-maintained battlegrounds. Thousands of people come every year to pay respect to the city’s heroic past and walk on the famous battlegrounds.

    Kids love open spaces where the battles were fought and where their imagination can see the brave soldiers, and hear the noise of the guns. Adults will probably find more fun in a couple of great local wineries.

    1. Manassas National Battlefield Park


    If the Civil War history is what brought you to Centreville, start your exploration at the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Located in the lush Virginia countryside, near Centreville, the area that is now the park was the site of the two Battles of Bull Run, also called Battles of Manassas.

    Wooden Fence Manassas National Battlefield Park with Yellow Flowers
    Wooden Fence Manassas National Battlefield Park

    The first battle was fought in 1861, and was the first major battle of that war. It was fought by volunteers who were confident of a quick and easy victory. They were not ready for the fire, smoke and death that the real battle brought.

    One year later, the same battlefield saw the same armies. The Confederates winning brought them to the peak of their power.

    Today the battlefield park offers the opportunity for history buffs and other visitors to walk through the historic fields and try to imagine the heath of the battle and death of so many young people on both sides.

    The park rangers offer informative tours and on special occasions Civil War reenactments.

    The Henry Hill Visitor Center located at the south entrance of the park offers exhibits that include the Civil War-era weapons, battle maps, uniforms, and an interpretation of the events in the First Battle of Manassas.

    You can also see the short film “Manassas: End of Innocence.” The bookstore has various books on this period of history.

    The park is today home to a range of birds such as the Eastern Bluebird, Red-tailed Hawk, Grasshopper Sparrow, Northern Bobwhite, and a long-eared owl in the winter.

    2. Ben Lomond Historic Site


    As you keep following the historic trail, come next to the Ben Lomond Historic Site.


    Ben Lomond is a historic farm that was used as a hospital during the Battle of First Manassas. Today it is a historic house museum about the Civil War period.

    Ben Lomond House, also called Ben Lomond Plantation, is a five bay two-story red sandstone structure with a gable roof built in 1837.

    Planned as a tobacco plantation, the farm was converted to a hospital because of its location close to the Civil War’s First Battle of Manassas.

    As you stroll through the historic house, you will see faint graffiti on the walls. They are names and messages written by soldiers who spent time at the hospital during the war.

    The house is surrounded by a large garden full of old roses. It is one of the biggest public gardens in the country focused on antique roses. There are 160 cultivars and 200 rose shrubs.

    The tours of the site are available from Friday to Monday at 11 am, 1 pm and 3 pm. Grounds and the garden are open from dawn to dusk. There is a fee of $5.

    3. Old Stone Church


    Old Stone Church should be one more stop on your discovery of the local Civil War History. The church building known locally as "The Old Stone Church" was built around 1854.

    Blurred background of a surreal illuminated church aisle
    Church aisle

    The church served as a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers as battle was fought all around and both armies used the same roads and occupied the area more than once during the war. It was the Union Army’s first surgical hospital.

    Assistant Surgeon David L. Magruder wrote that he “took possession of a stone church” because of its pleasant and convenient location near the road the soldiers passed when advancing.

    The church was used as a Union hospital during the Second Battle of Manassas in August 1862 as well. Soldiers eventually dismantled the church, but it was faithfully rebuilt in 1870.

    Behind the church was the largest Confederate fort, a part of the defensive network around Centreville. About 40,000 Confederate soldiers were housed in log huts in nearby camps during the 1861–1862 winter. Some of the fortifications and hut sites are still visible today.

    The church building is today owned and used by Church of the Ascension, an Anglican Catholic church in Centreville.

    4. Bull Run Regional Park


    Had enough of history? If the weather is nice, head out to one of the most popular parks near Centreville. Bull Run Regional Park is located in the Occoquan Stream Valley. This lovely green area includes forested meadows, several campgrounds, and amenities for hundreds of activities.

    Old Building in Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, Virginia
    Old Building in Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, Virginia

    Spread over 1,500 acres, the park includes the Atlantis Waterpark, where the kids can splash during the summer. There is also a playground, a disc golf course and many picnic areas with tables and benches. The Barn Pavilion offers a large covered space for big events and group picnics.

    The park is heaven for hiking. The Bull Run Bluebell Trail, located near the waterpark, just off the Bull Run Occoquan Trail, is a mile and half long loop through the forest at Bull Run.

    This trailhead is the beginning and the end of the famous 19.7 miles Bull Run Occoquan Trail which connects Bull Run, Bull Run Marina, Hemlock Overlook, and Fountainhead Regional Parks. Bull Run Occoquan Trail was used in the past by Native Americans, as a trade route, and as a civil war supply route.

    Bull Run Regional Park has nine rustic cabins with two rooms, electricity, and air conditioning/heat. There is also a large camping ground for tents and RVs.

    Every year from Thanksgiving until after New Year’s Day, the park organizes the Bull Run Festival of Lights, with 2.5 miles of holiday light displays.

    Like so many areas around Centreville, Bull Run Park in the Centreville area was in the middle of the Civil War battles. If you take a walk down the trail that runs along the creek, where the trail crosses Route 28, you can see Blackburn’s Ford, where federal soldiers tried to cross but were pushed by Confederate fire to cross the creek more upstream.

    The entrance is free of charge on weekdays, but not on the weekends.

    If you love hiking, check out some of the best trails in Northern Virginia, you won’t regret it!

    5. The Winery at Bull Run


    You cannot run away from history in Centreville: even the Winery at Bull Run is located next to Manassas National Battlefield Park. But you can run away from the busy, frenetic city life in this tranquil 225-acre vineyard, farm and horse farm.


    The Winery in Bull Run creates wines from high quality Virginia grapes. They have their own 115 acre vineyard – Rock Mill – in Little Washington, growing 40,000 vines. Some of their most popular wines are 2019 Delaney, 2019 Cabernet Franc Reserve, 2019 Lilly's Viognier and 2019 Club Cuvée Blanc.

    The winery is also dedicated to preserving the 19th century pastoral life in Fairfax County. They have two typical traditional Northern Virginia barns: a dairy barn with beam, cable and hayloft and the 19th century-style barn. Both are beautifully preserved.

    The visit to the winery includes wine tasting at one of several different seating areas and one of three tours if you come from Friday to Sunday. Reservations are recommended but not obligatory. Two tours are about the history of the area and one is about wine production.

    6. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts


    Not all parks are meant for picnics. Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is the only national park in the country fully dedicated to the performing arts.

    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - CIRCA 1982: a stamp printed in the USA shows Wolf Trap Farm Park for Performing Arts, National Park, circa 1982
    UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - CIRCA 1982: a stamp printed in the USA shows Wolf Trap Farm Park for Performing Arts, National Park, circa 1982

    This performing arts center located near Centreville on 117 acres of national park land consists of a number of amphitheaters that offer dance, musicals, jazz, opera, popular and country music. Check the calendar of performances to see if something interests you.

    Some of the venues are outdoors, such as Filene Center and the Wolf Trap Children’s Theater-in-the-woods. The Barns at Wolf Trap are indoors.

    The beautiful verdant area around the amphitheaters has a number of trails for running and hiking. In winter you can go sledding.

    If you wish to host a performance at the park, you need to apply for a permit.

    7. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center


    If your kids are interested in the things that fly or go to space, you have to take them to Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The Center is the annex of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum located at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area near Centreville.

    Chantilly, Virginia / USA -May 19 2018: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
    Chantilly, Virginia / USA -May 19 2018: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

    This 760,000-square-foot facility offers various exhibits such as the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the lunar module, Gemini 7 space capsule, Space Shuttle Discovery, a Concorde, and the controversial Enola Gay.

    Many of the exhibits are interactive. You can see thousands of fascinating artifacts, explore legendary Space Science, or World War II Aviation exhibits.

    The museum is enormous and awe-inspiring. The two hangars are filled with spacecraft and aircraft that will grab your attention even if you are not a big flying enthusiast.

    8. Cox Farm


    Cox Farm is the place where locals go to stock up on fresh produce, but there is more to this lovely family farm that makes it well worth the visit. There is something going on in every season at Cox Farms.

    Hands holding a big plate with different fresh farm vegetables. Autumn harvest and healthy organic food concept
    Image credits

    In the fall, it is famous for its hayrides, giant slides, farm animals, straw tunnels, rope swings, live entertainment and plenty of pumpkins. There is also the Festival Market and the spooky Fields of Fear that starts after dark.

    In spring and summer, people stop by to pick up plants for their garden and produce for the kitchen. There are flowers of all kinds as well. In winter they come to get one of the best Fraser firs to decorate for Christmas. If you visit around Christmas time, you can meet Santa Claus himself.

    For the 2022 Spring and Summer season, the farm’s Corner Market is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

    9. The Children's Science Center Lab


    Even if your children are not exactly enthused by math and sciences, they will have fun in this very special kind of museum.


    The Children's Science Center Lab is the first interactive Northern Virginia museum in which kids, families and school children can have fun with science, engineering, technology, and mathematics. They engage in hands-on exhibits, programs and activities. The Lab is designed for children between two and 12. The Lab also has a summer camp, offers birthday parties and field trips.

    The Lab has four zones that focus on different aspects of science and technology. All are interactive and are meant to inspire and encourage.

    The Discovery Zone has activities for children five years old and younger.

    10. Sully Historic Site


    Finally one of the things to do in Centreville that has nothing to do with the Civil War: a beautiful historic home built in 1799 and furnished with the antique pieces from the Federal Period. What a great way to see how rich people lived during these times. There are also slave quarters on the grounds, so you can see how the other half lived as well.


    Sully Historic Site is an interesting home built in a combination of Georgian and Federal architectural styles. It was owned and occupied by a number of different owners but the most important was Richard Bland Lee, the first representative of Northern Virginia to Congress.

    You can have a look around the house rooms and get the feel of the occupants’ lifestyle. Join a guided tour of the house to learn more about the house and its tenants’ history and lives. There is a separate tour of the outdoor part of the site, where you can visit the kitchen, slave quarters and other buildings.

    To join the tour you need to pre-register and purchase tickets via its website. Sully House is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

    Conclusion


    For the Civil War history buffs, there are plenty of things to do in Centreville. You can actually walk the fields where a lot of young people fought and died. You can almost hear the sounds of guns and smell the smoke and fire.

    But even if you are not interested in history, Centreville has magnificent parks, several great museums, and two excellent wineries. Centreville is so close to Washington D.C. that you can include it in your exploration of the nation’s capital.

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    Lorena of TravelCroc

    About the author

    This post was a contribution from Lorena, the TravelCroc blogger. Lorena loves traveling around America, finding small charming cities, and is passionate about history. Find Lorena’s adventures, travel trips, and hidden gems on her blog.
    This post may contain affiliate links, including those from Amazon Associates, which means that if you book or purchase anything through one of those links, we may earn a small commission but at no extra cost to you. All opinions are ours and we only promote products that we use.
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