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Category: History

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 Ghost Tours

Staunton grew from a sleepy town to a bustling center of commerce when the railroad came to town in the 1850s. It’s now known for its beautiful Victorian architecture spread across a number of historic districts. Visitors love to take historical and garden walking tours, but buildings that old come steeped in history…and possibly ghosts. Are you hoping for a helping of goosebumps this October? Read on to get your haunt on this Halloween.

The American Hotel

Ghosts of Staunton Tours

If you’d like to learn about Staunton’s spooks and apparitions, the logical place to start is with a professional ghost tour by Black Raven Paranormal. Ghosts of Staunton Tours has been educating the community for 14 years.  Not only will you learn the best places for sightings in this “hub for paranormal activity,” you’ll get a healthy dose of history as well. This should please even skeptical audience members! If you’d like to see Black Raven Paranormal in action, check out their Amazon Prime series: The Black Raven Chronicles. Episodes include investigations of the Clocktower and Montgomery Hall.

Tour Dates

Tours run through the end of October and include several different options:

  • Fridays at 7:30: Staunton’s Haunted History Ghost Tour
    • 90-minute tour by lantern light. Learn about notable Staunton natives and why they might spend their afterlives in the Queen City. This tour “strive[s] to educate, enlighten, and entertain you with our own unique blend of the paranormal, science, history, and local legend.”
  • Fridays at 8: Dark Tales and Haunts Ghost Tour
    • 90-minute exploration of the darker side of Staunton: “legends, lore, history, mystery, ghosts, and murder are all rolled into one.”
  • Saturdays at 7 and 8: Haunted American Hotel Tour
    • Used as a home base for travelers and a hospital during the Civil War, the American Hotel has had plenty of opportunities to acquire spectral presences. Learn the history and the results of Black Raven Paranormal’s investigations. You’ll even get to participate in a live audio session as investigators attempt to contact the departed. Make sure to stop in at the onsite Serendipity Java Bar and Eatery for a special, spooky menu.
  • Sundays at 6 and 7:30: Civil War Hospital Tour
  • Friday/Saturday, October 22, 23, 29, 30 at 7:30, Sunday October 31 at 7: Haunted Depot Spirit Box Tour
  • You can also schedule a private ghost tour for a party of five or more.

Historic Cemeteries

There are probably a few spirits on the loose in Thornrose Cemetery. This large, park-like resting ground has been Staunton’s biggest burial ground since the 1840s. One of the highest points is marked by a 22-foot marble Confederate infantryman. This is the mass grave of 1,700 fallen Civil War soldiers killed on area battlefields. Wander the winding drives and rest on one of the many benches to admire the cemetery architecture, which includes an arching footbridge and a tower. For more background and highlights, check out our walking tour.

Where Else Might I See a Staunton Ghost or Two?

Check out the train station in the Wharf. In 1890, brakes failed on a runaway train, which flew off the tracks destroying part of the train station, killing a promising young singer, and injuring many more. The rebuilt version of the station was destroyed by fire (as was a large portion of the historic district). Have any ghosts survived this gruesome history?

The Blackburn Inn, now a boutique hotel, was once the main administration building for Western State Hospital. Built in the 1820s, it specialized in the “moral treatment” and emotional wellbeing of psychiatric patients. Later, the structure was a medium-security prison before being renovated into luxury accommodations. Plan a weekend stay or enjoy drinks or dinner at the Second Draft Bistro and imagine history coming to life.

Cemetery enthusiasts will also enjoy the quiet burial ground surrounding downtown’s Trinity Episcopal Church. This was Staunton’s original graveyard, used until Thornrose Cemetery opened to provide more space. The lovely church contains a number of Tiffany windows, and the historic graves and monuments provide interesting viewing. 

 

 

Is the most haunted space in Staunton across the street from Lowes? Look to your right as you drive down the driveway to the  Frontier Culture Museum. Looming high above brush and overgrown grounds, the decaying former DeJarnette Sanitarium certainly looks like it could be haunted. Built in 1932, the building has a troubling past and is currently unsafe for visitors. Snap some photos from the road and continue on to the museum where you can take a tour and learn about the Halloween traditions of early Valley settlers.

Former DeJarnette Sanitarium

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in Staunton

In 1968, Lyndon Johnson designated a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week. This date is important because September 15-18 is when a number of Latin American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile) celebrate their independence from Spain. Later, in 1988, Ronald Regan expanded the observation to an entire month (September 15 to October 15 each year). Help us pay tribute to the history, culture, and positive contributions that have made our nation and our city richer and more diverse places. Check out a few of our Hispanic-owned restaurants and businesses!

Pamper Yourself

You know you need some pampering, so why not head to Bonita’s Salon, which has been helping downtown Staunton look its best since 2010. Whether you’re seeking a new hairstyle, artistic nails, a special-occasion look, or hair and makeup services for your wedding party, you’ll find it here! 

Try Something New

A farmer’s market and food truck favorite since 2019, Magdalena Bake is opening a brick and mortar store on West Beverley September 18, 2021. This store specializes in pastries, cookies, wedding, birthday, and custom cakes, as well as special-ordered items. If you’re looking for something savory, try the empanadas.

Los Marquez Mexican Restaurant opened less than a year ago in 2020, but it already has a stellar reputation for its authentic Mexican food, cozy atmosphere, and friendly service. It’s close to Gypsy Hill Park, so you can stop in after a ball game or a round of golf. You’ll find reasonable prices and a big menu of all your favorites in platter and combination forms. There’s even a vegetarian menu that has tasty dishes like fajitas stuffed with squash, mushrooms, green and yellow peppers, onions, tomatoes, beans, and guacamole. Wash it down with a big margarita! There’s even a drive-thru if you’re in a hurry.

Grab a Quick Lunch

The Gonzo’s Pollo food truck opened in 2018 and has delighted Staunton since then with the best Peruvean charbroiled chicken in the Valley. Pollo a la brasa is a juicy, healthy alternative to fried food. Its amazing flavor comes from Peruvian spices and wood charcoal. You can order whole, half, and quarter chickens, butifarra sandwiches, nachos, and sides like fried plantains and yuca fries, and black beans and rice.

Gloria’s Pupuseria emphasizes authentic Salvadoran cuisine and locally sourced ingredients. For the past year, Gloria’s has been serving food from their popular food truck as they rebuild the restaurant after Staunton’s 2020 flooding. If you try only one thing from the menu, order the pupusas, tortillas packed with flavor and fillings like chicken, blended pork, vegetables and cheese. You can also enjoy tamales steamed in plantain leaves, fried plantains, or Salvadoran enchiladas. Refresh yourself with an mango and pineapple juice ensalada. 

Sit Down to Dinner

Since 2015, Mexican-American taquería Chicano Boy Taco has been making our mouths water with handmade tacos and enormous mission-style burritos. This bustling joint has some of the best tortillas you’ve ever eaten. Order from the simple menu of burritos, tacos, or burrito bowls plus your choice of fillings and salsa, and choose a seat inside or on the patio. You can get a Mexican beer or a “cheap beer” and eat here for lunch or dinner. 

El Puerto Mexican Restaurant is a family-owned business that opened its Staunton location in 2003. Featuring fresh tortillas and the only Mexican all-you-can-eat lunch buffet in town, El Puerto will tempt your taste buds for lunch and dinner. Try the burrito tropical, which combines the flavors of marinated chicken with onions, spinach cheese and pineapple. Save room for flan or sopapillas for dessert. There’s a separate kids’ menu.

Mi Rancho has two locations near Staunton, including one on West Beverley and one in Verona. Mi Ranch III has been serving Staunton with fresh Mexican favorites and a menu of wine, beer, and icy margaritas since 2012. Don’t miss the Tuesday/Thursday happy hour! The extensive menu is flavored with hometown spices from Jalisco, Mexico. It includes appetizers, a la carte favorites, combo platters, specials, vegetarian selections, a kids’ menu and more. If you’re starving, try the molcajete mixto. The flavorful meal features sizzling steak, chicken, shrimp, chorizo, and veggies piled in a molcajete and mounded with a combination of cheeses.

Must-See & Do in Staunton’s Wharf

The Wharf Historic District shines as one of Staunton’s busiest and most vibrant neighborhoods. Once a quiet meadow, it was developed for business when the Virginia Central Railroad came to town in the 1850s. Along with warehouses and hotels, this district once featured saloons, distilleries, liveries, brothels, and a dispensary of a patent medicine that claimed to “cure all ills.” It’s now home to a wealth of independently owned businesses and restaurants.

Where to Stay

If you’re coming to Staunton for the weekend, plan to stay at Gibson’s Warehouse, a four-suite loft lodging in a historic TJ Collins-designed warehouse. Designed in 1905, the building was originally used to store hay, fertilizer, and farm equipment. Now, it’s the epitome of comfort and industrial cool, central to dining, shopping, and entertainment. Each suite offers a fully-equipped kitchen, living space, and a king-sized bed. There is also a common space in the lobby with seating areas so guests can socialize.

Where to Have a Drink

Redbeard Brewing Company serves excellent craft beer in a newly renovated tap room. Stop in for a pint of one of the dozen beers on tap and stick around for entertainment like live music, trivia, karaoke, and more. Try the award-winning 221B Baker Brown. 

 

The Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room, located in the yellow historic Fultz Office building, serves estate-grown, food-friendly wines. Stop in to relax over a tasting or a glass — you can’t go wrong with the Reserve Scale House Chardonnay — and make sure you tour the upstairs art gallery. 

Ciders from Mars has only been open for a few months, but people love the hard cider and the cool, modern space. Hang out at the bar, at a table, or grab a spot on the large patio and watch the bustle of the wharf. Ciders from Mars presses locally grown apples for its cider, and you can drink it by the glass, bottle, or flight. Try the Mellow Gold, made from Virginia Goldrush apples.

Where to Eat

Byers Street Bistro serves drinks, tasty appetizers like crab dip, stellar sandwiches and burgers, and the atmosphere is welcoming. Enjoy your food on the shaded brick patio. 

Locals and tourists alike rave over the food and kid-friendly service at The Depot Grille. Look for favorites like the crab cakes, fried oysters, and steak. Pose for selfies by the historic bar or the caboose parked outside. 

Once one of the largest flour mills in the Shenandoah Valley, Mill Street Grill dishes up a wide selection of choices including steak, ribs, seafood, and pasta. 

Taste of India boasts generous portions and good prices. You’ll enjoy a big menu of authentic Indian food that’s always rich, delicious, with a spice level suited to your needs.

Crumbl Cakes & Bakes just opened, but Staunton residents are already lining up for their daily treat. Choose from a rotating variety of cakes, cookies, cookie dough, and brownies. Try a vegan or gluten-free treat and don’t forget a  pupcake for your dog.

Where to Shop

If you’re shopping for unique gifts, you can’t go wrong with the Wharf district. Find some incredible art glass at Sunspots Studio, housed in the historic 1929 Klotz building. As a bonus, you can slip into the studio and watch the artists manipulate the molten glass into globes, vases, and much more. 

Spoil someone you love with artisan bath and body products from Essentially Zen. Choose from great-smelling essential oil soaps, soy candles, body frosting, and more. Essentially Zen will put together gift boxes tailored just for you.

Gamers will find supplies for all kinds of tabletop fun at The Dragon’s Hoard, and Pufferbellies Toys & Books carries a large, and well curated selection of toys, games, and books for all ages. 

Wilderness Adventure stocks your favorite brands of outdoor gear, clothing, accessories, and a huge selection of shoes. Better yet, investing in footwear here guarantees you’ll get a perfect fit. 

Don’t forget to get Fido a treat or a pet massage from the Well-Balanced Paw.

And of course if you’re in the Wharf on a Saturday morning from April to Thanksgiving, you don’t want to miss the producer’s only Staunton Farmers’ Market. Expect to enjoy the freshest local fruit, produce, cut flowers, baked goods, and more.

Where to Walk

Despite a history fraught with fire, flooding, and war, much historic architecture remains. Look for the the Beaux Arts-style Augusta County Courthouse and the Bungalow-style C&O Train Station. Many of the Wharf’s buildings are protected by the Historic Staunton Foundation.

For a detailed description of the historic architecture in the district, take our walking tour. Make sure you snap some selfies near the train station. There are lots of insta worthy backgrounds, including the Sears Hill Bridge that crosses the tracks and delivers walkers to Wilson Park, a small park with big views of Staunton.

Celebrate Juneteenth Staunton Style

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

Juneteenth Celebration at Sunspots Pavilion

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

5th Annual Juneteenth at the Frontier Culture Museum

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

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

Juneteenth After Party at the Pompei Lounge

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

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

Staunton: One of the Best Small Towns in Virginia

Crabtree Falls is the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge, and a very popular hiking destination. Karen Blaha
Crabtree Falls is the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge, and a very popular hiking destination. Karen Blaha

Cradled by the Blue Ridge and surrounded by massive national forests and vast wilderness areas, the Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton has endless appeal. One of the oldest settlements in the Blue Ridge, the Victorian-era town is a living museum. Staunton was largely spared the destruction unleashed on other locations in the Shenandoah Valley by Union troops during the Civil War—most of the buildings in Staunton’s downtown area are more than a century old, and the town’s residential neighborhoods are still dotted with elegant 18th and 19th century homes. A bustling commercial hub even during the colonial-era, Staunton still lures visitors with its architecturally stunning downtown—now lined with eclectic boutiques, inviting eateries, and cozy tasting rooms pouring locally produced wine and craft beer.

Beyond the proudly preserved architectural wonders, Staunton’s rich past is still evident all over town. Staunton was a stop along the Great Wilderness Road, a southward route used by newly arrived European immigrants as portal to the frontier until the middle of the 19th century—a thoroughfare that later became the Valley Pike, now Route 11. Staunton’s Frontier Culture Museum is a living-history, open-air museum that brings the past to life, demonstrating the daily lifestyles of the Valley’s early settlers through original farmsteads and costumed interpreters.

Marquis Building by Warren Faught
Marquis Building by Warren Faught

One of America’s most influential presidents also called Staunton home: Woodrow Wilson was born in the town in 1865, and the 28th president’s home still adorns a hill in Staunton’s Gospel Historic District, now maintained as the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.

For outdoor lovers, options in Staunton are almost endless. The strategically placed, mountain-fringed town is the ideal launch pad for a bounty of outdoor adventures. Staunton is flanked by two massive national forests—the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests—long, slender slices of wilderness stretching from one end of Virginia to the other, laden with recreational opportunities. You also have quick access to the spectacular Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most scenic drive in the state.

Staunton is surrounded by incredible hiking trails, like this one near Crabtree Falls, that are particularly scenic in the fall. Karen Blaha
Staunton is surrounded by incredible hiking trails, like this one near Crabtree Falls, that are particularly scenic in the fall. Karen Blaha

The town is also ringed by a collection of vast roadless wilderness areas traversed by extensive trail systems. Just about 20-miles west of Staunton, the 19,290-acre Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness is crisscrossed by 37 miles of trails and loaded with craggy peaks and laced with trout-blessed streams. Just south of town, the 10,090-acre Saint Mary’s Wilderness is flush with 27-miles of trails—capped off by high peaks including Cellar, Bald, and Big Spy mountains—and spider-webbed by gushing mountain streams culminating in cascading waterfalls.

Staunton provides easy access to two of the most scenic byways in the state—and arguably, on the East Coast. Just north of town is the entrance to Skyline Drive, the vista-rich, 105-mile thoroughfare bisecting Virginia’s 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, offering access to the area’s 500 miles of trails. Almost immediately after entering the park’s less-frequented southern section, Skyline Drive also intersects the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, which rambles through the park for 101 miles.

Staunton, Virginia, is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as the perfect base camp to explore the region. Malee Oot
Staunton, Virginia, is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as the perfect base camp to explore the region. Malee Oot

In Rockfish Gap, 20 miles from Staunton, Skyline Drive also merges into the southbound Blue Ridge Parkway, the iconic byway running 469-miles from the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Some of the most spectacular sites along the entire parkway are in the northernmost section—just minutes from Staunton. First, the Humpback Rocks Recreation Area offers access to a range of hiking trails, with options for quick leg-stretchers or extensive loops. The massive 3,080-foot rock formation known as Humpback Rocks is also touted as one of the parkway’s premier vistas—and one of the most popular.

Just after Humpback Rocks is another treasure: The Sherando Lake Recreation Area is one of the byway’s most inviting detours. The 25-acre, spring-fed lake is edged by hiking trails, leafy campsites, and a sandy swimming beach. Slightly further south, the parkway also offers access to the one of the most stunning waterfalls in the east—and the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge—Crabtree Falls. Two trailheads just a few miles from the parkway offer hikers intimate access to the cascades plunging 1,800-foot course to the Tye River.

Black Dog Bikes in Staunton is a great resource for cycling in the region. Malee Oot
Black Dog Bikes in Staunton is a great resource for cycling in the region. Malee Oot

The vast tracts of wilderness and extensive byways accessible from Staunton also make the locale a hub for cyclists. Options for bike rides abound—from two-wheeled historical tours of Staunton to longer circuits through the bucolic landscape of the Shenandoah Valley. Find a number of local circuits mapped out by Bike the Valley. In Staunton, local cyclists congregate at Black Dog Bikes in the evenings from spring to early fall for weekly rides, with more leisurely loops on Tuesdays and fast-paced, longer circuits on Thursdays as well as Women on Wheels riding every Wednesday. The town’s cycle culture is also celebrated every October with the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival, a weekend of rides showcasing the region’s vibrant seasonal color. You’ll find routes suitable for riders of all levels—from lazy, 12-mile loops to century circuits full of brag-worthy climbs.

The Shenandoah Valley isn’t just a playground for cyclists. The verdant valley is also sprinkled with farms, wineries and craft breweries—linked by routes like the Fields of Gold Farm Trail, the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, and the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. In Staunton, the bounty of the valley is showcased at the Augusta Farmers Market (Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 7 a.m.-noon, April to November) and celebrated by the town’s vibrant farm-to-table restaurant movement.

But, it’s not just local eateries highlighting the abundance of locally sourced, seasonally rotating ingredients—Staunton has also become a hub of craft beer. The town is now home to three different craft breweries—Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing, and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company.

Eclectic microbrews, a seasonally evolving and locally inspired food scene, and a charming, historic downtown—all minutes away from vast wilderness areas, national parks, and forests. The next time you find yourself in Staunton, sipping a freshly poured craft brew while recounting backcountry Blue Ridge adventures, you too may wonder, is this the best kept secret in Virginia?

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.