#LOVEstaunton

#LOVEstaunton

Best Mountain Towns 2020

The South’s Best Mountain Towns of 2020 – Southern Living From Southern Living: Blame it on the Hallmark Channel, but most of us have, at one time or another, fantasized about a romantic escape to a mountain cabin. (Unless, of course, we just inherited Great-Aunt Harriet’s 200-year-old home in the Smokies, in which case we’ll … Continue reading Best Mountain Towns 2020

The South’s Best Mountain Towns of 2020 – Southern Living

From Southern Living:
Blame it on the Hallmark Channel, but most of us have, at one time or another, fantasized about a romantic escape to a mountain cabin. (Unless, of course, we just inherited Great-Aunt Harriet’s 200-year-old home in the Smokies, in which case we’ll be busy turning it into a B&B.) Nothing gives you that sense of “away” like a pretty little town tucked into gorgeous mountains. And when we asked readers to name their favorites, you can bet there were some beauties on the list.

Staunton ranked #8

Located in the Shenandoah Valley, picturesque Staunton is just large enough to be interesting but still small enough to be accessible and relaxing. It’s known for beautiful architecture, including five historic districts on the National Register of Historic Places; a this-is-how-its-done, walkable downtown peppered with local shops, galleries, and eateries; and a thriving arts community. Come here to visit the American Shakespeare Center and to enjoy a 10-day music festival in August. Check out the other Best Mountain Towns of 2020 here.

To learn more about what makes Staunton one of the Best Mountain Towns of 2020 read on and start dreaming of your next mountain getaway when the time is right.  

Come for the Shakespeare, stay for the mountaintop vistas.

By Southern Living Editors

Updated February 26, 2020
 

From Charlottesville to Fredericksburg, Virginia is full of hidden-gem small towns, and Staunton may be one of the most underrated destinations in the Shenandoah Valley. Set between the scenic Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, the mountain town is one of the prettiest in the South. With a downtown energized by locally-owned shops and restaurants, Staunton also boasts a few unique attractions—who would’ve guessed this little town is a national destination for Shakespeare plays?

To start off, it’s pronounced “Stan-ton,” not “Staun-ton.” The town’s namesake? Lady Rebecca Staunton—wife of William Gooch, the colonial governor of Virginia in the 1730s. Lady Staunton’s family stressed the “u” in their name, but it was dropped over time and is now pronounced “Stan-ton.”

Arts and History

See the Bard’s plays at American Shakespeare Center in the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only replica of the playwright’s Blackfriars Theatre. For a taste of Shenandoah history, explore the Frontier Culture Museum, which gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of the region’s earliest settlers. The town also happens to the birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson, a Staunton native since 1856; the 28th President’s birthplace is now the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, where students and scholars can tour Wilson’s galleries and gardens.

Stroll Around Downtown

Take in all the small-town charm in Staunton’s historic downtown, where the Victorian buildings house specialty shops, antique stores, and dining destinations. Hop on the Downtown Trolley, which cruises from the Wharf Historic District to the Gypsy Hill Park. East Beverley Street (home to the Marquis Building) is known as Staunton’s main drag; shoppers can browse through shoes at Design at Nine, and enjoy artisan chocolates at Cocoa Mill. Take home a stunning hand-blown ornament or souvenir from Sunspots Studios, a live glassblowing studio that offers free daily demonstrations. In the warmer months, don’t miss the farmer’s market.

Stay in the restored 1924 Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center, its iconic New York-esque neon sign a landmark of Staunton’s short city skyline. The hotel is within walking distance from many of Staunton’s main attractions.

Drinking and Dining

Start the morning off right with a cup of artisanal joe from Crucible Coffee Roasters or By & By Café and Beer Garden. Housed in the old Woolworth building, Clocktower Restaurant & Bar is a local destination for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can’t go wrong with a Reuben sandwich and a tower of onion rings for the table. You’ll also find locals passing time at Mill Street Grill, where barbecue ribs and peppermint ice cream are table mainstays.

Zynodoa’s executive chef James Harris serves farm-to-fork specialties like Autumn Olive Farm Pan-Seared Pork Loin or Virginia Stuffed Flounder, all named after the local farms where the ingredients have been sourced. Sample some of the state’s best craft beers on the outdoor patio at Byers Street Bistro.

And the craft brews are plentiful in Staunton—since the Virginia General Assembly made it legal for breweries to serve beer on-site in 2012, Staunton led the pack as ground zero for numerous craft breweries. Check out the flagship beers at Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company in Old-Town Staunton, the live music at Queen City Brewing, and the rotating tap at Redbeard Brewing.

In terms of sweet treats, Staunton is the field of a bit of a hometown rivalry. The Split Banana Co. makes its gelato daily, while family-owned Kline’s Dairy Bar—a Staunton institution since 1943—cools off with homemade custard. Which sweet confection reigns supreme? You’ll just have to get a taste of both.

Explore the Area

Nestled between Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Staunton regards itself as a hub for national parks and stunning mountain vistas. Check out the Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness trails, or if you’re looking to remain sedentary, cruise down the Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers panoramic hillside views and bursts into full fall color in the autumn months.

See the article on SouthernLiving.com here.

Staunton’s Insta-worthy Spots

We scoured Instagram to find the best photo spots in Staunton, and we hope you visit them while you explore our city. Make sure to tag your shot with #LoveStaunton! 1. You Belong Here Mural Celebrate your trip to Staunton with a photo in front of the new Staunton mural. Completed this fall, the mural … Continue reading Staunton’s Insta-worthy Spots

We scoured Instagram to find the best photo spots in Staunton, and we hope you visit them while you explore our city. Make sure to tag your shot with #LoveStaunton!

1. You Belong Here Mural

Celebrate your trip to Staunton with a photo in front of the new Staunton mural. Completed this fall, the mural functions as a giant welcome sign, urging visitors to make themselves at home.

2. Thornrose Cemetery

You don’t have to pose with headstones and mausoleums: Thornrose offers many old trees and ornamental structures, including a stone footbridge and tower. You can be Victorian-era cemetery cool and still be respectful.

3. Wright’s Dairy

Like posing with food and neon? Wright’s Dairy Rite offers retro charm that looks great in photos and feels awesome in real life.

4. Gypsy Hill Park’s Duck Pond

Gypsy Hill Park has multiple insta-worthy locations, including a dog park, a skate park, two playgrounds, and a bandstand, but perhaps the best place to pose is tossing feed at the duck pond.

5. Tunnels at landes park

Landes Park is one of Staunton’s lesser-known parks, but it’s a terrific place to stop and snap a few photos of arched walkways passing under the railroad tracks. Many a Staunton engagement photographer has taken advantage of this secluded and odd-cool vibe.

6. Bells Lane

Bells Lane is a quiet country road just outside of town that is lovely to walk at any time of year. If you’re looking for some gorgeous shots of farmland, Bells Lane offers endless pastoral views in all seasons.

7. Downtown Streetsense

If you’re looking for captivating city energy against a background of historic, Victorian architecture, look no further than the bustle of downtown. Farmer’s Market? Check. Glass-blowing studio? Check. Historic train station? Check.

8. sears hill bridge & woodrow Park

Cross the Sears Hill Bridge for the best view of downtown short of standing on somebody’s roof. Your shots will be epic if they include the cool iron bridge.

9. cannon hill at mary baldwin

Incredible views extend in all directions from the highest point of Mary Baldwin’s campus. You’ll see historic buildings, cannons, a giant, flower-shaped solar panel, and the Blue Ridge in the distance.

10. The statler Brothers Tribute

 

 

11. Frontier Culture Museum

This place is a treasure trove of still-live opportunities. From wooden shoes to looms to bowls of eggs all set up in natural light. Plus, in the spring there are lots of cute baby animals looking to star in your pics.

Explore Staunton on Foot: 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 … Continue reading Explore Staunton on Foot: 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.

Where to Park

Park in the New Street Parking Garage. Parking is currently FREE in this garage or park along the street which has a two-hour limit.

New Street

Start your walk by heading north on New Street. 32 N. New St. was built in the 1830s. Early tax and deed research indicates that this lot contained a dwelling as early as 1809; however, the Greek Revival house dates to the 1830s. The rambling house was enlarged in 1909 and again in the 1920s. It currently serves as one of the seven historic houses that make up the 23-room Frederick House boutique hotel.

As you pass Frederick St., look to your right and you’ll find Mary Baldwin University.  Reverend Rufus Bailey founded Augusta Female Seminary in 1842. Two years later, this Greek Revival structure was built to house the growing school. The Seminary was renamed in 1895 to honor principal Mary Julia Baldwin.

Augusta Street

Turn left onto Frederick Street and walk to the corner of Frederick and Augusta St. to 41 N. Augusta St., built in 1914. Cyrus McCormick’s estate donated $50,000 to help build this fine Renaissance Revival structure. It originally served as the Staunton YMCA, and now houses private condominiums.

Turn right onto north Augusta Street to see some of Staunton’s most beautiful and historically significant churches.

121-123 N. Augusta St. was built pre-1870. This structure has long been important to the local Catholic community. It was built as the St. Francis Academy, then converted to a convent in 1880, and it continues to serve the church today.

St. Francis of Assisi was built in 1895.  This imposing Gothic Revival church, designed in 1895 by T.J. Collins, replaced the original 1851 Catholic Church. Its walls are composed of stone from Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Virginia.

215 N. Augusta St. was built around 1800. In the days when Augusta Street was the busy Valley Turnpike, this house served as a stagecoach stop. Now covered with hand-hewn clapboards, it is one of Staunton’s few remaining 18th-century log houses. This building currently houses the award-winning Frazier Associates Architects.

Augusta St. Methodist Church was built in 1876.  This congregation was formed in 1866, making it one of Staunton’s earliest African-American churches. In 1911, the building was remodeled and the Gothic Revival facade added by T.J. Collins.

400-600 N. Augusta Street’s buildings were built between 1790-1910. Important to Staunton’s African-American community, these buildings include Ebenezer Baptist Church (1910); 503 N. Augusta (ca.1800), a hotel, and Elks Lodge; and T.J. Collins’ 1904 Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

There are many more sites of historic significance noted on the Historic Staunton Foundation walking tour map. Pick up a walking tour map from the kiosk outside the Visitor Center located at 35 S. New Street and visit some of the other historic districts in downtown Staunton. You can also view and download the walking tour map here. 

Stretch Your Legs (and Brain) with these Scavenger Hunts

  Feed your sense of adventure and mystery on a scavenger hunt through Staunton. Whether you’re geocaching, traipsing, or going on a ‘hunt,” these interactive puzzles are perfect for keeping boredom and isolation at bay. For little explorers, try geocaching through Staunton City Parks. Learn more about the process and fun of geocaching, then locate our … Continue reading Stretch Your Legs (and Brain) with these Scavenger Hunts

 

Feed your sense of adventure and mystery on a scavenger hunt through Staunton. Whether you’re geocaching, traipsing, or going on a ‘hunt,” these interactive puzzles are perfect for keeping boredom and isolation at bay. For little explorers, try geocaching through Staunton City Parks. Learn more about the process and fun of geocaching, then locate our area caches to get started. For tweens, teens, and adults check out Traipse Tours and Crack the Code Escape Room’s Scavenger Hunts.

Traipse Tours

Take your brain for a walk using the FREE app, Traipse. The app, available for android and iPhone, takes users on an adventure that is half historic tour and half scavenger hunt. You can Traipse anytime, with whomever you want, in places like downtown Staunton, Gypsy Hill Park, and the campus of Mary Baldwin University. You can even build your own tour based on your interests, time and even level of difficulty. Traipse has also introduced themed tours that cover a variety of topics and interests. Check them out:

The Statler Brothers

Visit the haunts of the “The Most Awarded Act in the History of Country Music,” the Statler Brothers. The country group grew up in (and eventually retired to) Staunton, Virginia where you can now visit some of their favorite spots. The Statler Brothers were long-time members of Johnny Cash’s troupe of performers, hosts of their own hit TV show, and creators of over 40 records and many popular songs. Download this Traipse.

African American Heritage Tour

Explore a new, family-friendly interactive trail of sites important to African-American history in Staunton and surrounding Augusta County, Virginia. This remarkable trail takes explorers to sites that are relevant to African-Americans’ entry to the area as slaves in the 1600’s, onward to the Civil Rights Era of the 1950’s and 60’s, and more. The Traipse was made possible by the American Evolution™ 2019 Commemoration.  Download this Traipse.

The Blackburn Inn

Partnering with the Blackburn Inn, Traipse has three unique tours. The Blackburn Inn: Thomas Jefferson’s Protege will have you exploring the grounds of this historic hotel that was once Old Western State Hospital. Discover the life and work of Thomas Blackburn, a rural builder, architect and Thomas Jefferson’s protege from Albermarle County, Virginia. The tour will reveal architectural details and notable features on the grounds of this beautiful hotel. The other two Traipse tours are lodging packages created by Blackburn Inn and are available for purchase. These Traipse tours serve as great itineraries for visitors looking to experience downtown Staunton and the city’s many offerings. Complete all three tours and receive an exclusive prize from the Blackburn Inn. Download these Traipse Tours.

Scavenger Hunts


With Staunton’s Crack the Code Escape Room closed due to COVID-19, the owner has created two scavenger hunts: For the Love of Staunton and Key to the City. Both hunts follow social distancing guidelines while having fun with your quarantine buddies. These digitally interactive 
scavenger hunts lead participants to different points of interest around Staunton. Designed for a team of up to four people, unlock clues, by foot or car, and at your own pace. Please note that you do not need to enter any businesses to complete the scavenger hunt. 

Be sure to follow social distancing protocols when out in public and make sure you stop and take plenty of photos for Instagram! Tag them with #LoveStaunton.

Virtual Staunton Visits

Looking for some much-needed entertainment while we are all sheltering-in-place, but tired of Netflix, TikTok, and YouTube?  Staunton has lots of options for virtual entertainment and education to keep you busy from the comfort of your own home this spring. Bring American Shakespeare Center home with BlkFrsTV “Thrilling…These webcasts effortlessly convey the joyous experience of … Continue reading Virtual Staunton Visits

Looking for some much-needed entertainment while we are all sheltering-in-place, but tired of Netflix, TikTok, and YouTube?  Staunton has lots of options for virtual entertainment and education to keep you busy from the comfort of your own home this spring.

Bring American Shakespeare Center home with BlkFrsTV

“Thrilling…These webcasts effortlessly convey the joyous experience of watching Shakespeare performed in Blackfriars Playhouse..let ASC take your mind off your troubles as you commune at home with theater’s supreme genius,” — Terry Teachout for The Wall Street Journal 

Streaming Shows

Since audiences can’t come to the Blackfriars, ASC is bringing the Playhouse to you. Pull up a chair to the virtual hearth for cinema-quality streaming video of their complete 2020 Actors’ Renaissance and Tour Homecoming seasons. These high-quality performances are available until May 3, 2020 and each performance is just $10 per household. Can’t commit? Don’t worry, you have a week to watch the performance. Have more questions? Visit their FAQ page to find out about BLKFRS TV. 

Masterclasses and SHXCADEMY 

ASC announced two new opportunities to connect and learn something new direct from the stage and shops of the Blackfriars Playhouse and delivered straight to your home.  ASC/Masterclass series is a series of eight unique courses taught over 6-weeks by ASC artists and designed for everyone.  No experience is required to enroll and the best part is you can do it in the comfort of your own homewhere no one is watching. So you can let your hair down and immerse yourself in the experience as you connect with ASC’s artists in an intimate setting. Pick your area of interest which run the gamut from stage fighting, song writing, character building, cooking, movement and much more. Join ASC actors every week for an hour long class and dive into the creative process.  

The SHXCADEMY introduces participants to the practices of the rehearsal room through a series of four workshops, hosted live from the Blackfriars Playhouse, plus a digital ticket to the relevant BlkFrsTV streaming production you are studying. Working with ASC’s Education Team and ASC artists you’ll break down Shakespeare’s text into pieces, connecting character, story, and compelling moments. These workshops are perfect for families or individuals. Learn more about the workshops and to see the complete schedule. 

FREE ONLINE TOURS at Woodrow Wilson Presidential LIBRARY

Maybe a virtual tour of our 28th President’s home or an educational discussion with the museum curator is more up your alley? Check out the FREE online tours and programs offered at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum. Every Monday and Wednesday take a virtual tour of Wilson’s birthplace home. On Tuesday afternoons join the Curator Andrew Phillips or Education Director Emily Kilgore in a lively discussion with their “History at Home,” series focusing on a different topic every week. Friday’s topics switch every other week between Enslaved Laborers in the Manse and Wilson and the Pandemic. Enslaved Laborers in the Manse focuses on the enslaved people who lived and labored in the Presbyterian Manse where Woodrow Wilson was born, while Wilson and Pandemic looks at the 1918 pandemic and how it compares to COVID-19 and what we are currently facing today. Take a look at the complete schedule and list of topics. Registration is FREE but is required to participate. 

sip and swirl with Virtual Experiences at Barren Ridge Vineyards 

Barren Ridge is hosting a series of tastings and other experiences on Facebook Live. Their Live at 5 Wine Tastings are every Sunday at 5 PM and come with tasting sheets. Read up on the wine before joining Robert Higgs for a virtual tasting where you will learn wine tasting technique, varietal characteristics, and a bit of local history surrounding the Higgs’ 3rd generation family farm. For a more hands on experience, taste alongside Robert by pre-ordering your wine. Pick-up curbside or get your your wine delivered locally on Thursdays (15-mile radius). 

unwind with classical music 

Subscribe to the Heifetz International Music Institute’s YouTube channel. Their robust channel, with over 30,000 subscribers and millions of views, is your go-to for classical music—although their repertoire goes far beyond Beethoven, Bach, and Brahms. Their videos include performances from past seasons of their Festival of Concerts with tons of playlists to choose from. The Institute also releases a Video of the Week where they highlight a piece of music offering historical context surrounding the music and programmatic notes while highlighting the Heifetz alums, students, and celebrity faculty that take that stage of the Francis Auditorium at Mary Baldwin University. And if that wasn’t enough, the Institute also has their very own Spotify Playlist on their website. Happy listening! 

get up close and personal with wildlife

Get up close and personal with wildlife at the Virginia Wildlife Center. This animal hospital is home to two dozen animal residents like hawks, owls, eagles, opossums and snakes. These permanent residents serve as ambassadors for the center and you can visit them via the center’s critter cam. Channel 1 features the center’s education birds that are non-releasable: Buddy the Bald Eagle, Buttercup the Black Vulture or Athena the Barred Owl. Channels 2 and 3 show the cute and cuddly black bear yearlings and cubs who will be cared for until they are old enough to be released back in the wild. The Center is also offering virtual programs every week on Facebook. Here you can meet their animal ambassadors and learn about the different species. Visitors can also tour their animal enclosures and if you think you’re an animal expert try their Quiz Friday! Facebook live events.

Take a virtual Architecture Walking Tour

Explore Staunton and the city’s historic districts, and other areas of town, on a virtual walking tour via our blog. Every week this new blog series, Staunton on Foot, takes you on a stroll through one of Staunton’s historic districts, six of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Learn about the eclectic mix of architectural styles that range from Greek Revival, Second Empire, Romanesque Revival, Colonial Revival, Neo-classical, Federal, Beaux-Arts and more. Much of the city’s celebrated architecture can be attributed to one man, TJ Collins, a talented architect who practiced in Staunton from 1891 to 1911. He designed or remodeled nearly 200 buildings in Staunton, many of which still survive today including the courthouse, schools, churches, theaters, commercial buildings and private residences.

So far Staunton on Foot has explored three areas of the city, Beverley StreetThornrose Cemetery, and Newtown. While Thornrose Cemetery isn’t listed on the National Register of Historic Places it is chalk-full of history, character and beauty and definitely worth checking out. Newtown, ironically, is Staunton’s oldest distinctly residential neighborhood and is Staunton’s largest consisting of over 400 buildings.

Whether you’re visiting virtually or literally exploring by foot check out Historic Staunton Foundation’s walking tour map. Physical maps are also available for pick-up at the kiosk outside the Visitor Center at 35 S. New Street.

 

Explore Staunton on Foot: 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, … Continue reading Explore Staunton on Foot: 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.

Where to Park

Park in the New Street Parking Garage or in the Wharf Parking Lot. Parking is currently FREE in these lots or park along the street which has a two-hour limit.

Beverley Street

Start your walk on the corner of Beverley and New Streets and head west along Beverley. Staunton’s oldest house of worship, Trinity Episcopal Church, rises to your left. This is the third church on this site. The first was Augusta Parish Church that briefly housed the Virginia General Assembly as it fled from British troops in 1781. The current church was built in 1855 in early Gothic Revival style, the church contains 12 stained-glass windows made by Tiffany Studios. Check the website for when the interior of the church is open to the public and explore the churchyard. You’ll find many historic grave markers as well as beautiful landscaping and a labyrinth. Two other architectural gems grace the property: The Parish House (gothic revival style) and the Trinity Rectory (Jacobean revival style), both constructed in 1872.

Staunton’s first public school, the Stonewall Jackson School at 217 W. Beverley, was built in 1887 and later remodeled by T.J. Collins. Now the building houses The Beverley Street Studio School, an art school dedicated to offering non-degree, college-level classes.

Church Street

Turn left on Church street for another view of the Trinity grounds. Look to your right for 18 Church Street. This structure, built in 1880 in the Eastlake style, is unusual in this part of the country. 120 Church Street’s Stuart House was built in 1791 for Judge Archibald Stuart, who claimed to have received plans and building advice from Thomas Jefferson. Stuart’s descendants live there today, and sometimes open the early Classical Revival building for house and garden tours. 

Johnson Street

The large, white brick Greek Revival house at 600 W. Johnson Street is one of the most prominent houses in the Newtown Historic district. Built in 1851 as a private home, the Wesleyan Female Institute bought it in 1870. 610 W. Johnson Street was built in 1871 as part of the Institute, which was a college for women. When the Institute went bankrupt in 1900, the houses reverted to single-family dwellings.

Fayette Street

Several preserved historic homes line Fayette Street. Look for Italianate, Dutch Colonial, Queen Anne, and stone block townhouses. 19 S. Fayette Street was built in 1810, and T.J. Collins designed the “new” entrance in 1905. When Fayette St. ends at Beverley, look across the street at the Smith-Thompson house at 701-703 Beverley Street. The sided portion, built by a Revolutionary War-soldier-turned-barber who claimed to have shaved George Washington, dates from 1792, and is one of Staunton’s oldest buildings.

Thornrose Cemetery

If you’re up for a little extra walking, turn left on Beverley Street and follow it west. Note 921 West Beverley Street, former site of Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was organized in 1865 and was the first church west of the Blue Ridge Mountains established by people of color. The church moved to a more accessible location and the building is now a private residence. Head toward Thornrose Cemetery. Built in 1849, many consider this 12-acre park-like cemetery to be one of the most beautiful in the country. See our separate walking tour of Thornrose Cemetery. For a treat, see what’s just out of the oven at Newtown Baking and Kitchen.

Frederick Street

Head back east on Frederick Street. The view on your left are the grounds of Stuart Hall School, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The Episcopal Church founded Stuart Hall in 1844 as the Virginia Women’s Institute, and renamed it in 1907 after headmistress Mrs. J.E.B. Stuart. 401 and 325 W. Frederick Street were originally single-family homes that were absorbed by the school. Edwin M. Taylor designed the Greek Revival-style “Old Main” building in 1846.

Emmanuel Episcopal Church was constructed in 1894 and designed by Staunton’s own T.J. Collins. This Gothic Revival structure features stained glass windows, lovely brick and woodwork, and painted murals.

There are many more sites of historic significance noted on the Historic Staunton Foundation walking tour map. Pick up a walking tour map from the kiosk outside the Visitor Center located at 35 S. New Street and visit some of the other historic districts in downtown Staunton. You can also view and download the walking tour map here. 

 

Social Distancing in Staunton

Get Active: Hiking, Biking and Running Get out and stretch your legs! Now that spring is finally here it is the perfect time to get a workout outdoors while gyms and other workout studios are closed. Try some of our favorite scenic biking routes for kids and adults. Many hiking trails in and around Staunton remain open … Continue reading Social Distancing in Staunton

Get Active: Hiking, Biking and Running


Get out and stretch your legs! Now that spring is finally here it is the perfect time to get a workout outdoors while gyms and other workout studios are closed. Try some of our favorite scenic biking routes for kids and adults. Many hiking trails in and around Staunton remain open offering refuge from your home and fresh mountain air along with beautiful views.

Please note, because of the warming weather, a lot of residents are taking to the outdoors which means sidewalks and trails are likely to be busier than usual. Please continue to practice social distancing in these settings, remaining at least 6 feet away from passerbys and others near you.

Enjoy Nature: Parks and Gardens


If you’re not feeling much like heart-pumping physical exercise (we understand), try taking a stroll through any one of the city’s parks and gardens. Enjoy the newly blooming spring bounty with these ten Staunton-area spots that promise to be easy on the eyes. Be on the look out for flowering trees like redbuds, magnolias, Bradford pears are budding out with dogwood trees to follow. Early spring flowers include daffodils, tulips, forsythia, lilac, and violets. Remember to bring your phone or camera to capture these seasonal blooms.

Discover our Historic Areas

Why not go explore? Staunton boasts six-historic districts, that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and offer an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Explore these historic areas and their celebrated architecture on a virtual visit with our new blog series: Staunton on Foot. Or pick-up a walking tour map from the kiosk outside the Visitor Center (35 S. New Street) and discover your city. Each week we will introduce a new walking tour so keep checking our blog.

Support Local Businesses: Ordering Delivery, Buying Gift Cards, Online Shopping


During trying times, it’s important for all of us to remember to help others in whatever ways we can. If you have the resources to be able to do some online shopping, consider buying from Staunton vendors and businesses. From clothing to vintage finds, pastries and local brews to toys and books Staunton Downtown Development Association has put together a list of businesses offering curbside pick-up, delivery, and shipping. This list will continue to change so check back often.

Go on a Virtual Visit to Staunton


While we may be social distancing, you can still visit Staunton. Try a virtual wine tasting with Barren Ridge Vineyards,  get up close and personal with a critter from the Virginia Wildlife Center, watch a Shakespearean play by the American Shakespeare Center, or tour the birthplace home of our 28th President. Staunton has never been more accessible from the comfort of your own home. Learn more about these online offerings, many of which are free, and keep the entire family entertained.

Biking with Kids

With the kids out of school, we’re all looking for fun ways to keep the entire family occupied. Biking is a great reason to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and get some exercise. Fortunately, we have a number of kid-friendly spots to ride. Just remember to practice some social distancing. Here’s our round-up of … Continue reading Biking with Kids

With the kids out of school, we’re all looking for fun ways to keep the entire family occupied. Biking is a great reason to get outside and enjoy the sunshine and get some exercise. Fortunately, we have a number of kid-friendly spots to ride. Just remember to practice some social distancing. Here’s our round-up of family-friendly rides

Gypsy Hill Park

Looking for a mostly flat route that’s good for younger legs? Gypsy Hill Park’s 1.3-mile paved loop is a good way to get the littles used to pedaling. The loop is open to pedestrians, bikes, and cars, but drivers move slowly and know to be cautious. You’ll see the duck pond as you circle the park, and it’s a nice spot to head as the ride winds down. If your youngsters are just learning to balance, the park also offers a large, flat parking lot near the Gypsy Hill Gym. Used as event parking, this lot is often empty. 

Betsy Bell Wilderness Area

Give your legs a dose of burn in the Betsy Bell Wilderness Area. Bikers can ride up the gravel road to the overlooks at the top. Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Staunton before finishing the1.1-mile loop on the trail through the woods.

Montgomery Hall Park

More advanced mountain bikers will want to test their endurance at Montgomery Hall Park. More than four miles of singletrack wind through the woods, so you’ll be able to bask in the glow of the foliage as you power up the steep hills. The trails are quiet and well maintained, but you might occasionally share them with hikers. 

Augusta Springs Wetlands

Beginning cyclists will be able to enjoy a bit of independence as they circle the ¾-mile loop at Augusta Springs Wetlands. The flat trail is located 20 minutes from Staunton and is made up of wooden boardwalks and pea gravel. Interpretive signs about birds and wildlife set up along the trail make nice resting and catch-up spots. Nature lovers will enjoy spotting birds and checking out what native plants are in bloom

South River Greenway

Take a trip to Waynesboro to enjoy the South River Greenway. Part of the park system, this flat, paved path caters to walkers, runners, and bikers. Stretching just over a mile along the South River, the trail treats visitors to views of river, parkland, and the city’s industrial heritage. There’s parking at both ends and interpretive signs identify wildlife you might see.

Chessie Nature Trail

Head down to Lexington to explore the Chessie Nature Trail as it stretches 7.2 miles along the Maury River. Once a Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad bed, the flat route stretches between Lexington and Buena Vista. Riders of all ages and abilities can enjoy the trail as it can be completed as a longer out-and-back or short excursion through rural forest and farmland. Parking can be found at both ends. 

Mountain View/Grand Caverns Park Path

1.4 miles of sidewalks and gravel pathways connect the Mountain View and Grand Caverns parks. This flat stretch through Grottoes gives you a scenic view of the mountains, and access to the South River and the fitness trail in Grand Caverns Park.

Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail

This one’s a bit of a drive, but the trip over Afton Mountain and the incredible scenery of Nelson County make it worth it. The 7-mile Virginia Blue Ridge Railway Trail stretches along the Tye and Piney Rivers, offering privacy, five cool bridges, a crushed gravel trail bed, and a renovated historic depot and visitor’s center. 

Did You Know?

  • For bikes, repairs, and supplies, visit Black Dog Bikes in downtown Staunton.
  • Keep your bike off Staunton’s sidewalks in the commercial district downtown.
  • For safety tips and an overview of Virginia’s biking laws, check out ShareVARoads.org’s Sharing the Road in Virginia.
  • For more routes, check out Bike the Valley.

Spring in Bloom: Flower Gardens of Staunton and Beyond

Sadly, Virginia Garden Week has been cancelled for 2020. You might be social distancing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out on your own and enjoy the newly blooming spring bounty. Here are ten Staunton-area spots that promise to be easy on the eyes this spring. What can you expect to see?  The wonderful … Continue reading Spring in Bloom: Flower Gardens of Staunton and Beyond

Sadly, Virginia Garden Week has been cancelled for 2020. You might be social distancing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out on your own and enjoy the newly blooming spring bounty. Here are ten Staunton-area spots that promise to be easy on the eyes this spring.

What can you expect to see? 

The wonderful thing about flowers in gardens and flowers in nature is that the display changes throughout the year. In early spring, flowering trees like redbuds, magnolias, Bradford pears are budding out. Look for dogwood displays to follow. Early spring flowers include daffodils, tulips, forsythia, lilac, and violets.

Best Gardens in Staunton

Walk along many of the residential streets in Staunton and you’re sure to be wowed by the private gardens of our residents. Gardens in many of our public spaces also shine. Check out some of our favorites.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum

The Historic Gardens at Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum are open to the public from dawn to dusk and do not require a ticket to enter. Originally part of a much larger estate, the existing gardens were designed by landscape architect Charles F. Fillette in 1933. Maintained by the Garden Club of Virginia, the gardens include perennials, lilacs, boxwoods, and hostas. Stroll the brick pathways and admire the plants or rest on a quiet bench just steps from the bustle of downtown Staunton.

Flowerbeds at the Staunton Library

The library has several garden beds, including a large one that wraps the corner of Augusta and Churchville Avenues. Make sure to visit the award-winning Brenda L. Papke Memorial Sensory Garden, a small, universally accessible space designed to stimulate all five of the senses. Sensory favorites include: lavender, rosemary, Annabelle Hydrangea, and butterfly bushes. Download a scavenger hunt to use in the library, when open, and the garden.  

Mens’ Green Thumb Park and Watering Can 

Blink and you might miss this little gem as you drive into Staunton. It’s worth a second pass though: Look for spring blooms spilling out of a giant watering can and larger plants like elephant ears later in the season.

Gypsy Hill & Montgomery Hall Parks 

Both Gypsy Hill Park and Montgomery Hall Parks have flower gardens maintained by Staunton Parks and Rec. Look for seasonal blooms and annuals in the landscaping around buildings and park features as well as various types of labeled trees. The dogwood tree is both Virginia’s state flower and tree, and for over 100 years. The Augusta Garden Club’s Project Dogwood has planted over 150 of these springtime beauties in both parks. They’ve also erected signage to identify and provide information about the different types of trees.

Best Gardens Near Staunton

Pebble Hall Wildflowers

Pebble Hall Wildflowers offers over an acre of wildflowers and herbs that you can pick to create your own seasonal bouquets. Wander the lovely grounds admiring the views, taking photos, sharing a picnic, and petting the cows. Hula hoops, a small nature museum and a fairie garden will please the younger set. Check out the schedule to see what’s blooming.

White Oak Lavender Farm

Pretty sights and even better smells will greet you at White Oak Lavender Farm. This lavender destination provides beautiful views, a chance to tour and explore the lavender fields and processing areas. You’ll also find a lavender shop where you can purchase lavender-infused items, a discovery area for kids, and a tasting room for the Purple WOLF Vineyard.

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

James Madison University’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum celebrates native Virginia wildflower, tree, and shrub species in a peaceful, wooded environment. The 125-acre sanctuary contains walking paths, water features, play areas for kids, and daffodil, perennial, and pollinator gardens. Other garden areas showcase ferns, daylilies, herbs, and a shale garden of endemic perennials that survive only in the harshest of conditions.

Andre Viette Farm & Nursery

The Andre Viette Farm & Nursery is known best for its daylilies, but the extensive display gardens are open to the public and contain much more. The sun and shade gardens will inspire your own landscaping. Check out the garden center to purchase what you like most!

Boxerwood Gardens

Though the Play Trail has closed for the spring, the 15-acre Woodland Garden at Boxerwood Gardens remains open for visitors to explore. Follow the trails through the woods, around the pond, and along the wildflower meadow. Early spring blooms include magnolia and cherry trees.

Shenandoah National Park

Wildflower season at Shenandoah National Park begins in late March and extends all the way through fall. Springtime blooms to look for are redbuds, trout lilies, bellworts, violets, and wild geraniums. Over 850 different species grow here, including many specimens from the aster, pea, lily, mint, and mustard families. Check here for a calendar of what’s in bloom.

SHOW YOUR LOCAL LOVE: REMEMBER LOCAL.

As one of the oldest cities west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Staunton’s history spans three centuries. Stretching west of the Mississippi River and north to the Great Lakes, Augusta County was America’s first frontier while Staunton served as the county seat, cultural center, and business hub. This large land area saw clashes between Native Americans and … Continue reading SHOW YOUR LOCAL LOVE: REMEMBER LOCAL.

As one of the oldest cities west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Staunton’s history spans three centuries. Stretching west of the Mississippi River and north to the Great Lakes, Augusta County was America’s first frontier while Staunton served as the county seat, cultural center, and business hub. This large land area saw clashes between Native Americans and the area’s earliest settlers, the state’s general assembly took shelter in Staunton during the Revolutionary War, America’s agricultural revolution began here, Civil War armies vied for control of the state here, and a U.S. President was born here.

Historic Sites and Museums 

Our storied past is celebrated with a variety of historic attractions, archival collections, historical buildings, museums, and Civil War sites that help tell our unique story. These hands-on experiences enable locals and visitors to step back in time and see snapshots of life starting with our frontier days at the state’s living history museum, the Frontier Culture Museum to the 20th century where you can explore the birthplace of our 28th President, Woodrow Wilson and learn about his life and legacy. While organizations like the Historic Staunton Foundation help ensure the continued preservation of our “award-winning,” main street an accolade that attracts people and press to our small city. This is in addition to the outreach and education programs the foundation runs year round. 

While these treasures are closed and events cancelled for the time being, some organizations like the Woodrow Wilson Library are finding interactive ways to educate and reach audiences using technology. The Woodrow Wilson Library is offering daily, live tours to the public along with interactive workshops. Find out how you can be a part of these FREE virtual tours and programs made possible by the Charles Fund. Or if you’re need a distraction from COVID-19, visit the Frontier Culture Museum’s Facebook page to see their newest additions (think farm animals.) Visit our website to learn more about our historic sites, museums and organizations like the Augusta Military Academy Museum, the Camera Heritage Museum, the Stonewall Brigade Band and the Augusta County Historical Society among many others. 

Whatever you do, remember these important resources that educate our community, tell our unique story, and shape our future. During this unique time of COVID-19, help us write our own history, one that shows our community as paying it forward to the businesses that need our support, the organizations that need our donations and the attractions that need us to remember who we are and where we came from. Find out how you can support them now, during this time of need, and in the future. Remember Local.