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Pre-pandemic, summer in the city meant getting outside while trying to avoid the heat and humidity: weekends lounging poolside, day-trips to the country, beach vacations, and visits to movie theaters. This June might not look exactly like summer 2019, but as the region continues to lift pandemic protocols, locals are once again finding refuge from the heat while enjoying the area’s newly reopened offerings.

And Brandon Skall, for one, is excited. The CEO and co-founder of DC Brau Brewing has big plans for summer 2021, starting with the tap room’s long-awaited reopening on Friday, June 11. 

Though the inside space will have limited tables, DC Brau is now home to an outside beer garden for weekend visitors. After years of hearing customers lament the brewery’s lack of patio space, DC Brau is now excited and ready to deliver a thought out outdoor area. The beer garden, which will be set up Fridays and broken down for Monday deliveries, will feature bright umbrellas and floral arrangements to give visitors a welcoming, shaded vibe that’s perfect for day-drinking. 

But that’s not the only thing making DC Brau a perfect place to catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. Alongside its reopening, DC Brau’s latest brewed creation will debut: a fresh, locally made radler blending lemon soda and beer. According to Skall, most available radlers are imported from Germany. For the first time ever, Brau drinkers can experience what Skall calls “a great beer garden beverage for the summer,” in all its fresh-made glory. Despite the new beer garden, DC Brau will continue curbside pick up and delivery, which the brewery began offering during the pandemic. Skall believes that trend isn’t going anywhere. “Delivery really became a large part of everybody’s life during the pandemic so we plan to continue,” he confirms. 

Last but not least, the hard seltzers that played a big role in keeping the business afloat over the past year are getting VIP treatment with several flavors on draft at the taproom. 

Outside city limits, Loudoun County beckons with an array of offerings that’ll make you forget you’re hot and sticky.

Beth Erickson, president and CEO of Visit Loudoun, says summer reminds her of biking the Washington & Old Dominion Trail that runs from Arlington to Purcellville, Virginia. “The trail is shaded and will take you through some fabulous towns to stop and grab a bite or a cold drink.” And what could be better than ice cream after a long trek? Purcellville’s Tipped Cow Creamery is right off the trail, featuring classic flavors and rotating specials including lemon meringue (Erickson’s favorite).

At Leesburg’s new dessert café, Mocatinas, you can enjoy a cup of ice cream with a homemade macaroon or iced coffee. “It really hits the spot,” says Erickson. If you’d rather, there’s soft-serve aplenty in Loudoun County, including Grutos in Leesburg and Purcellville and Scruffy’s Ice Cream Parlor in Middleburg.

If you’re looking for breweries, wineries, and cideries (oh my!), Loudoun has much to offer. Erickson recommends Bluemont Vineyards’ sangria, 868 Estate Vineyards’ slushies (made with peach wine), and Flying Ace Farm’s “incredible” pineapple mojito. In addition to the refreshing cocktails, each space offers seating indoors and outdoors for whatever you and your friends’ fancy.

Of course it wouldn’t be summer without water play. After a long closure, Sterling’s Volcano Island Waterpark reopens this year with slides, fountains, and a splash pad for quality family fun. The more adventurous should visit Harpers Ferry Adventure Center for kayaking, tubing, and white-water rafting.

‘Tis also the season for amazing produce. Loudoun County is home to numerous farm stands and stores and, according to Erickson, local farmers are “having a great growing season.” She recommends visiting Loudounfarms.org to find what foods are in season and where to find them. Feeling spontaneous? Pull over at one of—or all!—the farm stands you pass on your way back to the city and pick up whatever looks best. 

For many, a year without live music has been devastatingly quiet. That’s about to change. “It will be incredible to hear music in the air again,” says Erickson, promising performances at concerts, festivals, town centers, and even tasting rooms throughout the county. One event she’s excited for is Leesburg’s inaugural Juneteenth Celebration—a day-long event at Ida Lee Park with the Chuck Brown Band, speakers, food, drinks, and more. 

For something just a little closer to home, Wolf Trap resumes live, outdoor shows in July. Tickets are on sale at wolftrap.org

The excitement for summer is palpable, and nothing, not even high humidity, can dim that shine after a hard year. “We’re really looking forward to this summer and Loudoun is ready,” says Erickson. The county was actually a popular road trip destination throughout the pandemic and that’s not changing anytime soon. In fact, there’s a Spotify playlist, dubbed “The Songs of Loudoun,” that’s perfect for the drive.

As for DC Brau, Skall concludes: “We are really, really excited to welcome folks back.”