#LOVEstaunton

Category: Arts & Culture

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.

 

Top Things to Do in Staunton This Summer

After a year spent hiding in our homes it’s time to get outside and LIVE again. From live music to alfresco dining, here’s our roundup of fun things to do in Staunton this summer.

Shop & Dine Out Downtown

Celebrate summer by heading downtown to the Beverley Street area to dine alfresco during Shop and Dine Out in Downtown. Staunton closes Beverley Street from 4 p.m. Friday afternoon to 7:30 a.m. Monday morning so that restaurants and businesses can use space on the sidewalks and in the roadway for dining areas and merchandise displays. Customers can spread out and stay safe. Restaurants participating in Shop and Dine Out Downtown include: Laughing Bird Pho, Shenandoah Pizza & Tap House, Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company, Baja Bean Co., BLU Point Seafood Co., and more.

American Shakespeare Center at MBU’s Rose Terrace

Check out a performance by the American Shakespeare Center.  See the schedule for dates and showtimes of Macbeth, Henry V, and All’s Well That Ends Well. Some shows will be happening on-site at the Blackfriars Theatre, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s performance space. For a special summer treat, watch the Bard’s work under the stars on Mary Baldwin University’s Rose Terrace. Historic Rose Terrace has the distinction of once being the most expensive house in Staunton, and it appears on the National Registry of Historic Places. Its beautiful flat lawn makes a lovely, sheltered performance space.

SummerStage at The Blackburn Inn

How about kicking back on the lawn of the historic Blackburn Inn for a concert under the stars this summer? You’ll enjoy the sounds of Americana, roots, country, folk, and bluegrass bands during the weekly SummerStage series of concerts. The concerts will take place each Friday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. You’ll be able to dine on a gourmet picnic box and enjoy beverages from local breweries, cideries, and vineyards. The series will feature artists like Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass, Fireside Collective, David Wax Museum, Bonnie Bishop, and more. Get your tickets today!

Get Your New Beerwerks T-shirt

Have you signed up for the Beerwerks Passport yet? As if you needed more incentive to try the 18 breweries along the Beerwerks Trail. Not only can you enjoy tasty craft beers, Valley views, and brewery entertainment like live music and trivia, but once you get your passport stamped at eight breweries, you can send it in for a free t-shirt. That’s high summer fashion! Start with Redbeard Brewing Company, Queen City Brewing, and Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. right here in Staunton. Next, venture out of town to Skipping Rock Beer Company, Seven Arrows Brewing Co., and Stable Craft Brewing.

Nearby Swimming Holes 

Escape your stale house and take a break from the kiddie pool this summer! The Staunton area has several swimming lakes like Sherando and Todd Lakes with hiking trails, picnic areas, and sandy beaches.  Water seekers will also like hiking to waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park or the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. St. Mary’s Falls is a four-mile out-and-back hike that pays off with an icy mountain pool and scenic waterfall. For more splashy ways to beat the heat, check out our post on area swimming holes

Frontier Culture Museum’s summer events – Juneteenth, 4th of July, Roots Music

Make sure you visit the Frontier Culture Museum this summer for a living history lesson on the earliest settlers in our area. You’ll get to see how various groups lived, worked, and passed the time. Exhibits include Native American, African, German, Irish, English, and American farms. The museum is hosting a free Juneteenth Celebration (June 19). This year’s theme is “The Continual Evolution of JUNETEENTH” and it will feature live music and event speakers. Later, the museum teaches visitors how our ancestors celebrated 4th of July with demonstrations, games, and more. Come to the museum in August for a series of live Roots Music concerts. You’ll enjoy the music of Karen Jonas, Haze & Dacey, Wound Tight Bluegrass, Troy Breslow, and Southern Hospitality.

Staunton Parks – Gypsy Hill & Montgomery Hall

There’s lots to do at Staunton’s public parks. Jump in the pool or take your dog to the Bark Park in Gypsy Hill Park. Let your kids feed the ducks, play on the playgrounds, or ride their bikes around the 1.3-mile loop. Set up your blanket for live music Monday – Thursday nights at the bandstand. Montgomery Hall Park also offers a pool as well as playing fields and playgrounds. Of special note is the Nature Ridge natural playground, where kids are encouraged to explore and interact with nature. Bird lovers and mountain bikers will love the miles of trails winding through the woods.

Music Festivals – Red Wing Roots Festival, Heifetz, Staunton Music Festival

There’s no shortage of live music this summer, and that’s wonderful news after last summer’s silence. 

  • Add live music to your summer schedule with The Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts. The festival, made up of 50+ concerts, includes performances by Heifetz students, alumni artists, celebrity faculty members, and special guests hailing from around the world. The music will range from chamber music, to Fourth of July music, to the multi-genre Heifetz Hootenannies. It all starts on June 29 and extends through August 6. 

  • The annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival (July 9 -11) is your chance to groove to wonderful music under the towering limestone Natural Chimneys. Listen to The Steel Wheels, Tim O’Brien Band, Son Little, Ragged Mtn String Band, and many more. Camp in the Natural Chimney’s campground and enjoy outdoor activities like daily group bike rides, hikes, morning yoga, fun runs, and activities for kids. Your entire family will have fun at this festival, whether you come for the day or the whole weekend.

  • The Staunton Music Festival (August 13-15 and August 18-22) is an “immersive classical music experience featuring more than 600 years of music” from the middle ages to world premieres. Dozens of musicians will perform during the festival in both large and small ensembles in a variety of locations throughout historic downtown Staunton. While some events are ticketed, many are free.

Music & Miniatures of Note in the Valley Exhibit at the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art

“Music & Miniatures of Note in the Valley” is a fun exhibit at the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art featuring the whimsical pairing of the region’s musical story with miniature scenes from the Valley’s past. The exhibit runs April 23 – September 6.

Augusta County Historical Society History Gallery in the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art
20 S. New St., downtown Staunton
Free & open to the public
Exhibit hours: W-F 1-4 p.m., Saturday 10-4

Watch for special events associated with this exhibit throughout the summer.

Pick Your Own Fruit & Produce 

Imagine a summer day in the fresh air soaking in the scenery and picking the freshest fruit and produce around. The entire family can enjoy this wholesome pastime away from the crowds. Consider Critzer Family Farm, which provides strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pumpkins, and fresh veggies, the “freshest, best-tasting and healthiest produce that you can find.”  The farm boasts environmentally-friendly methods and a commitment to educating kids and bettering the land and community. Enjoy your bounty in baked goods, canned for later, or by the handful on the car ride home.  Click here for our guide to more local pick-your-own fruit and produce farms.

 

Celebrate Juneteenth Staunton Style

Are you ready to embrace the warm weather and the loosening of Covid restrictions? Are you ready to celebrate community and learn about cultural heritage? Are you ready to dance? Read on for some local ways to enjoy  Juneteenth, the holiday to celebrate the end of slavery.

Juneteenth Celebration at Sunspots Pavilion

Get the Juneteenth party started early on Friday, June 18th at the Juneteenth Celebration at Sunspots Pavilion in the historic Wharf. The free event is from 6 – 10 p.m. and features a variety of vendors as well as music by Steve The Painter & DJ Adonis. Expect to hear old-school classic club hits from the 70s, 80s, and 90s as well as some sounds from South Africa. All that dancing will make you hungry, so grab a bite from one of the onsite food trucks, Wharf restaurants, or stroll over to Beverley Street to take advantage of dining opportunities. Beverley Street is closed to vehicular traffic on the weekends. 

5th Annual Juneteenth at the Frontier Culture Museum

In the past, the annual Shenandoah Valley Juneteenth Celebration was held at Montgomery Hall Park. This year, however, the Frontier Culture Museum is hosting the free family-friendly event on June 19, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s theme is “The Continual Evolution of JUNETEENTH” and it will feature live music and event speakers. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and plan to hang out. If you’re feeling competitive, join the 3-point shooting competition or the cornhole tournament. Food, jewelry, craft, and other vendors will be on site.

Visitors should also explore the rest of the 200-acre living history museum and learn about the early inhabitants of our area from costumed interpreters.  Of special interest will be the museum’s West African farm exhibit, which “explores the cultural contributions of African captives who were brought to Virginia in the 1700s.” Though enslaved peoples were captured from all over Africa and represented many ethnic groups, many were Igbo from the West African Coast. The clay farm exhibit demonstrates how the Igbo cooked, farmed, created crafts and pottery before enslavement.

Juneteenth After Party at the Pompei Lounge

DJ Adonis is back, this time at the Pompei Lounge at 23 E. Beverley Street on Saturday, June 19th, 10 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. This Juneteenth After Party is sure to get you dancing. The Pompei offers plenty of room to spread out over two floors with several unique spaces, a balcony, and an open-air terrace.

If you’d like to discover resources for gaining a broader understanding of our city’s African-American history, culture, and contributions, check out our post on African American History in Staunton.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Artmobile Is Coming to Staunton

Are you starving for some art and culture, but haven’t found time to travel to the city? Fear not: The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is bringing the art to Staunton this weekend. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Artmobile mobile museum and studio will be parked at the Sunspots Pavilion in Staunton’s Wharf historic district on May 29th (10 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and May 30th (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) The event is free.

What Is the Artmobile?

Since 2018, the 53-foot artmobile has traveled around Virginia carrying selections from the VMFA collection to share with visitors in hundreds of locations. The artmobile brings real, physical art to people who, because of their distance from the museum, might not otherwise see it. The artmobile also includes interactive elements that will make the art-viewing experience more appealing to a 21st-century audience.

What Is the Exhibit? What Art Will You See?

The current exhibit is called A View from Home: Landscapes of Virginia, and it explores outdoor spaces through various stylistic lenses throughout the Commonwealth’s history. Visitors can see paintings, photographs, woodblock prints, and engravings from a variety of artists including:

  • American artist and suffragist, Adele Clark, who used her sketching abilities on street corners to draw crowds to rallies.
  • Hullihen Williams Moore, who connected history, the progression of time, and natural beauty through 20 years’ worth of black and white duotone photographs of Shenandoah National Park.
  • African-American self-taught artist George H. Benjamin Johnson, who is known for his landscapes, historical, and biblical paintings as well as his political cartoons speaking out against segregation.
  • Contemporary Japanese-American artist Miwako Nishizawa, who traces her style of woodblock printing to the Ukiyo-e woodblocks of the 1700s.

What kind of experience can you expect? How long will it take? 

As visitors view the art in 600 feet of gallery space, they’ll experience real examples of art from the museum’s permanent collection as well as interactive elements like touch screens, and audio-visual components. Visitors will even receive real-time lessons with museum educators delivered via Wi-Fi.

After you enjoy the exhibit in the Artmobile, explore the Wharf parking lot for a variety of free children’s art activities. Kids can create their own buttons and score art supplies to use at home. They’ll also receive information about illustrating their own landscapes in the hopes that they will display them later this summer at Art in the Park. Saturday, May 29 1 – 4 p.m.

How Can You See More from the Museum?

If you want to see more art from the museum, head to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art’s permanent location in Richmond. You’ll enjoy art from the Americas and around the world. There’s also a lot to see online, and lots of virtual tours and activities.

What Local Gallery Experiences Can We Enjoy?

If you’d like to continue your exploration of art locally, you’re in luck. Staunton’s galleries host the works of a number of talented local and regional artists. Visit in person or online at the Staunton Augusta Art Center, located in a historic building designed by T.J. Collins in 1893. The current Introspective Show by SAAC Board Members marks the occasion of the SAAC’s 60th birthday and includes paintings, sculpture, textile art, encaustic (wax) painting, and more. Just opened, Art: A Voice celebrates “the therapeutic value of art amidst mental health challenges.”

Another worthy place to view art is the CoArt and Beverley Street Studio School Gallery space at 22 W. Beverley Street. The current exhibit in the Beverley Street Studio School Gallery is called Shared Studios. It is a memorial to Dr. Mary T. Echols and Virginia “Dinny” S. Deane, two friends who shared studio space as well as a love of and enduring support for the area’s art community. The CoArt Gallery’s May exhibit Time in Flux showcases June Jordan’s oil paintings. Next month, stop in to see Julie Farrell’s After the COVID Spike: Those Who Helped Me Through It.

Art lovers can also stroll through Staunton to see Christy Baker’s 2019 large-scale “You Belong Here” mural and the various Ferguson Metal fabrication carbon steel sculptures that pop up in unexpected places around town.

What Else Can You Do in Staunton?

All this art will tire you out, so make time to refresh in downtown Staunton. Stop in at Redbeard Brewing Company for fresh craft beer or at Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room for some local wine. Chow down on some wholesome and kid-friendly American fare at the Depot Grille or snag some handhelds from Byers Street Bistro. Save room for gelato from The Split Banana. Shop and Dine Out Downtown all weekend long!

If you miss your chance to see the artmobile in Staunton, you can catch it at Waynesboro’s Fall Foliage Art Show on October 9-10.

How Much Do You Love Her? Staunton Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

You might not have gotten to visit much with your mom this past year, but hopefully, you’re getting to spend some time with her this Mother’s Day. How will you show her how much you love her?  If you’re still looking for a last-minute gift, we have some Staunton-centered ideas for you.

Share an Experience with Mom

  • Sign Mom up for an art class or workshop at Beverley Street Studio School. Classes are held either in-person or virtually, and you can choose from a variety of topics for various levels of artist.
  • Do you and Mom bond over the silver screen? How about taking her to a movie at the Visulite Cinema? Sip beer or wine while you watch , and then head over to The Green Room to discuss the film over wine and snacks.
  • If you and Mom share a passion for finding treasures, consider taking her to Staunton Antique Center. This unique store has three levels of goodies, including original art from local artists. Compare your finds over coffee and French pastries at Réunion Bakery & Espresso.

  • Is Mom a little horse crazy? Get her back in the saddle with a guided trail ride through the Valley at Star B Stables. Take her for a day of fun and visit the horses at Stable Craft Brewing.

  • Looking for something a little different? Something a little freeing and meditative? How about a FREE Drumming workshop? DrumForFun Staunton is offering an introductory class for adult beginners on Saturday, May 8th at 1:00 pm.  

 

Flowers, Wine, Chocolate, and Jewelry

  • There’s a reason flowers, wine, chocolate, and jewelry are perennial favorites on Mother’s Day. Continue the tradition with a Mother’s Day bouquet from Rask Florist. You can order online from Honey Bee’s Florist and arrange to have flowers delivered. Brin’s Posy Floral creates vivid and artistic bouquets.
  • Treat Mom’s sweet tooth with an overflowing “platinum pail of chocolates” assortment from Cocoa Mill. Giancarlo Fine European Pastries also creates incredible chocolates (and much more) right here in Staunton. Consider signing Mom up for an upcoming pastry class. 

  • Have your personal message engraved on any piece of jewelry from H.L. Lang Jewelers. Or buy Mom a Staunton charm of a Queen City landmark like the clock tower or the watering can. Crown Jewelers carries a beautiful selection of both new and estate jewelry.

Take Mom out for Brunch

Staunton restaurants shine in the brunch department. Take Mom out for “inspired Southern cuisine” at Zynodoa (brunch served from 10-2). You’ll bond over American classics at The Depot Grille (brunch served from 11-2). Table 44 serves up inspired twists on your favorites as well as an unforgettable loaded bloody mary (brunch served from 11-2).

Buy Her Something Special

  • Spoil Mom with luxurious soaps, lotions, and all things that smell good from Redwood & Co. or Essentially Zen Artisan Body & Bath Co. Essentially Zen offers curated gift boxes and “zen boxes,” which are a curated collection of specialty soaps, house soaps, and bath bombs designed to fit an individual fragrance profile.

  • Give mom the star treatment at the new Spa at the Blackburn by treating her to a massage, skin treatment, manicure, or all three. You can also help Mom relax by surprising her with a massage at Mill Street Body & Soul Day Spa and Salon. Make her feel really special by giving her the gift of a boudoir photo session, which includes a hair and makeup team and professional photography. Dad will appreciate this gift, too! 

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.