The Getaway Mavens gain inspiration and information from other bloggers who cover specific areas of the Northeast USA (Virginia to Maine), and in this interview series we plan to tap into our favorite bloggers’ expertise and motivation.
Julie McCool has been our go-to expert for all attractions, experiences, and overall fun things to do and see in the greater Washington DC area, Northern Virginia, and beyond. Julie and her husband, Charles – together the very cool McCools – have been globetrotting and writing about their adventures for years.
Here, Julie dishes on her favorite local spots, and what she would do with several free months and an unlimited budget.
Name: Julie McCool
Niche: Great Things to Do in and around Northern VA and the Greater DC Area
Tell us a bit about your website/blog and when and why you launched it.
Fun in Fairfax VA is dedicated to sharing fun places to go and things to do in Northern Virginia and surrounding areas. We help residents and visitors discover fun places to explore, dine, drink, and play in the greater Washington DC region. We share the best NoVA experiences, destinations, and events including parks, hikes, historic sites, restaurants, breweries, wineries, festivals, seasonal events, and more.
I launched the site in late 2014 after retiring from a career in high tech. I have lived in Northern Virginia for 25 years, and I wanted to share all of the cool places I have enjoyed while raising our twins and as empty-nesters.
People travel for different reasons. What do you consider the primary purpose of travel? Why do you travel?
I travel to experience new places and cultures. Travel pushes me outside my comfort zone, and exposes me to the incredible diversity and beauty of our world. And of course, I’m always looking for fun, and travel keeps me smiling.
Name one USA travel destination that you believe everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime.
Virginia! Virginia has a fantastic mix of natural beauty, fascinating history, cool cities, quaint towns, wineries, breweries, and amazing seafood. And Northern Virginia is right next door to Washington DC so it is very easy to reach.
Where would you go next if you had unlimited vacation time? And what about when short on time, what’s a favorite weekend getaway destination?
My husband (travel guru Charles McCool of McCoolTravel.com) and I would like to do an around-the-world Southern Hemisphere trip, ideally for a few months. Patagonia, South Africa, New Zealand, Western Australia, Cambodia, and Vietnam are all high on my travel wish list. Can I get an unlimited budget to go with that unlimited time?
For a weekend getaway, I like to visit new areas within a few hours drive of Northern VA. We’re lucky that Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, DC, and West Virginia are all close by. I haven’t run out of new mid-Atlantic places to explore yet!
The Getaway Mavens focus on places to visit in Northeast USA(New Englandand Mid-Atlantic). Elaborate on a place here that you’d like to return to, and why.
I’ve spent the last 25 years in Virginia exploring the mid-Atlantic, and there is still so much to see and do. Recently, we road tripped through Southwest Virginia (SWVA) and Virginia’s Eastern Shore (ESVA), and I want to go back for a longer stay. In SWVA you can hike with wild ponies, bike the Virginia Creeper Trail, listen to music on the Crooked Road, and stay in quaint towns and luxury resorts. ESVA has wild ponies too, on Chincoteague Island. It’s an area where you can enjoy beautiful waterways, relaxed towns, and delicious Chesapeake oysters and other seafood.
What are some of your favorite things to do on a romantic getaway?
I find natural places to be very romantic, so I love a getaway where I can hike to a stellar view and enjoy a picnic. If there is a post-hike winery or brewery nearby, count me in. And a little overnight luxury is always welcome at the end of an active day.
What are some of your favorite things to do on a road trip?
I love to visit State and National Parks whenever we road trip. The US is blessed with so many beautiful parks, forests, and seashores we’ll never run out of places to visit. Hiking and kayaking are favorite ways to slow down and really experience an area. We avoid highways whenever possible; smaller country roads force a slower pace that is perfect for new discoveries.
What’s next for Julie McCool and Fun in Fairfax VA? (Feel free to shamelessly plug your next endeavor).
I am excited about the fall season! We’ll be highlighting the best places for fall foliage, Autumn hikes, and fun festivals in Northern Virginia. And we continue to expand one of our most popular articles, a guide to Favorite Fall Hikes in Northern Virginia. [https://www.funinfairfaxva.com/8-great-fall-hikes-in-northern-virginia/].