Downhill Fun: Skiing Adventures Near Staunton

Staunton is plenty hilly, but not quite hilly enough for skiing. Fortunately, it’s easy to drive to several ski resorts in Virginia that specialize in winter fun. What better way to spend a winter weekend than getting a workout on the slopes and then following it up by eating a big dinner, exploring Staunton’s vibrant downtown, and staying in one of our luxurious lodgings? See below for places to stay and things to do once you warm up from the slopes.

Massanutten Resort

40 minutes from Staunton

Ski day and night on Massanutten Resort’s 14 ski trails, which are serviced by seven lifts and suitable for a variety of ability levels. Private lessons are available to kids as young as 6 at Massanutten’s terrain-based learning area. There’s also a freestyle area on the slopes, 16 lanes of snow tubing, and ice skating on a 5,000-square foot rink. Here’s a link to see current conditions at the resort. If you want to warm up away from the elements, check out Massanutten’s indoor waterpark, which is kept at a toasty 84 degrees. Take a thrilling ride down a waterslide, learn to surf on the pipeline, or just float the lazy river. Facilities are instituting precautions against Covid-19.  Changes such as reduced capacity, required masks, and pre-visit online ticket purchases will keep you safe.

Wintergreen Ski Resort

40 minutes from Staunton

Wintergreen Ski Resort is a beautiful, four-season resort located in the Blue Ridge Mountains that features skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing in the winter. It offers 26 slopes and trails to appeal to all ability levels. Want to improve those skills? Sign up for individual, semi-private, or family ski or snowboard lessons at the snowsports school. To reduce time waiting, Wintergreen boasts two high-speed 6-pack chairlifts and Radio Frequency Identification Devices that operate like EZ-Passes for the ski slopes. You can also order your rental equipment online. When you need to fuel up, you’ll find several different onsite dining options that serve both casual and formal meals.

Bryce Mountain Resort

1 hour and 10 minutes from Staunton

Bryce Mountain Resort is a four-season resort in the Allegheny foothills that offers skiing, snowboarding, and lessons in the winter. It was recently named one of North America’s top family-friendly ski resorts by Travel & Leisure. There are 8 slopes that can be accessed by ski lifts as well as a dedicated area for beginners with carpet lifts. Beginners ages 4 ½ and up can book lessons with the Horst Locher Snowsports School for private lessons or semi-private lessons for groups that traveled to the resort together. Three 800-foot snow tubing lanes, an ice skating rink, and three restaurants round out the fun. Those looking for a different kind of adventure can book a 1.5-mile snowshoeing endurance tour with Rev3Endurance

The Omni Homestead Resort

1 hour and 20 minutes from Staunton

The Omni Homestead Resort is located southwest of Staunton. It has nine downhill ski runs that are perfect for various abilities. The resort also boasts an Olympic-size ice rink. The resort has been recognized as “one of the top Beginner Friendly and Family Friendly ski resorts in the Southeast in the 2017-18 Best in Snow Awards.” Lessons are available for ages four and older. Plan to relax at the onsite spa at the end of your day. Wouldn’t a deep-tissue massage feel great after a hard day of skiing or snow tubing?

If You’d Rather Ice Skate Instead, Try Generations Park

30 minutes from Staunton

Lace up for fun on the ice at Bridgewater’s Generations Park. Besides a slippery good time, skating is good for your heart, your endurance, and your core. You can schedule hour-long sessions ahead of time by signing up online. If you need skates, the park offers limited rentals. 

Stay in Staunton

Once your day on the slopes is complete, head back to your home base of Staunton. Choose from our elegant properties steeped in history, cozy B&Bs or one of our brand hotels

Why not have a drink at one of our wine bars or craft breweries? We can also recommend some great fireplaces for toasting your toes. Dine in style at one of our downtown restaurants that run the gamut from fine farm-to-table dining, comfort food, and everything in between. After dinner, make sure to stream a Shakespeare show on the Blackfriars Playhouse’s Blackfriar’s TV. Current offerings include A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Othello, Twelfth Night, and A Christmas Carol. You could also watch a movie at the Visulite, or stream a film at home through Visulite Virtual Cinema.

Where to rent skis and snowboards?

If you’re staying nearby and want to skip the hassle of renting skis at the resort, we’ve got you covered.  Stan’s Ski and Snowboard, in Staunton, has options for daily rentals or,  if you’re looking to commit, the entire ski season. They have a variety of brands and can get you outfitted with apparel, equipment and any supplies you may need. 

5 Ways to Be a Tourist in Your Hometown

Many of us haven’t been traveling recently, and it’s easy to go stir-crazy in our houses. Fortunately, it’s also easy to have fun while pretending to be a tourist in your own town. Here are some ideas for seeing your old Staunton favorites in a new light and making new discoveries!

Try out Some Fresh Digs

It might seem excessive to check into a hotel in your own town, but it’s possibly just the escape you need, without all the stress of making extensive travel plans and packing for a long trip. There’s something refreshing about leaving all your stuff (physical and emotional behind) and spending some time with just the essentials. Staunton has a stay for everybody. Grab a room in a luxury historic hotel, a convenient brand hotel, a bed and breakfast, or even a campground. Not only will you get to enjoy a staycation and having somebody else make the bed, you’ll give local businesses a boost. When you’re ready to leave the room, stop by the front desk or the Visitor Center and grab some brochures for ideas about where to spend your day.

Make Your Own Food, Wine, or Beer “Tour”

It might not be the best time to hang out for hours in a crowded restaurant, but it’s fun to walk around and stop in at multiple places for something quick. Call ahead and ask for something “portable” to munch while you’re window shopping. Why not grab a slice of pizza from Shenandoah Pizza and Tap House? Or a handheld pie from Firkin Pie Company? Or a pastry from Réunion Bakery and Espresso? Get takeout from somewhere new and eat in candlelight on your special china, or if the weather permits, enjoy it at one of our favorite picnicking spots. If you haven’t signed up for a Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail Passport yet, now is the time. Not only will it direct you to the 18 breweries along the trail, you’ll earn a special t-shirt once you’ve visited eight or more.

Take Time to Enjoy the Golden Hour

Photographers love the “golden hour” when the sun is in just the right spot to soften shadows and flood the photo with warm light. That time of day is magical whether you’re in front of a camera or not. When was the last time you enjoyed the sunrise or sunset from any place other than your breakfast nook or deck? A wonderful way to see Staunton from a new perspective is to take the time to appreciate it looking its best. Take a walk along lovely Bells Lane or the loop at Gypsy Hill Park. Here are some more good spots to enjoy sunset in Staunton. Oh, and here’s a golden hour calculator.

Do Something only Staunton Can Offer and Take all the Touristy Photos!

Tourists come to Staunton to do the things that are unique to the area, but chances are you’ve been moving through your daily life ignoring many of these gems. Increase your historical knowledge with a tour of the Frontier Culture Museum or the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library. Niche museums like the Bruce A. Elder Antique and Classic Automobile Museum and the Camera Heritage Museum will appeal to enthusiasts or those looking to learn something new. You’ve surely noticed Staunton’s giant watering can as you pass into downtown, but can you find more giant sculptures created by Ferguson Metal Fabrication’s Willy Ferguson and Jim Chestnut? Hunt down all the carbon steel flower pots, nuts, books, eyeglasses, and more. You can’t behave like a tourist without documenting your trip in photos. Check out Staunton’s Best Insta-Worthy Spots.

Make Your Own Walking Tour & Buy a Souvenir

Chances are that you’re familiar with Staunton’s historic downtown, its commercial areas, its parks, and your own neighborhood, maybe even your walking or running route. But how familiar are you with the rest of the city, really? Make 2021 the year you use the map app on your phone to explore the entire city on foot. Check out the architecture and landscaping. Learn all the neighborhoods and the street names. You’ll develop a stronger appreciation for your town, you’ll meet new people, and you’ll work toward burning off last year’s extra “baggage”. Another fun option is to download the Traipse app on your phone. Combining trivia with touring, Traipse brings Staunton to life in over 12 themed tours. While you’re downtown, make sure to pick up a gift that’s uniquely Staunton, like art from a local artist at the CoArt Gallery, or a handcrafted item from The Sparrow’s Nest. For more chances to shop local, see Where to Get Your Shopping Fix in Staunton.

Staunton has much to offer both visitors and long-time residents. Get out there and have fun like a tourist!

Staunton Guys’ Weekend

There are all kinds of reasons you need to plan a guys’ trip this year. Maybe you want to golf and catch up with your college buddies. Or maybe you want to bond on a father and son getaway. Or how about taking the bachelor party on the road? Staunton is a prime location for each of these. Centrally located in the Shenandoah Valley, it boasts great food, lots of craft beer, and access to outdoor fun. Read on for some ideas!

Day 1: Explore Staunton

Check into your lodgings. We’d suggest Tru for its modern amenities, access to both the interstate and downtown and for its generous public gathering spaces. Best of all, check out Tru’s Beerwerks package, that kicks off your guys’ weekend with a few perks. Receive a gift basket, upon arrival, that includes two vouchers for Devils’ Backbone Vienna Lager, bottled water, snacks, and Tylenolfor preventative measures.  Limit four guests per package. When booking your room pick your travel dates, room type and then select your rate by choosing “Beerwerks Passport.” 

You’ve been in the car for a while, so we suggest getting out and doing something active like playing a round of disc golf or a hike on the trails at Montgomery Hall Park or taking a stroll downtown. Staunton is home to many independent shops, galleries, and restaurants. You’ll want to peruse the shelves Barrister Books for hard-to-find used books. The Vinyl Asylum stocks vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and vintage stereo equipment. CFO Trading Company offers fine clothing and accessories, and Fretwell Bass is an upright bass specialty shop that sells basses, strings, and makes repairs. If one of your hobbies is table gaming, visit The Dragon’s Hoard for supplies like war and fantasy miniatures. Outdoors enthusiasts will like all the hiking, camping and paddling gear and advice they get at Wilderness Adventure

While you’re downtown grab some flights or pints at Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. or Redbeard Brewing. Neither serves food, but you can have carryout delivered. It’s hard to choose from all the great restaurants in Staunton, but if you have Mexican on your mind, you can’t go wrong at Baja Bean or Chicano Boy Taco. Steak lovers can fill up at the Depot Grille or the Mill Street Grill. And if pizza (and more beer) calls your name, Shenandoah Pizza and Tap House is where you’ll want to grab a table. Want to end the evening with a fine cigar? Beverley Cigar Store helps you shop, smoke, and socialize in style.

Day 2: 

Fuel up with caffeine at the new, industrial cool Crucible Coffee Roasters.

You’ll want a big meal before your day, so head over to Kathy’s Restaurant, which serves breakfast all day and regularly turns up on Best of the Valley lists. You’ll probably want to hit up the breweries in the late afternoon, so prepare for that by spending the rest of the day outside being active. 

  • Skiers are within easy access of several resorts, including Massanutten Resort and Wintergreen Resort
  • If it’s off season at the slopes, you can still have a blast on your mountain bike at Massanutten Bike Park. Mountain bikers catch a ride up the mountain on the ski lift before rocketing down on their bikes. Riders who want to work for those descents can take advantage of all the trails in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Black Dog Bikes offers advice on bikes, repairs, accessories, and more.
  • Adventurers who want to sightsee underground will enjoy hiking the newly opened trail through the Blue Ridge Tunnel. The former railroad tunnel is so long that you can barely see daylight at the other end. Make sure you take a strong flashlight.
  • Another subterranean option is to visit one of the area’s caves that tunnel through the area’s limestone like swiss cheese. Grand Caverns offers several types of caving adventures.

Hop on the Beerwerks Trail and spend your afternoon exploring the Valley and tasting some of the best craft beer in the state. The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail consists of 19 breweries, all within an hour’s drive of each other, and ranging from pub-like downtown spaces, to sleek modern taprooms, to breweries with panoramic views of the mountains. Some breweries even offer tours. Grab a Beerwerks Passport at any of the breweries and get it stamped as you follow the trail. After eight stamps, you can redeem it for a cool shirt.

 

Try a different Staunton restaurant for some dinner and then head back out for more fun. Many Beerwerks Trail breweries host live music on the weekends. If you and your buddies like solving puzzles together, Crack the Code Escape Room is a fun way to bond for an hour. Your group might also enjoy the sounds and smell of exhaust from the drag races at Eastside Speedway

Day 3

If you play golf or fish, you’ll want to get an early start. Grab a coffee and quick bite from The By and By or Cranberries Grocery and Eatery.

  • Golfers will enjoy one of Staunton’s two golf courses. The city’s public course, Gypsy Hill Golf Club offers steep terrain and excellent views of the city. Ingleside Golf Course also challenges players and rewards them with sweeping views of the Valley.

  • Fishermen have access to several incredible stocked waterways. Waynesboro’s South River Fly Shop can outfit you and point you in the right direction. You can take advantage of their guided excursions.
  • If you’re more comfortable with a gun than a fishing rod Flying Rabbit Sporting Clays can set you up for a day of shooting. All levels of expertise are welcome. The 15-station course gives you a chance to test yourself in “all the classic sporting presentations.”

Finish your trip with one last brewery stop before you head home. Get another Passport stamp and plan your next visit.

 

2021 Staunton-Area Bucket List

2020 was a rough year for all of us. It’s time to start making your bucket list for 2021. We’ve rounded up Staunton-area bucket list ideas to brighten up your new year. Read on to live your best life.

Walk Under a Mountain

The 2.25-mile Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel trail has just opened for foot and bike traffic. At just under a mile, the tunnel was the longest railroad tunnel in North America when it was completed in 1858. Part spooky, part history lesson, part invigorating and just plain dark, the tunnel stays a temperate 50 degrees, so it’s a good way to get outside even on the hottest and coldest days. Make sure you bring your strongest flashlight and look for subterranean creatures like crawfish and salamanders.

Complete Your Beerwerks Passport

Need some motivation to get more beer in your life? Grab a Shenandoah Valley Beerwerks passport and taste your way through the best craft beer the Shenandoah Valley has to offer. The 18 breweries are located in Rockingham, Augusta, and Rockbridge Counties, making Staunton an enviable jumping off point. You’ll enjoy taproom vibes that range from homey, to cool industrial, to alfresco with bucolic views. Get your passport stamped at 8 breweries and earn yourself a free t-shirt!

Enjoy a Spa Day

Feeling stressed and ready for some major relaxation? This is the time to book a spa day at the new spa at the Blackburn Inn. Choose from massage, skincare treatments, nail treatments, or go crazy and indulge in all of the above! Want to pamper yourself even more? Buy yourself a cute new outfit at Design@9 or the Fashion Gallery, where you can browse 25,000 square feet of high quality clothes, shoes, and accessories.

Better Yourself by Learning Something New

Beverley Street Studio School offers “year-round, non-degree, college-level art classes to the serious art student.” The public can register for classes, lectures, and workshops that are being delivered via Zoom as well as in person. Spring offerings include watercolor, art as exploration, and more. If you’re not ready to take a class just yet, get inspired by their gallery, which shares space with Co-Art Gallery at 22 W. Beverley Street. If you’d rather learn a skill that keeps you outside and active, 2021 might be the year you finally perfect your golf swing. Sign up for some private golf lessons or instructional clinics with the golf pro at Gypsy Hill Golf Club.

Kayak Through a Whitewater Gorge

Does racing whitewater make your heart thrill? Rack your kayak and head to Goshen Pass for six miles of powerful class II, class III, and class IV rapids. The gorge was created as the Maury River cut through Little North Mountain and the water that courses through is considered some of the best whitewater for intermediate paddlers in Virginia.

Take that Hot Air Balloon Ride You’ve Always Promised Her

Picture gliding smoothly through the air, gazing down as the Valley spreads out like a map below you. Enjoy the sunrise or sunset with up to three of your favorite people. Bridgewater’s Star Ballooning takes photos, provides champagne toasts, and can even arrange a special proposal flight, should the mood strike you.

2020 Was a Rough Year. Smash Some *&$% Up!

You’ll have to drive over to Waynesboro to get to Havoc House, but we couldn’t leave this off the bucket list. Has 2020 been rough for you? Suit up in protective gear and get your sweet revenge by taking out your aggressions on glassware, furniture, and small electronics at the newly opened “smash therapy” center. You choose your weapon of choice, like a bat or golf club, and swing away. Best of all, when you’re finished, someone else will come in behind you and clean it all up. Feel better now?

Spend the Night in Lodgings with a History

Much of Staunton’s downtown dates from the Victorian Era, and there are several places to rest your head that date back 100 years or more. Travelers can choose between Hotel 24 South, which was where society ladies went to drink their tea in the early 1900s, or historic homes that have been re-envisioned as B&Bs. Travelers will also enjoy the luxurious Blackburn Inn, which has an institutional past, but is now an updated inn and spa, or Gibson’s Warehouse, which started its life as a warehouse that stored goods as they came off the train, but is now modern suites.

Go on a Wildlife Safari

You don’t have to travel to Africa to take your kids on safari. Virginia’s only drive-thru safari, Virginia Safari Park, is just a short drive down the highway in Natural Bridge. The 180-acre property includes three miles of gravel road through animal habitat. You can drive with your windows down and the animals will stick their heads into your car for feed. There’s also a walk-through section where you can see giraffes, tigers, penguins, birds, and farm animals. If you’re looking for an even rarer experience, sign up to spend a Saturday with a pair of cheetahs, penguins, or sloths and their handlers. You’ll learn how the animal-care specialists feed and interact with them.

Eat an Entire Cake…or Quiche…or Pie all by Yourself

You know you’ve always wanted to do it. Take that first delicious bite and keep on eating until it’s gone. Well, maybe you are capable of restraint, but you won’t want to after you taste a cake from Giancarlo Fine European Pastry. This tiny shop is tucked away, but once you discover it, you’ll return again and again for cakes, chocolates and tarts. Check Facebook for a taste of what’s available. Réunion Bakery & Espresso serves pastries, breads, and if you’re lucky, quiche. You can check out what they’re baking on Facebook and order at the window. And if pie is your weakness, Firkin Pie Company has something in the oven right now that will make you swoon.

Pretend to Be in a Movie

Parts of several major motion pictures were shot in Staunton! Step one is to watch the movie and try to spot Staunton. Watch the Civil War come to life in Gods and Generals or Wicked Spring. Get spooked on Sears Hill after watching Hearts in Atlantis or giggle along with Evan Almighty. Step two is to head to the location and snap your selfie there.  Explore the area while you’re there!

Staunton Gift Guide

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone but now more than ever, it’s important to support local businesses whenever you can. As you shop for gifts (and gift cards) this holiday season remember local first by purchasing from your Staunton area businesses who could really use your support.

Businesses who would like to be included in the gift guide can tag and share your photos over Instagram and Facebook using @visitstaunton or hashtag #lovestaunton. 

Here are some gift suggestions for everyone on your list:

Gifts for Her

Gifts for Him

For the Foodie

For the Art Lover

For the Outdoor Enthusiast 

For the Little Ones

Staunton’s Giftable Experiences

We’ve been living in our houses with all of our worldly possessions for so long now…and things are starting to feel crowded. Does anybody really need more stuff? Consider celebrating the holiday season by giving giftable Staunton experiences instead. Your loved ones will appreciate the special treatment you’re about to bestow upon them far better than a sweater with a gift receipt. It will be a happy holiday indeed!

For the Outdoor Lover

Connect your out-of-town, outdoor-loving friend with a weekend home base in Staunton. Staunton is an excellent hub for nearby hikes like Humpback Rocks, Spy Rock, and St. Mary’s Falls. A gift card to Wilderness Adventure will equip them for the trail. Ski enthusiasts can easily reach the slopes at Massanutten or Wintergreen, and you can get them geared up with a gift certificate to Stan’s Ski and Snowboard.

Another good way to get out and explore is on horseback. Call Star B. Stables to surprise a horse lover with an appointment for a trail ride through Augusta County.

Looking ahead, outdoor lovers will find lots to explore on the Fields of Gold Farm Trail in the spring. Arm your friends with a gift card or two to help them patronize trail partners, and then top it off with another for a meal at Nu-Beginning, a farm-to-table hot spot in Staunton. 

For Those Who Need to Relax

Everyone is stretched pretty thin these days. Help an overworked friend find a rejuvenating moment for themselves. The gift of a massage is widely considered to be one of the best gifts to receive. Contact Mill Street Body & Soul Day Spa for a gift certificate. Better yet, make a weekend out of it by booking a stay at the Blackburn Inn and urging your loved one to indulge in the menu of offerings from the newly opened spa with services and products from Ali & Co. and Aktiv.

For the Foodie

Pamper your loved one’s palate with a food tour of Staunton. Contact Biteseeing Staunton for the availability of a tour that not only provides sample dishes at several downtown restaurants, but also gives you insight into local history.

If that’s too structured for you, get creative with your very own dine-around featuring a different course at various restaurants and of course GIFT CARDS. Start the evening with a fancy cocktail at Zynodoa, followed by a charcuterie board or cheese plate at Yelping Dog or The Green Room. For your main course try a steak at the Depot Grill or a handheld at Byers Street Bistro. Whatever you do, save room for dessert. Get a slice of pie at Firkin Pie or a special frozen treat from The Split Banana. And if you still have some room get a nightcap at The Pompei Lounge. And remember gift cards are a PERFECT stocking stuffer! 

For those Who Never Get a Date Night

You can’t beat dinner and a show for a Staunton date night, thanks to our thriving restaurant scene and the incredible talent displayed at American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse. Treat a special couple to a night out with a tasty farm-to-table meal and a gift certificate to be redeemed at one of the Blackfriar’s 2021 shows.

For the Beer Lover

A fun way to celebrate the season and the season’s best beer is to reserve and gift an evening in a private igloo at Stable Craft Brewing. The igloos seat up to eight guests and come with a private server! You might also bequeath the beer lover in your life with a Shenandoah Tours craft beer tour of the breweries along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. You can earn a FREE T-shirt once you’ve visited eight breweries and received a stamp at each one through the Beerwerks Passport Program

For the Wine Lover

What’s a better gift than regular deliveries of wine all year long? Sign the wine aficionado on your list up for the wine club at Ox-Eye Vineyards and keep their glass full. Another area option is the Crush Club at Barren Ridge Vineyards. Not only do participants get to enjoy the local wine, but they also get to offer feedback to the winemakers.

For the History Lover

The Frontier Culture Museum is good for learning about the earliest settlers of our region through living history displays. But there’s more than just history at the Frontier Culture Museum. It’s also a great place to take little kids to run around and look at farm animals. The museum hosts regular lectures and several outdoor festivals, including a Roots Music concert Series, and Octoberfest. Treat your family and friends to an annual membership.

As one of the oldest cities west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Staunton’s history spans three centuries. A wide selection of historic attractions, archival collections, old buildings, museums, and Civil War sites are located in and around Staunton. Get your history lover admission tickets to the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, or any of our other must-see museums

For the Eternal Learner

Is there someone on your list who is always trying to educate themselves? There are all sorts of opportunities available in our area, including art classes and workshops with the Beverley Street Studio SchoolParks and Rec offers community classes, and there’s something for everyone in Blue Ridge Community College’s Workforce and Continuing Education catalog. You’ll find topics like photography and starting your own small business. Other area venues offer classes on floral design, art topics, and more. You can also give the gift of strength and fitness with a class from Crossfit Staunton.

We’re confident that whomever you’re shopping for will love a Staunton experience unique to their tastes. Let us know if we can help you identify other giftable experiences. Happy Holidays!

Staunton’s Holiday Happenings 2020

Covid-19 might have changed a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean it needs to put a damper on your holiday celebrations. Here’s a roundup of things to keep you busy throughout the holiday season!

Downtown Shopping, Dining, and Sights: 

Staunton’s enchanting downtown is one of America’s most celebrated Main Streets and offers a truly authentic holiday experience. Find something for everyone on your shopping list in one of our boutiques and artisan shops offering unique gifts for all ages and interests. Check out Where to Get Your Shopping Fix in Staunton.

During the Covid crisis, many downtown restaurants expanded outdoor seating through the Dine Out in Downtown initiative, which closes a portion of Beverley Street on the weekends. This will extend through the end of December.

Art for Gifts

One shop you can’t miss is the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art. This gallery and museum is transformed into a holiday market showcasing works by 70 Virginia artists and artisans and features quality, handmade fine art and crafts. Shop in person, online, or reserve a 30-minute private time slot.

Santa’s Workshop

Santa’s workshop comes to life at 110 West Beverley Street with “living window” displays. The Staunton Downtown Development Association recreates Santa’s North Pole operations complete with live actors portraying Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and his hard working elves in scenes from Santa’s workshop. Don’t forget to bring your letters to Santa, which can be placed in a special mailbox, located in front of the storefront during the hours of the event. The living windows will be on display Dec. 5, 12 and 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Strolling Christmas Characters & Carolers

You can also find Santa and the elves, along with other Christmas characters, strolling around downtown Staunton during SDDA’s “Saturdays in December” from 10am – 2pm, weather permitting.

Winter Market

Thanksgiving marks the end of Staunton’s traditional Farmers Market but this December we are in for a treat with the first, ever Winter Market! The market’s vendors—old and new—come together to offer homegrown and hand-crafted products ranging from food to clothing and accessories, home decor and gifts. The Winter Market will be held on December 5, 12 and 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Learn more on their website. Many vendors have included contact information so that you can browse online and place orders ahead of time.

Tours

Celebration of Holiday Lights

Now through the end of December, Gypsy Hill Park is transformed into a winter wonderland. Come see the park aglow with holiday lights and festive decorations. If you’re lucky, you might catch a live performance! Entrance into the park is FREE and lights can be seen every evening from 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm. For more information, please visit their website. Walk and look at the setups during the day, or drive after dark. While there are many wonderful displays, pay special attention to the lighted “Field of Deer” exhibit. Each deer honors a special person.

Old World Holiday Tours at Frontier Culture Museum

Embark on an after-hours tour of the Frontier Culture Museum as you travel to England, Ireland and Germany visiting original farmsteads with costumed interpreters performing festive music and holiday skits. New this year, a cheeky and fast-paced performance of, The Reduced History of Christmas featuring two street performers weaving their way through the shortest history of Christmas in one madcap ride. The tour culminates with light refreshments. Tours run the weekends of December 4-6, 11-13, 18-20.

COVID safety measures are in place. 

Avenue of Evergreens at the Blackburn Inn

The Blackburn Inn and The MaDee Project have created the second annual Avenue of Evergreens to support the fight against pediatric cancer. This event is free and open to the public. Visitors will tour the inn and donate monetarily to vote for their favorite trees and wreaths. Wreaths were decorated by businesses, nonprofits, and families, and the one earning the most money will win the People’s Choice award. Votes will be accepted until January 3.

Christmas Wonderland at Creative Works Farm

Looking for another chance to visit Santa and check out the seasonal lights? Reserve a ticket and head out to Creative Works Farm on December 4 from 5-8 p.m.  Activities (planned with Covid guidelines in place) include a walk-through light and music show, musical performances, crafts, refreshments, wagon rides, visits with farm animals and more. All proceeds benefit Camp LIGHT, a summer camp for children with special needs.

Christmas Haunts and Legends from the Queen City

If you’ve enjoyed A Christmas Carol and want to learn about your hometown ghosts, sign up for a 90-minute Ghosts of Staunton tour through downtown. You’ll learn about Staunton’s history, hauntings, and holiday legends.

Holiday Performances

American Shakespeare Center’s A Christmas Carol 

Savor the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, from the comfort of your own couch! Enjoy ghostly season’s greetings filled with memorable music and cheer with this contemporary twist on the age-old tale of Marley, the three Christmas ghosts, the Cratchits and Tiny Tim.  Catch the live stream on December 4th or 8th or watch at your leisure with the buy on-demand option. Or watch it on the silver screen at Visulite Cinemas in downtown Staunton. The cinema-quality filmed performance will be playing December 18-24. 

Heifetz Institute’s The Beethoven Experience

Though the Heifetz Institute is not having physical programming this season, it will continue to showcase valuable virtual experiences. Tune in on December 14 for the final concert in The Beethoven Experience with the Borromeo Quartet series, which gives ticket holders a chance to “participate in online interactive pre-concert conversations investigating the intersection between Beethoven and the intellectual, political, and artistic currents of his time….and ours.” The December 14 concert explores both endings of Beethoven’s Op. 130 string quartet. Purchase tickets here.

ShenanArts Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus

Your family will love the old-timey joy of gathering together to listen to the ShenanArts streamed staged radio play production of Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus. Not only will actors perform their lines, they’ll also create all the music and original sound effects. This play is based on a true story from 1897 in which a young girl connects with a New York Sun reporter over a very important question. Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus “celebrates the magic of Christmas and believing in the unseen.” Streaming December 18-20.

Create

Blow Your Own Ornament at Sunspots

Create a family tradition for years to come by blowing your own ornament at Sunspots Studios! Trained glassblowers will be by your side to assist you in making a one-of-a-kind ornament to adorn your tree at home. Visitors can also watch live glass blowing demonstrations daily from 11 am to 4 pm.

Wreath Workshops

Decorations make the holidays brighter and there are several local wreath and centerpiece workshop opportunities. Valley Mills Farm and Valley Pike Farm Market still have slots open, but they’re filling up quickly.

Our Winter Village

Here’s a fun alternative to installing even more inflatables on your lawn this year. Staunton Parks and Rec’s Our Winter Village is an opportunity to join with others to create a village of winter-themed characters for display in Gypsy Hill Park. Register online for this free December 5th event and your creation will stand with the rest of the village through New Year’s.

“Gourd” Food: The Best Fall Treats in Staunton

Fall is the time for photos of the family frolicking in the fallen leaves and watching football on Sundays. It’s the time to break out the hiking boots and the cute layered outfits. It’s time for firepits and FOOD. Here are some of the best fall treats you can find in Staunton this season.

The Split Banana

The Split Banana, an adorable gelato and sorbet shop with a piano, black and white tile, and bright green accents, serves 24 fresh-made rotating flavors of gelato each day. This dense, creamy treat is made from local grass-fed milk and packed with intense flavors. You can order in person or online. The Split Banana offers four sizes of cup or cone as well as carryout by pint or quart to enjoy at home. Why not try Lydia’s Apple Pie, Baby Ginger, or Guinness Extra Stout? The Split Banana was one of TripAdvisor’s 2011 U.S-wide top ten ice cream/gelato spots as well as a Virginia Living Magazine’s 2012 Best of Virginia pick.

D & L Donuts

We know donuts are your secret pleasure, and that’s okay! For a yummy take on the season, head to locally owned D & L Donuts early on the weekend to catch their delicious cake donuts with flavors like pumpkin and apple crisp. D & L also has standard flavors like glazed, peanut butter, cream-filled, coconut, and chocolate-covered. If you’re not a member of team cake, you can also score yeast varieties. Don’t forget to grab a cup of D & L coffee to go!

Paris Cake Company 

Halloween has passed, but that doesn’t mean your sweet tooth has gone into hibernation. Grab your cozy sweater and hurry down to Paris Cake Company to indulge in some of their seasonal offerings. Yes, they have pumpkin whoopee pies and pumpkin spice cupcakes with chocolate icing that you absolutely should try. However, they also serve a chocolate cake cupcake with a swirl of nutella buttercream and whimsical decorations on top. Yum!

Zynodoa 

Pull up a chair at Zynodoa and you’ll swear by the classy, metropolitan ambiance that you’ve been transported to the big city. Zynodoa specializes in inspired Southern cuisine made with fresh, seasonal, local ingredients. Some menu features include Autumn Olive Farm sorghum glazed pork and Anson Mills toasted farro piccolo & seasonal succotash. Be on the lookout for seasonal specials, too, like this pumpkin crème de pot. Zynodoa is part of Staunton’s dining out initiative, so grab a table outside on one of these warm fall days.

The Queen Bean

How about a hot cup of seasonal deliciousness like a pumpkin spiced latte at The Queen Bean as you head through the north end of Staunton? This drive-thru coffee shop has partnered up with Newtown Baking & Kitchen and you can nab a warm pastry or some bread to enjoy with your pick-me-up drink. The Queen Bean offers weekly specials like maple almond chai latte dusted with cinnamon or Day of the Dead latte made with dark chocolate, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla with espresso, milk, and topped with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Réunion Bakery & Espresso

Odds are they’re baking up something heavenly for you at Réunion Bakery & Espresso as you read this. Maybe a chocolate croissant, a lemon and ginger curd cruffin, a raspberry danish, or a butternut squash quiche with goat cheese, sage and parsley? Don’t forget the focaccia. The flavors change each week, but we promise that whatever you choose will be to die for. Réunion has been featured in Southern Living, Vogue, The Washington Post, and Garden&Gun. They are offering Friday – Sunday walk up service at this time.

Cocoa Mill Chocolate

Need a centerpiece chocolate turkey or place setting turkeys for your holiday table? How about some autumn fudge or smore’s bark? You can find these fall favorites at Cocoa Mill in Staunton.  Known for their artisan and superior fair-trade chocolates, they use dairy fresh cream and butter as well as authentic natural flavors to create the freshest, finest chocolate you’ll ever taste. Pick up a few boxed chocolates for holiday gifting and you’re all set!

The Green Room

The Green Room opened last winter and was just getting established when everything closed down. Run by Blackfriars Playhouse actors, the comfortable gathering space offers a curated and seasonal wine, craft beer, and cider list. Pair your drink with an appetizer like a peach and arugula salad, some fancy tater tots in the loaded or duck fat variety or one of these amazing cheese and charcuterie platters!

Relax at the New Spa At the Blackburn Inn

Since it opened in June 2018, the Blackburn Inn and Conference Center has been a way to relax and refresh. The inn sits on the peaceful 80-acre Villages at Staunton complex, and visitors can easily walk to Staunton’s bustling downtown. The original site was designed in the early 1800s by Thomas Blackburn, a protégé of Thomas Jefferson. The Inn now houses luxurious modern rooms with historical details and extensive amenities. Now, the new Spa at the Blackburn has opened and guests can treat themselves to an array of relaxing, rejuvenating, and tranquil experiences.

Spa Details

Designed to offer a peaceful escape from everyday life, the Spa at the Blackburn extends over two floors and three treatment rooms in one of the updated historic structures on the Blackburn campus. Licensed professionals perform all services in a relaxing atmosphere. Every detail in the spa has been thoughtfully designed to balance comfort and retain the historic charm of elements like red brick and classical moldings. Even the manicure tables are crafted from 200-year-old reclaimed wood from the Villages campus.

What Kinds of Services Are Available?

The spa offers an extensive menu of services to help you relax, feel beautiful, and forget the cares of everyday life. Choose from a menu of massages, skincare, nail services, reflexology, and more. You can opt to enjoy just one treatment or combine several for a half or full-day experience. 

  • Reduce stress and improve circulation with a massage at the Blackburn Spa. From a 30-minute lower-body spot treatment to a 90-minute deep stone massage, you’ll find the best technique for your comfort level. Swedish aromatherapy, mineral therapy, and seaweed detox wrap and massage are options as well.
  • The spa is partnered with withSimplicity for cruelty-free, vegan nail services that omit dangerous chemicals often found in nail treatments. Even the nail polish remover is plant-based and smells like essential oils. 
  • The spa uses Aktiv Skincare and estheticians who design treatments targeted to your unique skin chemistry. You’ll feel clean, fresh, and radiant. The spa also offers hydrating masks, under-eye brightening masks, lash lift & tints, and brow tints.
  • Soothe away the tension with a 30 or 60-minute reflexology treatment that uses acupressure to target points in your hands and feet that will relax and re-energize your entire body. 

What Kinds of Packages Can I Get?

There’s no reason to book just one treatment at the spa. Take advantage of one of the packages offered at the Blackburn. If you’re looking to fill a free morning treat yourself to the Relax & Rejuvenate Package. You’ll enjoy a delicious locally sourced and seasonal breakfast followed by a choice of facial treatments like the Blackburn rose or evolution facials. Sip on champagne while you luxuriate with an 80-minute mani-pedi with the Treat Yourself Package

And if you’ve traveled to the Blackburn with your sweetie, indulge together with the Couples Getaway Package. Bask in a private suite with side-by-side massage tables. Start with a choice of 30-minute facial or reflexology followed by 90-minute massages. The package features great views of Staunton as well as champagne and strawberries.

What Else Can I Do at the Blackburn Inn?

Check out the Fall into Shenandoah Mountains special. If you plan a two-night stay, the second is half price. After savoring your spa treatments, you’ll want to linger for that second night and day to explore the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, the mountains, and historic Staunton.

A Girlfriends’ Getaway in Staunton

Staunton has plenty of trendy restaurants, local wine, luxurious lodgings, and unique shopping and entertainment opportunities. That’s why it’s the ideal environment for making new memories during a wonderful girlfriends’ getaway. You and your besties will want to make it an annual trip. Here’s a fun roundup of must-do activities.

We’ve updated this to reflect Covid conditions, however, check each business’s website or Facebook page to see current hours and offerings as these may change frequently. Many businesses are open for business in accordance with the current guidelines.

Explore Staunton

When you arrive, head straight for Staunton’s extremely walkable downtown. The Staunton Farmer’s Market is open from the first Saturday in April until Thanksgiving, and often features live music. Nibble a baked treat and scout out seasonal produce, honey, jams and pickles to take home.

Next, take a walking tour of Staunton’s five historic districts, visit the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace in person or virtually, or explore Augusta County’s living history at the Frontier Culture Museum. Stop in at Paris Cake Company for something sweet. And if cupcakes are your particular passion, you can’t skip the 100+ flavors available at Queen City Cupcakes. Chipotle pineapple or citrus mint, anyone?

Shopping

Staunton has a lot to offer girlfriends who enjoy shopping together. Plan to spend some time exploring our boutiques, galleries, and antique stores. Design at Nine offers the latest in women’s fashion, shoes, and accessories. Try Latitudes for fair trade selections ranging from women’s apparel, to jewelry to recycled metal wall art. If you’re looking for more art to buy, check out Beverly Street Studio, where local artists exhibit and sell their work. You might also be captivated by the spectacular glass work at Sunspots Studios. Bonus: you can go into the studio and watch the artist blowing and sculpting the molten glass.

Relax and Recharge

If you’re serious about relaxing, why not share a spa day with your girlfriends? Indulge yourself Staunton’s newest spa, the Spa at the Blackburn. Choose from an extensive menu of skin treatments, massage, reflexology, and nail care delivered in an upscale, serene setting. You can select single treatments or combine them for a full or half-day experience. You can also relax at  Breezy Hill Day Spa, housed in a historic mansion or Mill Street Body and Soul Day Spa and Salon,  which is right downtown. Breezy Hill and Mill Street’s services also include massage, facials, manicures, and pedicures. Breezy Hill offers an all-day session that includes lunch.

Outside Fun

Take a scenic drive to the Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway to admire the world-famous views of the Shenandoah Valley from above. Hikers can take advantage of numerous trailheads along these roads.

For other ideas, see An Alternate Spring Break: 5 Awesome Hikes or Hiking Trips that Are Amazing in Fall.  If it’s spring or summer, consider a side trip to Fishersville for a ramble around the Andre Viette Farm. Viette is world famous for his daylilies, and the farm and garden center is open year round. Get inspired by the beautiful gardens and take some plants home to your own. Another place for spotting blooms is Pebble Hall Wildflowers. Pick a bouquet of whatever’s in season, pet the horses, and plan a picnic to appreciate the view. In warmer weather, you might also rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Rockfish Gap Outfitters in Waynesboro for a fun-filled day of paddling on the South River or Sherando Lake.

Drinks and Light Fare

If you’re thirsty, head to Ox Eye Tasting Room to check out their new outdoor space, and taste a variety of their wines. Follow your tasting with a full glass of your favorite. You should also visit one of Staunton’s newest venues, The Green Room, where you can enjoy wine, beer, and light fare such as apps and sandwiches. Or go to Yelping Dog Wine, where wine can be enjoyed by the glass or by the bottle, and you can munch on a cheese plate or gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. If you prefer a vineyard with a view, take a picnic to Barren Ridge Vineyards, only a short drive east of Staunton.

Dinner with Friends

Staunton boasts a rich restaurant scene with much to choose from, but if you’re looking for fare to share with your girlfriends, try a range of Spanish tapas and other Mediterranean food at Aioli Restaurant. If pizza and beer are more up your alley, split a gourmet pie at Shenandoah Pizza and Tap House. And if you still have room for more food, get some scoops of homemade gelato at The Split Banana. Here, a number of flavors, both traditional and exotic will tempt your taste buds. Guinness Extra Stout in a waffle cone, anyone? Many Staunton restaurants are offering indoor seating at this time, but downtown has extended its dining initiative, involving restaurants like Baja Bean Co., BLU Point Seafood Co., Laughing Bird Pho, Zynodoa, and more through January. And if you’d rather carryout, there are plenty of curbside pickup options.

Staunton After Dark

Many of Staunton’s watering holes host events on different nights of the week. Fun stuff includes trivia, live music, open mic nights, karaoke, vineyard walks, and virtual entertainment. Check out the Staunton on Tap and the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail events page for more info on events. And if active puzzle games are your style, book a Staunton’s Crack the Code Escape Room. Groups of six or fewer use their wits to puzzle out clues and escape the room in under an hour. A trip to Staunton isn’t complete without some Shakespeare at the American Shakespeare Center. You can catch a performance – with Covid precautions in place – almost every night year-round.

Other good stuff:


If you’re planning to stay in Staunton overnight, here’s your link to Staunton’s most beautiful rooms. Want to stay in a brand hotel? Click here for our bed and breakfast picks.