Visitor’s Guide to the 2022 Staunton Music Festival

This month, Staunton Music Festival’s annual 10-day summer concert series will bring over 90 world-class chamber musicians to Staunton from all over the world. Festival goers will enjoy amazing classical music spanning the past 600 years. Works include those by Baroque composers like Handel, powerful new material on the subject of Holocaust survivors, and everything in between. 

The festival includes 24 concerts, informal recitals, lectures, and other special events. Here’s how to hit some highlights of the Staunton Music Festival programming as well as find food, lodging, and fun in Staunton in your downtime. 

Photo by Leslie Kipp

How do I purchase tickets?

Purchase tickets for individual concerts or buy a discounted Summer or Annual pass. Prices vary by concert, but noon concerts are typically free. There are discounted tickets for military, college, and youth.

Festival highlights

Many people won’t be in town for the entire 10-day festival. So, here are some highlights:

Photo by Leslie Kipp

Friday, August 12

  • 7:30 pm Handel Extravaganza: from the Rhine to Rio: The 2022 festival opens with Handel’s orchestral and vocal music, plus special Brazilian guests at intermission. Trinity Episcopal Church | $22-$32
  • Stick around for the 10:00 pm Nightcap #1: Brazil: If the Handel intermission whets your appetite, indulge in more Brazilian flair with the José Luiz Martins jazz quartet. McCracken Hall at Trinity Church | $20

Wednesday, August 17 

  • 3 pm: Meet Award-winning composer Chen Yi, a Pulitzer Prize nominee and leading female Chinese-American composer. She will discuss her music, stylistic influences, and trends in contemporary music of China and the United States. Central United Methodist Church | free admission
  • 7:30 pm (with preconcert talk at 6:45): Wednesday’s evening Take Five concert will be intriguing and fun. It even includes some jazz. Music by Beethoven, Gabrieli, Brubeck, and others. Trinity Episcopal Church | $22-$32

Friday, August 19 

  • 7:30 pm: Baroque Inside/Out promises to be one of the festival’s most popular concerts. Celebrate the richness and extravagance that made Venice the musical capital of Europe during the Baroque. Featured works by Monteverdi, Castello, and Gabrieli. Trinity Episcopal Church | $22-$32
  • 10 pm: Nightcap #2: Grand Tour lets those who can’t get enough Baroque music slip away for an exclusive event with complimentary drinks. McCracken Hall at Trinity Church | $20
Photo by Leslie Kipp

Saturday, August 20

  • 7:30 pm: Memories and Roses is an intriguing and intense program featuring music by Strauss, Beethoven, and others, culminating in a dramatic performance of composer and pianist Marc Neikrug’s “Through Roses.” “Through Roses” is a dramatic theater piece told through the eyes of a Holocaust survivor, acted by John Harrell. The edgy work is directed by Ethan McSweeny. Trinity Episcopal Church | $22-$32

Where should I stay?

If you’re from out of town, treat yourself to elegant lodgings within walking distance of the concert venues as well as dining and shopping. Check into a tastefully updated room with historic details at the Blackburn Inn. The inn features an onsite spa, so make sure you book a massage or skin treatment while you’re in town. Other elegant and historic lodgings like Hotel 24 South or Frederick House provide access to Staunton’s shopping, dining, and walkable downtown.

Where should I eat?

Staunton’s Shop and Dine Out Downtown program closes Beverley Street to vehicular traffic on the weekends, so there are a lot of convenient places for fine dining or a quick bite. You’ll find fare ranging from gourmet pizza and burgers, Mexican, elevated comfort food, gelato, and much more.

Breakfast

Lunch

  • If you’re looking for an elevated burger, try the offerings from Remedy Burger or Table 44, which pairs its burgers and sandwiches with pimento and bacon fries. 
  • Chicano Boy Taco loads its house-made tortillas with fresh meats, toppings, and sauces.
  • Byers Street Bistro serves Southern food with a twist and boasts a tasty cocktail menu.

Dinner

What can I do between concerts?

The Staunton Music Festival is pretty packed, but you’ll still have time to explore the town between shows.

  • Discover Staunton’s historic architecture and beautiful greenspaces with a walking tour. Pick up a map at the Visitor’s Center or check out these posts on the Beverley, Wharf, and Newtown historic districts for what to see and do. If you have time, ride Staunton’s historic trolley, a fun way to get a tour of downtown. Stops on the line also include Gypsy Hill Park and the park-like Thornrose Cemetery

Staunton Road Trip: One Last Hurrah Before Summer Ends

It might not feel like fall yet, but with many schools starting soon, we know that summer is on its way out. Are you looking for a final, fun trip to take with the family before the leaves start changing, and before soccer and football gobble up all your Saturdays? Here are some ideas for a Staunton road trip.

Getting here

Staunton’s convenient location at the intersection of interstates 81 and 64 makes it an ideal destination for a quick road trip. Not only can you hop off the highway at small towns and other fun destinations on the way, but the Shenandoah Valley scenery is also incredible, even from the highway! Depending on your direction, consider stopping at Monticello, Shenandoah Caverns, or Natural Bridge State Park. Or cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive makes it one of the most beautiful and driveable parks in the country.

Once you get to Staunton, parking in the downtown footprint is easy. There’s a lot of metered parking, parking garage space, and two-hour street parking. Staunton is a walkable town, and you can see much of it on foot or from the 25-cent trolley.

Uniquely Staunton

  • Staunton boasts the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Playhouse, and performances will give you a sense of how the show appeared to the Bard’s original audiences, so you should definitely try to fit a show into your schedule. 
  • Crack the Code Escape Room will test your IQ as you try to sleuth your way through a Staunton-themed mystery. 
  • If you’d rather learn the mysteries of how art glass is created, head down to Sunspots Studios to catch a glass-blowing demonstration or even try your hand at blowing your own ornament. 
  • Little ones will love riding the Gypsy Hill Express miniature train as it loops through Gypsy Hill Park. 
  • And finally, catch a glimpse of Staunton in times gone by with a tour of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum or the Frontier Culture Museum.

Don’t forget to eat

Staunton is a town that takes its food offerings seriously. If you’re here on a weekend, check out Beverley Street, which closes to car traffic for Shop and Dine Out Downtown. Since diners will be enjoying food al fresco, you can window shop other people’s meals until you see something you like! 

  • We recommend Remedy Burger for its juicy and delicious smash burgers. 
  • Nearby Shenandoah Pizza & Taphouse serves up gourmet pizzas with delightful topping combinations and an interesting selection of brews. 
  • More beer awaits, along with delicious Mexican fare, at Baja Bean
  • And if you want to tap into classic car culture, try Wright’s Dairy Rite, where they’ve been bringing burgers and shakes to the covered drive-in since the 1950s.

Take some selfies

Nothing will help you remember your road trip like the Staunton selfies you post on Instagram. Make sure to get a photo as you enjoy one of these Staunton experiences. Make sure to tag your shots with #LoveStaunton.

  • Pose in front of the You Belong Here mural on Central Ave. between Beverley and Johnson Streets.
  • Cross Sears Hill Bridge for a view of the historic train station from above and one of the best views of downtown.
  • Explore beautifully landscaped Thornrose Cemetery along with its tower and footbridge.
  • Bite into something delicious outside Reunion Bakery & Espresso or The Split Banana.
  • Pause after you’ve conquered one of the hills in Montgomery Park on your mountain bike.
  • Relish the freshness at the Saturday Staunton Farmers’ Market.

Get yourself a little something

It’s always nice to take something home with you when you travel. Here are some places to get fun treats and souvenirs.

Craft Beer Month: Suds of Staunton

Hello August, and hello Craft Beer Month! 

If you hadn’t noticed, Virginians really love their craft beer. Maybe it’s the focus on local ingredients and spring water that provide craft beer with more flavor and nuance than mass-produced beer. Maybe it’s the beautiful scenic views afforded by many of our taprooms. Or maybe it’s the emphasis breweries have made on making your visit fun. You’ll likely be a stone’s throw from a brewery anywhere in the state, but Staunton is a pretty stellar place to start your Beercation. Not only is the craft beer fantastic, but all of our local breweries are just steps from the Queen City’s dining, shopping, and entertainment scene. 

Local Craft Breweries

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company has been slinging beers in its taproom on Beverley Street since 2017, but it’s been a Staunton staple for much longer than that, in fact, it first opened a decade ago as a home brew supply store. Look for 10-12 beers on tap, which can be enjoyed as pints or flights if you want to sample a variety. You’ll appreciate the tasty beer, the pub-like atmosphere, and the location in the heart of Staunton’s downtown. Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company is part of each weekend’s  Shop and Dine Out in Downtown, in which Beverley Street is closed to traffic so folks can enjoy beverages, food, and shopping outside.

Queen City Brewing

Queen City Brewing got the local brewing craze started in 2003. In fact, it’s Staunton’s first brewery since Prohibition! You’ll find 40+ beers in their extensive selection, which you can order by the pint, mini pint, or flight paddle of eight. Hang out in the industrial taproom, or relax in the fresh air outside. While there’s no onsite kitchen, Queen City often hosts food trucks, welcomes carry-out, and sells bottomless tubs of popcorn.

Redbeard Brewing Company

Redbeard Brewing Company carefully handcrafts its beer using traditional techniques and modern equipment. Kick back in the recently updated taproom and sample from 10-14 taps. Rather sit outside? There’s also a beer garden outside. The brewery doesn’t have a kitchen, but you can buy charcuterie snack packs or snacks from a vending machine. You’re also welcome to order in or bring snacks from home. 

Skipping Rock Beer Company

Feeling stressed after a hard week? Head to Skipping Rock Beer Company for some delicious beer and a relaxing time. Kick back in the large beer garden around a fire pit, under a sun shade, or show off your wits during a round of pub trivia. Skipping Rock often hosts live music. Order dinner from newly added Za Spot Detroit-style pizza, which is a square pie topped with tomato sauce, Wisconsin cheese, and elevated toppings like truffle oil, balsamic glaze, and bacon jam. 

Stable Craft Brewing

Stable Craft Brewing makes its delicious craft beer onsite using sustainable farming practices. You’ll also enjoy the brewery’s panoramic views of the mountains and its location on a working horse and hops farm. The brewery is family-friendly with a large exterior space, including a patio, picnic tables on the grass, lawn games, and fire pits for roasting s’mores. There’s even a 9-hole cornhole golf course. On-site dining that specializes in farm-to-table fare like appetizers, dinners, and hand-helds. Follow Stable Craft Brewing on Facebook: there’s always something fun going on. Best of all, you can book onsite accommodations on the farm!

The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail

Staunton’s breweries are all part of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. The breweries on the trail are less than an hour’s drive from one another, and there’s a lot of the Valley to enjoy in between. Grab a Beerwerks Passport and collect stamps from eight breweries along the trail to earn a t-shirt. Most breweries are dog and kid-friendly, include dining options, and offer fun activities.

Craft Beer at Staunton Restaurants

Of course, you don’t need to go directly to the source to get craft beer. Dine out at any of these Staunton restaurants that serve craft beer.

Savor the Sweet Staunton Summertime

The countdown to the start of the school year has started, and we only have a few precious weeks of family time left before the fall activities and sports schedules rule our lives again. If you’re back from vacation, and your school shopping’s finished, here are a few more ways to savor the sweet Staunton summertime! 

Country Fairs and Festivals

  • The Augusta County Fair is happening now through July 30. Gorge on carnival food and see rides, exhibits, livestock, sideshow performances, music, tractor pulls, and more! 

Other Summer Fun

  • Spend a peaceful evening exploring the past at the Frontier Culture Museum before settling down for their Roots Concert Series.
  • There’s still time to catch live music at the bandstand in the park. Stop by for Monday night concerts by the Stonewall Brigade Band, Wednesday night bluegrass, and Thursday night Jazz.

  • Gypsy Hill and Montgomery Hall Parks both have pools. You can cool off through Labor Day.
  • Shop and Dine Out Downtown will continue to turn downtown into a weekend walking mall, creating a safe space for Stauntonians to shop, dine, and gather al fresco.

Ice Cream

  • Wright’s Dairy Rite has been a Staunton mainstay since 1952. The menu offers dipped cones, funnel cake fries, flurries, splits, milkshakes, malts, and drink freezes to cool off on a mighty hot day. 
  • Kline’s Dairy Bar makes its ice cream fresh every morning. Each week there’s a new can’t-miss flavor like banana and cake batter or local favorites like raspberry and lemon gingersnap in cones, cups, shakes, and sundaes. 
  • The Split Banana uses local grass-fed milk to create its award-winning gelato. You can pick from 24 delectable and fresh-made flavors. 

Fruit Picking

  • Troyer Nursery sells sweetcorn, tomatoes, green beans, red beets, squash, zucchini, onions, and other vegetables. They also sell milk and ice cream mix from Mount Crawford Creamery. 
  • Critzer Family Farm is a nice place to take the kids to pick seasonal fruit like raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pumpkins, and fresh veggies. Don’t skip home-churned ice cream after your time in the sun!

  • Mark your calendar for the end of August when the crops of Concord and Niagara grapes start to ripen at Wenger Grapes
  • Sunrise Orchards is a small pick-your-own apple orchard that offers Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Jonathans from the end of August until the apples are gone. 
  • Drive over Afton Mountain to Carter Mountain Orchard to pick or buy pre-picked apples and other seasonal fruits and shop at the farm market. Don’t skip a plate of apple cider donuts! 
  • The pumpkin patch at Middle River Farms opens in the middle of September. You’ll find beautiful views and over 30 varieties of pumpkins and gourds. Their wagonload deal is one of the best around!

Best Barbecue

  • Kline’s Hog Wild BBQ serves Carolina and sweet-style barbecue and sides for dining in and taking out. 
  • Big Red Barbecue’s menu is packed with selections like pulled pork and fried catfish. Check Facebook for daily specials like jerk chicken and shrimp and grits. 
  • Peck’s Bar-B-Que is a local favorite, known for Virginia-style smoked pork served chopped, sliced, or coarse. Get your meat on a sandwich or on a platter with sides like coleslaw and hush puppies. 
  • Shredder’s BBQ also serves your favorite Virginia barbecue. It’s made with locally raised meats and smoked with hickory wood. 
  • Valley Smokehouse specializes in seafood, barbecue, and steaks. Be on the lookout for events like all-you-can-eat seafood or scallops, prime rib, and tuna steak meals! 

Ride the Virginia Scenic Railway from Staunton

The railroad came to Staunton in 1854 and helped transform a quiet town into a bustling commercial center. Alternative forms of shipping and transportation have claimed some of the local railroad’s glory, but travelers have always been able to embark by rail from downtown Staunton. And now, train fans have a new way to ride the rails!

Starting in August, the Virginia Scenic Railway is offering recreational tours of the Shenandoah Valley that start and stop in historic downtown Staunton. Visit their web site at https://www.virginiascenicrailway.com/ or call at 434-391-9772.

The Routes:

  • The Alleghany Special heads west from Staunton’s historic downtown, passing through the rural landscape and working farms of western Virginia as you wind your way towards the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest before turning around in Goshen for the trip back to Staunton. 
    • The train departs Staunton at 10:30 a.m. Thursday – Sunday.
    • Tickets cost $110 and include a meal, dessert, and beverage in a souvenir glass.
  • The Blue Ridge Flyer goes east from Staunton towards the town of Ivy. On the way, you’ll pass by Staunton and Waynesboro before ascending roughly 1,000 ft up to Afton Mountain where you’ll experience the thrill of roaring through the 4,237 ft. Blue Ridge Tunnel before turning around for a repeat run through the tunnel. 
    • The train departs Staunton at 3:30 p.m. Thursday – Sunday.
    • Tickets cost $110 and include a meal, dessert, and beverage in a souvenir glass.
  • Coming in December: Santa Trains will be shorter trips geared for younger audiences.

The Details:

Staunton’s Railroad History

Staunton was a sleepy town until the 1840s when the new Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike helped it grow into a thriving commercial center. The town’s growth accelerated again when the Virginia Central Railroad arrived in 1854. What’s now the Wharf Historic District grew up around the train depot to handle merchandise and house passengers. Along with warehouses and hotels, this district also featured saloons, distilleries, liveries, and brothels. Despite a history fraught with the perils of fire, flood, war, and abandonment, significant historic architecture survives.

Eat and Stay Near the Train Station

  • Book a stay at Gibson’s Warehouse, an updated space in a historic building with ties to railroad history!
  • Eat breakfast or lunch at Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery, a new cafe serving morning beverages, breakfast and grilled sandwiches, and fresh pastries. The building also houses the American Hotel, now a wedding venue, where in 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant raised his hat to the serenading Stonewall Brigade Band in an early public act of reconciliation after the Civil War.

Other Train-Themed Things to Do in Staunton

  • Tour Staunton’s Wharf Historic District, which was named because of its location next to the railroad depot and the way workers would set up gangplanks to move goods to and from the warehouses. The Wharf buildings were constructed between 1870 and 1910. They were once much more extensive and spread through the area that is now the Wharf parking lot. Structures here were damaged by a flood in 1896 and destroyed by fire in 1911 and again in 1940.
  • The bungalow-style train station was built in 1902, but it’s the third on the site. The first was strategically destroyed during the Civil War, and the second was demolished by a runaway train in 1890. Some say the site is still haunted by those who perished! To learn more, sign up for a Ghosts of Staunton ghost tour.

  • Make sure to climb up to the Sears Hill Bridge, a 1905 footbridge that crosses the railroad tracks. The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. The steps are steep, but views from the bridge and nearby Wilson Park are phenomenal. Interpretive signs point out important landmarks.

  • Ride the miniature Gypsy Hill Express, which has been looping its track in Gypsy Hill Park and delighting kids for over 60 years. Rides cost $1, and the train runs from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, May through October.
  • Head east to Afton Mountain and hike the Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail. This out-and-back adventure includes a mile-long tunnel built in the 1850s and once the longest of its kind in the country. Don’t worry: this tunnel is no longer used by trains!

Staunton’s Watering Holes: Places to Swim or Get Cold Beer

We’ll admit it: this heat has us dreaming of winter! Whether you’ve been outside mowing, walking the dog, playing at camp, or training for fall sports, we know you want to cool off. But while sweater weather might only be a fantasy right now, at least Staunton offers other ways to find icy relief. Here’s our guide to area watering holes where you can swim or get cold beer!

Places to Swim

Gypsy Hill Park Pool

Gypsy Hill Park boasts Staunton’s biggest pool. Plunge into this large, L-shaped paradise that has lanes for laps, a slide, and lots of room to spread your blanket or towel on the grass. There’s even a dedicated kiddie pool for the three-and-under crowd with a gradual entry and a splash bucket. The pool is free for kids under 3. Admission is $3 for everyone else, and you can buy a 20-visit pass for $50. The park also has picnic facilities, two playgrounds, a skatepark, and a 1.3-mile paved loop for walking or riding bikes.

Montgomery Hall Park

The pool at Montgomery Hall Park has both a deep end with a twisty slide and a shallow area with a splash bucket for the littles. Because it’s all one pool, adults can hang out in the water and keep an eye on the kids at the same time. The pool is free for kids under 3 and costs $2 a visit for everyone else. A 20-visit pass is a steal at $35. The pool is conveniently located near a picnic pavilion and one of the city’s best playgrounds. There are additional picnic tables located in shady spots nearby, and the spot isn’t far from the park’s Nature Ridge natural playground.

Goshen Pass

Located southwest of Staunton and 12 miles west of Lexington, Goshen Pass is a bit of a drive, but it’s absolutely worth it for the icy water and dramatic scenery. Swim, tube, kayak, fish, lounge, picnic, and scramble over the rocks along this three-mile mountain gorge carved by the Maury River. You can choose to embrace the bustle and family atmosphere near the gravel beach at the picnic facilities, or escape the crowds and find your own private rocky island.

Sherando Lake

25-acre Sherando Lake is a true swimming lake with a big, sandy beach and a clearly-marked swimming area. If you’re feeling bold, you can plunge into the icy water and swim out to an island. You’ll love the mountain scenery and the convenience of the bathhouse. There are even shaded places where you can spread your blanket and lounge while the kids dig in the sand. Built in 1933 by the Civil Conservation Corps, the recreation area also has camping, hiking, boating, fishing, and picnic facilities. There’s an $8/car daily access fee.

Places to Score Cold Beer

Redbeard Brewing

Redbeard Brewing handcrafts its beer using traditional techniques, high-quality malts, American and imported hops, and local water. Sample from 10-14 taps and enjoy the newly updated taproom. If you’d rather sit in the fresh air, there’s a beer garden outside. While the brewery doesn’t serve food, you can order from local restaurants or bring snacks. Redbeard also hosts regular events like live music, trivia, karaoke, book club, and a variety of seasonal workshops.

  • Try their Saison: Belgian-style golden ale, lightly spiced with ginger, grains of paradise, and citrus peels.

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co.

You’ll appreciate the tasty beer and the cozy pub-like atmosphere at Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company. The taproom is located downtown on Beverley Street and is part of the weekly Shop and Dine Out in Downtown initiative, which allows patrons to enjoy their beer outside. Beer is served in flights or pints, and while they don’t have food, you can have carryout delivered, or finish your beer, and walk a few steps to a variety of restaurants. Pets are welcome on the patio.

Queen City Brewing

Queen City Brewing serves an extensive selection of delicious craft beer to be enjoyed in the taproom or on the large outdoor patio. Its convenient location next to Gypsy Hill Park makes is a great place to pop into after your evening walk or a round of golf. Hungry? Take advantage of regular food trucks, bottomless popcorn, or order delivery to the brewery. There’s also plenty to keep you busy like live music, trivia, open mic nights, and games on the big screen. “If you get thirsty, hungry or bored here, it’s your own dang fault!”

Baja Bean

Family-owned Baja Bean is best known for dishing out delicious Mexican food made with local ingredients. They also have a well-stocked bar that includes mixed drinks, wine, and a wide selection of craft beers on tap and by the bottle. Did we mention there are happy hour specials?

Shenandoah Pizza and Taproom

Go hungry to Shenandoah Pizza and Taproom, even if you just want a cold beer or two from the menu of ten local taps. Once you’re there, you won’t be able to stop yourself from ordering a gourmet pizza topped with all sorts of goodies and named after something local. Happy hour happens on Thursday night.

Skipping Rock Beer Company

Skipping Rock Beer Company has both a comfortable taproom and a large beer garden for folks to relax in. Try a pint of flight of their delicious beer while you sit around a fire pit, parade your knowledge during a round of pub trivia, or just chill with your friends. Order dinner from the new onsite Za Spot Pizza and listen to some live music. Skipping Rock welcomes kids and dogs.

Must-See and Do in the Newtown Historic District

Hilly, charming, and walkable Newtown Historic District borders Staunton’s downtown on the west. It’s mostly residential, with homes built mostly between the 1870s and the 1920s, and the district was named on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. From beautiful homes and gardens to historically significant churches and cemeteries, there’s a lot to see on a walking tour. Plus, it’s close to lots of shopping and dining. Here’s how to spend a day in Staunton’s Newtown Historic District.

Where to Park

Park in the Johnson Street Parking Garage or in the Wharf Parking Lot. You can also park along the street which has a two-hour limit. 

Where to Stay

  • Ubon Victorian Inn offers comfortable rooms in a 160-year-old Victorian mansion convenient to downtown. 
  • The Howard Johnson is located on the border of the historic district and offers lots of parking, a pool, and easy downtown access on foot. 

Where to Have a Drink

  • Redbeard Brewing’s cold craft beer is exactly what you’ve been craving after a hot day. Enjoy one of the dozen beers on tap and check the schedule for the summer concert series and other fun activities.

Where to Eat

  • Magdalena Bake specializes in delicious and beautiful-looking pastries, cookies, and cakes, including gluten-free options. You’ll also want to try the savory empanadas, which come flavored with beef, pork, criolla, and caprese. 

  • Ubon Thai serves made-from-scratch authentic, traditional Thai cooking. Feast on pad thai, Panang curry, chef’s specials like crispy duck, and desserts like sticky rice with mango and coconut for lunch or dinner.
  • Start your meal at Table 44 with a glass of local beer or wine or a specialty handmade cocktail. Try a fancy sandwich, loaded burger, or entree like shrimp and grits or steak frites. There’s outdoor seating for people with pets and even a special dog menu.

  • Big Red Barbecue is known for its pulled pork and barbecue chicken with all the fixins, but they also serve burgers and delicious fried catfish and pork chop sandwiches. Don’t miss the mac and cheese and collard greens.
  • Chicano Boy Taco is a Mexican-American taquería with some of the best tortillas you’ve ever eaten. Order from the simple menu (burrito, taco, or burrito bowl plus your choice of fillings and salsa). You can also get Mexican beer or “cheap beer.”

  • Gloria’s Pupusaria Salvadoran pupusas might look like plain tortillas, but they pack serious flavor when stuffed with chicken, blended pork, vegetables, and cheese. You can also enjoy tamales steamed in plantain leaves, fried plantains, or Salvadoran enchiladas.
  • Grab some Peruvian charbroiled chicken at Gonzo’s Pollo. You can tear into a whole or half chicken, or have them prepare you a sandwich, wrap, or nachos. Sides include fried yuka, fried plantains, or beans and rice. 
  • D&L Donuts offers many different flavors of cake and yeast donuts made from scratch, along with piping hot coffee.

Where to Shop

  • Experience the magic of hot glass at Sunspots, where you can also watch live glassblowing.
  • Wilderness Adventure has everything you need for your outdoor adventure, from socks and sunglasses to boots, shoes and clothes.

  • Shop Flying Pestle Botanicals for bulk tea and herbs, blended tinctures, and to learn about the healing properties of plants.
  • You’ll find a special gift or treasure in the ever-rotating stock at Beverley Street Records and Collectibles.
  • Athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts alike will appreciate Sole Focus Running and Black Dog Bikes for high-quality gear, good prices, and knowledgeable service.
  • EccoHollow Art + Sound is the spot to have your sound equipment repaired by experts. However, they also sell new and used records, equipment, and Yellow Sweater Sticker Shop items, “for all your snarky sticker, card, and shirt needs.”
  • The Vinyl Asylum stocks vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and vintage stereo equipment.

  • Nu-Beginning Farm: The Store sells locally sourced and organic groceries and baked goods. They have a selection of beer and wine, as well as grab-n-go meals. 
  • Refill Renew helps preserve the environment by selling your favorite cleaning and personal care items in bulk.

What to Do

  • Visit the grounds and Tiffany windows in Trinity Episcopal Church on the corner of Beverley and New Streets. Staunton’s oldest house of worship, Trinity Episcopal Church, is built on the site where the Augusta Parish Church briefly housed the Virginia General Assembly as it fled from British troops in 1781. The current church contains 12 stained-glass windows made by Tiffany Studios. Outside, you’ll find many historic grave markers as well as beautiful landscaping and a labyrinth.

  • From book clubs for grownups to storytime for kids, there’s always something going on at the Staunton Public Library. Make sure to visit the on-site award-winning Brenda L. Papke Memorial Sensory Garden at the Staunton Library. This small, universally accessible space is designed to stimulate all five senses.
  • If you prefer to wear your art, visit Acme Tattoo and look through their many different designs or bring your own!

Use Your Paid Time Off with a Long Weekend in Staunton

So many Americans don’t use banked paid time off and lose it at the end of the year. Don’t be like them! Even if you don’t have the time (or budget) to take a far-flung vacation, you can still take your vacation days by planning a “micro-cation,” a long weekend in which you travel less than 100 miles and stay fewer than four nights.

It’s time to enjoy your paid time off. Use it, don’t lose it with this long weekend itinerary full of shopping, entertainment, and dining, in Staunton.

How to Maximize PTO

  • Write plans on your schedule ASAP because the more set-in-stone something seems, the less likely your work schedule will be to eat it away. 
  • Take advantage of pre-scheduled long weekends like Labor Day Weekend or come for an event weekend like Staunton’s Queen City’s Mischief and Magic (September 24-25).
  • Try traveling on Thursday night and working remotely from your lodging the next day. You’ll be inspired by the new location and excited to finish up and explore.
  • Revive with a vacation close to home. Simply getting away from home, work and routine can help you glean many of the wellness benefits of a longer trip, even if you don’t travel very far.

Friday:

Travel to Staunton 

  • It’s an easy, pretty drive on I-81, with long views framed by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. If you want a leisurely route, drive along the Skyline Drive or Blue Ridge Parkway. Here’s a guide to scenic overlooks in Shenandoah. Visitors from the east and west will enjoy driving up and over the mountains. Take advantage of scenic waysides and hiking trailheads. 

Stay in Staunton

Eat in Staunton

Find Some Friday Night Fun

  • Spread out your blanket for a night of music under the stars at the Blackburn Inn’s Friday night SummerStage concert series. The concerts showcase talents like The Arcadian Wild and Scott Miller. Along with the music, you can enjoy beverages from local vineyards, breweries, and cideries as well as food from the 2nd Draft Bistro. 

Saturday

Visit the Farmers’ Market

  • Meet the locals when you visit the Saturday morning Staunton Farmer’s Market in the historic Wharf District. Listen to live music, talk to farmers, and taste seasonal fruit and fresh baked goods. This is a great way to catch a quick snack and get a sense of Staunton’s bustling community.

Shop Downtown

Eat Some Lunch

  • Grab a quick bite before you set out for more adventure. Try one of the lunch specials made with fresh tortillas at Chicano Boy Taco. Gloria’s Pupuseria prepares authentic Salvadoran cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. Farm-to-table gourmet sandwich shop, Seed to Tail also showcases local ingredients. Magdalena Bake sells savory empanadas made from beef, pork, criolla, or caprese. If you’d rather munch burgers and ice cream as you venture down memory lane, Wright’s Dairy Rite is an old-fashioned drive-in diner that’s straight out of the 50s.

Get Active

Clean Up for Dinner

  • Scrub off the dirt and river water and put on your clean clothes for dinner. Start with a glass of wine and a cheese plate at Yelping Dog Wine or The Green Room. For your main course, try Blu Point Seafood Co., which specializes in fresh seafood and has bars for both cocktails and oysters. Table 44’s southern cuisine with a twist features meals like barbequed shrimp and grits or steak frites. Looking for steak? Get your fill of that and more at Mill Street Grill.

Find Nightime Entertainment

  • Have you seen a show at the American Shakespeare Center? The summer season at the world’s only recreation of the Blackfriar’s Playhouse includes Twelfth Night and Thrive, What You Will, a modern companion piece that provides “cross-centuries conversation” with Shakespeare’s classic comedy.
  • Celebrate music with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts. Heifetz Hootenanny informal series “features students, staff, and special guests in one-of-a-kind, multi-genre mash-ups.” You might hear bluegrass picking, Broadway belting, folk fiddling, or rollicking rhythm and blues!”

Sunday

Sit Down for Breakfast

  • Zynodoa holds Sunday brunch from 10-2 and features a seasonally-driven menu with delights like cornbread French toast with whipped cream or Virginia lump crab fritters. Accompany this feast with a bloody mary or mimosa. Vic’s Eats serves “bomb biscuit sandwiches” and other mouth-watering breakfasts like red-velvet pancakes and yogurt bowls. For breakfast classics like eggs and stacks of pancakes, you can’t go wrong with local favorite, Kathy’s Restaurant.

Have a Little More Fun Before You Go

  • Don’t head home without a little more fun. Catch a matinee at the Visulite Cinema, a convenient and comfortable theater right in downtown. You can check out new releases and have a glass of wine or beer while you’re watching.
  • Stop in to see a glass-blowing demonstration at Sunspots Studios. Using extreme heat, artisans blow and shape molten glass into globes and art pieces. You’ll want to watch this process over and over before visiting the gallery to purchase a reminder of the fun.
  • Don your Sherlock hat and try to solve one of the active puzzles at Crack the Code Escape Room. You’ll have one hour to solve multiple puzzles and escape a themed room.
  • Bone up on history at the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library, a museum dedicated to the life of our 28th president as well as the time’s important cultural challenges. Another historical and educational gem is the Frontier Culture Museum, where costumed interpreters tending working farms share all the details of early settler life in the Shenandoah Valley. 

Our Guide to Em“bark”ing on a Pet-Friendly Trip to Staunton

If you’re like most Americans, you rarely leave home without your pandemic pet! Fortunately, there are a lot of pet-friendly activities, plenty of lodgings that cater to paws, and a wealth of restaurants and watering holes that are totally cool with your pet joining you on the patio. Here’s a “pound-up” of where your pet is welcome in Staunton.

Pup-cation Fun for People and Pets

Get outside to howl, run, and play fetch. Here are our favorite parks and hikes.

  • Gypsy Hill Park has a paved 1.3-mile loop that offers a nice view of the park as well as doggy bag stations and convenient trash cans. The star of the show, however, is the Gypsy Hill Bark Park. Divided into separate enclosures for small and large dogs, it gives pups a chance to meet and greet while their owners make small talk. The enclosures include tunnels, training ladders, “fire hydrants,” and benches for humans to sit. 
  • Leashed pets are welcome on the majority of the hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park. It’s actually one of just a few national parks with this perk. For day-trippers and campers, George Washington and Jefferson National Forest stipulates that dogs must be leashed on hiking trails (but may go off-leash in undeveloped areas). Make sure you pack plenty of water for your furry friend and check them for parasites after your outing.

  • Coyner Springs Dog Park in Waynesboro boasts a large, open off-leash area as well as trails for leashed dogs and their human packmates. The nearby Crozet Tunnel trail is a good hike for leashed dogs, especially if you’re afraid of the dark! Make sure you take your flashlight.

  • Leashed dogs are also welcome on the Augusta Springs Wetland trail, but you shouldn’t take your dog if you think he might disturb the waterfowl and other wildlife.

Un-Pack Your Bags

Kenneling your dog is expensive, sad, and can cause a lot of stress shedding. Fortunately, many Staunton inns and hotels offer luxury accommodations for people and dogs, so you can share that king-sized bed just like at home. Just check the fine print: lodgings may have restrictions on size and number of pets. They may also apply additional fees to bunk your fur baby.

  • Hotel 24 South is both a luxury, historic hotel as well as a pioneer in Staunton’s dog-friendly accommodations.

  • The Blackburn Inn opens select rooms to dogs and has extensive grounds to explore while you walk them. 

  • Howard Johnson by Wyndham is steps from downtown shopping, dining, and the farmers’ market. There’s also free parking, light breakfast, and wifi.
  • Sleep Inn Staunton ensures you’ll sleep well in one of their Designed to Dream rooms. Bring your pet: there’s no pet fee!
  • Best Western Staunton Inn boasts comfortable rooms, easy access to I-81, and no pet fee.
  • Comfort Inn Staunton has free breakfast, a pool, and is convenient to both the highway and downtown Staunton.
  • Motel 6 Staunton allows pets and lets kids stay free. You’ll also enjoy free coffee and expanded cable options.
  • Holiday Inn Staunton Conference Center allows up to three pets. It’s convenient to golf, the interstate, and kids eat free with paying adults.
  • Red Roof Inn Staunton is a great budget option. Kids and one pet up to 80 pounds stay for free.
  • Econo Lodge is convenient to the Frontier Culture Museum and downtown Staunton. It’s pet-friendly and offers free coffee.
  • Walnut Hills KOA and Sherando Lake Campground both accommodate families and dogs.

Paw-some Patios

Staunton has several dining spots where the waitstaff doesn’t mind stepping over Teddy’s outstretched paws. They might even bring him a dish of water!

  • Well-behaved dogs on leashes can join you at a table on the covered, gated patio at Table 44
  • The patio at Byer’s Street Bistro also welcomes dogs. Spend your lunch hour dining with Rex and watching the bustle of downtown. Bonus: Dogs will find water bowls and often treats.

  • Just want a quick bite? Stop by the outdoor patio at The By & By for coffee drinks, beer and wine, and sandwiches. 
  • The patio at Thai Staunton Restaurant is pet-friendly.
  • If you’re feeling like eating Mexican, take your pooch to Mi Rancho’s outdoor dining space where you can get relax with a big, tasty margarita. 
  • Prefer Italian? Family-owned Maria’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant has a dog-friendly patio where you can share your spaghetti with Lady.
  • The Pampered Palate, Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery, The Split Banana, Nu-Beginning Farm, and the Clocktower Eats & Sweets all have delicious food and allow dogs at their sidewalk seating. 
  • Get there early and grab a spot at the Peck’s Bar-B-Que’s dog-friendly picnic table. There’s shade and nearby grass for your pet to sniff. There’s also a lone pet-friendly table at Sam’s Hot Dog Stand where you can enjoy a sack of all-beef hot dogs.
  • Share your BBQ and ice cream with your dog at one of the two dog-friendly picnic tables at Hog Wild BBQ and Klines Dairy Bar
  • Edelweiss Restaurant serves authentic German food like bratwurst and jager schnitzel. If you dine outside at one of the covered tables, Fido can join you and lick knackwurst juice off your fingers.

Bark-tastic Breweries

Want to spend an evening out having beers with your best fur buddy? Raise a glass because many of Staunton’s breweries are pet-friendly. 

Other Staunton Stops that are Mutts about Dogs

It’s not surprising to come across a dish of cool water waiting on the sidewalk on a hot day in downtown Staunton. Here are other pet-friendly destinations.

  • Your pet will be the star of the show at the Well Balanced Paw Pet Wellness Shoppe and Barkery. Specializing in nutrient-rich pet nutrition and relaxing small-animal massage, this downtown destination will keep your pet balanced and healthy for years to come.

  • Latitudes has all kinds of fair-trade gifts, including this snazzy puppy place-mat!
  • Locally owned Pets N Pals has been selling pet supplies like habitats, food, and toys since 1989. They also have healthy pets of all kinds for sale if you’re seeking a new companion. Petco has a big selection of supplies as well as fish, lizards, birds, spiders, and rodents. Also, check out Augusta Dog Adoptions and the SPCA for pets that need new homes.
  • It’s common to see happy dogs walking with their owners as they shop for dinner at the Staunton Farmers’ Market. Leashed dogs can also browse the aisles at Tractor Supply Co.

Summer Music and More at Staunton’s Heifetz Institute

Heifetz International Music Institute educates young musicians in their artistic growth and treats the community to a variety of world-class listening opportunities. Here’s some background on the program and a peek at what’s on stage this summer!

What is Heifetz?

Heifetz was originally founded in 1996 as a 6-week summer experience by concert violinist and teacher Daniel Heifetz. In 2012, Heifetz moved its location to Staunton and opened the doors to 62 students. Now, 26 years later, the program is much, much larger. Students receive instrumental as well as performance and communication training.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, 40 Heifetz faculty members virtually served 100 students across 9 time zones. They streamed concerts to over 500,000 viewers through YouTube, Facebook Live, and the Violin Channel. And this year, more than 150 students are studying in Staunton!

Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts

Celebrate music with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts, which extends through August 6th and offers both chamber music and multi-genre selections! Performers include Heifetz faculty, special guests, and 127 string musicians from 9-27 years old. Choose from over 50 concerts. Concert offerings can be either free or ticketed, but since children under 12 are invited to attend all concerts for free, there’s no need to hire a sitter!

  • Stars of Tomorrow (Francis Auditorium, Tuesdays and Thursdays, ticketed): This series is packed with incredible performances by extraordinary Heifetz students, visiting alumni artists, and Heifetz piano faculty.

  • Market St. Musicale (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, Fridays, free): These afternoon shows include powerful performances and conversations with the musicians.
  • Junior Division Showcase (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, Saturdays, free): You’ll be amazed by the talents of Heifetz’s youngest students, aged 9-15.
  • Celebrity Series (Francis Auditorium, Friday evenings, ticketed): These 75-minute programs bring top performers to Staunton and will feature works by various artists. There’s a happy hour event before each concert that will feature regional wines and foods.

  • Heifetz Hootenanny (Page Terrace, Saturdays, ticketed): This informal series allows students, staff, and special guests to create “one-of-a-kind, multi-genre mash-ups.”You might hear bluegrass picking, Broadway belting, folk fiddling, or rollicking rhythm and blues!”

  • Chamber Music Sunday Matinees (Francis Auditorium, Sunday afternoons, ticketed): Enjoy chamber music masterworks and spotlight performances by students in the Heifetz Chamber Music Seminar
  • Heifetz Grand Finale (South Market Stage at Grace Christian School, August 6): The season’s final concert is a passionate “rousing concert brimming with fire, passion, and virtuosity.” Performances by Heifetz students and faculty are followed by a farewell toast.

Heifetz Ensemble-in-Residence Program (HEIR)

As an alternative to normally scheduled Heifetz on Tour programming, Heifetz provided music during the pandemic with its HEIR (Heifetz Ensemble-in-Residence) Program. Heifetz alumni returned for intensive coaching sessions, public concerts, chances to record music together, and opportunities to provide lessons and partner with area schools. The successful program will conduct two sessions in the fall of 2022. 

Another part of the HEIR program is Heifetz’s Heartstrings program, which connects performers with frontline workers and patients at Augusta Health. This program connects musicians and patients for intimate virtual or in-person bedside performances. Additional ensemble performances cater to larger audiences and bring music and joy to the wider hospital community. 

Crescendo: A College Preparatory & Music Mastery Program

Stuart Hall School and Heifetz International Music Institute have partnered to build Crescendo, a program for students in grades 5-12 that provides academics to prepare students for “engaged lives of curiosity, creativity, and contribution.” The program also provides “intensive music study for violinists, violists, and cellists in an environment that is developmentally appropriate.” Apply now for fall enrollment!

Multimedia Offerings

Check out Heifetz’s multimedia page for videos and sophisticated recorded performances like the Rubato Virtual Concert Hall recordings and the Chock Full O’Bach series.

Looking for a Special Gift?

The Heifetz Gift Shop (107 E. Beverley Street) is your answer to finding music-themed gifts. From wearables and cards to Heifetz chocolate bars and sheet music printed umbrellas, you’ll find a unique gift sure to make someone smile. 

Want to rent an instrument for a budding musician? Heifetz has a large selection of instruments to rent or buy.

And if you’d like to take an unusual route to support Heifetz,  donate your unwanted household items and clothing. They’ll sell them on eBay and use the profits to support the Institute.