Discover art & history in Occoquan

I have a friend who grew up in Woodbridge and says there is nothing to do down in that part of the world. But even she admits that Prince William Forest is a cool National Park and that the historic town of Occoquan — and the nearby Workhouse Art Center — are rare gems.

The architectural features of many of the homes and businesses in historic Occoquan stand out from the sprawling suburbs along I-95
The architectural features of many of the homes and businesses in historic Occoquan stand out from the sprawling suburbs along I-95

Occoquan is an especially fine place to go on a sunny day in winter, as it is uncrowded and features many cozy places to enjoy a warm fire and a cup of tea.

The most interesting building in Occoquan is a ... Thai Restaurant?
The most interesting building in Occoquan is a … Thai Restaurant?

One excellent way to take in Occoquan is the annual chocolate walk, every weekend before Valentine’s Day. James loved the free chocolates they handed out at every business, and I enjoyed having an excuse to wander into each of the shops to get a feel for the town. It would be weird for a bald man to walk into a hairstylist to just look around, but on the chocolate walk (where you have to get your chocolate passport stamped)… totally not weird!

Occoquan also hosts a number of art galleries.
Occoquan also hosts a number of art galleries.
Occoquan's Puzzlepalooza (by the waterfront), has one of the largest selections of puzzles in the mid-Atlantic.
Occoquan’s Puzzlepalooza (by the waterfront), has one of the largest selections of puzzles in the mid-Atlantic.
Vestiges of Occoquan's grand past include this carriage stone near the site of a hotel that burned in 1916.
Vestiges of Occoquan’s grand past include this carriage stone near the site of a hotel that burned in 1916.
Rockledge, the seat of the industrialist Ballandine family, towers over Occoquan.
Rockledge, the seat of the industrialist Ballandine family, towers over Occoquan.
Occoquan also includes a lovely river walk, with waterfalls and a footbridge over the Occoquan River.
Occoquan also includes a lovely river walk, with waterfalls and a footbridge over the Occoquan River.
Occoquan's historical markers grace many buildings, like this one on the old mill on Commerce Street in downtown Occoquan.
Occoquan’s historical markers grace many buildings, like this one on the old mill on Commerce Street in downtown Occoquan.
A gravestone in the old Occoquan mill bears witness to the state of forensic science in 19th Century Virginia.

Workhouse Art Center

Across the river from Occoquan is the Workhouse Art Center, which is like a zoo for artists.

James stands outside one of the many gigantic galleries in Occoquan’s Workhouse Arts Center.
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