#LOVEstaunton

#LOVEstaunton

Take a Walking Tour of Staunton

“An architectural gem in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.” – Washingtonian There are six historic districts located in downtown Staunton, all filled with exceptional architecture – Beverley Historic District, Wharf Historic District, Newtown Historic District, Stuart Addition Historic District, Gospel Hill Historic District, and The Villages Historic District. Thomas Jasper (“T.J.”) Collins moved to Staunton in 1891, … Continue reading Take a Walking Tour of Staunton

“An architectural gem in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.” – Washingtonian

There are six historic districts located in downtown Staunton, all filled with exceptional architecture – Beverley Historic District, Wharf Historic District, Newtown Historic District, Stuart Addition Historic District, Gospel Hill Historic District, and The Villages Historic District.

Thomas Jasper (“T.J.”) Collins moved to Staunton in 1891, and during the next 20 years, he designed or remodeled over 200 buildings in the Staunton area. Collins worked within a wide range of styles. T.J. Collins retired in 1911. The legacy of his work, and that of his sons Will and Sam who followed him, continued with T.J. Collins’s grandson Joseph
Johnson. Their architectural designs left a distinct impression on Staunton’s landscape.
 

“The 30 Most Beautiful Main Streets Across America.”  – Architectural Digest

Beverley Historic District

Downtown Staunton contains many examples of Virginia’s finest Victorian architecture. Some of the most notable can be seen in the Beverley Historic District, which was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. Most of the buildings in this area date from the 1870s to the 1920s. This historic district is small, and therefore perfect for exploring on foot.

Wharf Historic District

In the 1840s, Staunton grew from a sleepy town to a thriving center of commerce with the construction of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. The town’s growth accelerated again when the Virginia Central Railroad arrived in 1854. The Wharf Historic District grew up around the train depot to handle merchandise and house passengers. Along with warehouses and hotels, this district also featured saloons, distilleries, liveries, and brothels. Despite a history fraught with the perils of fire, flood, war, and abandonment, significant historic architecture survives. The Historic Staunton Foundation has focused on the area’s restoration since 1989.

Newtown Historic District

Named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983, Newtown Historic District is Staunton’s oldest distinctly residential neighborhood. The name Newtown set it apart from the area once known as Oldtown. This district is Staunton’s largest and consists of over 400 buildings. Many of the homes in Newtown emerged between the 1870s and 1920s, but some older structures date to the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Stuart Addition Historic District

This diverse, older neighborhood adjoins the campus of Mary Baldwin University and the former Staunton Military Academy. Rich in historical associations, it boasts numerous buildings listed in the National Register and some of the steepest hills in town. Deeded to the City in 1803 by Judge Archibald Stuart, Stuart Addition Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

Gospel Hill Historic District

The corner of Beverley and Coalter Streets was called Gospel Hill in the late 1790s when religious meetings were held here at Sampson Eagon’s blacksmith shop. Today, the intersection marks the heart of this gracious neighborhood of shady streets and elegant homes that represent a century of domestic architectural styles. The district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

The Villages Historic District

The five antebellum structures at Western State are recognized as one of the best-preserved and original assemblages of early institutional architecture in the United States. First known as Western Lunatic Asylum, this institution was founded in 1825 to serve Virginia’s western region.

Architect Thomas Blackburn, master builder William B. Phillips, masons, and carpenters executed finely detailed work on this campus. They also worked on the early construction (1817-1826) of the University of Virginia, designed by Thomas Jefferson in nearby Charlottesville. The original architectural fabric of the campus remains remarkably unaltered. Architectural elements such as rooftop railings, masonry techniques, door and window surrounds, interior archways, stairs, and specific molding details clearly indicate the involvement of fine craftsmen deeply influenced by their work with Jefferson. The buildings are a testament to Virginia’s early effort to provide enlightened care to the mentally ill. Surrounding the building is a landscape of healing, where patients enjoyed the therapeutic pleasure of fresh air in a lush, verdant setting. Of note is the decorative wrought iron enclosure with pineapple finials. The hospital relocated in the 1970s. The complex was then converted into a state prison, which closed in the 1990s. Today, the 80-acre campus is undergoing re-development into a mix of uses.

Download a Walking Tour Map here.

Staunton’s Brand Hotels

How do you shop for a hotel? Within walking distance of restaurants, attractions, and shopping? Near the interstate? Or do you shop by brand? Staunton has a hotel brand to fit any preference or price point. Staunton’s Newest Brands Tru By Hilton Staunton / 120 Crossing Way, Staunton, Virginia Tru is Hilton’s newest hotel chain. … Continue reading Staunton’s Brand Hotels

How do you shop for a hotel? Within walking distance of restaurants, attractions, and shopping? Near the interstate? Or do you shop by brand? Staunton has a hotel brand to fit any preference or price point.

Staunton’s Newest Brands

Tru By Hilton Staunton / 120 Crossing Way, Staunton, Virginia

Tru is Hilton’s newest hotel chain. Tru focuses on building community. You’ll experience that when the friendly staff makes recommendations for taking advantage of the local culture and dining scene. A mural in the lobby features Staunton landmarks, and the 24/7 convenience kiosk stocks local products.

Tru’s 90 efficiently designed rooms feature great mattresses, lots of towels, and large TVs. Tru’s community spaces really stand out, however,  and guests should make sure they go down to the open-plan lobby to mix and mingle.

Included in your stay is a complimentary breakfast, which features bagels, plain donuts, yogurt, eggs, or oatmeal. BOOK NOW. 

Fairfield Inn and Suites, by Marriot / 114 Crossing Way, Staunton, VA

Visitors to Marriott’s 98-room Fairfield Inn and Suites will enjoy an “easy, positive, and productive travel experience.” The hotel chain’s newly updated modern design aesthetic features plenty of flexible space for guests to lounge, work, and gather. Choose an individual space or pull up to the large farmhouse table to socialize while enjoying your complimentary hot breakfast. The breakfast features omelets, bacon, mini waffles, fruit yogurt, and pastries.

The lobby’s Corner Market stocks goodies 24 hours a day. There is also a fitness center and an indoor swimming pool. BOOK NOW.

Comfortable & Affordable Brands

Best Western

The Best Western Staunton Inn, situated in the breathtaking Shenandoah Valley features all the amenities and comfort guests have come to expect from the Best Western brand, in addition to affordable rates and a convenient location off I-81.
 
92 Rowe Rd.
Staunton, VA 24401  800-752-9471
 

Comfort Inn

Get a great start to your day with free continental breakfast and complimentary WiFi available throughout the hotel. Make a splash in their seasonal outdoor pool. Enjoy all-day complimentary coffee and access to laundry facilities during your stay.
 
1302 Richmond Ave.
Staunton, VA 24401  877-424-6423

Econo Lodge

Their goal is to provide the basics for travelers with their long list of amenities. Including free continental breakfast, and ample parking including space for buses. This pet-friendly hotel is FEMA approved for government travelers—and they have on-site guest laundry facilities.
 
1031 Richmond Ave.
Staunton, VA 24401  540-885-5158
 

Hampton Inn by Hilton

At Hampton Inn hotel in Staunton, VA, you’ll find great amenities in your non-smoking room. Free WiFi, a mini-fridge, a microwave, a 37-inch TV and a cozy bed are standard amenities in all of their guest rooms.
 
40 Payne Lane
Staunton, VA 24401  800-HAMPTON
 
Holiday Inn Staunton

Holiday Inn Staunton

Guests enjoy an ideal location off I-81 and just minutes from I-64. Amenities include a half indoor, outdoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, and full-service restaurant and bar.
 
152 Fairway Lane
Staunton, VA 24401  800-465-4329
 

Howard Johnson Express Inn

Conveniently located just two miles off I-81. This affordable and pet-friendly hotel near Mary Baldwin University is within walking distance of shopping, dining, and entertainment in downtown Staunton.
 
268 N. Central Ave.
Staunton, VA 24401  800-446-4656
 
Quality Inn & Suites

Quality Inn and Suites

These spacious guest rooms include a refrigerator and microwave, along with premium bedding and comfy pillows, in-room coffee maker, iron and ironing board. Sleeper sofas, sitting areas, and charging devices are available in select rooms.
 
200 Frontier Dr.
Staunton, VA 24401  540-887-0200
 

Red Roof Inn Staunton

Red Roof Inn is one of the most budget-friendly hotels in Staunton, VA that is conveniently located off of I-81.
 
273D Bells Lane
Staunton, VA 24401  540-248-0888
 
Sleep Inn Staunton

Sleep Inn

There’s much to love about The Sleep Inn’s smoke-free hotel’s classic amenities and modern, stylish look. After a restful night’s sleep in one of their Designed to Dream rooms, enjoy a free breakfast. Pets welcome.
 
222 Jefferson Hwy.
Staunton, VA 24401  800-488-8750

Eat Your Heart out at One of Staunton’s Best Picnic Spots

Grab your picnic blanket and your wicker basket, and get ready to spend a sweet late summer afternoon or evening lounging in one of the Staunton area’s best outdoor spaces. Handcraft your food, order sandwiches from one of our restaurants, or even unbox a pizza — the choices are endless. Bring your favorite people and … Continue reading Eat Your Heart out at One of Staunton’s Best Picnic Spots

Grab your picnic blanket and your wicker basket, and get ready to spend a sweet late summer afternoon or evening lounging in one of the Staunton area’s best outdoor spaces. Handcraft your food, order sandwiches from one of our restaurants, or even unbox a pizza — the choices are endless. Bring your favorite people and a frisbee or a book and enjoy!

Cannon Hill at Mary Baldwin University

Cannon Hill at Mary Baldwin University is a high, flat, open lawn that commands a panoramic view of the city. We like to toss a ball and play with the maps feature on our phones, searching for friends’ houses and trying to match landmarks with what we see on the screen. Bonus: there’s rarely anyone here!

Gypsy Hill Park

Gypsy Hill Park is made for picnicking. Set up at one of the park’s many tables, find a place in a pavilion, or spread out on the grass somewhere private. One of our favorite spots is the south side of Lewis Creek to the east of the baseball diamonds. After your meal, check out the creek or walk the 1.3-mile loop.

Thornrose Cemetery

It might seem slightly maudlin to picnic in a cemetery, but the historic Thornrose Cemetery was actually constructed in the mid-1800s with this in mind. People would go to walk, picnic, enjoy the landscape, and feel close to loved ones. Today, the well-kept roads, structures, and scenery offer plenty of places to sit and enjoy the peace and beauty.

Frontier Culture Museum

The Frontier Culture Museum offers plenty of picnic tables and green spaces. Having a meal is a nice way to relax after touring the grounds. Plus, after learning about historic food production and meal preparation, your kids will appreciate the relative ease of modern dining. 

Barren Ridge Vineyards

Barren Ridge Vineyards welcomes visitors to come for wine and stay awhile. There’s plenty of room on the patio and lawn to set up a picnic or a charcuterie spread, and if you love a glass of red (or white), you’ll appreciate their offerings. The Vineyard regularly hosts live music, and you can’t beat the incredible views extending over the grapevines toward the mountains.

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is part of James Madison University in Harrisonburg. This wooded garden preserves and displays native plants and educates the public about them. The gardens include water features, a pollinator garden for monarch butterflies, herb and perennial gardens, play spaces for children and more.

Cyrus McCormick Farm

Head south to the Cyrus McCormick Farm, where the inventor of the mechanical reaper first revolutionized farming. Owned by Virginia Tech, Today, the farm has several original buildings with educational displays. You’ll also see a  waterwheel, a nature trail, and a mill pond. The picnic area has picnic tables, restrooms, and friendly geese that will beg for your lunch.

Skyline Drive

We’d be remiss to leave out the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. With over 70 scenic overlooks, you could pack a picnic every day this summer and never repeat a view! Many overlooks double as trailheads, so you can get your exercise in before or after your meal.

Braley Pond

4.5-acre Braley Pond sits in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest to the west of Staunton. It provides a tranquil setting for picnicking, hiking, and primitive overnight camping. There’s good birdwatching and a chance to see beaver activity in the area. Ghost hunters, too, will be intrigued: professional and amateur paranormal investigators claim that Braley Pond is one of Virginia’s most haunted spots!

 

Staunton’s Pawsome Dog-Friendly Locales

You’ve been snuggling up with your dog more than ever lately, and all this together time makes it hard to leave them home. Fortunately, at least while the weather’s nice, you don’t have to. Here’s a list of “pawsome” Staunton public places that welcome your pet. Homes Away from Home Putting your dog in the … Continue reading Staunton’s Pawsome Dog-Friendly Locales

You’ve been snuggling up with your dog more than ever lately, and all this together time makes it hard to leave them home. Fortunately, at least while the weather’s nice, you don’t have to. Here’s a list of “pawsome” Staunton public places that welcome your pet.

Homes Away from Home

Putting your dog in the kennel when you travel can be sad for everyone. Fortunately, some Staunton inns and hotels include luxury accommodations for humans and dogs. Hotel 24 South was a pioneer in Staunton’s dog-friendly accommodations and The Blackburn Inn opens select rooms to dogs. Hotels may apply additional fees for guests who travel with pets.

Restaurants

Staunton has several dining spots that welcome your four-legged friends. Four-legged friends and their humans can relax under the covered picnic tables at Table 44 and Paris Cake Company’s Dogio. Spoil your pooch and order off the Dogio menu. Choose from bacon slices, burger patty, or if you’re looking for something sweet, try the vanilla ice cream with pup treat. 

If you’re feeling like eating Mexican, take your pooch to Mi Rancho’s outdoor dining space where you can get “a kick-ass Margarita that is extreme.” The patio at Thai Staunton Restaurant is dog friendly. The Pampered Palate and Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery both allow dogs at their sidewalk seating. Spend your lunch hour dining with Rex and watching the bustle of downtown. If you’re lucky, you can grab a spot at the Peck’s Bar-B-Que’s dog-friendly picnic table. Dessert lovers will enjoy sharing their ice cream with their dogs at one of the two dog-friendly picnic tables at Klines Dairy Bar

Breweries

Want to spend an evening out having beers with your best fur buddy? Raise a glass because many of Staunton’s breweries are dog friendly. Skipping Rock Beer Co. allows well behaved dogs on the patios, and Shenandoah Valley Brewing and Queen City Brewing actually welcome dogs inside.

Staunton City Parks

The Gypsy Hill Bark Park is the jewel of Staunton’s dog-friendly venues. Divided into separate spacious runs for small and large dogs, it gives Fidos a chance to sniff each other out while their owners make small talk. The enclosures include training ladders, tunnels, “fire hydrants,” and benches for humans to sit. On the other side of the park, the 1.3 mile “play street,” is a great loop for Fido to stretch those legs. Other city parks are stocked with doggy-bag stations and open to well-behaved dogs on leashes. Dog owners who like to take serious hikes with their dogs might enjoy the Betsy Bell Wilderness Area and the trails at Montgomery Hall Park

National Parks and Forests

Shenandoah National Park is one of only a few national parks allowing pets on the majority of hiking trails provided that they are leashed and owners act responsibly. For day-trippers and campers, George Washington and Jefferson National Forest stipulates that dogs must be leashed on hiking trails (but may go off leash in undeveloped areas). Make sure you pack plenty of water for your furry friend and check them for parasites after your outing.

Other Staunton Venues that Welcome Dogs

Your pet, too can receive pampering in Staunton at the Well Balanced Paw Pet Wellness Shoppe and Barkery. Specializing in nutrient-rich pet nutrition and relaxing small-animal massage, this downtown destination will keep your pet balanced and healthy for years to come.

 

While your dog might love accompanying you to the Staunton Farmers Market, Covid restrictions necessitate your pet staying at home this year.

If you don’t currently have a dog but are looking for a new family member, check out Augusta Dog Adoptions.

Always make sure your dog is leashed, well-behaved, vaccinated, and licensed when you take it in public.

Staunton, Round Two: How to Keep Busy on Your Next Visit

You’ve visited Staunton and watched a play at the Blackfriars Theatre, luxuriated at the Blackburn Inn, eaten fresh at Staunton Farmers’ Market, and explored the past at the Frontier Culture Museum. You’ve relished pastries at Réunion and savored dinner at The Shack. You can repeat all those things during visit #2, but Staunton has much, … Continue reading Staunton, Round Two: How to Keep Busy on Your Next Visit

You’ve visited Staunton and watched a play at the Blackfriars Theatre, luxuriated at the Blackburn Inn, eaten fresh at Staunton Farmers’ Market, and explored the past at the Frontier Culture Museum. You’ve relished pastries at Réunion and savored dinner at The Shack. You can repeat all those things during visit #2, but Staunton has much, much more to offer. Read on for more opportunities to enjoy even more of Staunton’s bounty!

Stay in Style

Staunton offers no end to historic lodgings. Consider bedding down for a few nights at the Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast where you’ll enjoy rooms outfitted with both fine antiques and modern amenities. Enjoy your delicious farm-to-table breakfast and read the paper on the wide front porch before strolling downtown to enjoy the rest of your day. Another lodging with some interesting history is Gibson’s Warehouse, which includes newly renovated efficiency apartments in a 1905 structure in the Wharf that used to be a working railroad warehouse!

Cross the street to explore the train station (including the historic footbridge) and Woodrow Park on Sears Hill, that’s high enough to see much of downtown. 

Eat Like Royalty in the Queen City

Under its new outdoor dining initiative, Staunton has closed sections of Beverley Street to car traffic on the weekends for foot traffic and outside dining. You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy so many of Staunton’s flavors and dine under the stars. For a list of participating restaurants, see Dine Out in Staunton and Beyond.

Try “inspired Southern cuisine” like grilled jumbo North Carolina shrimp with spring onion risotto at Zynodoa. Craving Tex-Mex? Enjoy the Baja Bean’s menu of tacos, burritos, burgers and more. You’ll want to take advantage of their extensive tap list and bottle selection of craft beer. And if you’ve never tried Salvadoran food, Gloria’s Pupuseria is a fantastic place to start. Try the signature pupusas, which are stuffed handmade tortillas, and a side of fried plantains.

Fill Your Days

If you’ve already taken the Historic Staunton Foundation’s Saturday Walking Tour and treated yourself to a self-guided tour with a map from the visitor’s center, take a Traipse tour. Part guided tour, part scavenger hunt, part history lesson, your brain will be fully engaged as you explore landmarks and businesses in downtown Staunton and beyond. Another way to get out and walk is by hitting the links for a round at Ingleside Golf Resort or Gypsy Hill Golf Club. It’s difficult to navigate Staunton without encountering its hills, but our golf courses incorporate the challenging terrain and spectacular views. 

Staunton’s dining scene emphasizes the local and sustainable food supply, and there’s no better place to learn about the movement than by taking a self-guided tour at Polyface Farms in Swoope. Polyface pledges to “develop environmentally, economically, and emotionally enhancing agricultural prototypes and facilitate their duplication throughout the world.”

If you enjoy presidential history, you shouldn’t miss the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library, where you can schedule a private tour and learn about Wilson’s life as well as WWI and the history of the enslaved people who worked there.

Light up the Night

A great way to spend the evening in the Staunton area is to visit a brewery or vineyard. Both Skipping Rock Beer Company and Barren Ridge Vineyards offer generous outdoor seating areas, regular live music, and, of course, delicious beverages. For a fresh take on the bard, reserve your space for the American Shakespeare Center’s Twelfth Night or Othello at Shakespeare Under the Stars at the Blackburn, a perfect way to get your fix of classic entertainment as well as safely social distance. If you’re looking for a movie, both the Visulite and Lexington’s Hull’s Drive-In are showing a schedule of favorite and classic films.

So what are you waiting for? Staunton can keep you busy for two, five, even twenty visits! Make plans for your next trip today!

Staunton Activities to Keep Kids Busy

With a few weeks left of summer vacation left, blended schedules once school starts, and a limited fall sports lineup, most folks are still trying to keep the kids from wasting away in front of the screen. Here are some activities to keep the kids moving, thinking, and doing! Get Outside and Go Hiking Staunton … Continue reading Staunton Activities to Keep Kids Busy

With a few weeks left of summer vacation left, blended schedules once school starts, and a limited fall sports lineup, most folks are still trying to keep the kids from wasting away in front of the screen. Here are some activities to keep the kids moving, thinking, and doing!

Get Outside and Go Hiking

Staunton is smack dab in the middle of some of the best hiking around. Blackrock Summit in Shenandoah National Park is a 1-mile loop trail. Great for all ages, it’s part of the Kids in Parks TRACK Trail program that provides downloadable brochures and activities. Washington and Jefferson National Forest as well as lots of city and county parks also offer great hiking. If you want to make a weekend of the outdoors, pitch your tent at Shenandoah Valley Campground, Walnut Hills Campground, or Natural Chimneys Park. All three offer plenty of space to spread out, pools, and water features like creeks or streams.

Mess with Mud and Frogs

Summer camps might be closed, but your kids can still learn. Animal lovers will appreciate the rehabilitative work done by the Wildlife Center of Virginia. Check out their critter cams, virtual tours, and other digital programming. Next, take the kids to Pufferbellies Toys and Books and arm them with magnifying glasses, nets, other science gear, or just something fun!

Get them some critter identification books and set them loose near the stream at Gypsy Hill Park. You can also take them to Augusta Springs Wetlands to walk the interpretive trail. Montgomery Hall Park’s Nature Ridge natural playground offers even more opportunities for outdoor imaginative play. 

Ride Something

The Kentucky Derby was postponed this year and your horse-crazy kids probably still haven’t gotten over the disappointment. Make it all better with a guided trail ride on a gentle horse through the countryside at Star B Stables. And if you haven’t ordered your inflatable kayak from Amazon yet, head west to Rockfish Gap Outfitters to rent a kayak to explore the Waynesboro Water Trail. Bikers will enjoy the bike trail and river access at Grand Caverns Park in Grottoes. You’ll also want to take your little spelunkers underground to get a taste of the geological and Civil War history of the area. Finally, the kids can ride the high of scoring strikes and spares at Staunton Lanes. The bowling alley participates in the national Kids Bowl Free program, which gives kids two free games a day all summer long!

Hunt for Clues

Scooby Doo fans will love solving the mysteries at Crack the Code Escape Room, which has just reopened in a brand new space.

Explorers who want to learn about Staunton should download the Traipse app to explore the town and its businesses, scavenger hunt style. Another way to have some fun downtown is by searching for Waldo as he moves from window to window in local businesses downtown. Keep track of where he’s hiding through the end of August, and then turn in your list at The Book Dragon before September 15 for a chance at a prize.

Appreciate the Arts 

Many theaters and galleries are operating at limited capacity and offering a mix of on-site and on-line programming.  Older kids will enjoy a show at the Blackfriars, which is running both indoor, outdoor, and live streaming performances of Othello and Twelfth Night.

Waynesboro’s Wayne Theatre is providing a number of past performances for your streaming pleasure. Titles include Frozen Jr. and Little Shop of Horrors. The Staunton Music Festival has been canceled for this year, but it’s still providing the public with chamber music through its Perspectives video program. The program “will feature SMF performers, composers, and historians sharing their insights about the music.” Heifetz Institute is streaming lots of performances via its YouTube Virtual Concert Hall.

How About Some History?

The Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia is a living history farm museum where costumed interpreters demonstrate how the area’s earliest settlers lived. Families will love walking the grounds and connecting with history. The museum has also produced a number of digital resources, including virtual tours, interviews, and educational videos. Similarly, the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace has bolstered onsite offerings with digital content about Wilson’s historical context. Sign up to take a live virtual tour or view a history program.

Don’t forget to finish your day with some delicious gelato at The Split Banana Co. or a sundae from Wright’s Dairy Rite!

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 … Continue reading 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?

Shopping 

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

Lodging

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.

Staunton: A City Reopening

As Virginia eases into Phase 3 of its reopening, many Staunton attractions are welcoming your business with social-distancing, mask-wearing, and other precautions in place. Some attractions have been creative in their approach, offering new venues, new procedures, new digital content, and new ways to serve the public. Read on for how to enjoy your favorite … Continue reading Staunton: A City Reopening

As Virginia eases into Phase 3 of its reopening, many Staunton attractions are welcoming your business with social-distancing, mask-wearing, and other precautions in place. Some attractions have been creative in their approach, offering new venues, new procedures, new digital content, and new ways to serve the public. Read on for how to enjoy your favorite attractions.

American Shakespeare Center

The lights are still on at the American Shakespeare Center during the Summer 2020 SafeStart Season, which starts July 25. There are three ways to watch programming: in the Blackfriars Playhouse with Covid-19 regulations in place, outside on a socially distanced section of the lawn of the Blackburn Inn, or online via live streaming events. Make it a weekend with an overnight stay at The Blackburn Inn with their VIP package: Shakespeare Under the Stars.

Staunton Augusta Art Center

The Staunton Augusta Art Center is teaming up with the Augusta County Historical Society to offer access to their galleries by reservation only.  See the website to book online a one-hour session for Friday or Saturday evenings.  The R.R. Smith Center is also open on Wednesday afternoons during the Heifetz Rubato Virtual Concert viewing party from 2-4 pm. Enjoy two exhibits plus a concert, all for FREE!

Sunspots

A trip to Staunton isn’t complete without a stop at Sunspots Studio to check out the gallery and watch the creation of some glass art. We hear glow-in-the-dark glass and hummingbird feeders are hot right now! Sunspots is open with limited hours and by appointment.

Downtown Dining

Staunton’s new outdoor dining initiative, Dine Out in Downtown, has closed Beverley Street to vehicular traffic on the weekends. This allows restaurants and businesses to expand square footage and serve customers on the sidewalk and street. The arrangement will encourage commerce and keep customers and businesses safe. Dine Out in Downtown will continue through Labor Day.

Barren Ridge Vineyards 

Drink in the scenery at Barren Ridge Vineyard while you enjoy their wine and entertainment. There’s plenty of room to spread out and bring a picnic. Barren Ridge will be hosting live music, streaming virtual concerts, and sharing educational viticulture videos.

Ox-Eye Tasting Room

Looking to sample some delicious Virginia estate-grown wine? Ox-Eye Tasting Room is open for business with seating on their patio. For a taste of summer, try White Ox, a white blend with notes of pear and green apple. You’re welcome to bring snacks or take-out to enjoy with your wine.

Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail

Most breweries along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail are open with a variety of indoor and outdoor seating. There’s lots of delicious, seasonal beer on tap, so give your tastebuds a treat, get your passport stamped, and earn a new t-shirt.

Frontier Culture Museum

The Frontier Culture Museum is open to visitors (with proper social distancing).  Visit their Facebook page to watch extensive virtual programming on a variety of topics like “American Music: Exploring the Roots of Some of Our Patriotic Songs,” “How the Revolutionary War Played Out on the Virginia Frontier,” “West Africa and the Slave Trade: Before and After Revolution,” and “How to Bake an Apple Pie.”

Farmers’ Market

The Staunton Farmers’ Market is open to socially distancing, mask-wearing foot traffic! Customers are asked not to linger, but can purchase items directly from vendors’ stands. Items may also be preordered. Please leave pets at home.

Staunton City Parks

The following Parks and Recreation facilities are open: Gypsy Hill gym, Gypsy Hill garden center, athletic fields (for league play), golf course and locker room (including rest rooms), Booker T. Washington Community Center, and public bathrooms in city parks. Visit the city’s website for more information.

Staunton Music Festival

Though the Staunton Music Festival  has been postponed until 2021, you can still get your chamber music fix with the new video series, “Perspectives.” This series links videos of past performances with new videos featuring SMP performers, composers, and historians that will take you deeper into the music.

Heifetz Institute

Though the Heifetz Institute is not having physical programming this summer, it will continue to showcase valuable virtual experiences. This includes a calendar of streamable concerts in their Stars of Tomorrow, The Beethoven Experience, Celebrity Series, Alumni Series, and Heifetz Hootenanny series.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum has reopened, but you’ll need to purchase a timed entry ticket online before visiting. You may also take advantage of resources for educators, and hour-long, free “virtual visit” tours and programs. Guests and guides will use Zoom technology to interact. Tours include “Explore the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace,” “Enslaved Laborers in the Manse,” and “Wilson and the Pandemic.”

Grand Caverns

Grand Caverns is open for touring. Please make reservations ahead of time, since tours and facilities are operating at a reduced capacity. Face masks and social distancing are required. Fountain Cave Adventure Tours and Historic Off Trail Tours are not being held at this time.

Visulite

The Visulite has reopened! To reduce your time in the lobby, pre-purchase your ticket and concessions online. You might also enjoy the Visulite’s Virtual Cinema, a special curation of films. When you stream a film at home, a portion of the proceeds supports the Visulite. If movie theater popcorn is what you’re craving, call Pophop at (540) 292-7925 to have some delivered to your door.

Hull’s Drive-In

Hull’s Drive-In is open for the 2020 season! They’ll be showing classic movies and conducting business with new safety precautions in place. Buy your tickets online ahead of time and social distance by placing online orders for concessions.

Oak Grove Theater

While Oak Grove Theater will not be performing plays this summer, they are hosting Behind the Season” virtual entertainment. Join them for new episodes Thursday nights at 8:45 through August 20.

Say “I Do” to Staunton’s New Wedding Venues

You’ve dreamed of this day ever since you watched your first Disney movie. You want your wedding to be magical, fun, low-stress and coordinated, convenient, elegant, and unique. You want your guests to be pampered and your pictures to be drool worthy. Staunton has a number of locations ranging from classic to rustic, but for … Continue reading Say “I Do” to Staunton’s New Wedding Venues

You’ve dreamed of this day ever since you watched your first Disney movie. You want your wedding to be magical, fun, low-stress and coordinated, convenient, elegant, and unique. You want your guests to be pampered and your pictures to be drool worthy. Staunton has a number of locations ranging from classic to rustic, but for something truly out of a fairy tale, say “I do” at one of the Queen City’s newest wedding venues.

Stelle Rose at Staunton Station

Stelle Rose at Staunton Station, “the next stop in your love story,” is historic Staunton at its best. Located downtown in the freshly renovated train station, Stelle Rose offers a unique combination of old-fashioned elegance and modern cool. Don’t worry about weather on your special day: Stelle Rose has 6,000 square feet of indoor space as well as covered outdoor space, so you can set up any way you desire. The space can seat up to 160 guests and includes a private bridal suite, a separate caboose dressing room, and a full kitchen. Plus, the historic building, train tracks, footbridge, and access to the coolest parts of downtown Staunton guarantee stellar photos. Stelle Rose will work with the wedding professionals you choose or it can provide you with a list of recommended local planners, photographers, caterers, florists, and dessert professionals.  Check out Taylor & Haley’s Staunton wedding story, featuring scenes from the Frederick House, Stelle Rose and Downtown Staunton.  

The Blackburn Inn

The Blackburn Inn, built in the 1820s, is rich in history, beauty, and romance. If you’re envisioning something classic, designed by an architect who rubbed elbows with Thomas Jefferson, schedule your tour. Choose from an array of locations on the 80 landscaped acres, which feature willow trees, red brick, white columns, and too many spectacular photo spots to count. The boutique hotel offers 49 rooms and suites, so there’s plenty of space for guests to stay on site. There are even pet-friendly accommodations if you have a fur baby in the wedding party. Currently, the Inn has intimate indoor seating for 35 guests, while tented and untented outdoor weddings (between April and November) can accommodate up to 200. A new space is set to open later this year. The Wellness and Conference Center will contain 10,000 square feet of event space including a 6,000-square-foot ballroom. The new space will include a guest-facing kitchen, bar, and full-service spa. The Inn provides several different wedding packages depending on your needs. It can also suggest preferred wedding professionals. Need help coordinating everything? An on-site venue manager can help with attention to detail on the big day. Check out their wedding brochure

Not Sure Where to Begin?

  • Try to envision the tone you want to set with your wedding: traditional and formal? Modern and funky? Intimate and romantic?
  • Decide on your budget and number of guests.
  • Tour several venues that suit your needs.
  • Wedding venues tend to book far ahead, so reserve your date early!
  • Consult with your venue for suggestions about caterers and photographers.

For more Staunton wedding venues, see Seven Distinctive Staunton Wedding Venues.

Stretch Those Legs: Hikes for Kids of All Ages

Whether you’re new to hiking or you’re hoping to get your kids to join you, the Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro area (SAW) has a number of hikes that are appropriate for all ages and skill levels. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites from easy leg stretchers for little ones to more moderate trails … Continue reading Stretch Those Legs: Hikes for Kids of All Ages

Whether you’re new to hiking or you’re hoping to get your kids to join you, the Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro area (SAW) has a number of hikes that are appropriate for all ages and skill levels. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorites from easy leg stretchers for little ones to more moderate trails with changes in elevation, stream crossings and the occasional rock scramble to keep the tweens and teens active. For other hiking ideas see our post:  Train Those Legs: Six Staunton-Area Hiking Trails for Beginners.

Hikes for Little Ones

White Rock Falls – Blue Ridge Parkway

2 mile easy, out and back hike with scenic views along the stream ending with a 40-foot waterfall.

White Rock Falls Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a 5.3 mile moderate trail loop, but for little legs there is a shorter down-to-the-falls-and-back-up option along a fresh mountain stream with the same payoff—a magnificent waterfall. If you’re starting at the northern entrance of the Blue Ridge Parkway, drive 18.5 miles past the parking lot for the White Rock Falls Trail, and continue for another 1.5 miles until you hit the Slacks Overlook parking area. Cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and head left about 100 feet until you hit White Rocks Fall Trail (look for yellow blaze). Head down the narrow trail through mountain laurel and rhododendron, crossing two wood bridges over the stream where little ones can explore and splash along the stream. The trail offers several views through the trees that are perfect photo ops. After the first major switchback, look for the spur trail (two yellow blazes) to the upper falls, just past the large rock overhang. Walk past the large rock and maneuver your way through the fallen trees (fun for climbing) to the base of the 40-foot falls which has plenty of rocks and pools for wading, but not deep enough for a full swim. For those looking for something a little longer, head back to the main trail and head down for another half mile until you reach the stream which is wider, but not as deep. There is significant elevation change which makes the hike back to the car more challenging for little ones.

Black Rock Summit – Shenandoah National Park

1 mile easy hike offering sweeping views of the mountains and valley beyond.

From Skyline Drive, try Blackrock Summit (milepost 84.4), a geological wonder that’s an easy 1-mile loop. Although not the highest peak in the South District, this is probably the easiest to get to with rewarding views. From the summit of boulder-strewn Blackrock, enjoy views that extend for miles in multiple directions. Look closely and you can also see the layers and quartzite patterns on the rocks. Another short and sweet hike is the Frazier Discovery Trail (milepost 79.5). This area used to be the Frazier’s farm, and you can still see evidence of their past in the apple trees that still dot the mountain.

Hikes for Tweens and Teens

Chimney Rock – Shenandoah National Park

3.4 mile moderate, out and back hike to a scenic view with geological features.

From the Riprap Trail parking area at mile marker 90 of Skyline Drive, take the Appalachian Trail north and then turn left onto Riprap Trail. The tree covered trail has beautiful wildflowers and foliage along the way. The trail has a slight incline but is manageable for all skill levels and ages. After a series of switchbacks, you’ll see a viewpoint on your right. Venture on and you’ll see Calvary Rocks on the left. Spend a few minutes exploring and climbing the rocks, and then, where the trail makes a sharp left, Chimney Rock stands alone on the right across a gorge where you’ll have great photo ops and chance to refuel before heading back to the parking lot. See the map.

Riprap Trail Shenandoah National Park

Approximately 7 mile strenuous, out and back hike through a small gorge with a rewarding swimming hole at your turn around point.

Access this deep, spring-fed beauty by hiking down from the Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park fees apply). Park at the Wild Cat Ridge parking lot at mile marker 92 and make your way down to the 50-foot-wide swimming hole. You’ll start on the Wild Cat Ridge trail (blue blaze) eventually connecting to the Riprap Trail.  At the intersection, turn right onto Riprap. Many consider this hike one of the best in the southern end of Shenandoah National Park with several stream crossings. Make a day of it and pack a lunch to enjoy while swimming and relaxing. Once you’ve had you’re fill, retrace your steps back to the Wild Cat Ridge parking lot. Please note this route goes in the opposite direction of Riprap Trail.  See the map.