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Category: Hiking

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.

“Soil: Mother Earth From the Ground Up” – Staunton’s Earth Day 2022 Celebration

Have you enjoyed being outside this month? From balmy spring days and floral displays to heavy wind and freaky snowstorms, Mother Nature has been pulling out all the stops, and we are noticing! Spring is a wonderful time to channel some of that appreciation into learning about how to take good care of the Earth. Below, read about Staunton’s annual Earth Day as well as several local businesses making it their business to preserve and beautify our planet.

Earth Day: Saturday, April 23, 2022

Each year, Staunton holds a large, family-friendly educational fair for Earth Day. This year’s theme is “Soil: Mother Earth from the Ground Up,” and visitors will learn all about what lives in and makes up the soil as well as other environmental topics.

Head over to Bells Lane on Saturday for Staunton’s Earth Day Celebration

Enjoy live music from Heifetz and Cotton Hill Band (Bluegrass). You also won’t want to miss the Wildlife Center’s demonstration with the center’s educational animals. These creatures are native species like owls and opossums that received treatment at the center, but can’t return to life in the wild. See the full schedule.

Earth Day events are designed to help us learn to appreciate and preserve our planet by promoting clean air, land, and water, supporting native species, and more. The day’s ongoing activities include kite flying (bring your own or get one at the event), an “underground” classroom, fish kissing, and chances to befriend bats and worms.

Most exhibits will have demonstrations, games, crafts, or other hands-on activities designed for kids to learn actively. Check out booths by more than 20 local environmental organizations including Project Grows, Staunton Parks and Rec, the JMU Art Department, the Augusta Bird Club, Virginia Department of Wildlife, Friends of Middle River, and the Potomac Trail Club.

Staunton Businesses that Promote Good Stewardship of the Earth

Staunton has a number of businesses committed to reducing our impact on the earth.

  • Farmers’ markets shine as ways to obtain the freshest possible produce and connect with your community. They also support local agriculture and sustainable farming practices. Visit the Staunton Farmers’ Market April – November. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch some live music!
  • Staunton Plant Co. specializes in locally grown and native plants. Native plants are important because they have adapted to their native conditions and generally don’t require as much fertilizer or pesticides as other species. They also shelter and feed local species of birds, mammals, and insects like butterflies. Staunton Plant Co., a full-service garden center, also provides annuals, perennials, mulch, trees, and hanging baskets to beautify your property.
  • Not only does JMD Farm Market & Garden Center offer locally grown annual, perennial, and vegetable plants, they also carry garden gifts and fresh, local meats, fruits, and vegetables. Shop, enjoy a glass of wine and let the kids explore the natural playground.
  • Bryan Black, designer and owner of Concepts Created, consults with individual customers before constructing custom furniture out of reclaimed wood and other materials. Skilled handcrafting and attention to detail produce durable and unique pieces that have both beauty and history.

Buy your favorite cleaning and personal products at Refill Renew, a low-waste refill shop where you bring your own refillable containers, and pay for the bulk product you add. Choose from hair and body products, sunscreen, various cleaners, and detergents, as well as local apple cider vinegar. You’ll also find reusable lifestyle goods like stainless steel utensils and straws, mesh product bags, beeswax wrap, biodegradable trash bags, and more.

Natural Areas in Staunton’s Parks

If you’d like to connect with nature while in the city of Staunton, explore some of the natural areas in our parks. Betsy Bell Wilderness and Montgomery Hall Park both offer miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers. Birders, too, will revel in the high number of species that can be identified in these areas. Montgomery Hall’s Nature Ridge natural playground doesn’t have swings or slides, only natural elements that will absorb kids for hours of imaginative and exploratory play.

Staunton is a Southern Living Best Mountain Town

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

Ogle Staunton’s Beauty

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

Eat Like a King

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

Find a Festival

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

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

Learn Something New

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

Access the Outdoors

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

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

Springtime in Staunton

Are you team spring or team fall? Do you like flowers or leaves? We could argue all day about which season is Staunton’s prettiest, but we’re sure you want to get outside and enjoy this magnificent fresh air and balmy weather. From garden tours to festivals, to downtown dining, here are our picks to make the most of Staunton’s rebirth this spring.

Farmers’ Market

Dust off the cookbooks and fire up the grill. The Staunton Farmers’ Market will open on April 2nd this year. Make sure you visit from 7 a.m. – noon for the freshest local homegrown and homemade goods and produce. This family-friendly market has been a Staunton staple since 1993. Stroll the stalls to meet the producers, listen to live music, and enjoy the Staunton community.

Get Some Garden Inspiration

Historic Garden Tour takes place in Staunton’s north end this year. Secure your spot now for the April 23 walking tour, which visits two landscaped gardens in Williamsburg-inspired Baldwin Place as well as the grounds of Waverley Hill, a Staunton gem built in the Georgian Revival style in 1929. Visitors can watch gardening talks and floral demonstrations, and listen to Staunton Music Festival musicians along the tour.

If you can’t make it to the garden tour, make sure to take a stroll through Gypsy Hill Park to see the dogwoods and tulips in bloom.

Take a Hike

Celebrate April 16, the first day of National Park Week with a fee-free day in Shenandoah National Park. Hike your favorite trail and see the trees and wildflowers coming to life, or drive along the Skyline Drive and scope out the view.

If you’d rather hike or bike or shoot a round of disc golf closer to home, explore the miles of trails winding through Montgomery Hall Park. Got littles? They’ll love exploring the natural play elements at Nature Ridge Natural Playground.

Themed Adventure

“Take your brain for a walk with Traipse,” a free app that leads you on scavenger hunt-like tours of Staunton. Not only will you learn interesting history and trivia, you’ll also be able to crack riddles and earn discounts and samples from featured businesses. You can even compete with friends for high scores. Traipse offers several tours in Staunton, including ones that explore Gypsy Hill Park, Beverley Street, and the local pub scene.

You won’t be solving riddles, but if you like exploring new places and earning prizes, sign up for Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail’s Passport Program. The Beerwerks Trail maps 19 breweries within a 45-minute drive of Staunton. Many of them boast tasty food and outdoor spaces with views for miles. Visit them, sample the craft beer, get your passport stamped at eight, and earn an awesome t-shirt.

Make Earth Day Plans

It’s not too soon to start thinking about how you can positively impact the earth this year. Along with reducing your carbon footprint, you can visit Earth Day Staunton 2022 on April 23. The new location on Bells Lane combines the fun of the information-rich, family-friendly event with incredible views of Augusta County’s farmland. You’ll meet animals, including educational ambassadors from the Wildlife Center of Virginia, learn to fly a kite, learn to preserve our waterways, and much more.

Get Ready to Shop and Eat Al Fresco

Staunton’s popular Shop and Dine Out Downtown initiative is getting ready to open up for the 2022 season (April 1 – October 30.) Each weekend, the city closes several blocks of Beverley Street so that businesses and restaurants can set up outdoor spaces on the sidewalk and street. Tables, chairs, tents, and enthusiastic shoppers and diners fill the street. Those outdoor dining spaces are filled, in turn, with groups chatting, laughing, and loving the al fresco dining experience. 

Wool Week at the Frontier Culture Museum

One of the most interesting events at the Frontier Culture Museum is the annual Wool Week (April 25 – May 1), when interpreters sheer the winter fleeces from the sheep and process them into usable products. Visitors can watch every step of this fascinating and arduous process as well as learn about the lives of the Valley’s early settlers.

Art in the Park

Memorial Day weekend seems a long way away, but it will be here in no time. Plan to improve your decor by purchasing a unique work of art created by a regional artist at the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s 55th annual Art in the Park festival in Gypsy Hill Park. Join the fun at this Staunton tradition where you’ll find amazing art, community spirit, live music, food, and creative activities for the kids.

Plan Your Next Vacation in Staunton

Did you know that January 25th is National Plan a Vacation Day? And just like us, we bet you REALLY need one! From romantic weekends to family getaways, to weekends with the girls or guys, let us help with some quick recommendations on what to do on a vacation in Staunton!

Romantic Weekend

Share romantic meals, be pampered in luxurious lodgings, sightsee on one of America’s best main streets, and even discover the great outdoors. Here are some of Staunton’s best bets for couples.

Where to Stay

  • The Hotel 24 South and The Blackburn Inn both feature elegant rooms in tastefully updated historic buildings. Check the specials for romantic add-ons like champagne, chocolate, and spa packages.
  • The Berkeley House Bed and Breakfast offers an elaborate breakfast as well as packages for champagne and a trip to the Blackfriar’s Theatre.
  • The Frederick House is a 20 room inn, comprised of 5 historic houses, located in downtown Staunton, Virginia. They offer the privacy of a hotel, with the personal experience of a Bed and Breakfast.

Where to Eat

What to Do

  • The Staunton Farmer’s Market is open from the first Saturday in April until Thanksgiving, and it features fresh produce, baked goods, and live music. 
  • Take a self-guided or seasonal guided walking tour with the Historic Staunton Foundation.
  • Visit the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace to learn about Wilson’s connection to Staunton and much more.
  • Stop to flirt at Ox-Eye Tasting Room or take a scenic drive to Barren Ridge Vineyards to reconnect with your sweetie over some local wine.
  • Shop downtown Staunton’s independent stores and galleries for a range of wares including gourmet chocolate and olive oil, art-glass ornaments, unique gifts and art, and vintage treasure of all kinds.
  • Take in a show at the American Shakespeare Center. The 2022 season includes Romeo and Juliet, The Comedy of Errors, The Tempest, and more.

Family Fun

Looking for a wonderful family trip where fun, history, and the great outdoors are all in big supply? Here’s how to enjoy Staunton’s best with your family.

Where to Stay

  • The Fairfield Inn and Suites is a family-friendly hotel convenient to both downtown Staunton as well as the interstates. The hotel offers a free hot breakfast, free Wi-fi, and an indoor saltwater swimming pool.
  • The Storefront is a two-level downtown lodging with a full kitchen, two queen-sized beds, and a unique bar/lounge area with a television.

Where to Eat

  • Voted one of the best breakfasts in the Valley, Kathy’s Restaurant heaps on the goodness with traditional breakfast fare served all day.
  • Your kids will love the caboose parked outside of The Depot Grille. They’ll also love the American fare served inside for lunch and dinner. The menu includes a section for kids. 
  • Shenandoah Pizza’s gourmet pies celebrate local ingredients and lore. Parents will be pleased with the extensive tap list.
  • The menu at Baja Bean has loads of Tex Mex options including choices for the younger set and an impressive tap list. 
  • Finish your meal with one (or more) of the 18 fresh-made gelato flavors from The Split Banana.

What to Do

  • Pool your wits to solve one of the active puzzles and escape a themed room at Crack the Code Escape Room
  • Step back in time at the Frontier Culture Museum, which invites visitors to explore the lives of the Shenandoah Valleys pioneers from the 1600s through the mid-1800s.
  • Watch as artisans use extreme heat, to blow and shape molten glass into globes and art pieces at Sunspots Studios
  • Family favorites for shopping include treasure hunting at Staunton Antiques Center and hobby shopping at Staunton Trains and Hobbies. Pufferbellies is the largest independently owned toy store in the Valley, which has a hands-on policy and something to fascinate kids and grownups alike.
  • Hit up one of Staunton’s great city parks like Gypsy Hill Park to feed the ducks, hit the skatepark, and play on the playgrounds. Montgomery Hall Park has more playgrounds as well as miles of hiking and biking trails.
  • There’s always something happening at Augusta Expo. Events include the Augusta County Fair, monster truck rallies, Bigfoot conventions, and more. 

Getaway with the Girls

Share the best of Staunton’s trendy restaurants, local wine, and unique shopping with your besties. You’ll make so many new memories that you’ll want to make Staunton an annual destination.

Where to Stay

  • Not only does 4-suite Gibson’s Warehouse have an interesting history as a working railroad warehouse, but it’s also just steps from downtown Staunton dining and entertainment. Renovated efficiency apartments are appointed with full kitchens and living spaces. There’s also a common space in the lobby with seating so guests can mingle and socialize.
  • Staunton Stays is a four-suite boutique hotel in a beautifully renovated Victorian house. Each suite is decorated according to a different theme. All offer full kitchens, modern bathrooms, living quarters, and access to a laundry room.

Where to Eat

  • Try a range of Spanish tapas and other Mediterranean food at Aioli Restaurant.
  • Enjoy wine by the glass or bottle at Yelping Dog Wine. Share a cheese plate or munch on gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.  
  • Savor wine, beer, and light fare such as apps and sandwiches at The Green Room.
  • Dine at Table 44 for amazing Southern food with a twist.

What to Do

Guys’ Weekend

Staunton has golf, cigars, the great outdoors, and food and beer.  What else do you need for an awesome guys’ weekend? 

Where to Stay

  • Tru by Hilton has modern amenities, access to both the interstate and downtown, and generous public gathering spaces.
  • Avid Hotel focuses on getting the essentials right at a value price.

Where to Eat

What to Do

10 Things We Are Thankful For In Staunton This Year

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

Our Great Outdoors

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

Independent Small Businesses

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

Foodie Scene

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

Craft Beer, Wine, and Cider

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

Artists, Artisans, and the Performing Arts

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

Live Music 

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

Local Farmers and Producers

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

Museums and Historic Sites

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

Our Fun Community

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

The People

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

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

Staunton’s Fall Foliage Report 2021: Weekend of October 15-17

It’s still pretty warm in Staunton during the day, but with some nights dipping into the 40s, we should really start seeing some of fall’s fiery color this weekend! The following week looks like it will be much cooler, so the height of the season will be here soon. In fact, the Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map predicts that leaves will peak between October 11-25, so get out there and leaf peep. You’ll find some nice backgrounds around the train station for fall-themed photos, and a climb up to Woodrow Park on Sears Hill rewards with stellar views of Staunton from above. You’ll also see lots of trees in Gypsy Hill Park with the added bonus of the swimming pool enclosure that’s populated with friendly and spooky Halloween scarecrows.

If the rain holds off this weekend, it should be good weather for hiking, so make sure you get out with your camera. If you haven’t done it yet this year, Humpback Rocks offers wide open views of the Shenandoah and Rockfish Valleys as well as chances to see migrating hawks. If you’d rather head to the west, drive up Shenandoah Mountain and hike the trails around the Confederate Breastwork Interpretive Site. You’ll notice that the trees at higher elevations are starting to show off those autumnal colors. The Virginia Department of Forestry suggests that the green will continue to change to yellow as limited daylight shuts down chlorophyll production. Though all deciduous trees change color and drop their leaves, the intensity of the show varies each year.

Check here every week for our updated fall foliage report.

Staunton’s Fall Foliage 2021: Weekend of October 1-3

Fall started last week, but it’s still pretty warm. In fact, it’s pretty much perfect weather. The warm days and cooler nights are ideal for hiking, camping, and hitting the playground with your kids. The trees are still mostly green, but here and there you can see yellowing and flashes of orange. You’ll have to wait for a while until you can roll around in piles of raked leaves or get your fall portraits, but the cooler weather is sending the trees its signal.

 

Beyond Staunton

Colors come to the trees first in the mountains and in the western part of the state. After that, the colors spread east and down the mountain slopes. The Smoky Mountains Fall Foliage Prediction Map predicts that leaves will peak during the week of October 11-25, which means things will need to happen very quickly! Make sure you don’t miss it: get outside over the next few weeks for hikes both in the mountains and in the Valley.

The Virginia Department of Forestry suggests looking to black gum (red), dogwood (scarlet to purple), sumacs (red orange), and even poison ivy (red) for hints of color this week. A lot of wildflowers are still in bloom now, so make sure you’re looking along the sides of roads and trails while you’re out exploring this weekend.

If you’re looking for a nice drive, explore the Blue Ridge Parkway for wonderful views of leaves and migrating hawks.

Check back here for our updated fall foliage report each week if you’re planning to leaf peep this autumn.

Staunton’s Fall Roundup

The weather’s cooling, the birds are migrating, and the kids are safely away in school. Football is back on TV, and the leaves are starting to adorn the lawn. But there’s more to fall than raking, cheering, and pumpkin spice latte. Here’s how to make the most of autumn in Staunton.

Fall Color

The leaves haven’t really changed yet, but you can’t beat the Shenandoah Valley for the upcoming fall color. To see the leaves at their brightest, plan to leaf peep at the peak of the season, which should be around October 11 through 25 this year. Check back each week for an update on the season’s progression.

Fall Fashion and Where to Find It 

The seasons are changing and it’s time to warm up your wardrobe, especially if you have a family portrait session in the near future. Here’s where to update your look in Staunton this fall. 

  • Shop Design at Nine for 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. 
  • LTD 7 and Latitudes Fair Trade Store have unique and trendy clothing, bags, scarves, and jewelry. 

  • If you’re looking for something with a story, check out Nanny June Vintage Clothing for ways to add a retro flair to your modern wardrobe. 
  • Don’t forget The Sparrow’s Nest for artistic jewelry and knitwear. 
  • Men will look sharp after shopping at CFO Trading Company for clothing, outerwear, scarves, hats, and seasonal accessories. 
  • And make sure to outfit yourself for that fall hiking or camping trip at Wilderness Adventure.

Pumpkin, Apple, and Grape Picking

If you’re looking for a family-friendly fall adventure to keep you busy when you’re not at soccer or football games, visit one of our area’s pick-your-own farms and orchards.

  • You’ll find views and crops of Concords and Niagaras at Wenger Grapes
  • Pick some Red Delicious at Sunrise Orchards. They also sell apple butter, pumpkins, and honey. 
  • Decorative gourd lovers can rejoice: the pumpkin patch at Middle River Farms (Grottoes) is open. You’ll find over 30 varieties of pumpkins and gourds. Their wagonload deal is one of the best around! 
  • Another stellar spot for pumpkins is Troyer’s Farm in Stuarts Draft. Explore the fields for mixed varieties of large and small pumpkins and gourds. Finish up with a trip through the 10-acre corn maze. 
  • Finally, enjoy a hayride and pick-your-own pumpkins and gourds at Mount Crawford’s Mulberry Hills Farms

Fall Flavors 

We know you’ve been salivating for weeks for a taste of apples, pumpkins, and anything with a hint of spice and cinnamon. Here’s a sampling of some of Staunton’s best fall flavors.

  • Firkin Pie has the best sweet and savory flavors of the season. Try the pork sausage roll, seasoned with caramelized onions, sage, and thyme that’s served with honey mustard or the beet Reuben hand pie. Save room for the Marlborough apple pie for dessert.
  • The Shack offers an ever-changing and seasonal tasting menu highlighting local ingredients.
  • Try Zynodoa’s Autumn Olive Farm grilled pork chop that comes with braised cabbage, Wade’s Mill rye spaetzle, and a sweet and sour glaze. Get a side of Wade’s Mill apple and cheddar grits and follow it all with a harvest thyme pumpkin pot de crème.

  • Order the pan-seared maple leaf duck breast at Aioli. It’s served with butternut squash parmesan risotto, vegetable tempura, and blackberry reduction.
  • Pick your favorite fall-flavored gelato like pumpkin pie or maple walnut at The Split Banana

  • How about an apple streusel or pumpkin pie from Paris Cake Company? They not only taste wonderful, they’re beautiful, too.
  • D&L Donuts bakes seasonal flavors of your favorite morning treat like pumpkin and apple crisp. You’ll want to arrive early to ensure you score one of these tasty seasonal treats.
  • Have you had a flight from Ciders From Mars yet? You can’t beat hard cider for a taste of autumn.
  • Queen City Brewing serves two delicious hard-pressed ales: Apple Ale and Cranberry Ale. Both are perfect for the fall season.
  • Redbeard Brewing Company releases their latest edition of Moriarty, a barrel-aged Imperial Stout on October 9.

Fall Events 

We’ve scoured the calendars so you don’t have to. Here’s what’s coming up near Staunton.

  • Catch the right wind and see your kite soar at Coyner Springs Kite Fly on September 25. 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.
  • Get ready for Halloween by learning about Staunton’s spooky history with a Ghosts of Staunton walking ghost tour on September 24 and 25.
  • Find a use for your old clothes at Staunton Parks and Rec’s Scarecrows in the Park event. Use your skills to create a silly or scary scarecrow to stand near the swimming pools and spook all the early morning joggers. September 25.
  • There’s no live Queen City Mischief & Magic festival this year, but keep an eye on Facebook for lots of fun, virtual events.
  • Celebrate German Heritage Day at the Frontier Culture Museum on October 2 and see how early residents of the Valley lived and made merry.
  • The Fall Foliage Art Festival (October 9-10) brings talented artists to downtown Waynesboro each year. You’ll find paintings, prints, sculpture, jewelry, pottery, and more as well as music, food, and craft beer against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge in full color.
  • The Fall Foliage Bike Festival (October 15-17) attracts hundreds of cyclists from around the mid-Atlantic states for a weekend of riding in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Escape the cities for a quiet weekend and choose from a number of SAG-supported routes over two days.
  • Wade’s Mill will host its 26th annual Apple Butter Festival on October 16. See apple butter being made the traditional way, enjoy tasty food and drink, and shop for local crafts.
  • October 16 is Fall Farm Day at Creambrook Farm. You’ll see baby calves and other farm animals, pretty views, and have lots of family fun.
  • Plan to take the kids to trick or treat at Swannanoa this Halloween. Expect goodies, photo opportunities, face painting, a food truck, and possible real ghosts!