#LOVEstaunton

Category: Family Getaway

Welcome Fall Here in Staunton

Today is the fall equinox, meaning that fall has officially arrived in Staunton. While the days are still warm, the nights are getting cooler and nature knows the seasons have changed. The leaves are turning magical colors, the geese are migrating, and people can’t stop talking about football, Halloween, and pumpkin spice latte. Get outside to take some long walks around our city and enjoy harvest season at the farmers’ market. Here are some other ways to welcome fall this year.

Events

  • September 24-25: While wizardry isn’t synonymous with fall, Stauntonians celebrate September with the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival, which is returning live this weekend. Downtown will turn into a magical village celebrating Harry Potter and all things mystical. Check the schedule today!

  • September 24: Use your old clothes to create a scary or silly scarecrow at Staunton Parks and Rec’s 4th annual Scarecrows in the Park event. 
  • September 24: Catch the right wind and see your kite soar at Coyner Springs Kite Fly. See kite demonstrations, paint pumpkins, and sling apples at this fun event. If you don’t already own a kite, browse the selection at Pufferbellies Toys and Books.
  • October 1: Enjoy German music and refreshments as you celebrate Oktoberfest at the Frontier Culture Museum.
  • October 2: Enjoy food, drink and a live 20+ piece German band at Oktoberfest at Barren Ridge Vineyard.
  • October 8: Grab your friends and enjoy food, music, pumpkin painting, beer and more at Oktoberfest at Skipping Rock Beer Co.
  • October 8-9: The Fall Foliage Art Festival brings talented artists to downtown Waynesboro each year. You’ll find paintings, prints, sculptures, jewelry, pottery, and more as well as music, food, and craft beer against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge in full color. 
  • October 14-16: The Fall Foliage Bike Festival attracts hundreds of cyclists to the backroads around Staunton for a weekend of riding. Escape the cities for a quiet weekend and choose from a number of SAG-supported routes over two days.

  • October 15: See apple butter being made the traditional way, enjoy tasty food and drink, and shop for local crafts at Wade’s Mill’s 26th annual Apple Butter Festival.
  • October 23: Celebrate pride, resilience, joy and community at Gypsy Hill Park for the Staunton Pride Festival.
  • October 29: Bring the entire family to our first annual Fall Pumpkin Float at Lake Tams featuring floating pumpkins, costume contest, luminaries and fun family activities.

Activities

Hikes and fall gear

  • Hikes in George Washington and Jefferson National Forest offer fine opportunities to view those magical shades, especially from the Elliot Knob Trail, which is strenuous but leads to a clearing at the highest point in Augusta County.
  • For some easy hikes in Staunton, hit the trails at Montgomery Hall Park and Betsy Bell Wilderness Area
  • Make sure to outfit yourself for that fall hiking or camping trip at Wilderness Adventure. Select from technical clothing, hiking shoes, day packs, accessories, and more.

Shopping

  • Drop by Staunton Antiques Center and celebrate their anniversary with a unique find to fill your home. Head upstairs to The Artisans Loft to see the new show Starry Night with an opening reception Friday, November 11th featuring art, music and food.
  • Warm up your wardrobe for sweater weather and family portrait season. Family-owned Latitudes Fair Trade Store sells unique and trendy clothing and accessories in the store and online. Not only will you look and feel beautiful, but you’ll also be empowering farmers and artisans in developing countries. 

  • Design at Nine carries distinctive women’s clothing including a large selection of seasonal shoes and boots as well as the accessories you need to tie your look together. 
  • If you’re looking for something different, Nanny June Vintage Clothing can help you add a retro flair to your modern wardrobe. You’ll find a curated selection of clothes and accessories for women and men.
  • Find handcrafted bags, jewelry, and knitwear at The Sparrow’s Nest. You can also outfit your home for fall with a seasonal soy candle. 

  • Men will look sharp after shopping at CFO Trading Company for clothing, outerwear, scarves, hats, and seasonal accessories. Look for clothing by Duckhead, Pendleton, North River, and more. CFO Trading Company is a 2022 Best of Virginia winner.

Hair and nails for fall

  • Bonita’s Salon can help you freshen up your look for fall. Whether you’re seeking a new hairstyle, artistic nails, or a special-occasion look, you’re bound to feel pampered here! 

  • Customers rave about the hair services they get at True Kuhler Hair Design! Check out Facebook for examples of their work and get ready to get complimented.
  • Mill Street Body and Soul Day Spa and Salon can give you your fall cut, color, and a fresh mani and pedicure. If you want to indulge, add a massage or facial to your treatment.
  • Find your autumn hair bliss at N Style. Not only will the stylists you find your new style, but they can also help your hair look its healthy best.
  • Treat your nails to something special when you book an appointment at the Spa at the Blackburn. The spa menu includes several different types of manis, pedis, and nail add-ons. You can also book massages and facials, and locals can enjoy 20% off all services through the end of September.

Dust Off Your Wands for Staunton’s Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival

Calling all wizards and magical beings: On September 24th – 25th, the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival (QCMM) will return to Staunton. The past two years have been virtual, but in 2022, the event is live and in-person! Since 2016, this home-grown fan festival has celebrated J.K Rowlings’ Harry Potter series as well as everything else mystical and magical. Much of downtown Staunton transforms into an enchanted village. Visitors can explore hands-on activities, demonstrations, themed dining and shopping, and meet their favorite characters.

Festival highlights

There’s so much to do at QCMM! Some activities are ticketed, but much of the festival is free to guests. Check the schedule for full details. Here are some highlights:

  • A chance to meet and greet your favorite (and most feared!) characters

  • Shopping (including wizard gear and magical merch, unique gifts, crystals, and even props and costumes from past performances at Blackfriars)

  • Dance instructions and other Hogwarts classes will be provided by the American Shakespeare Center
  • Traipse puzzles and a festival-themed escape room, The Rise of the Dark Mage
  • Quidditch matches and Quidditch Camp to level up your bludger skills

  • Numerous selfie spots featuring scenes from the Harry Potter world
  • Kids’ craft tents with activities like making a wand, snitch, house crest, and more
  • A sorting hat and magician testing will determine once and for all if you’re Ravenclaw or Gryffindor

  • A Triwizard Tourney maze
  • Butterbeer, gigglewater, and lots of delicious food
  • Facepainting, glitter, and henna tattoos by Glitter Bee
  • Mermaids
  • Live music by Staunton Queen City Brass, music from the films at Trinity Episcopal Church, and live theater from Silver Line Theatre Exchange
  • Snake shows by Michael Schwedick of Reptile World featuring a cast of scaly friends

  • A dragon show with a real “live” dragon
  • A Dance Like No One is Watching Dementor Dance Party
  • Magical superstition tours
  • Festival VIP’s arrival by train

FAQs

  • Can I come in costume? Costumes are not required at QCMM, but they sure are encouraged. Look at pics from past years for inspiration.

  • Where can I park? 
    • First-come, first-serve handicap parking will be available downtown as well as limited street and lot parking. 
    • Visitors should plan to park at the satellite lot at Staunton Mall and take the free shuttle to the festival. (Shuttles only available Saturday)
  • Can I bring my pet? Service animals are welcome, but please leave other pets at home.
  • Is there water? The festival will have a bottle-filling station, but you should bring your own water bottle or plan to purchase one.
  • Will I need to walk far? It’s up to you, but there’s a lot to see, so you’ll probably be on your feet for a while. Wear comfortable shoes!
  • Where’s the….? Check your digital or paper map for all festival locations including events, businesses, restrooms, and first aid, changing and breastfeeding stations.

  • Where can I stay? Staunton boasts hotels, motels, B&Bs, and small inns located in the downtown area and a short drive away. See a list. Lodging fills quickly, so reserve your home base ASAP.
  • Where can I eat? Downtown Staunton bustles with restaurants, many of which will be running QCMM specials. Plan accordingly as lines may be longer during peak festival hours. Here’s a list of Staunton restaurants including those outside the festival footprint.

Moms Play While Kids Are Away: Moms’ Day Out in Staunton

Moms everywhere are breathing a collective sigh of relief as their kids head back to school. Not only can you finally shower in peace, but you might even find yourself with a few hours to spare. Why not round up some of your mom friends or just take an afternoon to unwind in silence before the bus brings your brood back home? Here’s how to refresh and recharge with a moms’ day out in Staunton. You deserve it, moms!

Yoga   

  • Not only does Staunton’s new Burrow and Vine sell lush houseplants and decor, they have yoga classes on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Burrow and Vine also leads craft classes and holds Parents’ Nights Out. 
  • Another place to get your oooom on is Phoenix Fitness & Yoga, which offers classes in barre, yoga, and more, including 90-minute sessions in suspended aerial yoga. 
  • The Staunton Augusta YMCA also offers yoga classes and you don’t even need to be a member if you buy a class passbook.

Coffee, breakfast, or brunch 

  • Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery offers a relaxing space to enjoy your coffee beverage and a range of baked goods and breakfast sandwiches. AND…If you have littles not in school yet – welcome to drop in day care service! Serendipity Kids Depot provides short-term professional child care at a cost comparable to that of a babysitter.
  • Breakfast is on the menu all day at Clocktower Eats & Sweets. Try cream cheese and lox, made-to-order omelets, or eggs Benedict.
  • It’s lovely weather to grab a cup of coffee and a French pastry from Reunion, and enjoy it in the magical and shady Mevluda Tahirovic Memorial Garden that’s just around the corner. 
  • Try the new New Orleans-inspired Sunday brunch at Marino’s Lunch. Start with powdered sugar beignets and follow with crawfish etouffee. Wash it down with a Strawberry Shortcake Mimosa or a Cajun Bloody Mary.

Spa services

Cocktails

  • Meet the ladies for fancy cocktails at Zynodoa where the menu emphasizes local ingredients. The large wine menu includes both local and international choices.
  • If you’re still thirsty, head to Ox Eye Tasting Room to taste a variety of their wines and follow it up with a full glass of your favorite. 
  • Or go back to Beverley Street and Yelping Dog, where wine can be enjoyed by the glass or by the bottle, and you can munch on a cheese plate or gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. 
  • The Green Room also offers a nice space to chat with friends over wine, beer, cheese plates, and snacks. 
  • Hotel 24 South’s 1924 Lounge is a beautiful and convenient place to relax over cocktails and casual fare.

Desserts

  • Gather your friends to dish over beautiful, flavorful pie at Firkin Pie Company. The menu varies, but expect seasonal flavors like cranberry chess and chocolate silk.
  • Whipp’d Cakery creates beautiful and tasty cupcakes, brownies, and other decadent treats you’ll want to share. Peach cheesecake? Yes, please.
  • On any given day, The Split Banana is serving 18 flavors of fresh gelato, ranging from classic to unusual tastes like pineapple basil sorbet and Guinness extra stout.

Shopping

  • Design at Nine offers the latest in distinctive women’s fashion, shoes, and must-have accessories. 
  • Try Latitudes for fair trade selections ranging from women’s apparel to jewelry to recycled metal wall art. If you’re looking for more art to buy, check out Beverly Street Studio School Gallery, where local artists exhibit and sell their work. 
  • Stock up on relaxation supplies like lotions and bath bombs at Essentially Zen, and if you want to give your house a scent makeover, peruse the candles at Redwood + Co.

Jewelry

  • Shop for custom and estate jewelry at Crown Jewelers, which has been serving Staunton for over 60 years.
  • Little Shoppe of Crystals sells metaphysical supplies.
  • Sparrow’s Nest jewelry selections include botanical jewelry, leather jewelry, gemstone jewelry, and unique upcycled creations.
  • Along with gifts and accessories, Harmony Moon carries a collection of nature-inspired earrings and necklaces.
  • Sunspots Studios sells pretty hand-crafted art glass earrings.
  • Handcrafted, inventive and thoughtful jewelry can be found at Bonfire Begonia.

Events and Activities

  • Skipping Rock Beer Co. holds monthly sip and stitch classes as well as weekly trivia events.
  • Redbeard Brewing holds monthly book club meetings and arts and drafts sessions, as well as weekly trivia and karaoke.
  • Sign up for a workshop with The Foundry Pop-Ups. Past and future topics range from crafting, painting, sewing, self-care, and social media marketing. 

Header photo credit: Grow Explore Photography

Staunton Road Trip: One Last Hurrah Before Summer Ends

It might not feel like fall yet, but with many schools starting soon, we know that summer is on its way out. Are you looking for a final, fun trip to take with the family before the leaves start changing, and before soccer and football gobble up all your Saturdays? Here are some ideas for a Staunton road trip.

Getting here

Staunton’s convenient location at the intersection of interstates 81 and 64 makes it an ideal destination for a quick road trip. Not only can you hop off the highway at small towns and other fun destinations on the way, but the Shenandoah Valley scenery is also incredible, even from the highway! Depending on your direction, consider stopping at Monticello, Shenandoah Caverns, or Natural Bridge State Park. Or cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive makes it one of the most beautiful and driveable parks in the country.

Once you get to Staunton, parking in the downtown footprint is easy. There’s a lot of metered parking, parking garage space, and two-hour street parking. Staunton is a walkable town, and you can see much of it on foot or from the 25-cent trolley.

Uniquely Staunton

  • Staunton boasts the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars Playhouse, and performances will give you a sense of how the show appeared to the Bard’s original audiences, so you should definitely try to fit a show into your schedule. 
  • Crack the Code Escape Room will test your IQ as you try to sleuth your way through a Staunton-themed mystery. 
  • If you’d rather learn the mysteries of how art glass is created, head down to Sunspots Studios to catch a glass-blowing demonstration or even try your hand at blowing your own ornament. 
  • Little ones will love riding the Gypsy Hill Express miniature train as it loops through Gypsy Hill Park. 
  • And finally, catch a glimpse of Staunton in times gone by with a tour of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum or the Frontier Culture Museum.

Don’t forget to eat

Staunton is a town that takes its food offerings seriously. If you’re here on a weekend, check out Beverley Street, which closes to car traffic for Shop and Dine Out Downtown. Since diners will be enjoying food al fresco, you can window shop other people’s meals until you see something you like! 

  • We recommend Remedy Burger for its juicy and delicious smash burgers. 
  • Nearby Shenandoah Pizza & Taphouse serves up gourmet pizzas with delightful topping combinations and an interesting selection of brews. 
  • More beer awaits, along with delicious Mexican fare, at Baja Bean
  • And if you want to tap into classic car culture, try Wright’s Dairy Rite, where they’ve been bringing burgers and shakes to the covered drive-in since the 1950s.

Take some selfies

Nothing will help you remember your road trip like the Staunton selfies you post on Instagram. Make sure to get a photo as you enjoy one of these Staunton experiences. Make sure to tag your shots with #LoveStaunton.

  • Pose in front of the You Belong Here mural on Central Ave. between Beverley and Johnson Streets.
  • Cross Sears Hill Bridge for a view of the historic train station from above and one of the best views of downtown.
  • Explore beautifully landscaped Thornrose Cemetery along with its tower and footbridge.
  • Bite into something delicious outside Reunion Bakery & Espresso or The Split Banana.
  • Pause after you’ve conquered one of the hills in Montgomery Park on your mountain bike.
  • Relish the freshness at the Saturday Staunton Farmers’ Market.

Get yourself a little something

It’s always nice to take something home with you when you travel. Here are some places to get fun treats and souvenirs.

Savor the Sweet Staunton Summertime

The countdown to the start of the school year has started, and we only have a few precious weeks of family time left before the fall activities and sports schedules rule our lives again. If you’re back from vacation, and your school shopping’s finished, here are a few more ways to savor the sweet Staunton summertime! 

Country Fairs and Festivals

  • The Augusta County Fair is happening now through July 30. Gorge on carnival food and see rides, exhibits, livestock, sideshow performances, music, tractor pulls, and more! 

Other Summer Fun

  • Spend a peaceful evening exploring the past at the Frontier Culture Museum before settling down for their Roots Concert Series.
  • There’s still time to catch live music at the bandstand in the park. Stop by for Monday night concerts by the Stonewall Brigade Band, Wednesday night bluegrass, and Thursday night Jazz.

  • Gypsy Hill and Montgomery Hall Parks both have pools. You can cool off through Labor Day.
  • Shop and Dine Out Downtown will continue to turn downtown into a weekend walking mall, creating a safe space for Stauntonians to shop, dine, and gather al fresco.

Ice Cream

  • Wright’s Dairy Rite has been a Staunton mainstay since 1952. The menu offers dipped cones, funnel cake fries, flurries, splits, milkshakes, malts, and drink freezes to cool off on a mighty hot day. 
  • Kline’s Dairy Bar makes its ice cream fresh every morning. Each week there’s a new can’t-miss flavor like banana and cake batter or local favorites like raspberry and lemon gingersnap in cones, cups, shakes, and sundaes. 
  • The Split Banana uses local grass-fed milk to create its award-winning gelato. You can pick from 24 delectable and fresh-made flavors. 

Fruit Picking

  • Troyer Nursery sells sweetcorn, tomatoes, green beans, red beets, squash, zucchini, onions, and other vegetables. They also sell milk and ice cream mix from Mount Crawford Creamery. 
  • Critzer Family Farm is a nice place to take the kids to pick seasonal fruit like raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pumpkins, and fresh veggies. Don’t skip home-churned ice cream after your time in the sun!

  • Mark your calendar for the end of August when the crops of Concord and Niagara grapes start to ripen at Wenger Grapes
  • Sunrise Orchards is a small pick-your-own apple orchard that offers Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Jonathans from the end of August until the apples are gone. 
  • Drive over Afton Mountain to Carter Mountain Orchard to pick or buy pre-picked apples and other seasonal fruits and shop at the farm market. Don’t skip a plate of apple cider donuts! 
  • The pumpkin patch at Middle River Farms opens in the middle of September. You’ll find beautiful views and over 30 varieties of pumpkins and gourds. Their wagonload deal is one of the best around!

Best Barbecue

  • Kline’s Hog Wild BBQ serves Carolina and sweet-style barbecue and sides for dining in and taking out. 
  • Big Red Barbecue’s menu is packed with selections like pulled pork and fried catfish. Check Facebook for daily specials like jerk chicken and shrimp and grits. 
  • Peck’s Bar-B-Que is a local favorite, known for Virginia-style smoked pork served chopped, sliced, or coarse. Get your meat on a sandwich or on a platter with sides like coleslaw and hush puppies. 
  • Shredder’s BBQ also serves your favorite Virginia barbecue. It’s made with locally raised meats and smoked with hickory wood. 
  • Valley Smokehouse specializes in seafood, barbecue, and steaks. Be on the lookout for events like all-you-can-eat seafood or scallops, prime rib, and tuna steak meals! 

Staunton’s Watering Holes: Places to Swim or Get Cold Beer

We’ll admit it: this heat has us dreaming of winter! Whether you’ve been outside mowing, walking the dog, playing at camp, or training for fall sports, we know you want to cool off. But while sweater weather might only be a fantasy right now, at least Staunton offers other ways to find icy relief. Here’s our guide to area watering holes where you can swim or get cold beer!

Places to Swim

Gypsy Hill Park Pool

Gypsy Hill Park boasts Staunton’s biggest pool. Plunge into this large, L-shaped paradise that has lanes for laps, a slide, and lots of room to spread your blanket or towel on the grass. There’s even a dedicated kiddie pool for the three-and-under crowd with a gradual entry and a splash bucket. The pool is free for kids under 3. Admission is $3 for everyone else, and you can buy a 20-visit pass for $50. The park also has picnic facilities, two playgrounds, a skatepark, and a 1.3-mile paved loop for walking or riding bikes.

Montgomery Hall Park

The pool at Montgomery Hall Park has both a deep end with a twisty slide and a shallow area with a splash bucket for the littles. Because it’s all one pool, adults can hang out in the water and keep an eye on the kids at the same time. The pool is free for kids under 3 and costs $2 a visit for everyone else. A 20-visit pass is a steal at $35. The pool is conveniently located near a picnic pavilion and one of the city’s best playgrounds. There are additional picnic tables located in shady spots nearby, and the spot isn’t far from the park’s Nature Ridge natural playground.

Goshen Pass

Located southwest of Staunton and 12 miles west of Lexington, Goshen Pass is a bit of a drive, but it’s absolutely worth it for the icy water and dramatic scenery. Swim, tube, kayak, fish, lounge, picnic, and scramble over the rocks along this three-mile mountain gorge carved by the Maury River. You can choose to embrace the bustle and family atmosphere near the gravel beach at the picnic facilities, or escape the crowds and find your own private rocky island.

Sherando Lake

25-acre Sherando Lake is a true swimming lake with a big, sandy beach and a clearly-marked swimming area. If you’re feeling bold, you can plunge into the icy water and swim out to an island. You’ll love the mountain scenery and the convenience of the bathhouse. There are even shaded places where you can spread your blanket and lounge while the kids dig in the sand. Built in 1933 by the Civil Conservation Corps, the recreation area also has camping, hiking, boating, fishing, and picnic facilities. There’s an $8/car daily access fee.

Places to Score Cold Beer

Redbeard Brewing

Redbeard Brewing handcrafts its beer using traditional techniques, high-quality malts, American and imported hops, and local water. Sample from 10-14 taps and enjoy the newly updated taproom. If you’d rather sit in the fresh air, there’s a beer garden outside. While the brewery doesn’t serve food, you can order from local restaurants or bring snacks. Redbeard also hosts regular events like live music, trivia, karaoke, book club, and a variety of seasonal workshops.

  • Try their Saison: Belgian-style golden ale, lightly spiced with ginger, grains of paradise, and citrus peels.

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co.

You’ll appreciate the tasty beer and the cozy pub-like atmosphere at Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company. The taproom is located downtown on Beverley Street and is part of the weekly Shop and Dine Out in Downtown initiative, which allows patrons to enjoy their beer outside. Beer is served in flights or pints, and while they don’t have food, you can have carryout delivered, or finish your beer, and walk a few steps to a variety of restaurants. Pets are welcome on the patio.

Queen City Brewing

Queen City Brewing serves an extensive selection of delicious craft beer to be enjoyed in the taproom or on the large outdoor patio. Its convenient location next to Gypsy Hill Park makes is a great place to pop into after your evening walk or a round of golf. Hungry? Take advantage of regular food trucks, bottomless popcorn, or order delivery to the brewery. There’s also plenty to keep you busy like live music, trivia, open mic nights, and games on the big screen. “If you get thirsty, hungry or bored here, it’s your own dang fault!”

Baja Bean

Family-owned Baja Bean is best known for dishing out delicious Mexican food made with local ingredients. They also have a well-stocked bar that includes mixed drinks, wine, and a wide selection of craft beers on tap and by the bottle. Did we mention there are happy hour specials?

Shenandoah Pizza and Taproom

Go hungry to Shenandoah Pizza and Taproom, even if you just want a cold beer or two from the menu of ten local taps. Once you’re there, you won’t be able to stop yourself from ordering a gourmet pizza topped with all sorts of goodies and named after something local. Happy hour happens on Thursday night.

Skipping Rock Beer Company

Skipping Rock Beer Company has both a comfortable taproom and a large beer garden for folks to relax in. Try a pint of flight of their delicious beer while you sit around a fire pit, parade your knowledge during a round of pub trivia, or just chill with your friends. Order dinner from the new onsite Za Spot Pizza and listen to some live music. Skipping Rock welcomes kids and dogs.

Our Guide to Em“bark”ing on a Pet-Friendly Trip to Staunton

If you’re like most Americans, you rarely leave home without your pandemic pet! Fortunately, there are a lot of pet-friendly activities, plenty of lodgings that cater to paws, and a wealth of restaurants and watering holes that are totally cool with your pet joining you on the patio. Here’s a “pound-up” of where your pet is welcome in Staunton.

Pup-cation Fun for People and Pets

Get outside to howl, run, and play fetch. Here are our favorite parks and hikes.

  • Gypsy Hill Park has a paved 1.3-mile loop that offers a nice view of the park as well as doggy bag stations and convenient trash cans. The star of the show, however, is the Gypsy Hill Bark Park. Divided into separate enclosures for small and large dogs, it gives pups a chance to meet and greet while their owners make small talk. The enclosures include tunnels, training ladders, “fire hydrants,” and benches for humans to sit. 
  • Leashed pets are welcome on the majority of the hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park. It’s actually one of just a few national parks with this perk. For day-trippers and campers, George Washington and Jefferson National Forest stipulates that dogs must be leashed on hiking trails (but may go off-leash in undeveloped areas). Make sure you pack plenty of water for your furry friend and check them for parasites after your outing.

  • Coyner Springs Dog Park in Waynesboro boasts a large, open off-leash area as well as trails for leashed dogs and their human packmates. The nearby Crozet Tunnel trail is a good hike for leashed dogs, especially if you’re afraid of the dark! Make sure you take your flashlight.

  • Leashed dogs are also welcome on the Augusta Springs Wetland trail, but you shouldn’t take your dog if you think he might disturb the waterfowl and other wildlife.

Un-Pack Your Bags

Kenneling your dog is expensive, sad, and can cause a lot of stress shedding. Fortunately, many Staunton inns and hotels offer luxury accommodations for people and dogs, so you can share that king-sized bed just like at home. Just check the fine print: lodgings may have restrictions on size and number of pets. They may also apply additional fees to bunk your fur baby.

  • Hotel 24 South is both a luxury, historic hotel as well as a pioneer in Staunton’s dog-friendly accommodations.

  • The Blackburn Inn opens select rooms to dogs and has extensive grounds to explore while you walk them. 

  • Howard Johnson by Wyndham is steps from downtown shopping, dining, and the farmers’ market. There’s also free parking, light breakfast, and wifi.
  • Sleep Inn Staunton ensures you’ll sleep well in one of their Designed to Dream rooms. Bring your pet: there’s no pet fee!
  • Best Western Staunton Inn boasts comfortable rooms, easy access to I-81, and no pet fee.
  • Comfort Inn Staunton has free breakfast, a pool, and is convenient to both the highway and downtown Staunton.
  • Motel 6 Staunton allows pets and lets kids stay free. You’ll also enjoy free coffee and expanded cable options.
  • Holiday Inn Staunton Conference Center allows up to three pets. It’s convenient to golf, the interstate, and kids eat free with paying adults.
  • Red Roof Inn Staunton is a great budget option. Kids and one pet up to 80 pounds stay for free.
  • Econo Lodge is convenient to the Frontier Culture Museum and downtown Staunton. It’s pet-friendly and offers free coffee.
  • Walnut Hills KOA and Sherando Lake Campground both accommodate families and dogs.

Paw-some Patios

Staunton has several dining spots where the waitstaff doesn’t mind stepping over Teddy’s outstretched paws. They might even bring him a dish of water!

  • Well-behaved dogs on leashes can join you at a table on the covered, gated patio at Table 44
  • The patio at Byer’s Street Bistro also welcomes dogs. Spend your lunch hour dining with Rex and watching the bustle of downtown. Bonus: Dogs will find water bowls and often treats.

  • Just want a quick bite? Stop by the outdoor patio at The By & By for coffee drinks, beer and wine, and sandwiches. 
  • The patio at Thai Staunton Restaurant is pet-friendly.
  • If you’re feeling like eating Mexican, take your pooch to Mi Rancho’s outdoor dining space where you can get relax with a big, tasty margarita. 
  • Prefer Italian? Family-owned Maria’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant has a dog-friendly patio where you can share your spaghetti with Lady.
  • The Pampered Palate, Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery, The Split Banana, Nu-Beginning Farm, and the Clocktower Eats & Sweets all have delicious food and allow dogs at their sidewalk seating. 
  • Get there early and grab a spot at the Peck’s Bar-B-Que’s dog-friendly picnic table. There’s shade and nearby grass for your pet to sniff. There’s also a lone pet-friendly table at Sam’s Hot Dog Stand where you can enjoy a sack of all-beef hot dogs.
  • Share your BBQ and ice cream with your dog at one of the two dog-friendly picnic tables at Hog Wild BBQ and Klines Dairy Bar
  • Edelweiss Restaurant serves authentic German food like bratwurst and jager schnitzel. If you dine outside at one of the covered tables, Fido can join you and lick knackwurst juice off your fingers.

Bark-tastic Breweries

Want to spend an evening out having beers with your best fur buddy? Raise a glass because many of Staunton’s breweries are pet-friendly. 

Other Staunton Stops that are Mutts about Dogs

It’s not surprising to come across a dish of cool water waiting on the sidewalk on a hot day in downtown Staunton. Here are other pet-friendly destinations.

  • Your pet will be the star of the show at the Well Balanced Paw Pet Wellness Shoppe and Barkery. Specializing in nutrient-rich pet nutrition and relaxing small-animal massage, this downtown destination will keep your pet balanced and healthy for years to come.

  • Latitudes has all kinds of fair-trade gifts, including this snazzy puppy place-mat!
  • Locally owned Pets N Pals has been selling pet supplies like habitats, food, and toys since 1989. They also have healthy pets of all kinds for sale if you’re seeking a new companion. Petco has a big selection of supplies as well as fish, lizards, birds, spiders, and rodents. Also, check out Augusta Dog Adoptions and the SPCA for pets that need new homes.
  • It’s common to see happy dogs walking with their owners as they shop for dinner at the Staunton Farmers’ Market. Leashed dogs can also browse the aisles at Tractor Supply Co.

A Family-Friendly Guide to Staunton, VA

Are you bringing the family to Staunton this summer? Awesome choice! From historical sites to outdoor adventures to family-friendly places to eat and play, there’s so much to do that the entire family will have a great time. Are we there yet?

How to Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Staunton is a hilly town, but the 1.3-mile paved loop at Gypsy Hill Park is relatively flat and perfect for young cyclists. Better yet, there’s not a lot of traffic, so riding conditions are very safe. Gypsy Hill also has a skate park and ponds for fishing and feeding the ducks. There’s a dog park, too, if some of your babies are covered with fur.

Mountain bikers will find challenges at Montgomery Hall Park in the form of several miles of wooded trail with varying difficulty levels. Next, the family can cool off at the public swimming pool before playing a round of disc golf or burning some energy on one of the playgrounds.

Staunton is situated in some of Virginia’s best hiking country, so take advantage of hikes in Shenandoah National Park and George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Consider Augusta Springs Wetlands, Sherando Lake Recreation Area, and North River Gorge.

Want to head underground to escape the heat? Visit the Claudius Crozet Blue Ridge Tunnel, a hiking trail that follows an old set of train tracks underneath Afton Mountain. You might also explore the formations in one of the area’s commercial caverns like Luray Caverns, Endless Caverns, and Grand Caverns.

Where to Find Entertainment

Spread out your blanket under the stars near the Gypsy Hill Bandstand where there’s live music four nights a week during the summer. Staunton’s historic 70-member Stonewall Brigade Band will get you parading with marches and big band classics on Monday nights. Tuesday night’s Praise in the Park will treat you to gospel and activities for kids. Local and regional bluegrass entertainers will visit Staunton on Wednesday nights, and Thursday brings you Jazz in the Park. Don’t miss the Happy Birthday America celebration on July 4th. Have a blast with a 5K race, a lively parade, a parent/child baseball game, concessions, live music, and fireworks.

Teach the kids to knock down some pins at family-owned Staunton Lanes! There’s also a snack bar and an arcade. If you’d rather exercise your brains, put your wits together to solve one of the active puzzles at Crack the Code. You’ll have an hour to solve multiple puzzles and escape one of the themed rooms. 

Staunton is home to the American Shakespeare Center‘s Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, so it would be a shame to go home without experiencing it. However, if your kids are a little young for the Bard, you might find an age-appropriate movie at the Visulite. Bonus: if you’re a parent sitting through another video-game-themed movie, at least you can enjoy a beer while you watch.

Where to Learn

Step back in time at the Frontier Culture Museum, which invites visitors to explore the lives of the Shenandoah Valley pioneers from the 1600s through the mid-1800s. Costumed interpreters answer questions and demonstrate daily activities. The Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library teaches about the life and times of this president who hailed from Staunton, as well as educational programs and downloadable content targeting younger audiences.

While Sunspots Studios isn’t a museum, you’ll learn all about the process of blowing glass if you stop in for a live demonstration. Using extreme heat, artisans blow and shape molten glass into globes and art pieces. Visitors can purchase completed (and cooled) glass in the gallery.

How to Explore

Explore the Saturday morning Staunton Farmer’s Market to find the tastiest local produce and baked goods. Listen to live music and talk to the producers at this weekly event that celebrates community. You can also see more of Staunton by hopping on the green trolley as it loops through town. Hop on and off at area attractions like the Jumbo Museum, where you can visit the oldest motorized fire engine in Virginia, and Gypsy Hill Park, where you can ride the $1 Gypsy Express Mini-Train that’s been delighting the young-at-heart for more than 60 years. Families will also love the way the free Traipse! app makes walking fun. Half historic tour and half scavenger hunt, Traipse encourages you to take an active part in learning about the town. 

Where to Stay

Staunton has a number of casual lodgings that are perfect for families. Reserve a room at the Howard Johnson. There’s an outdoor pool, and it’s an easy walk to downtown and dining. Tru by Hilton and Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriot have great locations convenient to downtown Staunton as well as I-81 and I-64. Fairfield Inn and Suites has an indoor pool. If you’re hoping to spend more time in nature, book a campsite at Shenandoah Valley Campground or Walnut Hills Campground.

Where to Eat

Kathy’s Restaurant heaps on the goodness with traditional breakfast fare like pancakes and omelets served all day. Alternatively, grab some coffee and lite fare to go from The By & By. Catch some lunch at Wright’s Dairy Rite, a diner where your kids can get their burgers and fries in boxes that look like classic cars. Shenandoah Pizza serves gourmet pizza by the pie or by the slice celebrating local ingredients and lore. Skip the chain restaurants and grab a family-friendly meal at Remedy Burger, where there are smash burgers for adults and “happy trays” for smaller appetites. The Depot Grille serves up delicious American fare and includes a menu for kids. Finally, indulge yourself with a selection of fresh-made gelato flavors at The Split Banana, or head to Kline’s to get custard-style homemade ice cream. 

Where to Shop

If you want something to keep the kiddos busy on the ride home, Pufferbellies Toys & Books will deliver big time. This is the largest independently owned toy store in the Valley, and its carefully curated shelves will fascinate the kid in all of us. Readers will find a big selection of new favorites at the Book Dragon, and hobbyists and gamers will like Staunton Trains and Hobbies, the Hobby Surplus Outlet, and The Dragon’s Hoard.

Staunton’s Great Outdoors – Camping and Waterfall Hikes

Dig out the tent and the camp chairs. Stock up on hotdogs and marshmallows. Figure out how to use the plant identification and stargazing apps on your phone. Whether you’re looking for a family adventure, a getaway with your friends, or a solo excursion into nature, we’ve got you covered with Staunton’s best campgrounds and waterfall hikes. It’s time to line up this summer’s camping weekends!

Camping

Walnut Hills Campground

Walnut Hills Campground is the ideal destination for families. You can come prepared with your tent or RV, or book one of the campground’s cabins, which provide both primitive and deluxe accommodations. Deluxe cabins include bathrooms and partial kitchens. Campground accommodations include a pool, a lake, a 9-hole disc golf course, an off-leash dog run, a playground, and a game room. 

Shenandoah Valley Campground

Make some memories in your tent or RV at  Shenandoah Valley Campground. Not only does this campground boast large, comfortable sites and plenty to do like playgrounds and a fishing pond, but there’s also a big, heated pool, four six-person hot tubs. You’ll find weekend DJs, a game room, mini-golf, a cafe, and a giant pack of tame rabbits to feed. The campground is situated along a calm 1.5-mile horseshoe bend of the Middle River; this offers wading and tubing access.

Sherando Lake

Sherando Lake Recreation Area is tucked into the mountains and boasts two deliciously cool spring-fed lakes for fishing and exploring. The campground gives easy access to the large, sandy beach and marked swimming area as well as showers and picnic facilities. Visitors will find an extensive trail system, fishing piers, a playground, and lots of shade.

Natural Chimneys Park & Campground

The limestone towers rising 120 feet above Natural Chimneys Park & Campground were formed when an ancient inland sea receded from the area. Now, they resemble a ruined castle, and the 165-site campground is really cool. It has sites for both RVs and tents. Amenities include hiking trails, a swimming pool, playgrounds, and a slow-flowing section of the North River. 

Sun Retreats Shenandoah Valley

Sun Retreats Shenandoah Valley boasts 130 private, wooded acres to explore and plenty of tent and RV sites. You can fish, swim, lounge on the beach, enjoy playgrounds, a jump pad, and games like cornhole and volleyball. There’s also a game room and mini-golf as well as planned activities and themed events like the upcoming family fun or father’s day weekend.

Todd Lake 

Grab one of the sites at 7.5-acre Todd Lake for a wonderful weekend of camping, swimming, hiking, wildlife viewing, and more. This recreation area features a wheelchair-accessible sandy beach, bathhouse, picnic facilities, playground, hiking trails, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and not-motorized boating. Situated in George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, the lake was created in 1963 as part of a flood-control project. 

Waterfall Hikes

Crabtree Falls

At 1,200 feet, Crabtree Falls is one of the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi. Hike the up-and-back 3.8-mile trail for incredible views of five major cascades and many smaller ones. The trail’s switchbacks return again and again to knockout views, and while it’s not safe to climb on the falls, you can cool your feet in the stream at the top as you savor a magnificent view of the Tye River Valley.

St. Mary’s Falls 

St. Mary’s Falls can make your dreams of swimming under a waterfall come true. Tackle a relatively easy four-mile out-and-back hike along the Saint Mary’s River to earn the exhilarating payoff of the icy mountain pool and scenic waterfall. The trail is washed out in places and includes multiple water crossings (and places to wade and lounge), so beware of slippery rocks and wear shoes that can get wet.

White Rock Falls 

The White Rock Falls hike is a 4.5-mile loop hike accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway. For a shorter 2.2-mile down-to-the-falls-and-back-up option along a fresh mountain stream, start at the Slacks Overlook at MP 20 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There’s not a deep swimming hole here, but the 40-foot falls are beautiful and offer a refreshing area to wade and snack at the bottom.

RipRap Hollow 

There’s not much of a waterfall here, but you’ll be blown away by the enormous 50-foot swimming hole along Riprap Trail. You can access this deep,spring-fed beauty by hiking down from the Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park fees apply). If you want to make a day of it, try the entire 9.5-mile circuit hike, which includes Riprap Trail and Wildcat Ridge Trail and is considered one of the best loops in the southern end of Shenandoah National Park.

Goshen

Goshen Pass is technically whitewater instead of a waterfall, and you don’t have to hike to access it, but we couldn’t resist including this summertime gem in our roundup. Enjoy nature’s best scenery as you swim, tube, kayak, fish, lounge, picnic, and scramble over the rocks along this three-mile mountain gorge. You can choose to embrace the bustle and family atmosphere near the gravel beach at the picnic facilities, or escape the crowds and find your own private rocky island. 

When swimming in natural pools, remember to wear water shoes and sunscreen, and keep an eye out for slippery rocks, glass and reptiles.

Dive into Summer: Staunton’s Best Picnic Spots

Don’t have plans for the weekend? How about a good, old-fashioned picnic? Pack the picnic basket, shake out the blanket, grab a frisbee, and get ready for some wholesome summer fun. We’ve rounded up our best area picnic spots with swimming and views.

A Swim and a Picnic

Gypsy Hill Park

You can spend an entire afternoon exploring Gypsy Hill Park. Start with a swim at Gypsy Hill Park pool, a large, L-shaped pool with lanes for laps, a slide, and a dedicated kiddie pool for the three-and-under crowd. Next, set up for a picnic at one of the park’s many tables, find a place in a pavilion, or spread out on the grass somewhere private. One of our favorite spots is the south side of Lewis Creek to the east of the baseball diamonds. After your meal, walk the 1.3-mile loop, burn some energy at one of the playgrounds, or feed the ducks. If you want your picnic for dinner, check out the weekly live music schedule at the bandstand.

Montgomery Hall Park

There’s a lot to do in Montgomery Hall Park. Start by arranging your picnic lunch at one of the large park’s many picnic tables. Next, let the kiddos play at either the traditional playground or the natural playground. Get your heart rate up with a game of tennis, a round of disc golf, or a hike or bike ride along the wooded trails. Finally, take a dip in the park’s pool, which has both a deep end with a slide and a shallow area for the littles.

Sherando Lake

25-acre Sherando Lake is known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge” because it’s beautiful and when you come upon it tucked into the hills, you’ll feel like you discovered a prize. One side of the lake features a large sandy beach and gradual deepening of the deliciously cool spring-fed water. There are even shaded places where you can lounge while your kids splash and play in the water. Built in 1933 by the Civil Conservation Corps, the recreation area also has camping, hiking, boating, fishing, showers, and picnic facilities. Day access fee applies.

Todd Lake 

7.5-acre Todd Lake is a great place for a family swim, picnic, or camping weekend. This recreation area in George Washington and Jefferson National Forest features a sandy beach, bathhouse, picnic facilities, playground, hiking trails, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, not-motorized boating, and camping. The lake was created in 1963 by the construction of a flood control dam. Today, it’s a great spot to watch waterfowl. Day access fee applies. 

Shenandoah Valley Campground

If you’re hoping to make a weekend out of picnicking and swimming, Shenandoah Valley Campground is the place to go. Not only does this campground boast large, comfortable sites and plenty to do like playgrounds and a fishing pond, but there’s also a big, heated pool as well as four six-person hot tubs. If you’re looking to skip chlorine, you’re in luck: the campground is tucked into a 1.5-mile horseshoe bend of the Middle River. That means there’s wading and tubing access.

Picnic Spots with Views

Cannon Hill at Mary Baldwin University

Popular for viewing 4th of July fireworks, Cannon Hill at Mary Baldwin University is a perfect spot for a picnic any day of the year. This high, flat, open lawn commands a panoramic view of the city. While there aren’t picnic tables, the space is usually empty, and there’s plenty of room to toss a ball or chase fireflies. 

Woodrow Park

Woodrow Park perches high above the railroad tracks on historic Sears Hill and boasts one of the best views of Staunton. You can park at the top or start at the Wharf and climb up and over the Sears Hill footbridge. Picnic on a bench or spread your blanket on the grass. Make sure to check out the informative signs that tell the area’s history and point out notable buildings.

Frontier Culture Museum

While the views here are pretty, you’ll spend most of your day gaining a new perspective on the past and learning about the Valley’s earliest settlers at The Frontier Culture Museum. You’ll develop a big appetite after walking the grounds and learning all the steps people needed to follow just to eke out an existence. There’s a covered pavilion as well as plenty of picnic tables to relax and enjoy the relative ease of modern dining. 

Skyline Drive

Finally, make sure to picnic this summer at one of the 70 scenic overlooks along Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive. Check out the views, look for birds and wildlife, and identify native plants and trees. Many of the overlooks feature trailheads, so you can get your exercise in before or after your meal.