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Category: Arts & Culture

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.

Wool Week 2022 at the Frontier Culture Museum

Have you ever wondered what people from the past did when they wanted to update their wardrobes? Today, we go to the store or even order our outfits online, but the process was much more involved for our ancestors and the early settlers of the Shenandoah Valley. Not only did they have to obtain the raw materials, but they also had to clean them, and transform them into cloth. Finally, they had to turn the fabric into wearable clothing or other textiles. Each year during Wool Week, the Frontier Culture Museum invites visitors to celebrate spring as well as the process of creating useful products from raw materials.

How can I visit?

Wool Week 2022 is April 25 – May 1

There is no extra cost beyond regular admission to the museum.

Museum visitors will see:

  • Demonstrations focusing on wool and flax processing
  • Sheep shearing
  • New baby lambs
  • Regular museum exhibits

How long will the lambs be little?

Lambs are born in the spring when there’s plenty of grass to eat and the weather has lost its winter chill. Ewes give birth to one to three lambs at a time, but twins are most common. Lambs usually weigh about the same as human babies. They can walk within a few hours of being born!

What is wool, anyway? How did people on the frontier harvest it?

Wool is the heavy winter coat of the sheep that’s harvested each year in the spring. While we typically use mechanical clippers now, people from the frontier would use sharpened blades like scissors with the pivot point at the end. Skilled shearers can remove the wool quickly and keep it in one piece.

Do sheep like getting shorn?

Sheep shearing is very much like getting a haircut, but nervous sheep may struggle during the shearing process. It takes a lot of strength to hold them still and clip the wool at the same time. Sheep shearers should take their time to prevent injuries. Shorn sheep feel cooler for the upcoming hot weather and are probably relieved to be rid of their heavy, dirty coats. 

How do they clean the wool?

Contrary to what we see in picture books, sheep are pretty dirty. Museum interpreters use their hands to pull and tease the wool fibers apart to get rid of dirt and parasites. Next, they wash and card the wool. Carding untangles the fibers and stretches them out so that they can be spun. The museum staff will teach you how to perform each of these steps.

How did settlers color the wool?

We didn’t have the synthetic dyes we use now until the middle of the 19th century. Before that, people colored their fabrics with plants, lichens, and even insects. They used fixatives like salt and vinegar to help the dyes stay in place. Professional dyers were very protective about their recipes since some worked better than others. Many colors weren’t readily available, especially in the materials for the dyes that came from far away. Wool can be dyed before or after spinning.

How did they turn that pile of wool into my favorite sweater?

Spinners wind stretched-out wool fibers into yarn. Next, the yarn is formed into a fabric by knitting or by weaving on a loom. Both the German and the Irish farms have looms and visitors can watch the intricate, time-consuming process of working one.

What else can I see at the museum?

The Frontier Culture Museum is a living history museum that will connect present-day people with the lives and histories of those who lived in the past. The walkable museum offers a chance to explore the homesteads of the various people who settled in the region from other places. They include farms from West AfricaEnglandIreland, and Germany. The museum also offers a Native American village and American farms from various time periods.

Have more questions? Head to Wool Week to get answers!

Check out more events on Staunton on Tap.

Experience BaroqueFest in Staunton, VA

The Staunton Music Festival’s 10-day summer concert series brings over 80 world-class chamber musicians to town every August to showcase 600 years of music. But did you know that SMF brings almost 40 concerts to town each year, including “intimate” concerts in the spring and fall that are “often focusing on specific repertoire, from Baroque to Modern.” 

This spring’s offering is BaroqueFest a “three-day immersion in the very best music from the 17th and 18th centuries.” Baroque is known for the birth of the orchestra and common-practice tonality, in which a piece of music is composed in a specific key. BaroqueFest will include programs for voices, orchestra, and chamber ensembles. Performers will play period-appropriate instruments like historic keyboards, winds and brass, and strings. 

Photo by Leslie Kipp

How Do I Purchase Tickets?

Purchase individual tickets for individual concerts or buy a BaroqueFest or annual pass.

Photo by Leslie Kipp

BaroqueFest Itinerary

Here’s how to enjoy all the BaroqueFest programming as well as find food, lodging, and fun in Staunton in your downtime. 

Friday, April 8

12 p.m. Concert: Organ Recital with David Schrader

Master organist David Schrader performs a solo recital on the historic Taylor & Boody instrument at Christ Lutheran Church. Christ Lutheran Church | Free admission

Find Your Lodging 

Check into a tastefully updated room with historic details at the Blackburn Inn, a venue for some of the music. Other elegant and historic lodgings like Hotel 24 South or Frederick House provide access to Staunton’s shopping, dining, and walkable downtown. Browse all of our lodging options here.

Dine on Staunton’s Finest

Sit down to a fresh seafood dinner at Blu Point Seafood or casual drinks and light fare at The Green Room. If the weather is warm, try dining al fresco at one of several restaurants participating in Staunton’s Shop and Dine Out Downtown program. You’ll find fare ranging from gourmet pizza and burgers, Mexican, elevated Southern comfort food, gelato, and much more.

7 p.m. Concert: Concerto Italiano

Mark the start of spring–and the SMF BaroqueFest–with a ravishing program of Italian music, from Renaissance madrigals to concertos by Vivaldi, Marcello, and others. Central United Methodist Church | $26

Saturday, April 9

Fuel Up and Explore Staunton

Prepare for a big day with coffee and a pastry or breakfast sandwich at Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery. This new cafe is located in the Wharf District near the historic train station. Make sure you check out the nearby Sears Hill Bridge. The view you get of downtown is worth climbing the steep steps to the top. Nearby, the Staunton Farmers’ Market is open for the 2022 season. Look for fresh treats, live music, and a chance to shop and chat with producers. If you have time, catch a ride on Staunton’s historic trolley, a fun way to get around downtown. Stops on the line also include Gypsy Hill Park and the park-like Thornrose Cemetery.

12 p.m. Concert: Kaffeehaus Zimmermann

Leipzig’s cafes were prime music venues in the Baroque era. Enjoy orchestral, chamber and vocal music by Handel, Zelenka, Pisendel, Telemann, and Pachelbel. First Presbyterian Church | free admission

Fill Your Afternoon with Art and Craft Beverages

Satisfy your curiosity at Sunspots Studio, where you’ll watch artisans making creations out of molten glass. You’ll get a chance to ask questions and observe every step of the process. After that, browse the gallery for unique art glass home and garden decor, barware, and jewelry. Next, visit Redbeard Brewing or nearby Ciders from Mars for a taste of what’s new on the craft beer and cider scene. Take advantage of the warmer weather by sitting outside. Enjoy dinner at Table 44 or Byers Street Bistro, both of which serve Southern food with a twist and boast tasty cocktail menus.

7 p.m. Concert: The Old-Bachian Archive 

Orchestral, chamber, vocal, and choral works by lesser-known members of the Bachian clan, closing with Johann Sebastian’s Cantata 207. First Presbyterian Church | $26

Sunday, April 10

Enjoy Another Staunton Meal

Celebrate your weekend with a big breakfast at veteran-owned Vic’s Eats, which opens bright and early at 8 a.m. Enjoy hearty sandwiches like fried eggs, cheese, and your choice of meat served on pancake buns or fresh-made biscuits. Next, burn off those calories with a self-guided walking tour of downtown Staunton, named by Architectural Digest as one of the 30 Most Beautiful Main Streets Across America. Stroll through six historic districts and admire Staunton’s notable Victorian architecture. Look, especially, for the work of TJ Collins, who designed or remodeled over 200 buildings at the turn of the century. 

11 a.m. Concert: Purcell & Co. at the Blackburn

Enjoy music by Purcell and English contemporaries in the historic and newly-renovated Great Hall at Blackburn Inn. The Blackburn Inn | $20

12:30 p.m.: Lunch & Lecture: The French Baroque

Guest speaker Dr. Jon Gibson introduces the afternoon concert over catered lunch at the Blackburn Inn. The Blackburn Inn | $40

4 p.m. Concert: April in Paris: Versailles

The glittering French capital provides a sonic backdrop for works by Charpentier, Lully, Couperin, and many others. First Presbyterian Church | $26

Fill Up Before Heading Home

If you’re heading back home and not spending another night in Staunton, grab a quick bite to eat before you hit the road. Wright’s Dairy Rite is a retro 1950s diner that serves burgers, shakes, sundaes, and more with classic curbside service. It’s time to start planning your next trip to Staunton!

Staunton is a Southern Living Best Mountain Town

Did you know that Southern Living Magazine recently showcased Staunton as a top mountain town in its The South’s Best 2022? The list of the best southern destinations celebrates “the people, places, and communities that make [the South] more vibrant than ever.” Mountain towns were chosen for their local shops and restaurants, cozy lodging, and welcoming downtowns as well as their beauty and access to the mountains. Southern Living praises Staunton’s charming downtown, varied dining scene, notable lodging selection, and proximity to Shenandoah National Park. Read on for more reasons why Staunton is such a hot travel destination.

Ogle Staunton’s Beauty

Find a high spot in Staunton and kick back to admire the views. Try Cannon Hill at Mary Baldwin University or cross the historic footbridge to Woodrow Park on Sears Hill. You’ll even find something postcard-worthy when you pause on the Wal-Mart parking lot! From walks through historic downtown, country bike rides, or drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll never be far from a million-dollar view.

Eat Like a King

For a small city, Staunton has a wealth of independent restaurants. You’ll find everything from sophisticated Southern gourmet meals at Zynodoa and Table 44 to French pastry at Réunion. Get your fill of steak and seafood at Mill Street Grill and Blu Point Seafood, or opt for global fare at Gloria’s Pupuseria and Gonzo’s Pollo.

Find a Festival

Staunton is a wonderful home base for festivals throughout the year. 

  • Join us for the initial BaroqueFest, a three-day immersion in the very best music from the 17th and early 18th centuries. This festival takes place April 8-10.
  • Friday nights from Memorial Day to Labor Day come enjoy an outdoor concert series on the grounds of the Blackburn Inn and Conference Center. SummerStage kicks off May 27 with Hootenanny.
  • Jam out to The Steel Wheels, The Jayhawks, Langhorne Slim, and other notable names in roots music at the Red Wing Roots Festival at nearby Natural Chimneys State Park. June 24-26.
  • Enjoy selections from hundreds of years of classical music at the 10-day Staunton Music Festival. This festival welcomes over 70 acclaimed professionals from around the world to perform in 30 events and opens on August 12.
  • Browse the juried work of local and regional artists at the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s annual Art in the Park. The 54th annual event will occur in Gypsy Hill Park on September 4-5. 
  • The Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival will return in person this year on the weekend of September 24-25. Head downtown for lots of magical fun as businesses and citizens 

Learn Something New

Learn the history of the presidency and early 20th-century life at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. Get a hands-on education at the Frontier Culture Museum, where costumed interpreters work historically accurate farms. Make time to view the exhibits at the Beverley Street Studio School Gallery and the Staunton Augusta Art Center.

Access the Outdoors

We dare you to visit the Shenandoah Valley and not take one of the best hikes of your life. Staunton is close to the Appalachian Trail and dozens of beautiful hikes in Shenandoah National Park and along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Venture west into George Washington and Jefferson National Forest for more exciting hiking opportunities. Hikers can also stretch their legs on miles of trails in Montgomery Hall Park and Betsy Bell & Mary Gray Wilderness.

Visit Southern Living to see more parks, businesses, and towns that made this years list. Look forward to casting your vote for the South’s Best 2023.

Romantic Getaways in Staunton

Want to do something really special for your main squeeze this Valentine’s Day? How about a romantic getaway in Staunton? You’ll feel the love as you unwind and reconnect while sharing luxurious accommodations, decadent meals, and relaxing strolls through our historic downtown. We’ve even found some fun Valentine’s Day activities to try. Here’s our guide to where to stay, what to eat, and what to do on your romantic getaway in Staunton. 

Where to Stay

First things first: If you’re planning a romantic getaway, you’ll need a cozy nest away from home. Dreamy lodgings abound in Staunton, but we especially like those that are luxurious but also offer historic charm. The Hotel 24 South and The Blackburn Inn both feature elegant rooms in restored buildings, beds with pillowtop mattresses, and spa-like showers. You can impress your Valentine with the Blackburn Inn’s Love Is in the Air: Valentine’s Day Package, which includes prosecco and a pair of champagne flutes, a rose-petal turndown, a late checkout time, and dining credit at the onsite Second Draft Bistro. Perhaps a trip to the spa to relax and rejuvenate sounds like dream, so be sure to book in advance.

The Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast offers upgraded elegance in a large Queen Anne Victorian residence decorated in period style. Your stay includes an elaborate breakfast as well as an option to reserve a champagne and chocolates special. Frederick House offers the charm and individuality of a B&B as well as the comfort and amenities of a larger hotel. The beautiful and traditionally decorated 20-room hotel encompasses space in five historic downtown buildings. Ask about the Shakespeare Theatre Ticket special. Romeo and Juliet begins February 25th!

Cocktail Spots and Romantic Restaurants

Stop to flirt over some wine at Yelping Dog Wine or The Green Room, or grab a private tasting of Virginia estate wine at Ox-Eye Tasting Room. If the weather cooperates, you might also take a picnic to Barren Ridge Vineyards for delicious wine and one of the best views in Augusta County. If you’d rather refresh yourself with fresh craft beer, Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. and Redbeard Brewing Company are located downtown. Nearby, Byers Street Bistro serves up some seasonal winter cocktails.

The Clocktower Valentine’s Day Soirée is happening on February 12 and 13. Start the night with happy hour at Tempest Bar & Lounge before dining on a decadent three-course dinner. Choices include shrimp, prime rib or lasagna, and tiramisu or creme brulee. After dinner, you’ll enjoy the comic show BoxCar Speakeasy & Reese Middleton’s Vintage Valentine Revue. Tickets include champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.

The Baja Bean is a fun place to take your date for dinner. Enjoy all your Tex-Mex favorites and a wide selection of craft beer on tap. They’re running Valentine’s Day special that includes fajitas for two, a special drink or dessert to share, and a lovely local bouquet from Harmony Harvest Farm. Would you rather spend Valentine’s Day cuddled up in your room? Stave off your hunger pangs by ordering a heart-shaped pizza from Shenandoah Pizza & Tap House.

Make reservations to share a special night over Chef Boden’s four or five-course seasonal tasting menu at The Shack. The options change each week, but winter ingredients might include cranberries, hazelnuts, lamb, rockfish, and more, all paired with suggested wines. 

If you’re seeking a spot that has the feel of the big city, look no further than Zynodoa. Choose a unique cocktail that incorporates locally sourced ingredients like herbs or honey or select beer or wine from the extensive list. Next, order a dinner featuring “inspired Southern cuisine.” On the menu: Virginia blue crab fritters, Polyface Farm sweet tea brined chicken, Wade’s Mill apple & cheddar grits, and Saunders Brothers Honeycrisp apple cobbler. Zynodoa also serves an amazing brunch.

Sweet Somethings

Feed your romance with a cone from The Split Banana, which serves a big selection of freshly made gelato flavors like coffee toffee, cherry cheesecake, or Guinness extra stout. You can hold hands and share cones as you stroll around downtown window shopping and checking out the Victorian architecture. If you prefer soft serve with a side of nostalgia, pull up to the old-fashioned drive-in and fill your dessert cravings at Wright’s Dairy Rite, a Staunton institution since the 50s.

Don’t wait until Valentine’s Day night to steal your sweetie’s heart. Meet for coffee and pastries at Réunion, a Staunton sweet spot where you can order espresso, buttery croissants, and other baked goods that taste like they’re fresh from Paris.

Wow your honey with a beautifully decorated and delicious dessert from Paris Cake Company, Gorgeous cupcakes decorated like flowers? Check. Cut out cookies decorated like rainbows? Raspberry swirl cheesecake? Check and check. Bonus: You can indulge in these treats after an equally delicious dinner at Table 44. Firkin Pie Company’s February lineup includes chocolate cream, raspberries, and cream, and bananas foster all baked fresh. Even Cupid couldn’t keep his hands off this fine, fine pie!

It will be love at first bite when you present your special someone with a box of handmade, gourmet chocolate from Cocoa Mill Chocolates. The Valentine’s Day assortment even comes in an edible box and was voted best overall in a Wall Street Journal taste test. Giancarlo Fine European Pastries creates incredible chocolates made from Cordillera Colombian 65 % cacao and 36% dark milk, single bean chocolate.

Valentine Fun

A meeting of the minds is always a good idea, so Crack the Code Escape Room makes for a genius Valentine’s Day date. What’s even better is that if you book a spot for February 13, they’re running a special where participants get 10% off and some chocolate from Giancarlo Fine European Pastries! Another good date is to book a Couple’s Getaway Package at the Blackburn Inn spa. This day of pampering will ease away all your cares. It includes champagne and strawberries and massages for both of you.

The Valentine Flower Workshop at Redbeard Brewing with Brin’s Posy (February 9) is marketed for everybody, especially men! Unleash your creative side as you make a Valentine’s Day bud vase for your favorite person. Not only will you get to sip tasty craft beer, but you’ll also save money on flowers this year. Keep busy on Valentine’s Day weekend with a Silk Scarf Workshop by Suz Hues of The Foundry Pop-Ups. You’ll learn a new technique and take home wonderful memories and a new scarf. February 10.

Stoke the romantic fires on February 11th with the Blackburn Inn’s WinterStage production Isn’t It Romantic. This evening of classic love songs features broadway star Nancy Anderson and jazz pianist Wells Hanley. Romeo and Juliet is on stage at the Blackfriar’s Playhouse. Book your tickets to see Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers navigate the dangers of hate and love. We dare you not to cry.

If you’re still looking for a Valentine’s Day gift, make sure to check out our wealth of independent shops, galleries, and antique stores downtown. You’ll find a range of wares including candles and bath supplies, gourmet food and olive oil, art-glass decor, jewelry, clothing, games and gaming supplies, art, and vintage treasure of all kinds.

For more events, visit Staunton on Tap.

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.

How to Enjoy a Production of A Christmas Carol at Blackfriars Playhouse

Rehearsals are underway for the American Shakespeare Company’s annual production of A Christmas Carol. The story by Charles Dickens has been adapted for the stage by Jay McClure. Get tickets now for performances (December 10 – 30) of this classic and family-friendly tale.

Join Ebeneezer Scrooge as he navigates Christmas Eve night with visits from the Christmas ghosts and learns how to be a better, kinder person. See all your favorite characters like the Cratchits, Jacob Marley, and Tiny Tim. This show brings surprises and new twists to the classic story, and while it’s not a Shakespeare play, audiences will get to enjoy the ambiance and historically accurate details in this re-creation of Shakespeare’s theater.

The Christmas Spirit is Alive at the Blackfriars

Demonstrate your own Christmas spirit by giving back to the community by donating to ASC’s Project Goodfellow. The project will support the Valley Mission this holiday season. The Mission hopes to receive cleaning supplies, first aid supplies, shower shoes, and undergarments for men, women, and children. They also need rain gear and ponchos. Donations can be placed in bins during performances or dropped off Tuesday to Sunday afternoons.

Other Ways to Enjoy ASC Productions

Want to watch an ASC production from the comfort of your own home? Check out the offerings on BlkFrsTV. Access to several pre-recorded shows is available on a rolling basis. Current productions of Macbeth, Henry V, and All’s Well that Ends Well are available for streaming by both single title and packages. You can also gift tickets to digital performances as presents this holiday season.

Where to Stay While You’re in Town

Visiting from out of town? Treat yourself to an American Shakespeare Center Package at the Berkeley House Bed & Breakfast. This tastefully updated historic home is a five-minute stroll from the theater. Or stay next door to the theater at the beautifully renovated Hotel 24 South. You might also book a stay in the Bard’s Nest, a boutique hotel room for two that’s located steps away from the Blackfriars. And while there’s no Shakespeare experience at the Blackburn Inn, you might want to try out one of the other packages like the Winter Escape or the Relax & Rejuvenate Package, which includes breakfast and a facial treatment at the hotel’s spa.

Where to Eat

Sit down for drinks and pre-performance snacks at The Green Room, a modern gathering place run by Blackfriars actors. You might get some behind-the-scenes stories about past productions and you’ll definitely get something yummy. If you’re looking for some Shakespeare-themed tastes, you can’t go wrong with The Pampered Palate’s Blackfriars hot pastrami and swiss on rye sandwich. Finally, grab a Shakespearean pie at Shenandoah Pizza and Taphouse. This basil pesto delight boasts artichoke hearts and tomatoes. Don’t stop there, though. Shenandoah Pizza offers an extensive menu of gourmet options.

What to Do Next

Make sure to catch up on your holiday shopping in downtown Staunton, which is packed with interesting independent shops and galleries. Find something fun in the curated selection of toys and games for all ages at Pufferbellies Toys and Books. Shopping for an outdoorsy friend? Explore the gear at Black Dog Bikes, Sole Focus Running, and Wilderness Adventure. Find one-of-a-kind gifts at the Art for Gifts Holiday Market, Made; By the People; for the People, or The Sparrow’s Nest.

10 Things We Are Thankful For In Staunton This Year

Thanksgiving is almost here. Take some time between raking leaves, planning side dishes, and agonizing over table settings to reflect on the many things we’re thankful for in Staunton.

Our Great Outdoors

Staunton’s location in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley provides incredible views of mountains on both sides. Were just a few minutes from Shenandoah National Park with its many trails and Skyline Drive. We’re also right in the middle of George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, a wonderful place to hike, bike, paddle, and explore. Even downtown Staunton offers a robust park system featuring trails, views, pools, wilderness areas, playgrounds, ballfields, and a dog park.

Independent Small Businesses

Staunton boasts a diverse mix of indie shops. Our small business owners are following their passions, and creating one of the best independent shopping districts in the state. Hurrah for Staunton Olive Oil Company, Essentially Zen Artisan Bath and Body Shop, Latitudes, Made; By the People, For the People, Medieval Fantasies Company, Refill Renew, Pufferbellies Toys and Books, and more

Foodie Scene

For a small town, Staunton has a lot of good food and this list only scratches the surface. Enjoy fresh coffee and out-of-this-world pastries at Reunion Bakery & Espresso, Crucible Coffee Roasters, or Newtown Baking. Sit down to a tasty lunch emphasizing local ingredients at Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery, Table 44, the Pampered Palate, or Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery. Savor a dinner at Chicano Boy Taco, Zynodoa, the Mill Street Grill, or Aioli. Make sure to leave room for something sweet from The Split Banana, the Clocktower Eats and Sweets, or Wright’s Dairy Rite

Craft Beer, Wine, and Cider

Virginia is making quite a name for itself in the craft beer and wine scene, and our local area is no exception. In fact, Staunton was just named one of the “20 Best Beer Towns in the United States.” Hop on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail to sip at 19 breweries, all within an hour’s drive. Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing Company, and Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. are all within city limits. Baja Bean Co. sells a wide selection of craft beers by the bottle or on tap. Wine lovers can taste the local varietals and more at Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room, Yelping Dog Wine, the Green Room, or the new Seed to Tail Kitchen & Market. Barren Ridge Vineyards is just a short drive away. If you prefer cider, grab a seat and a flight at Staunton’s new cidery, Ciders from Mars.

Artists, Artisans, and the Performing Arts

There are many ways to explore Staunton’s flourishing arts community. Walk around and visit Staunton’s collection of murals and public art. Drop in at a gallery. Take a class at Beverley Street Studio School. Visit Sunspots Studios, where you can watch glass art being created in front of your eyes. Catch a virtual performance by The American Shakespeare Center or a live show at ShenanArts where local performers put on high-energy performances. Got dramatic kids? Sign them up for a theater class with Silver Line Theatre Exchange.

Live Music 

From the world-renowned performers who perform at the Heifetz International Music Institute, to the wonderful local musicians enlivening the scene at our favorite breweries and restaurants, Staunton is home to the very best in music–making. We’ve got live, free music almost every night of the week at Gypsy Hill Park during the summer. We have music festivals that entertain all year long. These include Red Wing Roots Music Festival, the classical Staunton Music Festival, as well as rock, blues, jazz, and folk festivals.

Local Farmers and Producers

We are fortunate to be able to enjoy some of the freshest, most delicious locally grown food available anywhere in the USA.  We have a seasonal farmer’s market (and new winter market,) farm-fresh roadside stands, and pick-your-own farms.  We’re the envy of many communities in the “buy fresh, buy local” movement. Plus, many of our restaurants prioritize using this seasonal and healthy food in their recipes.

Museums and Historic Sites

Staunton’s in touch with its history. Take a walking tour and admire downtown’s amazing Victorian architecture. See the past come to life at the Frontier Culture Museum and Woodrow Wilson’s Birthplace Museum. Check out the Camera Heritage Museum, explore Thornrose Cemetery, or even book a private ghost tour

Our Fun Community

Though Covid has put a damper on a some of the live community events, we hope to soon be able to take advantage of all our favorites. We’re thankful for the Staunton Christmas Parade, Caroling in the Park, Happy Birthday America Celebration, Celebration of Holiday Lights in the Park, Queen City Mischief and Magic, Art in the Park, Concerts at Trinity Church and many more.

The People

We are thankful for YOU!  You, as a visitor or local, all come together to make Staunton exactly what it is!  It wouldn’t be the same without you. We’re also thankful for our teachers, our police officers, and our Public Works department. We’re thankful for the servers and bartenders in the cafes who know our faces and orders by heart, the doctors who keep us healthy, and many more. We are grateful for all of the incredible people who live and work in Staunton that contribute every day to help make our small city so amazing. 

We hope you’ll enjoy and share this list.  But most of all – we hope you’ll add to this list with all the things you are grateful for in Staunton. Happy Thanksgiving!

Labor Day Weekend Brings Art to the Park

Are you looking for an amazing new painting to take center stage over your couch? Or how about just a little inspiration to spark your own creative fires? This Labor Day weekend marks the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s 54th annual Art in the Park festival in Gypsy Hill Park. Join the fun at this Staunton tradition where you’ll find community spirit, live music, food, and creative activities for the kids.

Before You Go

  • Art in the Park is happening Labor Day Weekend. Saturday, Sept. 4 from 10 – 5, Sunday, Sept. 5 from noon to 5.
  • The event is free
  • The event takes place in the shaded area in front of the bandstand
  • Public restrooms are available
  • Food vendors will be at the festival

What Kind of Art Can You Expect to See?

The Art in the Park festival is a juried art show, which means that potential artists are evaluated by a panel and chosen for their quality and appropriateness. This year’s show will have 30 local and regional artists and craftspeople displaying their work in a variety of genres. Expect to see photography, watercolor paintings, oil paintings, hand-made jewelry, stained glasswork, pencil drawings, hand-crafted clothing, metal sculpture, wood-turned sculpture, and much more. What’s nice about shopping for art at an art show is that the artists are on hand ready to answer questions and chat with you about their creative process.

Check out some of the wonderful, whimsical drawings by illustrator and graphic designer Phoebe West.

Looking for a unique gift? Ninika Gordon’s Phineas Rose Studios jewelry will be at the show. Inspired by nature, the pieces are made from argentium silver, gold bi-metal, fossils, and gemstones.

Jessie Rublee specializes in functional artwork in the form of bowls, mugs, dishes, planters, and more. Her stoneware pottery boasts clean lines and is partially unglazed for interest and contrast.

Look for the oil and acrylic portraits of people and animals from the brush of Marti Reed.

Other participating artists include Jamie Agins, Troy Argenbright, Mary Barnes, Cynthia Boteler, Angus Carter, Suzanna Garrett, Lisa Geiman, Karen Gellatly, Erin Harrigan, Wanda Hollberg, Barbara Coyle Holt, Teresa and Joel Howard, Meghan Kramer, 

Amy Snowden and Anna Lee, Shalom Lord, Georganne Ludt, Donald Lum, Chris Myers, Larry Parker, Mary Elizabeth Rowe, Allison Schroeder, Frank Shepard, Craig Snodgrass, Mike Sorge, Mae Stolle, Julia Vessey, also participate.

Is the Event Good for Families?

Art in the Park is a family-friendly event. Not only will kids enjoy looking at the art that’s on display for sale, but the festival will host fresh, creative activities. Live music from the bandstand will keep them dancing. The nearby duck pond and playground are perfect for après art fun.

What Next?

If you can’t wait until Labor Day for art, visit the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s website for information about current and upcoming online and gallery shows. You can also access an archive of art that’s appeared in the gallery in the past. For more art-related activities, check out our Guide to Arts and Culture.

It’s a very short stroll from Gypsy Hill Park to Queen City Brewing. Discuss your favorite art (or recent purchase) over a cold craft brew. Next, head downtown for a late lunch or dinner.

Several blocks of Beverley Street will be closed to traffic for the Shop and Dine Out Downtown program. This allows businesses without outside spaces to make use of Staunton’s sidewalks, street, and fresh air. Participating businesses include Laughing Bird Pho, Pampered Palate, 101 West Beverley – “The 101”, Clocktower Eats & Sweets, and more.

What’s Playing Next? Staunton’s Summer Music Roundup

Picture kicking back on a blanket under the stars enjoying a picnic and listening to the Steel Wheels and other favorite artists. Or imagine relishing the sounds of Beethoven while the light shines through the stained glass at Trinity Church. Or how about celebrating the 4th of July virtually from the comforts of your own home? There are plenty of ways to get live music into your life this summer. Here’s a guide to your Staunton summer soundtrack!

Happy Birthday America Virtual

It’s still too soon to hold Staunton’s traditional Happy Birthday America Celebration with Wilson Fairchild. However, you can join in the fun with the virtual version by tuning into the Happy Birthday America YouTube channel. The virtual celebration will “feature guests, pictures and memories looking back through the years.” Musical guests will include Rhonda Vincent, The Malpass Brothers, Jimmy Fortune, Tony Jackson, and Mark Wills & Ruth Graham. Tune in online at 7:15 p.m. on Sunday, July 4.

Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts

You’re in for a treat with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts! Choose from over 50 different concerts extending through August 6. Concerts range from chamber music, Fourth of July music, and multi-genre selections. 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, which is set in a quiet gallery surrounded by Shenandoah Valley art. Anything goes in the Heifetz Hootenanny Series, which will occur in the Blackburn Inn’s new Great Hall.

Red Wing Roots Music Festival

Have you bought your tickets for the annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival yet? If not, you’d better hurry. The festival is coming up on July 9-11, and features some of the biggest names in folk music. Listen to The Steel Wheels, Tim Mavericks, Sarah Jarosz, Hiss Golden Messenger, Ragged Mtn String Band, and over 40 more as they play five stages. The festival will be staged at Natural Chimneys Park against the stunning 120-foot limestone towers. Besides the music, festival attendees can expect a beer garden, food and craft vendors, and lots of fun outdoor activities. Join bike rides, yoga, and lawn games for adults and kids alike.

Summer Stage at the Blackburn Inn

Spread out your blanket and get ready for a great night under the stars at the Blackburn Inn’s Friday night SummerStage concert series. The concerts will extend through Labor Day and they will showcase talent like The Quebe Sisters, David Wax Museum, Bonnie Bishop, Hackensaw Boys, Bryan Elijah Smith, and more playing in a wide range of genres. Along with the music, you can enjoy beverages from local vineyards, breweries, and cideries. There will also be food from the 2nd Draft Bistro. The grounds open at 6 p.m. and the music starts at 7 p.m.

Staunton Music Festival

You’ll experience classical music spanning over 600 years at The Staunton Music Festival (August 13-15 and August 18-22). Dozens of musicians will perform in both large and small ensembles. Performances will take place in in downtown Staunton in historic Trinity Episcopal Church, Blackfriars Playhouse, and First Presbyterian Church. Festival highlights include “Time Lost and Found,” which examines the philosophical issues of time in music, “Music Transatlantica,” and “Masters and Students.” While some events are ticketed, many are free.

Redbeard’s Summer Concert Series

Want to sip some delicious craft beer while you listen to music? From now until October, find a seat at Redbeard Brewing Company on the last Saturday night of each month for their Live Summer Concert Series. Favorite groups like The Judy Chops, Six Shot Rebellion, The Findells, and Drägön Wägön will headline. 6-9 p.m.

Stonewall Brigade Band at the Gypsy Hill Bandstand 

Staunton’s historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band is bringing big sounds to your Monday nights from now through August 30. The oldest-continuous community band in the U.S. was originally a marching band, but with the addition of woodwinds after the Civil War, it became a concert band. It first played in what is now Gypsy Hill Park in 1889. Concerts begin at 8 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Tuesday Nights: Praise in the Park in Gypsy Hill Park 

Head to Gypsy Hill Park on Tuesday nights in July and August to hear Linden Heights Baptist Church’s annual Praise in the Park concert series. You hear contemporary and southern gospel as well as gospel bluegrass. Better yet, there will be activities to keep the kiddos busy while you listen to favorites like Faithful Men, Sierra Losh & Just Us Country Band, Ed Pettersen & Streets of Gold Quartet, Brian Buchanan & Heaven’s Mountain Band, and Covenant Band. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Bluegrass in Gypsy Hill Park

Local and regional bluegrass entertainers will visit Staunton on Wednesday nights between July 7 and August 25. Most concerts include sets by two different groups. Get ready for some energetic tunes and banjo picking from  Mark Templeton Band, Southern Rail Express, Page County Ramblers, Donnie Mason and In the Tradition, and more. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. See the full schedule here.

Thursday Nights: Jazz in the Park 

Celebrate hot summer nights with the Jazz in the Park summer concert series. You’ll hear classic jazz standards performed by S.P.L.A.A.A.T. Quartet, amazing stride/boogie pianist William Hayes performing with The Boogie Kings, and trumpeter John D’earth, who has collaborated with greats such as Tito Puente, Dave Matthews, and Miles Davis. Concerts begin at 7 p.m. See the full lineup here.

Nearby Music

You might also check out Waynesboro Parks and Rec’s Groovin’ at the Greenway and Wayne on Main events, which allow visitors to get comfy outdoors while listening to live music.