Local Day Trips Sure to Raise Your Spirits

Check out Butler's Orchard and Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard Winery

Even as states slowly lift stay-at-home orders and we start to emerge from our quarantine cocoon, the thought of getting away and flying to an exotic destination is still not on most of our to-do lists. However, it is possible to take a road trip to some local spots that are outdoors and SAFE, and here are two:

Butler’s Orchard

There is something for everyone and every age at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland, located in the heart of Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve. It started when George and Shirley Butler purchased a 37-acre farm in the early 1950’s and decided to grow and sell peaches. The peaches experiment didn’t work out, though, so they grew strawberries instead. They were one of the first farms in the country to start a “pick your own strawberry field,” and the experiment took off. They eventually expanded their offerings in the 1970’s to blackberries and black raspberries. The Butler farm now boasts 17 acres of blueberries and 18 acres of strawberries. They didn’t stop there, however, and other fruits now available include cherries, red raspberries and apples.

The farm itself eventually increased to 300 acres and the Butler family expanded as well. Original owners George and Shirley raised five children, three of whom worked on the farm. Their son Wade is the current owner and three of his children, Tyler, Hallie, and Ben are now employed at the farm. According to Tyler, the general manager, through the years the Butlers have kept expanding their offerings to the public which now include 25 different varieties of fruits, vegetables, flowers and even trees.

If you have children who attended or are now attending local elementary schools, there is a good chance they went on a pumpkin picking expedition with their classmates. And there is an even better chance that they chose their pumpkins at Butler’s. The Butler’s Pumpkinland is a display of imaginary fairy tale characters built out of pumpkins. Every October the Pumpkin Festival activities are almost endless and include a hayride, pony rides, picking pumpkins, slides, visiting barnyard animals and cornhole games.

Late Summer and early Fall is an ideal time to visit the Butler Farm Market, which sells preserves, local honey, mums, apple cider, fresh baked fruit pies, caramel apples and a variety of fresh local apples. Tyler also recommends adding the delicious apple cider donuts to your purchases.

Since its founding Butler’s Orchard continues to reinvent itself, and this includes offering year-long special activities to draw crowds. A Holiday Open House takes place in late November and includes marshmallow roasts, a bond fire, and a tractor-driven hayride. The farm market offers a custom wreath department, a holiday shop and “take and bake” pies.

A tradition of picking your own Christmas trees at Butler’s started in the 1970’s. From late November through December 24th visitors can cut their own trees, choosing among thousands of four to 12-feet White Pine and Douglas Firs. Selling the trees is a labor of love, for it takes from nine to ten years to grow the trees until they are tall enough to harvest.

Other seasonal celebrations include the annual Spring tradition of Bunnyland, where visitors can check out the farm’s real bunnies, lambs, and chicks, hunt for colorful eggs, enjoy a hayride down the Bunny Trail and visit the farm’s very own Country Bunny.

In July the Flower Garden beckons visitors to harvest their own flowers, picking them fresh off the vine. Flower Workshops are offered where designers come in and instruct in the art of arranging flower bouquets. Dates are offered online.

Butler’s Orchard even offers to host birthday and other parties. Reservations are required for many of the activities listed above, so go to the website for reservations, to learn the picking schedule, the farm market curbside pickup schedule, etc: http// You can also call 301-428-0444 for picking information. There is a $3 per person fee for a day pass admission to the farm. The farm and farm market are closed on Mondays and in winter starting after Christmas Eve.

Sugarloaf Mountain Winery

Another great local spot to visit for a day trip is Sugarloaf Mountain Winery in Dickerson, Maryland. This vineyard has the distinction of being the closest vineyard and/or winery to Washington, DC and the only one in Montgomery County. Just a mere 25 or 30 minutes on the road will land you on the doorsteps of a charming winery characterized by a signature red barn, silo and windmill.  Located about a mile from the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, the winery is open year-round from noon until six pm.

Originally 19,000 French vines were planted on 92 acres of farmland. Today the vineyard covers 22 acres of vines that thrive in the climate at the base of the mountain. According to Jeff Lund, the  winery’s Tasting Room Manager, their most popular wines are Comus (a Bordeaux-style red blend) and their dry Rose. This Spring they were offering choices such as a Rose 2018, Pinot Grigio 2017, Chardonnay Unoaked 2017 and Comus 2017. 

Their wines have won many national and international competitions. For example The 2018 International Eastern Wine Competition awarded Sugarloaf Mountain Winery’sCabernet Franc 2016 aGOLDrating, its Chardonnay 2016 a SILVER rating and itsRose’ 2016 anotherSILVER rating.

A popular activity for visitors is to pack a snack and hike the trails on the mountain and then descend on the vineyard for a cool glass of sangria (or other choice) and either sit on the welcoming patio or relax on the lawn. And sometimes surprising events occur in the country air. For instance: In June of 2018 Nick Hurson of Gaithersburg proposed to Amber Wilcox up on the mountain. When they descended, and after she said yes, they discovered an excited crowd of friends and relatives waiting to greet them and celebrate the occasion with toasts from, of course, wines from the SMV Winery.

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard offers wine tastings daily from noon to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, noon to 5:30 Saturday and Sunday, at $10 per person. Tastings are indoors on regular weekdays and outdoors on weekends. No reservations needed for the wine tastings.

Those interested in staying for a snack after the wine tasting can choose from an a la carte menu of cheeses, meats and other snacks to enjoy with a favorite glass of wine. They also have food trucks during summer weekends through October featuring Korean, Mexican and Spanish food. Live music is offered on weekends from two to five pm during May through October.

Check out the SMV website for details concerning events: To book a private event contact

Related Businesses

Overland Park Arboretum And Botanical Gardens

Parks + Camping

Overland Park Arboretum And Botanical Gardens

Bucyrus, KS

At the Arboretum, visitors may experience and explore 13 gardens with more than 1,700 species of plants, trails that traverse...

Union Station


Union Station

Kansas City, MO

Architectural Masterpiece. A place for great adventure. Where Kansas City Connects. These phrases—and more—are regularly used...

Parc Duluth

Hotels + Motels

Parc Duluth

Duluth, GA

As the leader in hospitality-enriched senior living, Parc Communities specializes in developing and operating high-end senior...

See More

Related Articles

See More