#LOVEstaunton

Category: 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.

Grab a Selfie in Front of The Murals of Staunton

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

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

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

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.

Here’s Why Staunton Is a Best Small Town

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

What Others Are Saying

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

Dining

Natural Attractions

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

History

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

Arts and Culture

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

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

Community

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

Proximity to Other Points of Interest

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

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.

Ride the Virginia Scenic Railway from Staunton

The railroad came to Staunton in 1854 and helped transform a quiet town into a bustling commercial center. Alternative forms of shipping and transportation have claimed some of the local railroad’s glory, but travelers have always been able to embark by rail from downtown Staunton. And now, train fans have a new way to ride the rails!

Starting in August, the Virginia Scenic Railway is offering recreational tours of the Shenandoah Valley that start and stop in historic downtown Staunton. Visit their web site at https://www.virginiascenicrailway.com/ or call at 434-391-9772.

The Routes:

  • The Alleghany Special heads west from Staunton’s historic downtown, passing through the rural landscape and working farms of western Virginia as you wind your way towards the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest before turning around in Goshen for the trip back to Staunton. 
    • The train departs Staunton at 10:30 a.m. Thursday – Sunday.
    • Tickets cost $110 and include a meal, dessert, and beverage in a souvenir glass.
  • The Blue Ridge Flyer goes east from Staunton towards the town of Ivy. On the way, you’ll pass by Staunton and Waynesboro before ascending roughly 1,000 ft up to Afton Mountain where you’ll experience the thrill of roaring through the 4,237 ft. Blue Ridge Tunnel before turning around for a repeat run through the tunnel. 
    • The train departs Staunton at 3:30 p.m. Thursday – Sunday.
    • Tickets cost $110 and include a meal, dessert, and beverage in a souvenir glass.
  • Coming in December: Santa Trains will be shorter trips geared for younger audiences.

The Details:

Staunton’s Railroad History

Staunton was a sleepy town until the 1840s when the new Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike helped it grow into a thriving commercial center. The town’s growth accelerated again when the Virginia Central Railroad arrived in 1854. What’s now the Wharf Historic District grew up around the train depot to handle merchandise and house passengers. Along with warehouses and hotels, this district also featured saloons, distilleries, liveries, and brothels. Despite a history fraught with the perils of fire, flood, war, and abandonment, significant historic architecture survives.

Eat and Stay Near the Train Station

  • Book a stay at Gibson’s Warehouse, an updated space in a historic building with ties to railroad history!
  • Eat breakfast or lunch at Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery, a new cafe serving morning beverages, breakfast and grilled sandwiches, and fresh pastries. The building also houses the American Hotel, now a wedding venue, where in 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant raised his hat to the serenading Stonewall Brigade Band in an early public act of reconciliation after the Civil War.

Other Train-Themed Things to Do in Staunton

  • Tour Staunton’s Wharf Historic District, which was named because of its location next to the railroad depot and the way workers would set up gangplanks to move goods to and from the warehouses. The Wharf buildings were constructed between 1870 and 1910. They were once much more extensive and spread through the area that is now the Wharf parking lot. Structures here were damaged by a flood in 1896 and destroyed by fire in 1911 and again in 1940.
  • The bungalow-style train station was built in 1902, but it’s the third on the site. The first was strategically destroyed during the Civil War, and the second was demolished by a runaway train in 1890. Some say the site is still haunted by those who perished! To learn more, sign up for a Ghosts of Staunton ghost tour.

  • Make sure to climb up to the Sears Hill Bridge, a 1905 footbridge that crosses the railroad tracks. The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. The steps are steep, but views from the bridge and nearby Wilson Park are phenomenal. Interpretive signs point out important landmarks.
  • Ride the miniature Gypsy Hill Express, which has been looping its track in Gypsy Hill Park and delighting kids for over 60 years. Rides cost $1, and the train runs from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, May through October.
  • Head east to Afton Mountain and hike the Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail. This out-and-back adventure includes a mile-long tunnel built in the 1850s and once the longest of its kind in the country. Don’t worry: this tunnel is no longer used by trains!

Must-See and Do in the Newtown Historic District

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

Where to Park

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

Where to Stay

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

Where to Have a Drink

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

Where to Eat

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

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

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

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

Where to Shop

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

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

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

What to Do

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

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

Use Your Paid Time Off with a Long Weekend in Staunton

So many Americans don’t use banked paid time off and lose it at the end of the year. Don’t be like them! Even if you don’t have the time (or budget) to take a far-flung vacation, you can still take your vacation days by planning a “micro-cation,” a long weekend in which you travel less than 100 miles and stay fewer than four nights.

It’s time to enjoy your paid time off. Use it, don’t lose it with this long weekend itinerary full of shopping, entertainment, and dining, in Staunton.

How to Maximize PTO

  • Write plans on your schedule ASAP because the more set-in-stone something seems, the less likely your work schedule will be to eat it away. 
  • Take advantage of pre-scheduled long weekends like Labor Day Weekend or come for an event weekend like Staunton’s Queen City’s Mischief and Magic (September 24-25).
  • Try traveling on Thursday night and working remotely from your lodging the next day. You’ll be inspired by the new location and excited to finish up and explore.
  • Revive with a vacation close to home. Simply getting away from home, work and routine can help you glean many of the wellness benefits of a longer trip, even if you don’t travel very far.

Friday:

Travel to Staunton 

  • It’s an easy, pretty drive on I-81, with long views framed by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. If you want a leisurely route, drive along the Skyline Drive or Blue Ridge Parkway. Here’s a guide to scenic overlooks in Shenandoah. Visitors from the east and west will enjoy driving up and over the mountains. Take advantage of scenic waysides and hiking trailheads. 

Stay in Staunton

Eat in Staunton

Find Some Friday Night Fun

  • Spread out your blanket for a night of music under the stars at the Blackburn Inn’s Friday night SummerStage concert series. The concerts showcase talents like The Arcadian Wild and Scott Miller. Along with the music, you can enjoy beverages from local vineyards, breweries, and cideries as well as food from the 2nd Draft Bistro. 

Saturday

Visit the Farmers’ Market

  • Meet the locals when you visit the Saturday morning Staunton Farmer’s Market in the historic Wharf District. Listen to live music, talk to farmers, and taste seasonal fruit and fresh baked goods. This is a great way to catch a quick snack and get a sense of Staunton’s bustling community.

Shop Downtown

Eat Some Lunch

  • Grab a quick bite before you set out for more adventure. Try one of the lunch specials made with fresh tortillas at Chicano Boy Taco. Gloria’s Pupuseria prepares authentic Salvadoran cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. Farm-to-table gourmet sandwich shop, Seed to Tail also showcases local ingredients. Magdalena Bake sells savory empanadas made from beef, pork, criolla, or caprese. If you’d rather munch burgers and ice cream as you venture down memory lane, Wright’s Dairy Rite is an old-fashioned drive-in diner that’s straight out of the 50s.

Get Active

Clean Up for Dinner

  • Scrub off the dirt and river water and put on your clean clothes for dinner. Start with a glass of wine and a cheese plate at Yelping Dog Wine or The Green Room. For your main course, try Blu Point Seafood Co., which specializes in fresh seafood and has bars for both cocktails and oysters. Table 44’s southern cuisine with a twist features meals like barbequed shrimp and grits or steak frites. Looking for steak? Get your fill of that and more at Mill Street Grill.

Find Nightime Entertainment

  • Have you seen a show at the American Shakespeare Center? The summer season at the world’s only recreation of the Blackfriar’s Playhouse includes Twelfth Night and Thrive, What You Will, a modern companion piece that provides “cross-centuries conversation” with Shakespeare’s classic comedy.
  • Celebrate music with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts. Heifetz Hootenanny informal series “features students, staff, and special guests in one-of-a-kind, multi-genre mash-ups.” You might hear bluegrass picking, Broadway belting, folk fiddling, or rollicking rhythm and blues!”

Sunday

Sit Down for Breakfast

  • Zynodoa holds Sunday brunch from 10-2 and features a seasonally-driven menu with delights like cornbread French toast with whipped cream or Virginia lump crab fritters. Accompany this feast with a bloody mary or mimosa. Vic’s Eats serves “bomb biscuit sandwiches” and other mouth-watering breakfasts like red-velvet pancakes and yogurt bowls. For breakfast classics like eggs and stacks of pancakes, you can’t go wrong with local favorite, Kathy’s Restaurant.

Have a Little More Fun Before You Go

  • Don’t head home without a little more fun. Catch a matinee at the Visulite Cinema, a convenient and comfortable theater right in downtown. You can check out new releases and have a glass of wine or beer while you’re watching.
  • Stop in to see a glass-blowing demonstration at Sunspots Studios. Using extreme heat, artisans blow and shape molten glass into globes and art pieces. You’ll want to watch this process over and over before visiting the gallery to purchase a reminder of the fun.
  • Don your Sherlock hat and try to solve one of the active puzzles at Crack the Code Escape Room. You’ll have one hour to solve multiple puzzles and escape a themed room.
  • Bone up on history at the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library, a museum dedicated to the life of our 28th president as well as the time’s important cultural challenges. Another historical and educational gem is the Frontier Culture Museum, where costumed interpreters tending working farms share all the details of early settler life in the Shenandoah Valley. 

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.

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.