Staunton’s Fall Foliage Report: Weekend of October 18-20

Staunton Area

Many of Virginia’s trees are still dressed in green, but here’s hoping this week’s cooler nights and shorter days will bring on the colors we’ve been waiting for! Look for reds in Staunton’s maple trees and burgundy on the dogwoods.  According to Smoky Mountain National Park’s Fall Foliage Prediction Map, we should look for the leaves to peak over the next two weekends. Check here every week for our updated fall foliage report.

The Mountains

It’s starting to really feel like fall, so wear some layers when you explore the trails this weekend. You’ll start to see autumnal colors this as you visit higher elevations. The display aren’t yet as vibrant as in years past, but you’ll still find some beautiful backgrounds for your selfies, thanks to the cold, the shorter days and the breakdown of chlorophyll. 

Fall Flavors: 7 Staunton Alternatives to Pumpkin Spice

It’s the time of year when the warm and seasonal flavors of pumpkin spice flood the markets and coffee shops (and Instagram). But if you’re wondering when it all will end (pumpkin spice Cheerios? Pumpkin spice protein powder? Pumpkin spice dog treats?) it might be time to put down the pumpkin spice latte and indulge in alternative fall flavors. Here are seven local seasonal flavors to liven up your sippin’ and eatin’ selfies this fall.

Firkin Pie Company

Firkin Pie Company has long been a staple at the farmers’ market, but you can also get your pastry fix at their 310 Kalorama Street storefront. Choose a sweet or savory pie from the seasonal menu. Pie is served by the slice and in 5” or 9” whole pies. How about a tomato pesto, spinach, and goat cheese hand pie or a slice of plum custard pie? Or both! 

Staunton Olive Oil Company

Staunton Olive Oil Company sells ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils, infused and fused olive oils, and balsamic vinegars. If you’re not sure what any of that means, you’re in luck because you can taste and sample your way around the store to find something that perfectly suits your palate. For fall, we’d start with the aged dark espresso balsamic vinegar, but with so many to choose from, why take our word for it?

Redbeard Brewing Company

Redbeard Brewing Company creates “small batches of big beers” in its location in Staunton’s historic wharf district. One of their autumnal classics is their Sweet Potato Pie Porter, which is “ brewed w/ the filling from close to 40 sweet potato pies per batch.” If this sweet and yammy dark brown porter reminds you too much of pumpkin pie, try the Whipple Creek Harvest Ale.

Paris Cake Company

Does the crisp autumn air pique your sweet tooth? 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 spice pound cake with a swirl of chocolate and butterscotch buttercreams on top. Yum!

Emilio’s Italian Restaurant

If you want to sit down to an elegant dinner after a day of hiking and leaf peeping, visit Emilio’s Italian Restaurant for some of their butternut squash ravioli. Served in a cream butter sauce that is flavored with sage and lemon, this one is to die for!

Klines Ice Cream

Klines Dairy Bar serves up a mean pumpkin-flavored cone, but if you’re looking for an alternative, order a big bowl of German chocolate cake ice cream. This retro-style joint has a purple neon ice cream sign and garage doors that roll open, so your family can enjoy treats in the fresh air. Ice cream flavors change weekly, so check the website before you go. Think you’ll be hungry again later? Take home a quart for later along with some of the sweet or Carolina BBQ Klines is famous for.

Farmers’ Market

A Saturday morning stroll through the Staunton Farmers’ Market is a perfect way to get inspired to whip up a fall flavor of your own. Breathe the fresh air and check out the fresh produce. Talk to the farmers about the best way to prepare your bounty. Grab an apple cider donut or one of Lydia’s Cupcake’s brown butter and caramel cream cheese “Spice Up Your Life” cupcakes for energy. The Saturday Farmers’ Market runs through Thanksgiving.

Staunton’s Fall Foliage Report: Weekend of October 11-13

Staunton Area

Staunton is finally seeing some seasonal weather this week! Though the highs later in the week are still predicted to be in the 70s, nights dipping into the 40s should bring us some color. Overall, the foliage is still green, but according to Smoky Mountain National Park’s Fall Foliage Prediction Map, we should be seeing “partial” color coverage this weekend. Look for the leaves to peak on the weekends of the 19th and 26th. Check here every week for our updated fall foliage report.

The Mountains

Make sure you get out to hike this weekend. You’ll notice that even the trees at higher elevations are still very green, but The Virginia Department of Forestry suggests that the green will soon be changing to yellow as limited daylight shuts down chlorophyll production. Though all deciduous trees change color and drop their leaves, the intensity of the show is varied from year to year and “this summer’s drought will probably cause a shorter and duller viewing season.”

Staunton’s Fall Foliage Report: weekend of October 6-8

Staunton area

It might be October, but Virginia weather is still mostly hot and dry, and we’re not seeing any dramatic changes in the leaves yet. There’s some browning and yellowing with flashes or orange. Some trees are simply dropping their leaves. Longer and cooler nights will signal upcoming changes, but the drought conditions we’ve been experiencing (September was one of the driest on record) might put a damper on this year’s display. The Virginia Department of Forestry suggests looking to black gum, dogwood, and sumacs for the most color this week.

The Mountains

Virginia’s autumn color display tends to begin in the mountains and in the western part of the state. As October progresses, the leaf colors will move eastward and we’ll see more activity at lower elevations. The Virginia Department of Forestry predicts that the best colors will be seen on “October 10-20 in the mountains, October 15-25 in central Virginia and October 20-31 in eastern Virginia.” Check here every week for our updated fall foliage report.

 

Biking Weekend: Mountains to Main Street

Fresh air? Check. Exercise? Check. Beautiful views and culture? Check. Now that the weather is getting crisp and autumn is showing her colors, you absolutely MUST plan a biking getaway to Staunton. Here’s an itinerary showcasing some of our favorite rides and activities.

Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival: October 18-20, 2019

Did you know Staunton has an autumn bike festival? Plan your visit October 18-20, 2019 for the 29th annual Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival.  Bikers of all abilities will enjoy mapped and supported riding opportunities. In addition to awesome rides and sightseeing, food and entertainment also take center stage at this popular Staunton biking festival.

Planning Your Own Adventure? Here’s Our Suggested Itinerary

Friday

2:00 PM

TAKE A QUICK TOUR

If you arrive in the afternoon, we recommend taking a quick ride through town to get your bearings. Beautiful Gypsy Hill Park is a nice place to start. Its paved 1.3-mile loop is just a mile from downtown and suitable for all ages. Bonus: after your ride, you can feed the ducks and burn off any remaining energy on the playgrounds.

5:00 PM

CHECK INTO YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS

Staunton has loads of cool lodging options, many of which are located in the heart of downtown and just steps away from dining, shopping, and evening entertainment. Check out our historic hotels, unique lodging, and charming B&B’s.

6:30 PM

GRAB SOME DINNER AND A NIGHTCAP

You’ll need to fuel up for a weekend of riding, so bring your appetite! Staunton’s culinary scene is flourishing, from our notable chefs dreaming up farm to table seasonal menus to small global cuisine eateries with bold flavors and worldly influences. The best part—they are all within walking distance of our historic main street. Save room for a nightcap at one of our breweries or wine bars.

SATURDAY

9:00 AM

VISIT A LOCAL COFFEE SHOP AND FARMERS’ MARKET FOR SOME LIGHT FARE

No Saturday morning is complete without a cup of fantastic coffee! Grab a cup of locally roasted deliciousness at one of our coffee shops, and stroll through the Staunton Farmers’ Market. Pick-up some breakfast and snacks for your big day ahead.

10:00 AM

TAKE A LONG RIDE

Pack a bagged lunch and get ready to really immerse yourself in the Staunton biking scene. From mountain biking adventures to road biking to riding with the kiddos, here are some of our favorites.

For Mountain Bikers

If you enjoy the heart-pounding thrills of off-road biking, these rides will spike your adrenaline!

Braley’s Pond and Confederate Breastworks Loop

The tough,18-mile point-to-point Braley’s Pond and Confederate Breastworks Loop starts with a long climb up a paved road and gains 2,700 feet over the course of the route. Stop to check out the Confederate Breastworks, once a lookout point during the Civil War. Enjoy a single track descent, a creek crossing, and a 1.5-mile steep, quad-killing climb. Finish with an incredible downhill single track section that’s been praised as one of the best in the area.

The Southern Traverse

The Southern Traverse is a 36-mile loop through the George Washington National Forest that combines punishing ascents of over 3,000 feet, 11 miles of spectacular ridge riding on Shenandoah Mountain, endless views, some technical rocky areas, and a long stretch to hurtle down the mountain. The final leg back to your car cruises along quiet country roads.

For Road Bikers

For amazing road biking routes in the area, check out Bike the Valley, which maps and details lots of different routes at different distances, appropriate for varying skill levels. Here are some of our favorites:

Staunton Polyface Ride

The 23-mile Staunton Polyface ride explores Staunton historic districts as well as the rural countryside to the west of town. Start at Black Dog Bikes in the Wharf. The ride has a few short hills, but is considered fairly easy. It becomes intermediate if you add the gravel section in Swoope leading to Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm, a leader in the development of “emotionally, economically, environmentally enhancing agricultural enterprises.” If you visit Polyface Farm, consider taking a self-guided tour and visiting the farm store.  

Staunton Springhill Ridge Road

Though considered an intermediate ride because of its 31-mile length, this figure-eight Staunton Springhill Ridge Road route covers only relatively gentle hills and stays on paved roads for its duration. Begin at Gypsy Hill Park and ride north to get to the scenic areas outside of town. Get ready for a spectacular view of the Allegheny Mountains a steady climb back to town, and a final relaxing glide to the starting point. 

Staunton Badger Road Loop

The challenging 45-mile Staunton Badger Road Loop requires two serious climbs, but the views of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains make all that effort worth it. Start in Gypsy Hill Park and ride northwest of Staunton through the villages of Spring Hill and Mount Solon. The route is entirely on paved roads, and it finishes with a long, slow climb back to Staunton.

For Cyclists with Kids

If you’re looking for a place to ride with your kids, try one of these easy, family-friendly rides.

Chessie Nature Trail

It’s a bit of a drive to the Chessie Nature Trail, but it’s worth it for the flat 7.2-mile stretch along the Maury River on a former Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad bed. The route stretches between Lexington and Buena Vista and is great for riders of all ages and abilities. Parking can be found at both ends or it can be completed as a longer out-and-back ride. The rural surroundings alternate between forest and farmland. 

Augusta Springs Wetlands

Augusta Springs Wetlands is a nice place to take beginning cyclists. Located 20 minutes from Staunton, the ¾-mile loop trail is flat with terrain comprised of wooden boardwalks and pea gravel. This was once the site of a turn-of-the-century resort, so you might see remains of rock foundations. Nature lovers will enjoy spotting birds and investigating interpretive wildlife stops along the way.

3:00 PM

UNWIND AT A LOCAL BREWERY AND GET YOUR PASSPORT STAMPED

Bike or walk to a nearby brewery to get a pint of craft beer and the first stamp in your Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail Passport. Collect eight stamps, one stamp per brewery, and get a FREE t-shirt. Participating breweries include Redbeard Brewing Co., Bedlam Brewing Co., Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company, and Queen City Brewing. Just outside of downtown Staunton is the trail’s newest member, Skipping Rock Beer Company. 

5:30 PM

TAKE IN DINNER & A SHOW

You’ll be hungry after all that riding. Plan to put away a big steak at the Mill Street Grill or work through a pizza at Shenandoah Pizza and Taphouse. Reserve tickets for a show at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. Here’s what’s playing.

SUNDAY

10:00 AM

GRAB BRUNCH

Round out a terrific weekend with brunch. Staunton’s restaurants are known for their modern twists on traditional Southern cooking with an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients. Stand-out favorites include The Depot GrilleZynodoa, and Table 44. Check out who else is serving in Staunton’s Brunch Bunch.

12:30 PM

ROUND OUT YOUR TRIP WITH A FINAL RIDE

Staunton Perfect Loop

You’ll want to stretch your legs and work off some of that brunch, so why not get back on your bike for one more farewell ride. The Staunton Perfect Loop is an easy-to-intermediate 15-miler that leaves from downtown and cruises its way through farmland north and west of the city. The hills are moderate and the route follows paved roads. Enjoy the autumn scenery before saying goodbye!

Montgomery Hall Park

Want a serious workout within Staunton City limits? Make sure you explore the four plus miles of well-maintained single track in Montgomery Hall Park before you leave town. The riding loops are wooded, so you’ll be able to bask in the glow of the foliage as you power up the steep hills. The trails are quiet, but you might occasionally share them with hikers. 

Did You Know?

  • Keep your bike off Staunton’s sidewalks in the commercial district downtown.
  • For safety tips and an overview of Virginia’s biking laws, check out ShareVARoads.org’s Sharing the Road in Virginia.

Wands Up: How to Make the Most of the 2019 Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival

For the past three years, Staunton has played host to the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, a home-grown fan festival celebrating J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series as well as all things magical and mystical. On September 27-29, join thousands of seriously excited fans for themed shopping, dining, performances and hands-on activities for all ages as 11 blocks of our historic downtown is transformed into an enchanted village.

First Things First

  • Select your highlights from the schedule and grab a map of the event. Maps can be found at the QCMM Info Booths on Augusta Street between Beverley and Johnson Streets (#38 and #61 on the map). Look for Norberta, our BIG green Dragon.  Maps can also be found at the Shuttle Station downtown (#3 on the map). Make a note of parking, restroom, and if necessary, changing and breastfeeding facilities. 
  • Make arrangements to leave your non-service pets at home. The festival is noisy and crowded — not the best environment for fur buddies.
  • Plan your costume. While costumes aren’t necessary, they’re definitely encouraged. Look here to see some examples from last year. A children’s costume parade is planned for Saturday at 12:30 at Sunspots Pavilion. The adult version of the event kicks off at 7 p.m.
  • Check the weather. Pack sunscreen and sunglasses or an umbrella. Many of the events take place outside. 
  • Plan to stay hydrated. Bring your water bottle to fill up on the go at the Aguamente Filling Station (provided by Sutton’s Home Inspections), located behind Suntrust Bank.
  • There will be a charging station at Hammond Insurance on Beverley Street, near the big green dragon: all those videos and selfies you’ll be taking will drain your battery. Be sure to post and tag them with #qcmm2019 and #lovestaunton.
  • If you’re traveling with others, plan a meeting place.

What to Do

The QCMM festival lineup includes tarot readings, wand-making and deuling demonstrations, English teas, festival-themed escape room fun, henna tattoos, shopping (from wizard gear to unique gifts and food items, and even props from past performances at Blackfriars), selfie stops, scavenger hunts using the Traipse app, wizard house sorting, crafting, quidditch matches, ghost tours, a live owl show, dance instructions, family-friendly dance parties, a 5K race, a fire circus, festival VIP’s arrival by train, and performances and lectures at the Blackfriars, and much, much more. We guarantee you’ll have plenty of things to keep you busy! Some events at QCMM are ticketed, but many are free. 

Here are more details and a full schedule of events.

Where to Stay

Staunton boasts hotels, motels, B&Bs, and small inns, located both in the downtown area and a short drive away. Click here for a list. Lodging fills quickly, so reserve your home base ASAP.

How to Get Around

Several streets in downtown Staunton will be closed to traffic during the weekend festival, so wear comfortable shoes and plan to do some walking. Limited parking will be available on the streets and public lots outside the immediate downtown area, but it will fill quickly. Alternatively, the festival will run shuttle buses on 9:30 a.m to 9 p.m Saturday from the Federated Auto Parts parking lot located at 795 Statler Boulevard. Include hours Street closings will be available on the Waze app.

What to Eat

Check out special festival food and drink like Bubbly Dragon Brew at Laughing Bird Pho and Butter Beer at Baja Bean, cake pops and flights at The Book Dragon. Downtown Staunton has a number of fine restaurants and many will offer festival specials. Plan accordingly as lines may be long during peak festival hours. Here’s a list of Staunton restaurants.

What Else to Do

If you need a bit of a break from the magic, reconnect with the natural world: Try an easy area hike with kids. Or if you want the backstory on all those cool, Victorian buildings that form the backdrop for QCMM, learn the real history of Beverley Street in Explore Staunton on Foot: Beverley District. Stop by the Visitor Center, 35 S. New Street, for a walking tour brochure. 

Staunton’s Silver Linings: What to Do on Rainy Days

Is a sudden thunderstorm threatening to put a damper on your Staunton plans? Don’t beat yourself up asking “water” we going to do in the rain, because Staunton looks good in clouds, too! Check out these surefire remedies for cabin fever.

Eyeball Some Art

Explore the rotating exhibits of art and history at Staunton Augusta Arts Center, located in the historic R.R. Smith Center for History and Art. The Beverley Street Studio School Gallery and Co-ART Gallery host multiple exhibits of fine local art each year. For more art, visit Mary Baldwin University’s Hunt Gallery. The art ranges from “abstract to classical, reflecting a wide variety of media and artistic intentions.” If you’re hankering for a chance to do your own creative work, Hygge Craft offers both classes and creative space and materials for independent work.

Take a Break from Netflix

A rainy day is a perfect excuse to watch a play or a movie. Amp up the culture factor with a performance of one of Shakespeare’s hits at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Weekday shows start in the evening, but daytime options are available on the weekends. Is a movie and a beer more your speed? The Visulite airs the latest movies and lets you relax with a glass of wine or craft beer.

Find the Bottom of Your Glass

When downpours make you thirsty, get a sense of Staunton’s local wine offerings at the Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room. Hang out with friends at Yelping Dog, for a wide selection of wines from around the world. Redbeard Brewing Company and Shenandoah Valley Brewing both offer delicious craft beer right in Staunton’s downtown. Skipping Rock Beer Co. is just a short drive away and you can spend the afternoon enjoying your brew over a board game or two.

Roll the Dice

Speaking of games, if the sound of raindrops makes you eager to roll dice, Staunton has lots of options to get your game on. To purchase a game to take back to your place, try Pufferbellies for family games or the Dragon’s Hoard for strategy games. Alternately, cure your cabin fever with bowling at Staunton Lanes, a collaborative breakout puzzle at Crack the Code Escape Room, a game of pool or darts at Bricks, or a trip to Video Zone arcade at the Staunton Mall.

Embrace Something with Memories

The Factory Antique Mall in Verona is the largest in the country. Spend your rainy afternoon browsing acres of antiques, jewelry, toys and other items sure to evoke memories of another era. 17 E. Beverley Antiques boast two floors of goodies, from furniture, fine jewelry, and art, to retro clothing and accessories. Continue the hunt at Staunton Antiques Center, three floors bursting with vintage furniture, housewares, and clothing, as well as contemporary work by local artists.

Score Something New

Staunton has dozens of cool shops offering unique gifts and items. If you’re looking for something uniquely Virginian, check out The Sparrow’s Nest, which features jewelry, clothing, art, decor, and more from local artists and farms. Jude’s: A Fine Emporium carries gifts for all members of the family as well as pets.  Light up your tastebuds at Staunton Olive Oil Company where you’ll find premium olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and the local herbs and spices to complement them. If books are what you’re into, check out Staunton’s newest bookstore, The Book Dragon, which carries new and used books for the entire family. Click here to read our post on Staunton’s other great independent booksellers.

Biteseeing Staunton’s Queen City Sweep Food Tour

Discover why Staunton is a cultural and culinary destination! Biteseeing Staunton’s Queen City Sweep guided walking tour is a wonderful way to fill an early afternoon — and it’s far more interesting than lunch at Applebee’s. For a culinary journey and a tour of Staunton’s architecture and history, book your tour today.

Bridgett Beasley, owner-operator of Biteseeing Staunton, is a foodie who really loves food tours. After her move to Staunton a few years ago, she was delighted by both Staunton’s walkability and the depth of its food scene. The idea behind the Queen City Sweep is to get hungry people to move beyond chain restaurants and even Beverley Street to discover locally owned gems that are a little farther afield. This particular adventure lets food tourists experience both the Beverley and the Wharf Historic Districts and catch a peep into the Newtown District. 

The tours run in all weather, but the day we toured was sunny and cool for August. We parked at the trolley hub and met Bridgett on the porch of Olde Staunton Inn. After a brief tour of the lovely public rooms of the Inn, we chatted and walked to our first destination. Restaurants on the tour may vary.

What I loved about the food tour:

  • Bridgett was extremely personable and knowledgeable about the cuisine and backgrounds of the restaurateurs. She was a blast to hang out with, and I felt really comfortable with her.
  • The tour operated efficiently and smoothly. At each stop our plates arrived as soon as we settled.
  • The amount of food seemed appropriate for the tour. I’m a big eater and I felt satisfied, but not overstuffed.
  • The tour included some exercise and some Staunton sights and history. Bridgett has modifications in mind for those who might struggle climbing steep hills.
  • With advance notice, Biteseeing Staunton accommodates vegetarian and gluten-free diets. Just ask!

Gloria’s Pupuseria

Gloria’s Pupuseria is a homey and welcoming place. We enjoyed a tasting plate of El Salvadoran fare and the amazing flavor and history of the pupusa, which people have been devouring for at least 1,500 years. Pupusas are cornmeal flatbreads stuffed with cheese and meat. People have been loving them so long that they’ve even been discovered in the ruins of Joya de Cerén, the “El Salvadoran Pompei.” Beer and wine are available for separate purchase.

Chicano Boy Taco

We sat inside at Chicano Boy Taco (but there’s also a patio) to devour delicious soft tacos made with handmade tortillas and three special sauces. You’re going to want to invest in a tortilla press after this meal. Beer is available for separate purchase. The walk from Chicano Boy to Beverley Street is full of history. We saw sites where sinkholes appeared in the early part of the 20th Century and the streets laid bare by “urban renewal” in the 60s. We also walked by two churches boasting original Tiffany windows.

Staunton Olive Oil Company

Staunton Olive Oil Company provides a fun way to rest between courses. We wandered the store sampling olive oils and balsamic vinegars and making important-seeming notes on clipboards. We learned the difference between fused and infused oils and got suggestions about good pairings. Oils and vinegars are available for purchase.

Yelping Dog Wine

The walk down Beverley Street takes you past a number of T.J. Collins-designed buildings. What’s cool is that for the 20 years Collins was active in Staunton around the turn of the century, he designed in a variety of styles, including Gothic, Beaux Arts, and Moorish Revival. He also had the means to import materials from far away. Consequently, downtown Staunton has an eclectic main street. We cozied up at a table in Yelping Dog Wine, talked about architecture and real estate, and gnoshed on a cheese and fruit plate. Wine is not included at this stop, but you can purchase it separately.

Réunion Bakery & Espresso

Réunion Bakery & Espresso makes one tray of canelé a day and I got to have one. They only make one tray a day because this tasty crusted custard, made first in French convents, is a ton of work and requires ages to season the mold with butter and beeswax. It was delicious, and Réunion is a terrific place to meet and chat with friends. 

Wright’s Dairy Rite

By the time I walked to Wright’s Dairy Rite, I was hungry again. I enjoyed an egg salad slider and some of Wright’s famous hand-dipped, made-to-order onion rings. We sat outside and talked about the history of the Blackburn Inn property across the road, but we could have sat inside and delighted in the classic-Staunton diner ambiance.

Paris Cake Company

To get to the Paris Cake Company, we walked over Sears Hill and the pedestrian footbridge over the railroad tracks. The Wharf District has a fascinating history that includes train wrecks, fires, brothels and patent medicine scammers. We sat in the charming lobby of the Paris Cake Company, perused photo albums of wedding cake inspiration and savored a decadent deconstructed peanut butter mousse.

Ox-Eye Tasting Room

The final stop on the tour was the Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room. While the actual vineyard sits outside of town, the tasting room is located in a historic T.J. Collins structure, originally used to weigh railroad cargo. We tasted both white and red wines, and we learned how the grapes are grown and harvested. Additional wine is available by the glass or bottle for purchase.

Before you go

  • The menus may vary as the restaurants showcase their best seasonal offerings.
  • Tours run on Saturdays, May – October. Tours last about 3.5 hours and can accommodate up to 12 guests.
  • Purchase advanced tickets at biteseeingstaunton.com.
  • Tours occur rain or shine and involve walking. Wear weather-appropriate gear and comfortable shoes.

 

Beyond Airbnb: Staunton’s Alternative Rentals

Staunton offers lots of choices of hotels, bed and breakfasts, and Airbnb properties, and now visitors have another option. Gibson’s Warehouse and Staunton Stays offer all the luxuries and amenities expected by seasoned travelers. This includes long and short-term rentals, uniquely decorated units, and private kitchens and living spaces. Best of all, both alternative rental spaces are located in walkable downtown Staunton, allowing visitors immediate access to the city’s best amenities.

Gibson’s Warehouse  

Gibson’s Warehouse is a four-suite loft lodging in a T.J. Collins-designed warehouse in Staunton’s Wharf District. Designed in 1905, the historic building originally stored hay, fertilizer, and farm equipment. After renovations, it’s the epitome of comfort and industrial cool. Additionally, its location is close to dining, shopping, entertainment, and the farmers’ market. It’s easy to explore downtown Staunton on foot! 

Each private suite offers a full-sized and fully-equipped kitchen, modern bath, living space, and a king-sized bed. The units also boast tall ceilings with visible rafters, large windows, wood floors and areas of exposed brick. Enjoy complimentary wifi and a treat basket. There is also a common space in the lobby with seating areas so guests can mingle and socialize. No pets or smoking.

Staunton Stays

Staunton Stays is a four-suite boutique hotel in a beautifully renovated Victorian house. Each plush suite has a different theme. All four suites offer full kitchens, modern bathrooms, living quarters, and access to a laundry room. Begin with a complimentary bottle of wine and basket of snacks before you cook a meal in your private kitchen or walk to a restaurant. All four suites offer queen-sized beds and a sofa bed. No pets or smoking.

  • The Shenandoah Suite is luxuriously appointed and decorated to represent the “Shenandoah Valley’s incomparable beauty and nostalgia.” You’ll find unique, farmhouse-chic furniture incorporating materials like sewing machines and barn wood.
  • The elegant Bons Amis Suite is decorated with comfy furniture and French-themed accents. This private, upper-level suite looks out over Staunton.
  • The Serendipity Suite is both comfortable and quirky. The space is located on the first floor and includes dreamy colors, cushy furniture, inspirational messages, and whimsical decor.
  • The decor in The Bohemian Suite includes bikes, butterflies, and original artwork. It will appeal to your inner artist. Bright with bold colors sure to inspire your imagination, the space offers several comfortable lounging and dining options.

Plan Your “Nest” Adventure: Birdwatching in Staunton

Staunton offers visitors a wealth of birdwatching opportunities. Eagle eyes will be rewarded in both our parks and residential areas. Venture into the countryside for even more chances to experience avian habitats and the Shenandoah Valley’s incredible scenery. Whether you’re a first-timer or you’re working on your big year, these Staunton-area hotspots are a good place to get started.

Bell’s Lane

Staunton’s top birding spot is Bell’s Lane, a quiet two-mile paved road that winds through farmland. Traffic is light and the road is recognized by locals as a site for runners, bikers, and birders. Birdwatchers on ebird have reported seeing 208 species plus more at the ponds. Sightings include warblers, orioles, hawks, and waterfowl, If you’re into owling, you might be able to catch glimpse of screech, great-horned, and short-eared owls here. The southern end of Bells Lane supports a kiosk where birders note recent sightings.

Montgomery Hall Park

Made up of open fields and wooded areas, Montgomery Hall Park boasts 99 reported species. The park is usually private and several miles of hiking/mountain bike trails wind through it. Woodpeckers, flycatchers, and yellow-billed cuckoos. Look for warblers and vireos during migration periods.

Betsy Bell Wilderness

Betsy Bell Wilderness is Staunton’s best-kept secret when it comes to natural areas within the city limits. It’s a little hard to find, but once there, you’ll enjoy a nice hike and the chance to see 95 different reported forest-dwelling species, including hawks, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. This is also a good location to spot warblers and other neotropical migrants in the spring and fall.

Gypsy Hill Park

Gypsy Hill Park is best known for the bandstand, the playground, and ballfields. But it’s also a good spot to view song birds. The duck pond includes both wild and domestic ducks and geese. If you’re walking or jogging before dawn, you might hear a screech owl. A half mile away, scenic Thornrose Cemetery offers 43 species, lovely views, and a nice place for a walk.

Sanger’s Lane

Just outside of Staunton city limits, find Sanger’s Lane. This quiet country road winds through open farmland, wetland, and woods. Birders have identified 46 species like the great blue heron rookery. This is a good site for songbirds and owls.

Augusta Springs Wetlands

Visitors to Augusta Springs Wetlands report more than 150 species. According to the Augusta Bird Club, phoebes, green herons, kingfishers, yellowthroats, and red-shouldered hawks are among the species that can be found here. Be on the lookout for butterflies, salamanders, and other small creatures. The wetlands consists of a handicap-accessible loop trail with entrances to a more extensive trail network in the national forest.

Natural Chimneys 

Birdwatchers visiting Natural Chimneys Park report sightings of 102 species. This small park offers both open fields and wooded trails. You’ll also enjoy seeing the tall limestone rock formations that rise up like a castle. Entrance fee applies.

Shenandoah National Park

The southern end of Shenandoah National Park is a 25-minute drive from Staunton. Take advantage of the miles of trails and scenic overlooks in this extensive mountain forest habitat. More than 190 species have been identified nesting or migrating here. Entrance fee applies.

Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch

172 bird species have been reported at Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, but the real stars are the raptors. Volunteers gather near the Inn at Afton, located just off I-64 for the fall migration. They collect data on the hawks, eagles, falcons, vultures, and osprey that pass through from August-November.

For more on the local ornithological community and organized and social opportunities to bird, travel, and promote wildlife conservation, check out the Augusta Bird Club. Started in 1966, the club now has over 100 members.