#LOVEstaunton

Category: Architecture

Grab a Selfie in Front of The Murals of Staunton

You can’t beat the Shenandoah Valley for its natural beauty, but many of its towns are introducing man-made scenery to the landscape. If you’ve spent any time in downtown Staunton recently, you’ll have noticed the murals brightening up walls and sides of buildings. They’re fun to look at, pose in front of, and photograph.

In fact, if you tag your mural photos #stauntonVAmurals and tag us @stauntonva or @visitstaunton before October 28, 2022, you’ll be entered in a photo contest. The top 5 photos with the most likes will be voted on by YOU, our fans! And, the winner will score a bag of Staunton swag, be featured in our 2023 Staunton Visitor Guide…and you’ll have bragging rights, of course! What are you waiting for? Go check out some murals.

  • The railroad underpass is a prime location for public art. You’ll immediately notice the giant watering can created by Staunton-based welder and sculptor, Willy Ferguson. Nearby, a mural depicts blooms that survive the end of flower season and bring color and joy even in the dead of winter.
  • Marino’s Lunch just reopened a few months ago, but it’s making a name for itself with its tasty food and drinks, Sunday New Orleans Brunch, and exciting live music scene. Make sure you check out the mural that features musicians silhouetted against the Blue Ridge at sunset.
  • The mural in the welcoming lobby of Tru By Hilton features some of Staunton’s best adventures: the Woodrow Wilson Library, biking, leaf-peeping, fishing, wine, and some of downtown’s most recognizable buildings. Tru is a great place to set up a home base for any of these activities.
  • Redbeard Brewing Company has a cool, new mural that features an enormous tree against a background of mountains and a colorful sky. You’ll enjoy playful details like the robot Redbeard and robot squirrel. The mural covers a wall of the taproom, so you’ll be able contemplate it while sipping your beer.
  • Staunton’s largest mural takes up an entire wall of the building at the corner of Beverley and North Central Avenue and welcomes residents and visitors alike with its positive You Belong Here message. For many years, this wall featured an older mural of a man on a scaffolding painting the wall. The new mural, made possible by a Virginia Tourism Corporation’s 50 Years of Love Grant includes a pair of cardinals (Virginia’s state birds) against a mountain backdrop. For more about the creation of this mural, check out our interview with artist Christy Baker.
  • The mural on the side of Black Dog Bikes was also created by Christy Baker. This time she tackles the theme of community-centered, family-friendly active lifestyles. You’ll get another landscape that actually blends into the sky and scenes of hikers, bikers, walkers, runners, and more. Come inside to get started with your own active lifestyle!
  • Looking for something new-to-you to upgrade your home? Check out the SAW Habitat for Humanity ReStore, where you can find anything from a desk or mirror to antique cabinet hardware to an entire kitchen full of lightly used cabinetry. The Habitat mural covers the side of the building with construction energy. There’s a second collaborative work SAC art students that’s painted on the back wall of the parking lot.
  • When you stop in for lunch at the Pampered Palate, make sure you get a seat facing the beautiful mural of downtown Staunton at dusk. You’ll enjoy a menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, and quiche while picking out your favorite buildings from the softly lit scene.
  • Jones Community Garden helps connect our community with fresh produce for low prices (or free if you volunteer). Stop by and see the garden, buy some produce, and check out the collaborative mural created by local artists.
  • Is it a flower? Is it a pie? You’ll have to stop inside Firkin Pie Company to learn the backstory of the colorful design wrapping the corner of the building. While you’re inside, try the pie. The menu changes weekly, but you’ll find large and personal pies in both sweet and savory flavors.

Here’s Why Staunton Is a Best Small Town

How do I love thee, Staunton? Let me count the ways. It’s no surprise that Staunton routinely appears on regional and national best-of lists for beauty, charm, culture, and natural attractions. Read what the pros are saying and then explore our gem of a town on your own.

What Others Are Saying

In recent years, Staunton has been a popular pick on regional and national best-of lists by publications including USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Oprah Daily, Kiplinger, Vogue, Architectural Digest, and many more. In 2022 alone, Staunton has appeared in the following:

Dining

Natural Attractions

  • It’s hard to beat Staunton’s location for natural beauty. Tucked in the Shenandoah Valley, Staunton offers views of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, and you can spend an entire afternoon taking scenic drives or bike rides. If hiking is what you’re after, it’s just 20 minutes from Shenandoah National Park with over 70 scenic overlooks and miles of trails. It’s also easy to access sections of George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. The national forest is a vast, mostly uninhabited tract of land, threaded with hiking trails. 
  • City parks, too, offer spectacular hiking, especially the trails at Mongomery Hall Park and Betsy Bell Wilderness Area. Runners, walkers, and birders extoll the virtues of scenic Bells and Sangers Lanes.

History

  • One of the oldest towns in the area, Staunton draws visitors for its architecturally stunning downtown. Many buildings are at least 100 years old. The city contains six distinct historic districts, and visitors can take guided or self-guided walking tours to learn about the city’s long history and its Victorian architecture.
  • Step back in time at the Frontier Culture Museum, which invites visitors to explore the lives of the Shenandoah Valley pioneers from the 1600s through the mid-1800s. Costumed interpreters answer questions and demonstrate daily activities. The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library teaches about the life and times of this president who hailed from Staunton.

Arts and Culture

  • Staunton has a number of galleries displaying local and regional art. Check out the CoArt Gallery, the galleries at the Staunton Augusta Art Center, and the Hunt Gallery at Mary Baldwin University. 
  • Don’t miss the annual Art on the Town in May, and Art in the Park in September. Visitors may browse and purchase artwork, talk to artists, listen to music, and enjoy activities for kids.
  • Staunton stages world-class performances at the Blackfriars Playhouse, a recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater. Not only can you witness shows that are similar to what Shakespeare’s original audiences would have seen, but you can also buy tickets for modern and musical performances. Staunton is also home to a lively community theater scene. Check out plays at ShenanArts and Oak Grove Theater, which has been performing al fresco since 1954.

  • The Heifetz International Music Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the artistic growth and career development of the most talented young classical musicians in the world, presenting its Festival of Concerts every summer featuring 50+ events in addition to year-round programs throughout Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley
  • The Staunton Music Festival brings over 90 performers to town each August to perform selections from 600 years of classical music. “Historically-informed” performances help musicians and audiences “rediscover the subtlety and color that emerges from period instrument concerts.”

Community

  • Staunton’s walkable downtown and wealth of locally owned businesses contribute to its strong sense of community. Each weekend, Beverley Street turns into a walking mall when streets close for traffic during Shop and Dine Out Downtown. If you’re in town on Saturday morning, explore the Staunton Farmers’ Market. You can find spectacular and fresh ingredients for your home kitchen as well as enjoy music and community spirit.
  • Baseball fans can cheer for the Staunton Braves, a collegiate summer team made up of rising stars.
  • September’s annual Queen City Mischief & Magic Festival is a popular home-grown event for fans of the Harry Potter series.

Proximity to Other Points of Interest

Staunton is an easy drive from Harrisonburg and Charlottesville, both larger cities with extensive shopping opportunities and university culture. Nearby Lexington, too, is a university town, giving Stauntonians even more access to exhibits, lectures, sporting events, and performances. Staunton is an hour and 45 minutes from Richmond. It’s 2 hours and 40 minutes from Washington D.C., and under 4 hours from Virginia Beach. 

Must-See and Do in the Newtown Historic District

Hilly, charming, and walkable Newtown Historic District borders Staunton’s downtown on the west. It’s mostly residential, with homes built mostly between the 1870s and the 1920s, and the district was named on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. From beautiful homes and gardens to historically significant churches and cemeteries, there’s a lot to see on a walking tour. Plus, it’s close to lots of shopping and dining. Here’s how to spend a day in Staunton’s Newtown Historic District.

Where to Park

Park in the Johnson Street Parking Garage or in the Wharf Parking Lot. You can also park along the street which has a two-hour limit. 

Where to Stay

  • Ubon Victorian Inn offers comfortable rooms in a 160-year-old Victorian mansion convenient to downtown. 
  • The Howard Johnson is located on the border of the historic district and offers lots of parking, a pool, and easy downtown access on foot. 

Where to Have a Drink

  • Redbeard Brewing’s cold craft beer is exactly what you’ve been craving after a hot day. Enjoy one of the dozen beers on tap and check the schedule for the summer concert series and other fun activities.

Where to Eat

  • Magdalena Bake specializes in delicious and beautiful-looking pastries, cookies, and cakes, including gluten-free options. You’ll also want to try the savory empanadas, which come flavored with beef, pork, criolla, and caprese. 

  • Ubon Thai serves made-from-scratch authentic, traditional Thai cooking. Feast on pad thai, Panang curry, chef’s specials like crispy duck, and desserts like sticky rice with mango and coconut for lunch or dinner.
  • Start your meal at Table 44 with a glass of local beer or wine or a specialty handmade cocktail. Try a fancy sandwich, loaded burger, or entree like shrimp and grits or steak frites. There’s outdoor seating for people with pets and even a special dog menu.

  • Big Red Barbecue is known for its pulled pork and barbecue chicken with all the fixins, but they also serve burgers and delicious fried catfish and pork chop sandwiches. Don’t miss the mac and cheese and collard greens.
  • Chicano Boy Taco is a Mexican-American taquería with some of the best tortillas you’ve ever eaten. Order from the simple menu (burrito, taco, or burrito bowl plus your choice of fillings and salsa). You can also get Mexican beer or “cheap beer.”

  • Gloria’s Pupusaria Salvadoran pupusas might look like plain tortillas, but they pack serious flavor when stuffed with chicken, blended pork, vegetables, and cheese. You can also enjoy tamales steamed in plantain leaves, fried plantains, or Salvadoran enchiladas.
  • Grab some Peruvian charbroiled chicken at Gonzo’s Pollo. You can tear into a whole or half chicken, or have them prepare you a sandwich, wrap, or nachos. Sides include fried yuka, fried plantains, or beans and rice. 
  • D&L Donuts offers many different flavors of cake and yeast donuts made from scratch, along with piping hot coffee.

Where to Shop

  • Experience the magic of hot glass at Sunspots, where you can also watch live glassblowing.
  • Wilderness Adventure has everything you need for your outdoor adventure, from socks and sunglasses to boots, shoes and clothes.

  • Shop Flying Pestle Botanicals for bulk tea and herbs, blended tinctures, and to learn about the healing properties of plants.
  • You’ll find a special gift or treasure in the ever-rotating stock at Beverley Street Records and Collectibles.
  • Athletes and casual fitness enthusiasts alike will appreciate Sole Focus Running and Black Dog Bikes for high-quality gear, good prices, and knowledgeable service.
  • EccoHollow Art + Sound is the spot to have your sound equipment repaired by experts. However, they also sell new and used records, equipment, and Yellow Sweater Sticker Shop items, “for all your snarky sticker, card, and shirt needs.”
  • The Vinyl Asylum stocks vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and vintage stereo equipment.

  • Nu-Beginning Farm: The Store sells locally sourced and organic groceries and baked goods. They have a selection of beer and wine, as well as grab-n-go meals. 
  • Refill Renew helps preserve the environment by selling your favorite cleaning and personal care items in bulk.

What to Do

  • Visit the grounds and Tiffany windows in Trinity Episcopal Church on the corner of Beverley and New Streets. Staunton’s oldest house of worship, Trinity Episcopal Church, is built on the site where the Augusta Parish Church briefly housed the Virginia General Assembly as it fled from British troops in 1781. The current church contains 12 stained-glass windows made by Tiffany Studios. Outside, you’ll find many historic grave markers as well as beautiful landscaping and a labyrinth.

  • From book clubs for grownups to storytime for kids, there’s always something going on at the Staunton Public Library. Make sure to visit the on-site award-winning Brenda L. Papke Memorial Sensory Garden at the Staunton Library. This small, universally accessible space is designed to stimulate all five senses.
  • If you prefer to wear your art, visit Acme Tattoo and look through their many different designs or bring your own!

Must-See and Do in the Beverley Historic District

Downtown Staunton contains many examples of Virginia’s finest Victorian architecture. Most of the buildings in the Beverley Historic District date from the 1870s to the 1920s. In fact, this small, walkable district was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. Besides history, this bustling section of Staunton boasts much in the way of shopping, dining, and culture. Here’s how to spend an afternoon or a weekend exploring the Beverley Historic District. 

Where to Stay

  • Hotel 24 South (formerly the Stonewall Jackson Hotel) was built in 1924 and remains the city’s tallest building. The renovated rooms and suites are luxurious and modernized, but the hotel retains its historic charm. On-site amenities include a business center, fitness center, and heated indoor pool. 
  • The Frederick House combines the extravagance of a fancy hotel in a more personal setting. They offer a menu of signature breakfasts as well as plenty of privacy and personality. The 20 guest rooms are spread between five historic homes.
  • The Storefront once served as a tea shop and is now a two-level accommodation. The ground floor boasts a unique bar/lounge area with a television, bathroom, and full-size futon. Upstairs, you’ll find a bedroom, bathroom, and full kitchen. 

Where to Have a Drink

  • Grab some flights or pints at Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company, a small craft brewery right on Beverley Street. They don’t serve food, but you can have carryout delivered or walk a few steps to a delicious nearby restaurant. 
  • The Green Room is a hip gathering spot in Staunton run by Blackfriars Playhouse actors. Sip wine, craft beer, cider, specialty non-alcoholic cocktails, and savor light fare like charcuterie boards and sandwiches. 
  • Yelping Dog Wine stocks hundreds of types of wine, from bottles produced locally to those made around the world. Stop in for a glass and a cheese plate or gourmet grilled cheese sandwich.

Where to Eat 

  • Start your day with coffee and a healthy and delicious breakfast at The By & By. Nearby Vic’s Eats is a veteran-owned cafe serving mouth-watering breakfast items as well as salads, sandwiches, and French press coffee. Réunion Bakery & Espresso brews delicious coffee drinks as well as mouthwatering French-inspired pastries. Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery focuses on vegetables, fruits, and organic grains and is a convenient way to grab a quick, fresh bite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The Pampered Palate feeds hungry diners fresh quiche, sandwiches, and wraps.
  • Are you craving the freshest sustainable seafood available? BLU Point Seafood Co. is where “the Chesapeake Bay meets the New England shore.” The bar delivers a big menu of cocktails, beer, wine, and cider, including many local options. Zynodoa will inspire your tastebuds with southern cuisine in a stylish, metropolitan setting. Aioli shines for its Mediterranean cuisine and tapas. Don’t skip dessert: The Split Banana will refresh you with 18 fresh flavors of gelato.

Where to Shop

  • Adults and children can find their next great read on the shelves at The Book Dragon. Fans of rare books should check out Barrister Books. Words Matter’s collection of word art and poetry is perfect for home decor or memorable occasions. Blair Made designs beautiful custom handmade wooden signs.
  • Peek in at Ware House Miniatures to pick out a dollhouse and all the furnishings. Next door, find a variety of model kits at J C General Merchandise. The Heifetz Music Shop delights with music-themed gifts. 
  • Tap into the positive energy we need so badly at Little Shoppe of Crystals. Browse the selection of crystals, jewelry, aromatherapy, and more.
  • The Foundry Pop-Ups promotes the work of local artists and craftspeople who make clothing, jewelry, bath products, candles, and decor. Known best for handmade swords, armor, and Welsh items, Medieval Fantasies Company also sells jewelry, candles, and bath and body products that smell like magic. 
  • Design at Nine is your source for distinctive women’s clothing, shoes, and boots as well as the accessories you need to tie your look together. Latitudes Fair Trade Store has unique and trendy clothing, bags, scarves, and jewelry. Men will look sharp after shopping at CFO Trading Company for clothing, outerwear, scarves, hats, and seasonal accessories. 
  • Taste and purchase ultra-premium extra virgin olive oils, infused and fused olive oils, and balsamic vinegar at Staunton Olive Oil Company. Sweeten your day with a selection of chocolates from Cocoa Mill. Beverley Cigar Store sells cigars, pipes, pipe tobacco, smoking accessories, lighters, and clothing.

What to Do

  • Built to resemble Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Theatre, the American Shakespeare Center stages high-quality productions of Shakespeare’s plays as well as contemporary works. Visulite Cinemas brings the latest popular and artistic movies to the big screen and you can sip a glass of wine or beer while you watch. Enjoy live entertainment like DJs, music, and karaoke at the Tempest Bar and Lounge

Take a self-guided or seasonal guided walking tour with the Historic Staunton Foundation and download our Architectural Walking Tour of Historic Staunton map before you go. Access even more of downtown Staunton by taking a Traipse Tour unique to the Queen City.

Don’t Make A Resolution; Make A Plan

Rich in history, dining, and culture; Staunton is a wonderful place to visit throughout the year. From festivals and concerts to romantic getaways and holiday entertainment, here are some ideas to get you thinking about how you can enjoy our town each month.

January – Outdoor Winter Adventures

What to Do: Staunton is the perfect location for accessing winter fun. Massanutten Resort and Wintergreen Ski Resort are both 40 minutes. In slightly over an hour, you can reach Bryce Mountain Resort and The Omni Homestead Resort for downhill fun in the snow. Get a workout on the slopes and come home to Staunton to warm up. Check out our blog It’s All Downhill from Staunton for more ideas.

Where to Stay: Tru by Hilton has a great location convenient to downtown Staunton as well as I-81 and I-64.

Where to Eat: Fill up with gourmet pizza at Shenandoah Pizza & Tap House or dine curbside at Wright’s Dairy-Rite.

February – Romantic Getaways

What to Do:

  • If you met your person during quarantine or managed to stay in love while working from home, supervising Zoom school, and staying 6 feet away from your friends, you must be doing something right. You and your significant other have exercised patience and kindness toward each other, and you deserve a romantic getaway to celebrate your love. Spend a memorable evening listening to romantic love songs from the American Songbook by Broadway’s Nancy Anderson in the Great Hall at the Blackburn Inn.
  • Catch a show at the Blackfriars Playhouse. Romeo and Juliet will open on February 25th, 2022.

Where to Stay: The historic Blackburn Inn’s rooms are the perfect blend of historical charm and modern sophistication. 

Where to Eat: BLU Point Seafood prepares the freshest seafood as well as burgers, salads, and sandwiches. Another delicious choice is the four or five-course tasting menu at The Shack.

March – Explore Staunton’s Historic Architecture

What to Do: Take a walking tour of Staunton’s historic districts to exercise your body and your brain. Try one of our self-guided tours:

Where to Stay: Book a luxurious room in one of Staunton’s finest historic buildings, Hotel 24 South.

Where to Eat: Plan to dine in another historic building: The Clocktower Eats & Sweets is housed in what was once a YMCA building built in the 1890s. The Mill Street Grill was once the operating White Star Mill, also built in the 1890s.

April – Dine Out Downtown

What to Do:

  • Staunton’s Shop and Dine Out Downtown program came about because of pandemic necessity, but the city has adopted it because it is so popular, the helps restaurants and businesses expand into space on Beverley Street when it closes for vehicular traffic each weekend. Tables, chairs, tents, and enthusiastic shoppers and dinner fill the street, and those outdoor dining spaces are filled, in turn, with groups chatting, laughing, and loving the al fresco dining experience. 
  • The Spring season at the Blackfriars Playhouse will feature Romeo and Juliet and Comedy of Errors.

Where to Stay: Staunton Stays are fully-equipped luxury suites and apartments that are located downtown and playfully decorated by theme.

Where to Eat: You’ll be eating dinner downtown, but start your day with coffee and a healthy and delicious breakfast at Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery, The By & By, or Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery.

May – Art In The Park

What to Do: How about upping your decorating game by purchasing a unique work of art created by a regional artist? This Memorial Day weekend marks the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s 55th Annual Art in the Park festival at Gypsy Hill Park. Join the fun at this Staunton tradition where you’ll find amazing art, community spirit, live music, food, and creative activities for the kids.

Where to Stay: Located in a beautiful, historic house, Montclair Bed and Breakfast provides privacy, a gourmet breakfast, and convenience to the park and downtown.

Where to Eat: Dine on Salvadoran pupusas at Gloria’s Pupusaria or grab some Peruvian charbroiled chicken at Gonzo’s Pollo. Both are convenient to the park.

June – Summer Music

What to Do: 

  • The summer music scene in Staunton is on fire! More than 40 of the biggest names in folk music will appear early July at Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Natural Chimney’s Park. Besides the music, festival attendees can expect a beer garden, food and craft vendors, bike rides, yoga, and lawn games for adults and kids alike.
  • Head to Gypsy Hill Park for free, live concerts most days of the week including sounds the historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band, Praise in the Park’s contemporary and southern gospel, local and regional bluegrass, and jazz.
  • You’ll also want to watch the schedule at Redbeard Brewing Company for the Summer Concert Series Lineup and upcoming summer concerts at the Blackburn Inn.

Where to Stay: With easy access to interstate try the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Staunton.

Where to Eat: Fuel up with big servings of Mexican and a wide selection of craft beer at the Baja Bean. Chicano Boy Taco is another place to get delicious Mexican food.

July – Heifetz and Happy Birthday America

What to Do: 

  • The annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts brings you over 50 different concerts ranging from chamber music, Fourth of July music, and multi-genre selections. You’ll see world-renowned celebrity guests in the Celebrity Series and Sunday Matinee Series. Heifetz students perform in the Stars of Tomorrow Series as well as the intimate Fridays in the Gallery series. Anything goes in the Heifetz Hootenanny Series.
  • Bring the family to Gypsy Hill Park this Independence Day for the free, family-friendly Happy Birthday America celebration. Enjoy a vesper service, a 5K race, a lively parade, concessions, and live music from local acts and homegrown country group Wilson Fairchild. 

Where to Stay: Howard Johnson’s offers comfortable rooms easily walked to and convenient to downtown.

Where to Eat: Dine on Thai favorites at Ubon Thai or head to nearby Aioli for Mediterranean cuisine and tapas.

August – Staunton Music Festival

What to Do: Get ready for a classical music thrill this August as The Staunton Music Festival brings you concerts spanning over 600 years. Dozens of musicians will perform in both large and small ensembles in a variety of Staunton venues like Trinity Episcopal Church and Blackfriars Playhouse. 

Where to Stay: The Storefront Hotel is a small, cool, private hotel with a private bar located downtown.

Where to Eat: Dine on authentic Indian favorites at Taste of India.

September – Queen City Mischief and Magic

What to Do: Raise your wands for Staunton’s Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, a home-grown fan festival celebrating J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series as well as all things magical and mystical. Next September, join thousands of seriously excited fans in downtown Staunton for themed shopping, dining, performances, and hands-on activities for all ages.

Where to Stay: Plan to stay at the Frederick House, and be right in the center of all the witches and wizards!

Where to Eat: Take the family to the Depot Grille for a wide selection of American food and a cool location by the historic train station. Fuel up with morning coffee at Crucible Coffee Roasters.

October – Virginia Wine Month and Ghost Tours

What to Do: 

  • According to VAWine.org, Virginia’s winemakers “embody the grace, grit, and experimental spirit of Virginia.” They also make some fine wine! October is Virginia Wine Month, so plan to celebrate wines made in the Shenandoah Valley. Read Raise a Glass to Virginia Wine Month for our favorite local places to drink it, buy it, and other ways to enjoy it.
  • Make plans to shiver this October when you take a Staunton Ghost Tour. You’ll learn about the Queen City’s unique architecture and its history as a thriving Victorian commercial center in the 1850s. You’ll also learn about the ghosts that just might come with buildings that old.

Where to Stay: Stay in Gibson’s Warehouse, a sleek, modern space in a historic building in one of Staunton’s (possibly) most haunted areas.

Where to Eat: Choose from cheese plates, gourmet grilled cheeses, and an enormous selection of wines produced locally and around the world at Yelping Dog Wine. The Green Room is a second destination for wine and light fare.

November – Art for Gifts, Christmas Parade, Celebration of Holiday Lights

What to Do:

  • Get in the holiday spirit by attending the Staunton Holiday Parade, which marches annually on the Monday after Thanksgiving and features marching bands, floats, and more by community and business organizations.
  • Find something for everyone on your list at the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s Art for Gifts holiday market, which features unique, handmade art from over 70 Virginia artists and artisans. 
  • Don’t miss a trip around Gypsy Hill Park for the Celebration of Holiday Lights during the month of December as it is transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of lights and decorations.

Where to Stay: The updated rooms at the Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast retain their Victorian charm and are steps from downtown dining and entertainment.

Where to Eat: Grab coffee and pastries at Réunion Bakery & Espresso or treats at Magdelena Bake. Visit Zynodoa for fine dining and a seasonal farm-to-table menu.

December-Holiday Happenings and Cheer

What to Do:

  • Stay tuned for the Staunton Downtown Development Association’s holiday events like Saturdays in December, which offer chances to shop and play downtown during the holidays. Shop, dine, and enjoy holiday characters, decorations, musicians, performers, activities, and more.
  • Take an Old World Holiday Tour at the Frontier Culture Museum to enjoy lantern-light visits to English, Irish, and German farmstead. Costumed interpreters perform holiday skits and music.
  • Enjoy ghostly season’s greetings with a Blackfriar’s production of A Christmas Carol. The show is filled with memorable music, cheer, and contemporary twists on the classic tale of Scrooge, Marley, the Christmas ghosts, the Cratchits, and Tiny Tim.  

Where to Stay: Orlesa Farms in Staunton is the perfect balance of seclusion and convenience for the ultimate in relaxation.

Where to Eat: You’ll love the selection of seasonal savory and sweet pies at Firkin Pie Company or Southern cuisine with a twist at Table 44.

Must-See & Do in Staunton’s Wharf

The Wharf Historic District shines as one of Staunton’s busiest and most vibrant neighborhoods. Once a quiet meadow, it was developed for business when the Virginia Central Railroad came to town in the 1850s. Along with warehouses and hotels, this district once featured saloons, distilleries, liveries, brothels, and a dispensary of a patent medicine that claimed to “cure all ills.” It’s now home to a wealth of independently owned businesses and restaurants.

Where to Stay

If you’re coming to Staunton for the weekend, plan to stay at Gibson’s Warehouse, a four-suite loft lodging in a historic TJ Collins-designed warehouse. Designed in 1905, the building was originally used to store hay, fertilizer, and farm equipment. Now, it’s the epitome of comfort and industrial cool, central to dining, shopping, and entertainment. Each suite offers a fully-equipped kitchen, living space, and a king-sized bed. There is also a common space in the lobby with seating areas so guests can socialize.

Where to Have a Drink

Redbeard Brewing Company serves excellent craft beer in a newly renovated tap room. Stop in for a pint of one of the dozen beers on tap and stick around for entertainment like live music, trivia, karaoke, and more. Try the award-winning 221B Baker Brown. 

 

The Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room, located in the yellow historic Fultz Office building, serves estate-grown, food-friendly wines. Stop in to relax over a tasting or a glass — you can’t go wrong with the Reserve Scale House Chardonnay — and make sure you tour the upstairs art gallery. 

Ciders from Mars has only been open for a few months, but people love the hard cider and the cool, modern space. Hang out at the bar, at a table, or grab a spot on the large patio and watch the bustle of the wharf. Ciders from Mars presses locally grown apples for its cider, and you can drink it by the glass, bottle, or flight. Try the Mellow Gold, made from Virginia Goldrush apples.

Where to Eat

Byers Street Bistro serves drinks, tasty appetizers like crab dip, stellar sandwiches and burgers, and the atmosphere is welcoming. Enjoy your food on the shaded brick patio. 

Locals and tourists alike rave over the food and kid-friendly service at The Depot Grille. Look for favorites like the crab cakes, fried oysters, and steak. Pose for selfies by the historic bar or the caboose parked outside. 

Once one of the largest flour mills in the Shenandoah Valley, Mill Street Grill dishes up a wide selection of choices including steak, ribs, seafood, and pasta. 

Taste of India boasts generous portions and good prices. You’ll enjoy a big menu of authentic Indian food that’s always rich, delicious, with a spice level suited to your needs.

Crumbl Cakes & Bakes just opened, but Staunton residents are already lining up for their daily treat. Choose from a rotating variety of cakes, cookies, cookie dough, and brownies. Try a vegan or gluten-free treat and don’t forget a  pupcake for your dog.

Where to Shop

If you’re shopping for unique gifts, you can’t go wrong with the Wharf district. Find some incredible art glass at Sunspots Studio, housed in the historic 1929 Klotz building. As a bonus, you can slip into the studio and watch the artists manipulate the molten glass into globes, vases, and much more. 

Spoil someone you love with artisan bath and body products from Essentially Zen. Choose from great-smelling essential oil soaps, soy candles, body frosting, and more. Essentially Zen will put together gift boxes tailored just for you.

Gamers will find supplies for all kinds of tabletop fun at The Dragon’s Hoard, and Pufferbellies Toys & Books carries a large, and well curated selection of toys, games, and books for all ages. 

Wilderness Adventure stocks your favorite brands of outdoor gear, clothing, accessories, and a huge selection of shoes. Better yet, investing in footwear here guarantees you’ll get a perfect fit. 

Don’t forget to get Fido a treat or a pet massage from the Well-Balanced Paw.

And of course if you’re in the Wharf on a Saturday morning from April to Thanksgiving, you don’t want to miss the producer’s only Staunton Farmers’ Market. Expect to enjoy the freshest local fruit, produce, cut flowers, baked goods, and more.

Where to Walk

Despite a history fraught with fire, flooding, and war, much historic architecture remains. Look for the the Beaux Arts-style Augusta County Courthouse and the Bungalow-style C&O Train Station. Many of the Wharf’s buildings are protected by the Historic Staunton Foundation.

For a detailed description of the historic architecture in the district, take our walking tour. Make sure you snap some selfies near the train station. There are lots of insta worthy backgrounds, including the Sears Hill Bridge that crosses the tracks and delivers walkers to Wilson Park, a small park with big views of Staunton.

Sleeping Beauties: Some of Staunton’s Most Beautiful Rooms

Planning to spoil yourself with a trip to Staunton? From luxury hotels to B & B’s and estates in the country, you’ll find somewhere on this list to dream about. Many are just steps away from all the restaurants, shopping, and entertainment downtown Staunton has to offer. What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and treat yourself to a stay in one of the nicest rooms in one of the best towns around!

Hotel 24 South

Step into any guest room at Hotel 24 South and you’ll find immaculate rooms with plush pillowtop mattresses and extensive in-house services. Renovated in 2005 and again in 2018, Hotel 24 South boasts luxurious and contemporary appointments in its rooms and suites. The classic lobby exudes old-time ambiance and lots of seating. Enjoy cocktails in the 1924 Lounge and weekend breakfasts at the on-site Magnolia South restaurant. Guests can frolic in a heated swimming pool and whirlpool and park in a secure garage. If you want to bring your furry friend, pets are welcome for a fee. Located in Staunton’s walkable downtown, Hotel 24 South is close to a number of fine dining and entertainment opportunities. 

 

Blackburn Inn & Conference Center

The Blackburn Inn is an upscale boutique hotel in a restored building originally part of Western State Hospital, a site with a long and interesting past. Located on 80 landscaped acres on the edge of downtown Staunton, the site blends character and charming details like original wood floors and tall windows with crisp, modern amenities. Book your stay in one of the 49-room hotel’s 27 unique floor plans and find updated touches like marble bathrooms with rain showers, soaker tubs, and luxury linens. You might also make reservations for a massage or manicure at the onsite spa. This hotel beautifully combines history with hospitality and you’ll be able to relax and rejuvenate before hitting the town to see everything Staunton has to offer. 

Frederick House

The beautiful and traditionally decorated 23-room Frederick House encompasses space in seven historic downtown buildings. Many of the rooms are in traditional houses, but others had former lives as a store, a stable, and a silent movie theater. The lodging’s website offers photos of the different rooms and suites to choose from, including space designed for young families. In addition to an incredible night’s sleep, you will wake up to the breakfast of your dreams in the form of a sausage and cheese strata, apple raisin quiche, ham and cheese pie, or more. Frederick House offers the charm and individuality of a B&B as well as the comfort and amenities of a larger hotel. If you’re looking for guidance during your visit, staff will help you design winery routes, navigate bike rentals, golfing, and fishing spots. They’ll even arrange picnic baskets for you if you’re heading out for a scenic drive or hike. 

The Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast

The Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast, an 8,000 square-foot Queen Anne Victorian mansion, sits across from the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace. The property was built in 1897, and the current owners modernized it and transformed it into an elegant inn in 2013. The updated inn retains many original details like fireplaces, stained glass, large windows, and period decorations. Select Registry chose the Berkeley House for its elite group of inns across the country. You’ll rave about the elaborate breakfast with many tasty dishes including praline pecan French toast, spinach quiche, stuffed Dutch baby pancakes, and more. Make sure you catch the wine and cheese served late Saturday afternoons! The bed and breakfast offers an American Shakespeare Center package, a craft beer package, and a champagne package to make your stay even more fun.

The Bella Inn

Guests staying in The Bella Inn are treated to a suite’s worth of amenities. Not only are the king-sized beds incredibly comfortable, but you’ll have room to spread out in a living room and full kitchen. The two suites are in the light-filled and thoughtfully restored 1870s McClure Printing building. They incorporate unique architectural details like lofted spaces and spiral staircases. There’s even a private patio with skyline views to enjoy morning coffee or a romantic dinner. Not into cooking for yourself? Look no further than the onsite Aioli for a Mediterranean dinner of tapas or select from Staunton’s range of options, all just steps away.

Staunton Stays

Staunton Stays is a four-suite boutique hotel in a beautifully renovated Victorian house. All four suites offer queen-sized beds and a sofa bed. You’ll also find full kitchens, modern bathrooms, living quarters, and laundry room access. Begin with a complimentary bottle of wine and basket of snacks before you cook a meal in your private kitchen or walk to a nearby restaurant. Each plush suite is decorated according to a different theme, including the Shenandoah Valley, France, dreams, and the artist’s imagination. 

Gibson’s Warehouse  

When renowned Staunton architect T.J. Collins designed a warehouse near the train station in 1905, he probably didn’t envision its current life as luxury lodgings. Gibson’s Warehouse is a recently renovated four-suite lodging space in Staunton’s Wharf District, close to dining, shopping, entertainment, and the farmers’ market. Originally, the historic building stored hay, fertilizer, and farm equipment. After renovations, it’s the epitome of comfort and sleek, industrial cool with tall ceilings, large windows, wood floors, and areas of exposed brick. In each private suite, you’ll find a full-sized kitchen, modern bath, living space, and a king-sized bed. Enjoy complimentary wifi and a treat basket. There is also a common space and seating in the lobby.

Inn at Meadowcroft

The romantic Inn at Meadowcroft is a short drive from Staunton, but when you’re looking for pastoral views and starry skies, you can’t beat the inn’s 300+ acres. The rooms are situated in restored cabins and a renovated 1794 log home. Rooms and suites are decorated with period antiques and contain details like log walls, fireplaces, and comfortable seating areas. The inn does a marvelous job maintaining the historic ambiance but updating with modern amenities. For instance, rooms include incredibly comfortable mattresses and bathrooms with both deep slipper tubs and sleek glass showers. 

 

Staunton: One of the Best Small Towns in Virginia

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

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

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

Marquis Building by Warren Faught
Marquis Building by Warren Faught

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.