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. 

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.


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.


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.

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.

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