#LOVEstaunton

#LOVEstaunton

A Girlfriends’ Getaway in Staunton

Staunton has plenty of trendy restaurants, local wine, luxurious lodgings, and unique shopping and entertainment opportunities. That’s why it’s the ideal environment for making new memories during a wonderful girlfriends’ getaway. You and your besties will want to make it an annual trip. Here’s a fun roundup of must-do activities. We’ve updated this to reflect … Continue reading A Girlfriends’ Getaway in Staunton

Staunton has plenty of trendy restaurants, local wine, luxurious lodgings, and unique shopping and entertainment opportunities. That’s why it’s the ideal environment for making new memories during a wonderful girlfriends’ getaway. You and your besties will want to make it an annual trip. Here’s a fun roundup of must-do activities.

We’ve updated this to reflect Covid conditions, however, check each business’s website or Facebook page to see current hours and offerings as these may change frequently. Many businesses are open for business in accordance with the current guidelines.

Explore Staunton

When you arrive, head straight for Staunton’s extremely walkable downtown. The Staunton Farmer’s Market is open from the first Saturday in April until Thanksgiving, and often features live music. Nibble a baked treat and scout out seasonal produce, honey, jams and pickles to take home.

Next, take a walking tour of Staunton’s five historic districts, visit the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace in person or virtually, or explore Augusta County’s living history at the Frontier Culture Museum. Stop in at Paris Cake Company for something sweet. And if cupcakes are your particular passion, you can’t skip the 100+ flavors available at Queen City Cupcakes. Chipotle pineapple or citrus mint, anyone?

Shopping

Staunton has a lot to offer girlfriends who enjoy shopping together. Plan to spend some time exploring our boutiques, galleries, and antique stores. Design at Nine offers the latest in women’s fashion, shoes, and accessories. Try Latitudes for fair trade selections ranging from women’s apparel, to jewelry to recycled metal wall art. If you’re looking for more art to buy, check out Beverly Street Studio, where local artists exhibit and sell their work. You might also be captivated by the spectacular glass work at Sunspots Studios. Bonus: you can go into the studio and watch the artist blowing and sculpting the molten glass.

Relax and Recharge

If you’re serious about relaxing, why not share a spa day with your girlfriends? Indulge yourself Staunton’s newest spa, the Spa at the Blackburn. Choose from an extensive menu of skin treatments, massage, reflexology, and nail care delivered in an upscale, serene setting. You can select single treatments or combine them for a full or half-day experience. You can also relax at  Breezy Hill Day Spa, housed in a historic mansion or Mill Street Body and Soul Day Spa and Salon,  which is right downtown. Breezy Hill and Mill Street’s services also include massage, facials, manicures, and pedicures. Breezy Hill offers an all-day session that includes lunch.

Outside Fun

Take a scenic drive to the Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway to admire the world-famous views of the Shenandoah Valley from above. Hikers can take advantage of numerous trailheads along these roads.

For other ideas, see An Alternate Spring Break: 5 Awesome Hikes or Hiking Trips that Are Amazing in Fall.  If it’s spring or summer, consider a side trip to Fishersville for a ramble around the Andre Viette Farm. Viette is world famous for his daylilies, and the farm and garden center is open year round. Get inspired by the beautiful gardens and take some plants home to your own. Another place for spotting blooms is Pebble Hall Wildflowers. Pick a bouquet of whatever’s in season, pet the horses, and plan a picnic to appreciate the view. In warmer weather, you might also rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Rockfish Gap Outfitters in Waynesboro for a fun-filled day of paddling on the South River or Sherando Lake.

Drinks and Light Fare

If you’re thirsty, head to Ox Eye Tasting Room to check out their new outdoor space, and taste a variety of their wines. Follow your tasting with a full glass of your favorite. You should also visit one of Staunton’s newest venues, The Green Room, where you can enjoy wine, beer, and light fare such as apps and sandwiches. Or go to Yelping Dog Wine, where wine can be enjoyed by the glass or by the bottle, and you can munch on a cheese plate or gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. If you prefer a vineyard with a view, take a picnic to Barren Ridge Vineyards, only a short drive east of Staunton.

Dinner with Friends

Staunton boasts a rich restaurant scene with much to choose from, but if you’re looking for fare to share with your girlfriends, try a range of Spanish tapas and other Mediterranean food at Aioli Restaurant. If pizza and beer are more up your alley, split a gourmet pie at Shenandoah Pizza and Tap House. And if you still have room for more food, get some scoops of homemade gelato at The Split Banana. Here, a number of flavors, both traditional and exotic will tempt your taste buds. Guinness Extra Stout in a waffle cone, anyone? Many Staunton restaurants are offering indoor seating at this time, but downtown has extended its dining initiative, involving restaurants like Baja Bean Co., BLU Point Seafood Co., Laughing Bird Pho, Zynodoa, and more through January. And if you’d rather carryout, there are plenty of curbside pickup options.

Staunton After Dark

Many of Staunton’s watering holes host events on different nights of the week. Fun stuff includes trivia, live music, open mic nights, karaoke, vineyard walks, and virtual entertainment. Check out the Staunton on Tap and the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail events page for more info on events. And if active puzzle games are your style, book a Staunton’s Crack the Code Escape Room. Groups of six or fewer use their wits to puzzle out clues and escape the room in under an hour. A trip to Staunton isn’t complete without some Shakespeare at the American Shakespeare Center. You can catch a performance – with Covid precautions in place – almost every night year-round.

Other good stuff:


If you’re planning to stay in Staunton overnight, here’s your link to Staunton’s most beautiful rooms. Want to stay in a brand hotel? Click here for our bed and breakfast picks.

Weekend of October 30 – November 1, 2020

The autumn colors have peaked and they still look pretty fantastic, despite many trees having dropped their leaves. Get out and walk around Staunton’s residential neighborhoods or through the historic downtown to enjoy these final weeks of color. Look for the brilliant yellow displays of maples and the reds of Staunton’s many dogwood trees. Prepare, … Continue reading Weekend of October 30 – November 1, 2020

The autumn colors have peaked and they still look pretty fantastic, despite many trees having dropped their leaves. Get out and walk around Staunton’s residential neighborhoods or through the historic downtown to enjoy these final weeks of color. Look for the brilliant yellow displays of maples and the reds of Staunton’s many dogwood trees. Prepare, also, for some chilly weather, especially at night. You’ll want to bundle up if you visit the Staunton Farmers’ Market in one of its last weeks of the season because Saturday morning is supposed to be cold! After you pick up some of the harvest, walk up to the top of Sears Hill to view the city from above, or explore the grounds of nearby Trinity Church for some final autumn photos, perhaps with the kids wearing their costumes.

The temperatures should warm up to 60 on Sunday (though it will be colder in the mountains). You’ll want to work off some of that Halloween candy with a hike. Try one of these hikes in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. You might also check out the leaves from the comfort of your car on the Skyline drive through Shenandoah National Park. Here’s a link to the park’s list of suggested hikes.

Black History in Staunton, VA

The African-American experience is essential to Staunton and the surrounding areas. Read on to learn about Staunton’s notable Black citizens and discover resources for gaining a broader understanding of our city’s African-American history, culture, and contributions.   History Before the Civil War, many farms throughout the Shenandoah Valley relied upon the labor of enslaved African-Americans. … Continue reading Black History in Staunton, VA

The African-American experience is essential to Staunton and the surrounding areas. Read on to learn about Staunton’s notable Black citizens and discover resources for gaining a broader understanding of our city’s African-American history, culture, and contributions.
 

History

Before the Civil War, many farms throughout the Shenandoah Valley relied upon the labor of enslaved African-Americans. In 1830, only about one-sixth of Staunton’s African American population was free. Those people worked as blacksmiths, shoemakers, laborers, domestics and barbers. After the Emancipation Proclamation, business opportunities grew and by the end of the century, Staunton had 26 black-owned businesses. These included grocery and variety stores, a cabinet-making shop, three cobblers, a restaurant, a boarding house, barbershops, and several laundries. Ten years later, there were at least 46 black-owned businesses in Staunton. These included a newspaper, hotel, restaurants, a meat market, an insurance company, a jewelry store, and professionals such as doctors and a lawyer.

Festivals, Research, and Museums

African-American Heritage Festival

Covid cancelled Staunton’s 2020 African-American Heritage Festival, but it will hopefully return for its 32nd year in 2021. This free, annual two-day festival in September is the largest and oldest in the Shenandoah Valley. Visitors can expect historians, art by regional artists, vendors, entertainment, and community outreach. Area churches gather for an “under the tent” worship service on Sunday morning, and everyone can enjoy an afternoon of gospel music. The event is open to the public. “If that’s not your heritage, it’s an easy bridge-building activity that allows you to experience our food and culture.”

 

Staunton/Augusta County African American Research Society

Staunton/Augusta County African American Research Society’s mission “is to research, develop and maintain an ongoing written, pictorial and multimedia archive of the African American experience in Staunton and Augusta County from its early settlement in 1738 to the present by focusing on education, business, politics, religion, military service and cultural experience.” The society’s website is a good source of information for general and family history of Black people in this area.

Laten Ervin Bechtel’s In Their Words: Growing Up In Segregated Staunton and Augusta County, Virginia

In this 300-page oral history, Bechtel, a local author and historian interviews 30 African Americans who grew up in segregated times. Bechtel’s interviews record an important side of local history and show racial discrimination through the eyes of those who lived it. Available in the Staunton Public Library.

Frontier Culture Museum’s West African Farm Exhibit

The Frontier Culture Museum’s living history farms educate visitors from the present by recreating the past. The West African Farm exhibit “explores the cultural contributions of African captives who were brought to Virginia in the 1700s.” Captives from many ethnic groups came from all over Africa, but many were Igbo from the West African Coast. The West African Farm demonstrates how free Igbo people lived in Africa in the 1700s. As they tour the exhibit, visitors can learn about history, architecture, farming, cooking, folklore, pottery, weaving, and more.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum

Woodrow Wilson has been criticized for his attitudes on race and his birthplace has a history of slavery. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum seeks to educate with its exhibits Wilson and Civil Rights and Enslaved Laborers in the Manse. Curator Andrew Phillips developed the live virtual programs that explore Wilson’s impact on American civil rights and the “experiences of the enslaved people who lived and labored in the Presbyterian Manse.” Sign up to reserve your spot in the programs.


Notable Staunton Addresses

Montgomery Hall Park

Before the 1940s, Staunton’s Black community had no recreational facilities and was given just one day a year to visit Gypsy Hill Park. When Black leaders asked to use the park more, Staunton bought the 150-acre Montgomery Hall mansion property, to build a separate park. In 1946, Montgomery Hall Park became one of only two Virginia parks dedicated to African American use, and people traveled many miles to visit. The park remained segregated until 1969. Irene Givens led the park committee and its programs for 25 years and today the administration building bears her name. In recent years Montgomery Hall Park has hosted an annual Juneteenth celebration as a way to celebrate the end of slavery. The celebration has included food, live entertainment, children’s activities, information booths, voter registration, healthy screenings, and more.

 
A good way to learn about the park’s history is to watch the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library’s 2008 Montgomery Hall Park Project.

Booker T. Washington Museum and Library

The Booker T. Washington Museum and Library is housed in the Booker T. Washington Community Center. This brick building built in the Art Deco style is Staunton’s former segregated high school, which operated for 30 years before Staunton’s schools were finally integrated in 1966. Not only did the school serve as an educational space, it also was a public meeting place for the African-American community. It hosted social events, voter registration, and adult night classes. The museum contains photographs, articles, books, yearbooks, and memorabilia like sports trophies and letterman jackets. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2014.

Allen Chapel A.M.E

Allen Chapel A.M.E (African Methodist Episcopal), organized in 1865 was the first Black church west of the Blue Ridge. The congregation worshipped in various places before the original church was built at 921 West Beverley Street in 1924. This is also the sight of the city’s first Black choir and first Black school for adults. Faced with parking limitations, the congregation moved in 1997 to its current location on Sudbury Street.

Fairview Cemetery

Six-acre Fairview Cemetery located in northern Staunton is a predominantly African-American cemetery. Mount Zion Baptist and Augusta Street United Methodist Churches founded it in 1869 . The Lambert Street location was outside city limits at the time and part of a Black community called Sandy Hollow. Early graves are unmarked, but a section developed 30 years later looks like a typical “park cemetery.”

East Beverley Street

The Cabell house (654 E. Beverley Street) is the last exposed-log structure in Staunton. A fire damaged it in 1920, but the original part remains. It is typical of 19th century African-American architecture. It was built in 1869 by Edmund Cabell, a “free man of color,” and owned by three generations of his family. Nearby, the building at East Beverley and Market Streets was originally built as a masonic lodge and is still used for that purpose. Incorporated in 1882, Staunton’s “Colored Masonic Mount Zion Lodge, no. 18” is one of the oldest African-American masonic lodges in the U.S.

Notable Black Stauntonians

Robert Campbell

Robert Campbell was born free in 1794. Before the Civil War, only one-sixth of the African-American population was free. After serving in the War of 1812, Campbell moved to Staunton and opened a barbershop on Beverley Street. His successful business allowed him to buy five downtown buildings and he was considered wealthy by the standards of the times. By 1891, Staunton had 26 black-owned businesses that included barbershops, grocery stores, cobble shops, a restaurant, and a boarding house. This number increased to 46 by 1904 and the businesses included a hotel, a newspaper, an insurance company, a jewelry store, doctors, and lawyers.

Willis McGlascoe Carter

Willis McGlascoe Carter was an NAACP leader who was born into slavery in 1852. Self-educated in his youth, he became an educator and principal in Augusta County’s segregated public schools. He led the Augusta County Teachers’ Association and helped educate teachers. Carter was editor of the Southern Tribune, an African-American newspaper in Staunton. He also wrote a detailed history of his family and education. Carter helped create the Negro Industrial and Educational Association of Virginia. He lies buried in Fairview Cemetery.

Charles J. Waller

Born in 1898, Dr. Charles J. Waller served as regional vice-president of the national Medical Association. He practiced medicine in Staunton for many years without hospital privileges. Later, he became a member of the King’s Daughters’ staff and was elected president in 1968. He was also the first African-American to run for Staunton’s city council.

Captain William Green Jr.

Captain William Green Jr. was born in 1920 and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in 1939. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and became one of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, one of our country’s first Black aviators. He flew 123 wartime missions in Europe and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters, E.T.O. ribbons with three battle stars, and the Purple Heart.

Rita Wilson

Born in 1940, Rita Wilson was Staunton’s first African-American councilwoman. She served 16 years as a member and vice mayor of city council. She also served on the school board and the board of the Frontier Culture Museum.
 
For more information, take a look at the Staunton African American Heritage Brochure.

Dine Like a Local: Savor Hometown Staunton’s Favorite Flavors

Everyone knows that the best way to explore a city is to dine like a local. You might not end up in all the fanciest spots, but if you venture off the tourist trails, you’ll get the freshest food and the best tasting meals. Plus you’ll learn a lot about the area and cuisine.  Take … Continue reading Dine Like a Local: Savor Hometown Staunton’s Favorite Flavors

Everyone knows that the best way to explore a city is to dine like a local. You might not end up in all the fanciest spots, but if you venture off the tourist trails, you’ll get the freshest food and the best tasting meals. Plus you’ll learn a lot about the area and cuisine. 

Take a Food Tour

Sure, tours make you seem like a tourist, but the Biteseeing Staunton tour gives you a sampling of all the goodness Staunton has to offer. Explore the city and let the chefs select the best seasonal show-off meals they can muster. Plus, Bridgett Beasley, who owns the company and leads the tours, has personal relationships with the restaurants. She can tell you all kinds of stories about the cuisine and Staunton history.

Visit the Farmers’ Market

Stauntons’ producers only Staunton Farmers’ Market is a wonderful way to pick up a snack (try a maple donut or a cupcake) as well as some of the freshest produce (and meat and flowers) around. Plus, the producers love to chat with the customers and tell them about their farming practices and give tips on how best to enjoy your purchases.

Tour Polyface Farm

Drive through lovely Augusta County to Polyface Farm in Swoope. Many of our local restaurants use Polyface’s ethically and farm-raised meat and eggs in their meals. In fact, Joel Salatin is a leader in the grass-fed movement and believes in total transparency about his farming methods. You can visit the farm and take a self-guided tour to learn about sustainable farming practices from a leader in the industry. For more ideas about how to enjoy the area’s farm scene, visit the Fields of Gold Farm Trail.

Dine Somewhere with Some Local History

Lifelong Stauntonians swear by the old classics. Wright’s Dairy Rite has been flashing it’s neon sign since the 1950s and serving up Americana in the form of burgers, onion rings, and soft-serve delights. You can even stay in your car and cruise up to the old-fashioned drive-through terminal and have staff bring your food to your window. Likewise, the barbeque and slow-churned ice cream served at Kline’s will bring back memories of a thousand post-little-league treats.

Double Down on Breakfast

Locals know that the best way to get a good, cheap, filling breakfast is to head over to local favorites Kathy’s Restaurant and Mrs. Rowe’s. Along with a good selection of lunches and dinners, Kathy’s serves a hearty breakfast all day long and options include gourmet pancakes, eggs and omelettes, and “meat lover meals.” Mrs. Rowe’s restaurant has been “treating customers like family” since 1947, using classic family recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You won’t want to leave without grabbing a few pies from the onsite bakery. When they’re looking for a quick cup of Joe on the way out of town, locals know that the Queen Bean offers not only drive-thru convenience and a stellar cup of organic and locally roasted coffee, but they’re also using eco friendly cups, straws, and utensils.  

How About Some Lunch?

Cranberry’s Grocery and Eatery is an easy stroll from anywhere downtown. It specializes in tasty and healthy items like wraps and soups. While you’re there, check out the bulk and on-tap section, where you can fill your containers with goodies like kombucha, olive oil, vinegar, and coffee. Take advantage of online ordering and plan to pick up a sandwich (or a family-style dinner) to go at Lundch, which always takes what’s fresh and seasonal into account when planning menus. 

Dinner Time!

Staunton has a lot of fine restaurants for a small city. There are plenty of places to go out for date night, but for a regular weekday meal, when you’re looking for tasty food for reasonable prices, locals fill up at the following: Baja Bean serves up savory Southern California style Mexican food. They also have a well-stocked bar that includes a curated list of craft beers on tap and by the bottle, wines, and mixed drinks like margaritas. Newtown Baking and Kitchen is known for its breads and fresh pastries, but you can also get a pretty incredible wood-fired pizza there. Finally, if it’s steak, seafood, and American comfort foods you’re seeking, head down to the Depot Grille for outside dining and curbside takeout. Meals can be ordered individually or family-style.

Locals Drain their Mugs at Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company

Craft Breweries abound in the Shenandoah Valley, but locals know the place to go to hang with friends is Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company. Chappy, the owner, is talkative and will tell you all about the beer and brewing process. The brewery is cozy and reminiscent of an old-world pub. Beers are available by glass or flight.

Staunton’s Fall Foliage Report 2020: Weekend of October 23-25

  Well, Staunton, the colors are here. Look outside the window and you’ll see nature in full autumnal display. Better yet, the weather is incredible. Crisp at night, but comfortable during the day. Open your windows and get out and enjoy the season. If you haven’t already scouted some backgrounds for your seasonal photos, it’s … Continue reading Staunton’s Fall Foliage Report 2020: Weekend of October 23-25

 

Well, Staunton, the colors are here. Look outside the window and you’ll see nature in full autumnal display. Better yet, the weather is incredible. Crisp at night, but comfortable during the day. Open your windows and get out and enjoy the season. If you haven’t already scouted some backgrounds for your seasonal photos, it’s time to get on that. Visit Gypsy Hill Park, Montgomery Hall Park, Woodrow Park, Betsy Bell and Mary Gray Wilderness Area, and Thornrose Cemetery for some of the loveliest views in town. Also, just enjoy a stroll through some of Staunton’s residential neighborhoods to admire the backyard beauty.

Beyond Staunton

The colors continue to march on in the mountains. Leaf peepers can expect to see reds and oranges from sugar and red maples. Look also for red displays from sumac and, surprisingly, poison ivy vines, which add festive garlands to tree trunks. The Virginia Department of Forestry estimates that more than 50 percent of the trees at higher elevations have changed and that we are in peak leaf season. Check out the views along the Skyline Drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and from the top of Shenandoah Mountain to the west. If you want to take your kids hiking, check out Hikes for Kids of All Ages, which are perfect for beginners. 

 

Staunton’s Fall Foliage Report 2020: Weekend of October 16-18

The colors are here! While many trees are still dressed in green, most have at least some vivid colors on them. Everything should be reaching a peak over the next two weekends. Looking for some places to enjoy the colors without leaving town? Take a stroll in Gypsy Hill Park or along the main entrance … Continue reading Staunton’s Fall Foliage Report 2020: Weekend of October 16-18

The colors are here! While many trees are still dressed in green, most have at least some vivid colors on them. Everything should be reaching a peak over the next two weekends. Looking for some places to enjoy the colors without leaving town? Take a stroll in Gypsy Hill Park or along the main entrance corridor of Mary Baldwin University. Thornrose Cemetery is another nice place to admire the seasonal colors. Leaves are falling off the trees in your yard, too, so get your rake and a bunch of jumping kids and enjoy this treasured fall pastime.

This weekend promises to be a good one for hiking, which is a welcome change after last week’s rain. If you’re looking for a mountain to climb, check out one of our Hiking Trips that Are Amazing in the Fall, all within an hour and a half of town. Temps will be cooler at higher elevations, so wear some layers when you explore the trails this weekend. You’ll see vivid colors on about half the trees in the mountains. Anticipate more beautiful days to come, thanks to the cold, the shorter days and the breakdown of chlorophyll. 

Check here every week for our updated fall foliage report.

Staunton’s Fall Foliage 2020: Weekend of October 9-11

The colors are starting to change! Look outside and you’ll still see lots of green, but it’s heavily punctuated with yellows, reds, and spots of orange, especially on the sugar maples. This week’s seasonal weather will hurry things along. The highs this weekend will be in the 60s with some nights dipping into the 40s. … Continue reading Staunton’s Fall Foliage 2020: Weekend of October 9-11

The colors are starting to change! Look outside and you’ll still see lots of green, but it’s heavily punctuated with yellows, reds, and spots of orange, especially on the sugar maples. This week’s seasonal weather will hurry things along. The highs this weekend will be in the 60s with some nights dipping into the 40s. The lower temps at night should bring us some color. In fact, according to Smoky Mountain National Park’s Fall Foliage Prediction Map, we should be seeing near peak leaves this weekend and next week. Look for peak color coverage from the 15th-25th.

The temperature should be great for a hike this weekend,  perhaps from a trailhead along the Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway.  With the forecast looking a little rainy, plan ahead and pack your poncho, or stop by the Staunton Visitor Center  downtown to pick one up (limited supply). You’ll notice that even the trees at higher elevations still show some green, but The Virginia Department of Forestry suggests that the green will soon be changing as limited daylight shuts down chlorophyll production. Though all deciduous trees change color and drop their leaves, the intensity of the show varies every year. 

Check back every week for our updated fall foliage report.

Hiking Trips That Are Amazing in the Fall + What You Need in Your Backpack

One of the best ways to enjoy the fall colors is with a hard hike that peaks on an incredible mountaintop with a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape. Plus, the cooler fall weather makes hiking more comfortable, and you might see more wildlife than in the height of summer. We’ve found four hikes … Continue reading Hiking Trips That Are Amazing in the Fall + What You Need in Your Backpack

One of the best ways to enjoy the fall colors is with a hard hike that peaks on an incredible mountaintop with a bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape. Plus, the cooler fall weather makes hiking more comfortable, and you might see more wildlife than in the height of summer. We’ve found four hikes within an hour and a half from Staunton that should round out your fall bucket list. Grab your lunch and your camera and get ready to immerse yourself in fall in the Shenandoah Valley.

Reddish Knob

45 minutes from Staunton

GPS Coordinates: 38.43198, -79.12782

The sheer length of the Reddish Knob hike intimidates many hikers. And at 18 miles, it’s more of a marathon than a day hike. However, there is a road that runs to the top and a graffiti-covered “parking lot in the sky” that’s popular with area college students. If you use two cars, you can actually do the more manageable 9-miles-one-way trip as a challenging day hike. Consider timing it so that you can catch an incredible sunrise or sunset from the top. This hike climbs to 4,397 feet through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. It’s the highest point in northern Virginia and delivers 330-degree views of both Virginia and West Virginia, where you can glimpse far-off U.S. Navy satellite dishes. Look for eagles, hawks, falcons, and other raptors, especially during fall migration.

Sharp Top Trail at Peaks of Otter

1 hour and 15 minutes from Staunton

GPS: Coordinates: 37.44539, -79.60967

Head south from Staunton to find the Sharp Top Trail, one of the summits at Peaks of Otter. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 86, this area has actually been a favorite of tourists since the 1800s. Don’t let the 1.5-mile sign at the trailhead fool you into thinking this is going to be an easy hike – the National Park Service suggests giving yourself two hours to climb and another to get back down. Your quads will definitely ache after you’re finished, but this hike is accessible by children. The trail can be well-traveled, so take your mask. The peak, which is paved and terraced with low stone walls, offers a panoramic view for miles and miles. And oh, what a view. You’ll be able to get selfies in every direction! Several other short trails originate from the same area, and there’s a lodge and a campground, so you can make a weekend of it and climb all the nearby peaks. 

The Priest

1 hour from Staunton

GPS Coordinates: 37.83831, -79.02328 

No one knows where the name of this area came from, but the comments on the Hiking Upward entry for The Priest hike joke that you’ll need a priest since you’ll probably die on the way up. The 8.6-mile out-and-back hike’s first 3.9 miles are killers and rise 3,000 feet with a 13% grade. However, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of distant ridges and rolling lowland forests. Plus, you’ll get a walk back down the mountain for the second half of the hike. If you do the hike in the autumn, the leaves will brighten the trail with their colors, but many trees at the top will have sparse leaf coverage that will lead to a wider view of several neighboring peaks and ridges. If you care to take a second car so you can end your hike at a different spot, this hike can be easily combined with a descent of Crabtree Falls, another of the area’s can’t miss hikes, which descends along one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi.

Robertson Mountain

1 hour and 30 minutes from Staunton

GPS Coordinates: 38.57997, -78.38116

Old Rag is a wonderful hike with spectacular views, but it is also one of the most popular in Shenandoah National Park. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds that come with that popularity, we suggest Robertson Mountain as an alternative. The 6.8-mile out-and-back hike neighbors Old Rag and is actually a few feet taller. It is also one of the steepest hikes in SNP, climbing 1,700 feet in 1.5 miles. You’ll enjoy pausing for breath at the top: its rocky vantage points offer views of the nearby summits and the valleys in three directions. Keep an eye out for hawks and eagles soaring over the valley. This hike traverses trails and fire roads, and should take you about 4.5 hours to complete.

What Should Be in My Backpack for a Day Hike?

You probably won’t forget your lunch or your phone when you set out on the trails, but have you packed everything else you might need to keep you safe and comfortable? Here are some necessities.

  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Leave an itinerary in your car.
  • Plenty of water. You might also want to pack some iodine tablets or a Lifestraw.
  • Extra snacks/plenty of food.
  • Sunscreen and a hat.
  • Map/compass. Don’t rely on your GPS to save you if you lose your way and you probably won’t be able to download a map from the woods.
  • A Whistle. This can be a lifesaver if you wander off the trail.
  • First-Aid Kit. 
  • Sturdy boots or shoes and good socks.
  • Dress in layers that will wick moisture.
  • A rain poncho because dry = warm.
  • Knife or multitool.
  • Flashlight/headlight with extra batteries.

Visit Wilderness Adventure in Staunton for all of your hiking needs.

Staunton’s Fall Foliage 2020: Weekend of October 2-4

It’s the perfect weather for the beginning of fall. The days are fairly warm and the nights are cooling down, but not yet cold — the ideal conditions for hiking, camping, and sleeping with your windows open. The trees are still mostly wearing their summer outfits, but here and there you can see yellowing and … Continue reading Staunton’s Fall Foliage 2020: Weekend of October 2-4

It’s the perfect weather for the beginning of fall. The days are fairly warm and the nights are cooling down, but not yet cold — the ideal conditions for hiking, camping, and sleeping with your windows open. The trees are still mostly wearing their summer outfits, but here and there you can see yellowing and flashes of orange. The cooler weather is sending the trees its signal, though, so expect things to progress rapidly over the next few weeks.

Beyond Staunton

Autumn colors tend to begin in the mountains and in the western part of the state. As the season advances, the colors spread eastward and to lower elevations. The Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map predicts that leaves will be at their peak on the weekend of October 18-20. This is earlier than last year, so make sure you’re getting outside over the next few weeks for hikes both in the mountains and in the Valley.

The Virginia Department of Forestry suggests looking to black gum (red), dogwood (scarlet to purple), sumacs (red orange), and even poison ivy (red) for the most color this week. A lot of wildflowers are still in bloom now, so make sure you’re looking along the sides of roads and trails while you’re out exploring this weekend.

If you’re looking for a nice drive, head west of Staunton into Highland and Bath Counties on this VDOF tour.

Check back here for our updated fall foliage report each week if you’re planning to leaf peep this autumn.

Where to Get Your Shopping Fix in Staunton

Staunton’s small businesses bring character, charm, and commerce to the community. It’s hard to imagine time spent in Staunton that doesn’t include a stroll downtown for shopping or a meal from one of our independently owned restaurants.  Each year the national Shop Small movement and Small Business Saturday (historically the Saturday after Thanksgiving) encourage shoppers … Continue reading Where to Get Your Shopping Fix in Staunton

Staunton’s small businesses bring character, charm, and commerce to the community. It’s hard to imagine time spent in Staunton that doesn’t include a stroll downtown for shopping or a meal from one of our independently owned restaurants. 

Each year the national Shop Small movement and Small Business Saturday (historically the Saturday after Thanksgiving) encourage shoppers to spend some of their holiday dollars at local businesses. This year’s quarantine has been incredibly tough for small businesses and it would be a shame to limit our business to a single day. Though they’ve adapted their business models by offering curbside pickup, outside dining, online ordering and more, many Staunton businesses have been doubly challenged by August’s devastating floods. Shopping locally helps keep the doors open and people employed.

Read on for a roundup of the independent shops you’ll find in Staunton’s quaint and bustling downtown. Our shops and galleries continue to follow Covid guidelines and many offer online ordering. To sweeten the deal, the city of Staunton has waived parking fees in the Johnson Street garage and the Wharf parking lot from November 27 through December 28! Shop local, support the community and take advantage of the high-quality goods and personal services our merchants offer.

Gifts

Staunton serves up a generous helping of shops suited for purchasing a gift for you or someone you love. See what’s new at Made: By the People, For the People. You’ll find an “eclectic selection of quirky gifts & books, American-made vintage clothing, and the hand-crafted creative works of dozens of local, regional, and domestic artists.” Harmony Moon offers home and garden decor, essential oils, and even quarantine survival kits. Shop The Sparrow’s Nest for more home decor like candles, stained glass panels, and paintings. The Sparrow’s Nest also carries handbags, jewelry, and coffee mugs.
Medieval Fantasies Company Gyfte Shoppe
offers tea sets, candles, jewelry, and much, much more. A stroll through Ware House Miniatures will make you feel like a giant. Peek into the rooms where the little people live and pick out a doll house (and all the furnishing) of your own. Your senses are in for a treat at Essentially Zen Artisan Body & Bath Co. You’ll find soaps, bath bombs, candles, gift boxes and much more to help you relax in these stressful times. 

Those who decorate in the popular modern farmhouse style will find beautiful handmade signs in Blair Made that feature words, phrases, and scripture. You can even design your own signs to commemorate your meaningful moments.

Books and Music

Staunton has many independent bookstores guaranteed to give you your next great read. Browse the shelves at Pufferbellies Toys and Books for a curated collection of children’s books (as well as all the best toys and games). Not only will you find eye-opening books and gifts, but Pufferbellies will wrap them beautifully for you.

Next, stop in at Book Dragon, a locally owned bookstore selling everything from kids books to history books. You’ll discover vintage books tucked away inside Barrister Books which sells hard-to-find and used books.

 

The Vinyl Asylum stocks vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and vintage stereo equipment. They promise their music will give you back “your first dance, your first kiss, that magical moment that you will never forget.” Fretwell Bass is an upright bass specialty shop that sells basses, strings, and makes repairs.

Art

Visitors in search of original art need look no further than Staunton’s galleries. Works by local artists can be picked up for reasonable prices at Co-Art Gallery, The Artisan’s Loft, and The Michael B. Tusing Gallery.

Staunton-Augusta Art Center’s Art for Gifts holds a holiday sale each year in November and December. Appalachian Piecework Textile Studio & Antiques sells wonderful handwoven goods, baskets, Shibori scarves, and art quilts. Hand-blown art glass and jewelry can be found at Sunspots Studio & Glassblowing. As an added bonus, you can watch the artist creating the glass in the onsite studio.

Antiques 

Antiquers will delight in Staunton’s selection and quality of treasures to be found. Browse 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. Check out our other antique and specialty shops in and around Staunton. 

 

Clothing & Jewelry

Staunton doesn’t have many chain clothing stores, but our downtown boutiques offer terrific unique finds. CFO Trading Co., one of Staunton’s newest stores, sells traditional men’s clothing and gifts for men like flasks, cocktail accessories and ingredients, journals, grooming supplies, and more. Design @ Nine sells chic collections of clothing, shoes and accessories. It promises to have “everything you need to stay warm, cute, and cozy” this fall. Latitudes Fair Trade Store markets work for marginalized artisans from developing nations. Browse the shop or online for clothing, accessories, jewelry, and gift items.

Tap into classic styles from years past at Nanny June Vintage. You’ll find daywear, formalwear, and items you need for costumes. Better yet, an in house seamstress can help you make sure your new retro clothes fit like they were made for you.

 

H.L. Lang and Co. Jewelers offers fine and custom jewelry. Their Staunton charms feature landmarks like the courthouse, the watering can, and Thornrose Cemetery. You might also be able to peace out with a meditation ring during these stressful times.

Crown Jewelers has been serving Staunton’s fine custom and estate jewelry needs since 1960. If you don’t see the perfect ring, they’ll help you design your own! For fabulous art jewelry created from copper, see The Copper Patina. You’ll also want to peruse the selection of “whimsical and functional art” for home decor, wine accessories, and more. And finally, jewelry from Bonfire Begonia is a treat: one-of-a-kind creations made from found items and beads.

Outdoor

With access to hiking, camping, bike trails, skiing and other outdoor activities, it’s no surprise that you can find specialty shops for these sports. Sole Focus Running will watch you run and listen to your story before recommending the perfect pair of shoes.

Since 2005, Black Dog Bikes has offered advice on bikes, repairs, accessories, and more. Hikers, campers, and paddlers will enjoy the expert service they receive at Wilderness Adventure, and we know winter is on its way because Stan’s Ski and Snowboard has opened for the season.

Food

Staunton has made a name for itself as a foodie town and it’s only fitting that we have some sources for the home cook. If you’re a fan of The Shack, you’ll want to check out the new Staunton Grocery where you can grab sandwiches, wine, and score all kinds of delicious and niche items used in the Shack’s meals to make your own versions at home. The Staunton Farmers’ Market is the place to get fresh ingredients from April to November. Order online and stay in your car, by planning a Wednesday or Friday pickup at Staunton’s Local Food Drive-Thru. Select all kinds of delicious things like fresh baked goods, produce, eggs, pasture-raised meat, cheese, and maple syrup. You should also visit Staunton Olive Oil for high quality flavored oils and vinegars for dipping and cooking.

 

Nearby, The Green Room stocks wine, beer, snacks, and specialty ingredients. Purchase more wine from the wide selections of local and international wines at Yelping Dog Wine.

 

If you can’t shake your sweet tooth, buy a box or artisan truffles or gourmet chocolates at Cocoa Mill.

This list is by no means exhaustive. A stroll through Staunton’s walkable downtown will reveal many more must-sees on your shopping adventure. Plus, there’s lots more to see, eat, drink and explore. Plan your visit today.