Best of the Valley 2020

Every January, Virginia Living Magazine asks its readers to name their favorite businesses and attractions in a write-in poll. The magazine features them in its Best of the Valley issue, which is designed to guide readers to all the best places in five different Virginia regions. Locals and visitors voted for favorites, and Staunton really shines as a place to visit and do business. A whopping 66 of our local favorites are award winners in various categories! Read on to find out who they are. If you haven’t yet visited, what are you waiting for?


Staunton’s historic downtown, a winner in the category of Historic Site/Downtown Shopping, is walkable and low-key. It offers plenty of parking and an opportunity to shop for a variety of unique items. Find a special gift for someone at Crown Jewelers, a downtown staple since 1960, that sells new, custom, and estate jewelry. A few steps down the sidewalk is 17 E. Beverley Antiques, a well-curated treasure trove of vintage furniture, jewelry, textiles, collectibles, music, and more. Black Dog Bikes has been serving the Valley’s serious bike enthusiasts since 2005 and carries bikes from Specialized and Rocky Mountain. Round out your shopping trip with a stop at LTD 7, which sells women’s clothing, gifts, and home accessories. 

Antiques – 3rd Place: 17 E. Beverley Antiques
Bicycle Shop – 1st Place: Black Dog Bikes
Downtown Shopping – 1st Place: Downtown Staunton
Fine Jewelry Store – 3rd Place: Crown Jewelers

Arts and Entertainment

Staunton’s American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse received recognition as a Professional/Regional Performing Arts Company as well as a tourist attraction. This recreation of Shakespeare’s theater offers year-round performances, behind-the-scenes tours, and scholarly talks. You should also try to catch a play at ShenanArts, where since 1981, locals have pooled their substantial talents. Every August, the Staunton Music Festival brings the best of 600 years of chamber music to various venues around town. And if your tastes run to the visual arts, stop by the CoArt Gallery. Here over 40 area artists display and sell works in oil, acrylic, watercolor, printmaking, photography, collage, and assemblage art. The yearly Staunton Augusta Art Center’s Art in the Park at Gypsy Hill Art Event is a family friendly, juried festival where visitors can browse and purchase art.

Art Event – 3rd Place: Staunton Augusta Art Center’s Art in the Park at Gypsy Hill
Art Gallery – 3rd Place: CoArt Gallery
Museum – 1st Place: Frontier Culture Museum
Historic Site – 1st Place: Downtown Staunton and 2nd Place: Frontier Culture Museum
Tourist Attraction – 2nd Place: American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse
Non-Food Festival – 3rd Place: Staunton Music Festival
Professional Performing Arts Company – 1st Place: American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse

Best Food & Drink

Though a small city, Staunton has much to offer the culinary scene. A full 15 of our restaurants earned recognition in categories ranging from Steakhouse (Mill Street Grill and The Depot Grille) to Mexican Restaurant (Chicano Boy Taco) to Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurant (Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery). Shenandoah Pizza, Peck’s Barbecue, Cocoa Mill Chocolate, and Emilio’s Italian Restaurant were feted for what they do best. We stood out for wine at Yelping Dog Wine and cocktails at Zynodoa. And of course, if you come to Staunton, you can’t skip dessert at The Split Banana or Kline’s Dairy Bar. Other winners included Byers Street Bistro, Kathy’s Restaurant, Massaki Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, and Wright’s Dairy-Rite.

Asian – 2nd Place: Massaki Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar
Barbecue Restaurant – 2nd Place: Peck’s Barbecue
Breakfast/Brunch Restaurant – 1st Place: Kathy’s Restaurant
Burger Joint – 2nd Place: Wright’s Dairy-Rite
Italian Restaurant – 3rd Place: Emilio’s Italian Restaurant
Mexican Restaurant – 2nd Place: Chicano Boy Taco
Pizzeria – 2nd Place: Shenandoah Pizza
Seafood Restaurant – 1st Place: Mill Street Grill and 3rd Place: The Depot Grille
Steakhouse – 2nd Place: Mill Street Grill and 3rd Place: The Depot Grille
Restaurant – 1st Place: Mill Street Grill and 3rd Place: The Depot Grille
Restaurant for Vegans or Vegetarians – 2nd Place: Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery
Dessert – 2nd Place: The Split Banana
Ice Cream Shop – 1st Place: Kline’s Dairy Bar and 2nd Place: The Split Banana
Outdoor Dining – 1st Place: Byers Street Bistro
Chocolatier – 1st Place: Cocoa Mill Chocolate
Farmers’ Market – 2nd Place: Staunton Farmers’ Market
Wine Shop – 1st Place: Yelping Dog Wine
Cocktails – 1st Place: Zynodoa
Winery – 3rd Place: Barren Ridge Vineyards


You won’t have enough time to explore Staunton in a single day, so you should book a place to stay. We have a number of fine lodging choices ranging from boutique hotels to bed and breakfasts to brand hotels. The historic Frederick House won top honors in the Bed & Breakfast category. This 23-room hotel in downtown Staunton “offers the amenities and privacy of a luxury hotel with the personal service of a bed and breakfast.” The Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center topped the list for hotels. Located under an iconic neon sign, the Stonewall Jackson received a recent stylish renovation.

Bed & Breakfast – 3rd Place: Frederick House
Hotel – 2nd Place: Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center

Outdoor Spaces

The Shenandoah Valley is practically overrun with beautiful views, and according to voters, none are better than the sweeping vistas of the Valley when viewed from nearby sections of the Appalachian Trail and the Skyline Drive. The Staunton Farmers’ Market’s award was certainly earned as much for its atmosphere and lovely setting as for its emphasis on freshness and farm-to-table fare. Staunton’s Frontier Culture Museum offers history and education in a pastoral setting, and even Gypsy Hill Park won an award for amenities like the dog park, playgrounds, and golf course.

Golf Course – 2nd Place: Gypsy Hill Park
Hiking or Biking – 1st Place: Appalachian Trail
Park – 1st Place: Shenandoah National Park

Congratulations to all the winners, and thank you to everyone who voted. Get out there and support Staunton’s favorite businesses and attractions.