#LOVEstaunton

#LOVEstaunton

Places to Antique In Staunton

Antiquing is almost like treasure hunting, except there’s no map with an “x” because the “x” is different for everyone. Fortunately, there are nine places to antique in and around Staunton, and we feel confident you’ll find a special something in one of them. From funky finds to recycled riches and everything in between, spend … Continue reading Places to Antique In Staunton

Antiquing is almost like treasure hunting, except there’s no map with an “x” because the “x” is different for everyone. Fortunately, there are nine places to antique in and around Staunton, and we feel confident you’ll find a special something in one of them. From funky finds to recycled riches and everything in between, spend the day (or weekend) seeking out treasures of your own.

Nanny June Vintage Clothing | 19 W. Beverley Street

Nanny June Vintage Clothing has a great selection of timeless vintage wearables and accessories. Whether you’re looking for a wedding dress or some mod club attire, you’ll find clothing with a story at this friendly boutique. Best of all, make sure your new-to-you clothes have the perfect fit by taking them to the on-site Alteration Station.

Once Upon a Time Clock Shop | 25 W. Beverley Street

If you have a thing for the ol’ tick-tock, Once Upon a Time Clock Shop is your place! Mantel clocks, wall clocks, grandfather clocks, European clocks, and Made in the USA clocks are all available here. If you have one that is in need of cleaning or repair, Dean Sarnelle is your man. His talents and abilities are renowned, thus clocks from around the country flood into his shop year ’round.

17 E. Beverley Antiques | 17 E. Beverley Street

Seven shops in one, 17 E. Beverley Antiques offers most of what you’d expect to find in an antiques store, but you may also find some interesting rarities, like sheet music and mid-century pin-ups. Vintage Christmas ornaments, silver, toys, and an array of vintage costumes are quite the draw. If you go, try on all the cool shades and take selfies. We want to see ’em!

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Antique sewing
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Antique Statues
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Staunton Antiques Center | 19 W. Beverley Street

Vintage clothing, handbags, and jewelry share 10,000 square feet of space with antique furnishings, decor, table settings, art, lamps, and so much more. You’ll want to allow yourself plenty of time to notice every nook and cranny at Staunton Antiques Center, lest you miss a treasure you may not have known you needed. DO check out the incredible book selection.

Worthington Hardware & Antiques | 26 W. Beverley Street

The odds are in your favor of finding something special at Worthington Hardware & Antiques. They’re loaded with many household items, decor, tools, glassware, woodcrafts, and needful things. Crocks, canes, enameled steel campfire necessities, baskets … the list goes on and on!

Factory Antique Mall | 50 Lodge Lane, Verona

Chosen as both a Best of the Valley in the Daily News-Record Reader’s Choice Awards and a Best of Virginia Living the Wild Life award winner, the Factory Antique Mall is a sure bet for treasure seekers. It’s the largest antique mall in America and you can find housewares, furniture, books, jewelry, toys and many other items. There’s even a snack bar!

Staunton’s 10 Best Fall Flavors

  The official first day of fall was September 22, but we’ve been salivating—for weeks—at the thought of apples, pumpkins, and anything with a hint of spice and cinnamon. If your palate enjoys these flavors, too, come to Staunton this fall for a full-fledged dine-and-drink-around of epic proportions. Our 10 best fall flavors are waiting … Continue reading Staunton’s 10 Best Fall Flavors

 

Pumpkin Spice Muffins from Paradise Donuts

The official first day of fall was September 22, but we’ve been salivating—for weeks—at the thought of apples, pumpkins, and anything with a hint of spice and cinnamon. If your palate enjoys these flavors, too, come to Staunton this fall for a full-fledged dine-and-drink-around of epic proportions. Our 10 best fall flavors are waiting …

  1. Chef Said Rhafiri’s pan-seared maple leaf duck breast at Aioli is served with butternut squash parmesan risotto, vegetable tempura, and blackberry reduction. It’s one of the finer meals you can enjoy in downtown Staunton this fall.
  2. We’ve come to know that many travelers make their way to Staunton just to eat. Yes, our meals are THAT good. One of their destinations is The Shack, where Chef Ian Boden is inspired to create daily menus based on what the growers are delivering. Watch for delightful treats like Rappahannock oysters, pumpkin pierogi, and apple fry pie!
  3. A name like “Harvest Rigatoni” says it all. At Byers Street Bistro, you can order up this savory dish that includes sweet Italian sausage, roasted Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, fried sage, parmesan cheese, and a garlic white wine sauce. 
  4. Cast iron cornbread is a southern staple and Zynodoa pairs it with house-made Gala apple butter. That’s just one of the special entries you’ll find on their ever-changing menu. You may also want to try the mixed green salad topped with Malcolm’s Market radishes, cucumbers, butternut squash, toasted almonds, Wayside Farm ginger, and herb vinaigrette.
  5. We’re always amazed at the ingenuity and think-outside-the-boxedness of Chef Mike Lund of Mike Lund Food & LunDch. You never know what incredible dish he will whip up, like maybe giant fennel-spiced garbanzo balls with spaghetti squash covered in herb marinara and shaved parmesan? It’s a veggie, gluten-free option that capitalizes on the season. And it’s delicious!
  6. If you love donuts, Paradise Donuts has to be on your list. Apple spice and caramel apple flavors are already rolling out, and maple is one of the all-time best sellers. New for this year are pumpkin spice muffins. You’ll want to arrive early to ensure you score one of these tasty seasonal treats!
  7. Moriarty Day is one for your calendar. It’s the day Redbeard Brewing Company releases their latest edition of Moriarty, a barrel-aged Imperial Stout. This year’s Moriarty Day is October 18, and this year’s pour has been settling in Bourbon barrels from John J. Bowman, Eagle Rare, and Buffalo Trace. 
  8. It’s no surprise that Staunton pulls off a flawless transformation to become the quaint wizarding hamlet of Hogsmeade in September. What may be a surprise is that Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company is tapping their Mischief Butterscotch Ale to coincide with the Queen City Mischief and Magic weekend (previously known as Queen City Potter Party … as in Harry Potter).
  9. Queen City Brewing has two delicious beverages that are perfect for the fall season. Try the hard-pressed Apple Ale or Cranberry Ale, both 7% ABV, and both quite refreshing.
  10. Fall flavored coffee and pastries are likely found in several of our favorite morning hot spots, but we like The By & By for their surprises like pumpkin rolls, peanut butter pie, and of course, their Oktoberfest celebration of craft beer and brats. Prost!

Eat well and enjoy the autumn season in Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley!

Free Things for Kids to Do in Staunton

Summer travels, spring break, and impromptu days off here and there often leave parents looking for things to do that won’t break the bank. Ta da! We’ve rounded up a list of free things for kids to do in Staunton and it’s all for you. Pin, Facebook, bookmark, or print this for future reference; we’re … Continue reading Free Things for Kids to Do in Staunton

Summer travels, spring break, and impromptu days off here and there often leave parents looking for things to do that won’t break the bank. Ta da! We’ve rounded up a list of free things for kids to do in Staunton and it’s all for you. Pin, Facebook, bookmark, or print this for future reference; we’re sure you’ll look to it as a resource for a while to come.

Artsy Things

Glow, cad sel, copper ruby.

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One of the coolest demonstrations you’ll ever see is glassblowing, and you can see it everyday in Staunton at Sunspots Studios! Watch the masters seemingly turn glass into wax as they form big bubbles bound for a life of beauty. 

Outdoorsy Things

Most parks are fun, but have you seen our parks? Here’s what’s waiting …

Gypsy Hill Park is 214 acres and has a skate park (BMX, inline, scooters, and skateboards are welcome), the Gypsy Express Mini Trail (almost free; $1 per person), garden center, numerous ball fields, and of course, playgrounds. Don’t miss Family Nite Flix hosted by Staunton Parks and Recreation – free family-friendly movies at the Gypsy Hill Park Bandstand.

Lake Tams is a 2.5-acre lake that’s stocked for fishing. Bring your pole and valid Virginia fishing license to see what’s biting!

If your kiddos just like to ride their bikes or work to gain their balance on a new pair of skates, you’re in the right place. Constitution Drive meanders through the park is a designated play street, meaning kids have the right to play in the street.

Finally visited the Natural Playground at Montgomery Hill Park. Stayed for hours! 😍

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Montgomery Hall Park is 148 acres and is home to the long-awaited natural playground, Nature Ridge. Designed for imaginative play, Nature Ridge has a mud kitchen, rock quarry, pirate ship, ball drop, chimes, and an elevated sand pit accessible to children of all abilities. 

Do you have a little explorer on your hands? Feed the sense of adventure and mystery when you geocache in our parks or downtown.
Learn more about the process and fun of geocaching, then locate our area caches to get started.

Fun Things

Arguably, everything we’ve mentioned thus far is fun, but what about fun with toys? Did you know Staunton has a toy store that lets your kids play while you shop? “Don’t touch” is not a phrase you’ll hear at Pufferbellies. Pop in to play at the largest independently owned toy store in the Shenandoah Valley, and you can help your kids build their Christmas wish list while you’re at it!

Have you ever heard of Kids Bowl Free? Our very own Staunton Lanes is a member of the program that allows your children to bowl two free games every day all summer long. The catch is that once your child is registered, he or she may only bowl at the bowling alley initially chosen at the time of registration. If you never bowl but want to, go ahead and choose ours! 

Discover Staunton by Trolley! Although its not free—the cost is 25-cents per rider—hop on and off as you visit area attractions like the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Gypsy Hill Park and several of Staunton’s historic districts. The Green route runs every 30 minutes from the Visitors Center located at 35 S. New Street. Or explore by foot using the free app, Traipse! Traipse takes you on an adventure that is half historic tour and half scavenger hunt. You can Traipse anytime, with whomever you want, in places like downtown Staunton, Gypsy Hill Park, and the campus of Mary Baldwin University. The app even provides discounts at select local businesses when you complete the challenges at those spots.

Historic Things

If you’re an active duty military family, we have great news! The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is free for you between Memorial Day and Labor Day! Check out the Blue Star Parent Tool Kit for great ideas to get your kids interacting with what they see during the visit.

History buff families with eager-to-learn children tend to appreciate a good walking tour with a knowledgeable guide. Fortunately, the Historic Staunton Foundation offers such tours every Saturday. Join in for free!


Our Visitor Center is located at 35 S. New Street. Come in for a map, directions, or help with reservations.

Free Things for Adults to Do in Staunton

  A post shared by Shenandoah Art Therapy, LLC (@shenandoaharttherapy) on Apr 9, 2017 at 3:15pm PDT Families aren’t the only ones looking for freebies these days. All of us want to save a buck where we can, right? Yes, of course! The good news is there are free things for adults to do in … Continue reading Free Things for Adults to Do in Staunton

Families aren’t the only ones looking for freebies these days. All of us want to save a buck where we can, right? Yes, of course! The good news is there are free things for adults to do in Staunton, which helps you splurge where you want to and be a frugalista when you want to, too.

Artsy Things

If you appreciate the finer things – the arts in many shapes and forms – this is your jackpot to free things to do in Staunton.

1. The Beverley Street Studio School Gallery hosts rotating exhibits, which are open to the public seven days a week. See what’s currently on exhibit.
2. When you find yourself in Staunton during lunch time on a Monday in the summer, DO find the Heifetz Institute musicians for a free concert. The summer series is called Mondays on the Market and the location varies.
3. The Staunton Augusta Arts Center is located in the historic R.R. Smith Center for History and Art. Peruse the galleries Monday through Saturday to check out the rotating exhibits, which change every six weeks. See what’s currently on exhibit.
4. Have you ever seen glass blown? Do so for free at Sunspots Studios. It’s free to watch and demos are offered daily until 4 p.m.

Historic Things

1. The Louis Comfort Tiffany windows at Trinity Episcopal Church are always a draw, and we’re always happy to inform you that you can visit the church for free to see them. Learn more about the windows and plan your visit.
>> Also See: Staunton Architecture: Newtown Historic District 
2. Thornrose Cemetery should probably be one of the places on your list if you didn’t receive a nudge from us or someone else with some knowledge of the property. Thornrose is the final resting place of more than 1,700 Confederate soldiers from five area battlefields. The various statues are worth attention as well.
3. A guided tour of Staunton is offered every Saturday – May through October – for free! Connect with the Historic Staunton Foundation to join in.

Outdoorsy Things

1. Betsy Bell and Mary Gray Wilderness Parks are open to the public from dawn until dusk. Walk the nature trails and appreciate the expansive views of Staunton and the surrounding area. Be sure to bring your camera to capture wildlife!
2. In downtown Staunton is the 214-acre Gypsy Hill Park. Some people love the duck pond, others appreciate the swimming pool. We’re sure our skilled readers will go for the skate park. Bring your inlines, your BMX, or your skateboard to thrill onlookers with your mad tricks. During the summer, we’d expect to see you at the bandstand for free summer concerts as well. Featuring a different genre almost every night of the week, with band concerts by the Stonewall Brigade on Monday; Praise in the Park on Tuesday; Bluegrass in the Park on Wednesday; and Jazz in the Park on Thursday. 
3. Those with a need for some adrenaline will enjoy the mountain biking trails at Montgomery Hall Park. Check out the map to see what the fuss is all about.

Tasty Things

1. Shenandoah Hops offers complimentary tastings every Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. Those tastings could include craft beer, wine, or cider.
2. Another evening tasting option occurs at The Wine Cellar. Sometimes the tastings are on Fridays and sometimes they’re Saturdays. Check the calendar to see what’s being poured.
3. If you enjoy cooking stop by Staunton Olive Oil Company’s tasting room for a cooking demonstration and to try their many varieties of infused and fused olive oils and balsamic vinegars. 


Enjoy your time in downtown Staunton and let us know how we can be of assistance. Our Visitor Center is located at 35 S. New Street. Come in for a map, directions, or help with reservations.

Staunton Architecture: Gospel Hill

The beautiful name Gospel Hill comes from the sounds ringing out from Sampson Eagon’s blacksmith shop. 1700s religious meetings occurred in Eagon’s shop, and of course, that included singing. Gospel Hill Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to grand old trees and grander homes. 238 E. Beverley Street … Continue reading Staunton Architecture: Gospel Hill

The beautiful name Gospel Hill comes from the sounds ringing out from Sampson Eagon’s blacksmith shop. 1700s religious meetings occurred in Eagon’s shop, and of course, that included singing. Gospel Hill Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to grand old trees and grander homes.

238 E. Beverley Street is a beautiful 1840s home that was remodeled by T. J. Collins in 1915. Of additional interest: the home sits on the site of Sampson Eagon’s blacksmith shop; the place where Gospel Hill got its name.

“Oakdene”

An elaborate Queen Anne called “Oakdene” sits at 605 E. Beverley Street. It was built in 1893 by Virginia Lieutenant Governor Edward Echols and features an owl atop its turret.

Civil War mapmaker Jed Hotchkiss added an elaborate addition to the ca. 1840 house at 437 E. Beverley Street in 1888. He called the home “The Oaks.”

“The Oaks”

Kalorama is a street name in Gospel Hill, but it’s also the name of the beautiful home at 19 S. Market Street. While a private residence now, the home has seen use as a hotel, girls school, and a public library over the years since its 1810 construction.

An unusual style, certainly for Staunton, is the 1891 Richardsonian Romanesque home standing at 215 Kalorama Street. T. J. Collins designed it for the City Treasurer, Arista Hogue. The home’s date and the initial A.H. are carved into one of the stones on the façade. This home is the only one of its style in Staunton.

You learned about the First Presbyterian Church and its architectural and historical significance to Staunton, Virginia, and the United States. The church campus initially included a manse – the home of the minister. That manse is now known as the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace. It was built in 1846 in Greek Revival style. It features 12 rooms; in one of the, Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born on December 28, 1856. Wilson went on to become America’s 28th President.

There are at least 12 more sites within Gospel Hill of historic significance marked in the Historic Staunton Foundation walking tour map. Be sure to pick up a copy from their office at the R. R. Smith Center or check out their Flickr Account for a “virtual tour” of Gospel Hill. 

And while you’re here, be sure and visit some of the other historic districts in downtown Staunton:
Beverley District
Wharf District 
Newtown District 
Stuart Addition 

Staunton Architecture: Stuart Addition

Stuart Addition Historic District is named for Judge Archibald Stuart, a wealthy, influential resident who deeded the area to the city in 1803. Mary Baldwin University if located within this historic district, as are notable historic churches. Augusta Female Seminary was founded in 1842, but you know it today as Mary Baldwin University. The large … Continue reading Staunton Architecture: Stuart Addition

Stuart Addition Historic District is named for Judge Archibald Stuart, a wealthy, influential resident who deeded the area to the city in 1803. Mary Baldwin University if located within this historic district, as are notable historic churches.

First Presbyterian Church

Augusta Female Seminary was founded in 1842, but you know it today as Mary Baldwin University. The large Greek Revival building on campus dates to 1844 and was built to meet the needs of the growing school. The building is often the backdrop for photos; take one there yourself.

The Presbyterian congregation in Staunton predates the First Presbyterian Church at 100 E. Frederick Street. Fellowship of congregants began in 1804 and their first house of worship was built in 1818. The church you see today is their second: a Romanesque Revival with a tall white spire. It was dedicated in 1872.

An interesting bit of extra history about First Presbyterian: Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson was at the pulpit when his son Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born in 1856. The basin used to baptize the would-be President of the United States is still in use.

The Catholic Church is at home at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, a commanding Gothic Revival designed by none other than T. J. Collins, a parishioner, and built in 1895. The church was Collins’ first major commission in Staunton. 

Formerly the Old YMCA

In our article about the Beverley Historic District we introduced you to a one-time YMCA the locals refer to as the clock tower. In Stuart Addition Historic District, we have another one-time YMCA for your interest. The Renaissance Revival at 41 N. Augusta was built as a YMCA in 1914. The estate of Cyrus McCormick, the inventor of the mechanical reaper, donated $50,000 toward its completion. Today the Y is a series of quirky lofts – the Old Y Lofts – that include nostalgic pieces of the building’s original use. In one loft, a bed platform is actually the old stage. In another, a fun trap door leads into the old pool, which is now a wine cellar. Fun, huh?!

There are at least 13 more sites within Stuart Addition of historic significance marked in the Historic Staunton Foundation walking tour map. Be sure to pick up a copy from their office at the R. R. Smith Center or check out their Flickr Account for a “virtual tour” of Stuart Addition.

And while you’re here, be sure and visit some of the other historic districts in downtown Staunton:
Beverley District
Wharf District 
Newtown District 

Staunton Architecture: Newtown Historic District

If you suppose that Newtown is so named to distinguish it from what was once known as Oldtown, you’re right. Newtown is Staunton’s oldest residential neighborhood and home to significant landmarks. Staunton’s oldest church is Trinity Episcopal, built in 1855 in Neo-Gothic style. It’s actually the third house of worship on the site; the first … Continue reading Staunton Architecture: Newtown Historic District

If you suppose that Newtown is so named to distinguish it from what was once known as Oldtown, you’re right. Newtown is Staunton’s oldest residential neighborhood and home to significant landmarks.

Trinity Episcopal Church
Trinity Episcopal Church

Staunton’s oldest church is Trinity Episcopal, built in 1855 in Neo-Gothic style. It’s actually the third house of worship on the site; the first was built in 1763. Trinity is a must-see when you’re in Staunton. One dozen Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass windows grace the space with The Ascension Triptych (dated 1897) believed to be the first installed.

Companion buildings on the Trinity campus include the 1872 Parish House of Gothic Revival style, and the Trinity Rectory (also 1872) in Jacobean Revival style, a rare architectural gem in this area.

From Trinity Church emerged Emmanuel Episcopal Church, an 1894 Gothic Revival designed by T. J. Collins. The interior is no longer exactly what he planned, as church traditions and needs evolved to dictate a shift in floor plan. If you pay a visit, you won’t be able to ignore the soaring vaulted ceiling with its delicate details.

Beverley Street School Studio

Built in 1887, the Stonewall Jackson School was Staunton’s first permanent public school. In 1912, President Woodrow Wilson reviewed a parade in his honor from the front of the school. In 1913, T. J. Collins directed a remodeling of it. Today the school building is a school of a different sort. The Beverley Street Studio School occupies the first floor.

The 1792 Smith Thompson House at 701 W. Beverley Street is an original log home and one of Staunton’s last 18th century structures.  It was built by Revolutionary War soldier, Smith Thompson, a barber who showcased a razor he said he used to shave George Washington. The left side of the house is an addition to the right and sits on a stone foundation. It was appended in 1870.

There are at least 13 more sites of historic significance marked in the Historic Staunton Foundation walking tour map. Be sure to pick up a copy from their office at the R. R. Smith Center or check out their Flickr Account for a “virtual tour” of Newtown Historic District

And while you’re here, be sure and visit some of the other historic districts in downtown Staunton:

Staunton Architecture: The Wharf District

In existence because of the Virginia Central Railroad arrival in 1854, the Wharf Area Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, it’s no surprise to find the 1902 C & O Train Station among one the key architectural prizes in The Wharf. While it’s not the original 1854 depot (rather, it’s the … Continue reading Staunton Architecture: The Wharf District

In existence because of the Virginia Central Railroad arrival in 1854, the Wharf Area Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, it’s no surprise to find the 1902 C & O Train Station among one the key architectural prizes in The Wharf. While it’s not the original 1854 depot (rather, it’s the third), the building’s style is what is unusual. Who would consider Bungalow style for a train depot? T. J. Collins, of course. Today the depot is home to The Depot Grille.

As business boomed when the railroad came to town, The Wharf Warehouses sprung up across from the depot to support the activity. Built between 1870 and 1910, this row of brick warehouses were the place to find the farmers, grocers, and wholesalers engaging in commerce. The buildings now house retailers, offices, and restaurants rather than goods and supplies.

Also adjacent to the train depot is The American Hotel, circa 1855. The Greek Revival structure was built by the railroad and served the traveling public well. A key claim to fame was the 1869 overnight stay by President and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, who emerged from the balcony while being serenaded by the Stonewall Brigade Band outside. Visitors to The American Hotel today are likely there for a special event. The structure has been restored and renovated, keeping the 1950s architecture and details in the Banquet Room.

The Historic Staunton Building at 120 S. Augusta Street was built in 1876. There are two especially unique facts about it: 1) The upper levels of the façade is fluted metal giving the appearance of columns; 2) it’s built over the still-flowing Lewis Creek. Today you’ll find attorneys and other professionals at work within the building.

Continue your virtual “walking tour” of The Wharf District by visiting the Historic Staunton Foundation’s Flickr Account. 

Check out the other historic districts in honor of Virginia Architecture Week and visit:

 

 

 

Staunton: One of the Best Small Towns in Virginia

Cradled by the Blue Ridge and surrounded by massive national forests and vast wilderness areas, the Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton has endless appeal. One of the oldest settlements in the Blue Ridge, the Victorian-era town is a living museum. Staunton was largely spared the destruction unleashed on other locations in the Shenandoah Valley by … Continue reading Staunton: One of the Best Small Towns in Virginia

Crabtree Falls is the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge, and a very popular hiking destination. Karen Blaha
Crabtree Falls is the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge, and a very popular hiking destination. Karen Blaha

Cradled by the Blue Ridge and surrounded by massive national forests and vast wilderness areas, the Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton has endless appeal. One of the oldest settlements in the Blue Ridge, the Victorian-era town is a living museum. Staunton was largely spared the destruction unleashed on other locations in the Shenandoah Valley by Union troops during the Civil War—most of the buildings in Staunton’s downtown area are more than a century old, and the town’s residential neighborhoods are still dotted with elegant 18th and 19th century homes. A bustling commercial hub even during the colonial-era, Staunton still lures visitors with its architecturally stunning downtown—now lined with eclectic boutiques, inviting eateries, and cozy tasting rooms pouring locally produced wine and craft beer.

Beyond the proudly preserved architectural wonders, Staunton’s rich past is still evident all over town. Staunton was a stop along the Great Wilderness Road, a southward route used by newly arrived European immigrants as portal to the frontier until the middle of the 19th century—a thoroughfare that later became the Valley Pike, now Route 11. Staunton’s Frontier Culture Museum is a living-history, open-air museum that brings the past to life, demonstrating the daily lifestyles of the Valley’s early settlers through original farmsteads and costumed interpreters.

Marquis Building by Warren Faught
Marquis Building by Warren Faught

One of America’s most influential presidents also called Staunton home: Woodrow Wilson was born in the town in 1865, and the 28th president’s home still adorns a hill in Staunton’s Gospel Historic District, now maintained as the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.

For outdoor lovers, options in Staunton are almost endless. The strategically placed, mountain-fringed town is the ideal launch pad for a bounty of outdoor adventures. Staunton is flanked by two massive national forests—the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests—long, slender slices of wilderness stretching from one end of Virginia to the other, laden with recreational opportunities. You also have quick access to the spectacular Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most scenic drive in the state.

Staunton is surrounded by incredible hiking trails, like this one near Crabtree Falls, that are particularly scenic in the fall. Karen Blaha
Staunton is surrounded by incredible hiking trails, like this one near Crabtree Falls, that are particularly scenic in the fall. Karen Blaha

The town is also ringed by a collection of vast roadless wilderness areas traversed by extensive trail systems. Just about 20-miles west of Staunton, the 19,290-acre Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness is crisscrossed by 37 miles of trails and loaded with craggy peaks and laced with trout-blessed streams. Just south of town, the 10,090-acre Saint Mary’s Wilderness is flush with 27-miles of trails—capped off by high peaks including Cellar, Bald, and Big Spy mountains—and spider-webbed by gushing mountain streams culminating in cascading waterfalls.

Staunton provides easy access to two of the most scenic byways in the state—and arguably, on the East Coast. Just north of town is the entrance to Skyline Drive, the vista-rich, 105-mile thoroughfare bisecting Virginia’s 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, offering access to the area’s 500 miles of trails. Almost immediately after entering the park’s less-frequented southern section, Skyline Drive also intersects the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, which rambles through the park for 101 miles.

Staunton, Virginia, is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as the perfect base camp to explore the region. Malee Oot
Staunton, Virginia, is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as the perfect base camp to explore the region. Malee Oot

In Rockfish Gap, 20 miles from Staunton, Skyline Drive also merges into the southbound Blue Ridge Parkway, the iconic byway running 469-miles from the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Some of the most spectacular sites along the entire parkway are in the northernmost section—just minutes from Staunton. First, the Humpback Rocks Recreation Area offers access to a range of hiking trails, with options for quick leg-stretchers or extensive loops. The massive 3,080-foot rock formation known as Humpback Rocks is also touted as one of the parkway’s premier vistas—and one of the most popular.

Just after Humpback Rocks is another treasure: The Sherando Lake Recreation Area is one of the byway’s most inviting detours. The 25-acre, spring-fed lake is edged by hiking trails, leafy campsites, and a sandy swimming beach. Slightly further south, the parkway also offers access to the one of the most stunning waterfalls in the east—and the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge—Crabtree Falls. Two trailheads just a few miles from the parkway offer hikers intimate access to the cascades plunging 1,800-foot course to the Tye River.

Black Dog Bikes in Staunton is a great resource for cycling in the region. Malee Oot
Black Dog Bikes in Staunton is a great resource for cycling in the region. Malee Oot

The vast tracts of wilderness and extensive byways accessible from Staunton also make the locale a hub for cyclists. Options for bike rides abound—from two-wheeled historical tours of Staunton to longer circuits through the bucolic landscape of the Shenandoah Valley. Find a number of local circuits mapped out by Bike the Valley. In Staunton, local cyclists congregate at Black Dog Bikes in the evenings from spring to early fall for weekly rides, with more leisurely loops on Tuesdays and fast-paced, longer circuits on Thursdays as well as Women on Wheels riding every Wednesday. The town’s cycle culture is also celebrated every October with the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival, a weekend of rides showcasing the region’s vibrant seasonal color. You’ll find routes suitable for riders of all levels—from lazy, 12-mile loops to century circuits full of brag-worthy climbs.

The Shenandoah Valley isn’t just a playground for cyclists. The verdant valley is also sprinkled with farms, wineries and craft breweries—linked by routes like the Fields of Gold Farm Trail, the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, and the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. In Staunton, the bounty of the valley is showcased at the Augusta Farmers Market (Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 7 a.m.-noon, April to November) and celebrated by the town’s vibrant farm-to-table restaurant movement.

But, it’s not just local eateries highlighting the abundance of locally sourced, seasonally rotating ingredients—Staunton has also become a hub of craft beer. The town is now home to three different craft breweries—Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing, and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company.

Eclectic microbrews, a seasonally evolving and locally inspired food scene, and a charming, historic downtown—all minutes away from vast wilderness areas, national parks, and forests. The next time you find yourself in Staunton, sipping a freshly poured craft brew while recounting backcountry Blue Ridge adventures, you too may wonder, is this the best kept secret in Virginia?

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.