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Category: Kids

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.

Wool Week 2022 at the Frontier Culture Museum

Have you ever wondered what people from the past did when they wanted to update their wardrobes? Today, we go to the store or even order our outfits online, but the process was much more involved for our ancestors and the early settlers of the Shenandoah Valley. Not only did they have to obtain the raw materials, but they also had to clean them, and transform them into cloth. Finally, they had to turn the fabric into wearable clothing or other textiles. Each year during Wool Week, the Frontier Culture Museum invites visitors to celebrate spring as well as the process of creating useful products from raw materials.

How can I visit?

Wool Week 2022 is April 25 – May 1

There is no extra cost beyond regular admission to the museum.

Museum visitors will see:

  • Demonstrations focusing on wool and flax processing
  • Sheep shearing
  • New baby lambs
  • Regular museum exhibits

How long will the lambs be little?

Lambs are born in the spring when there’s plenty of grass to eat and the weather has lost its winter chill. Ewes give birth to one to three lambs at a time, but twins are most common. Lambs usually weigh about the same as human babies. They can walk within a few hours of being born!

What is wool, anyway? How did people on the frontier harvest it?

Wool is the heavy winter coat of the sheep that’s harvested each year in the spring. While we typically use mechanical clippers now, people from the frontier would use sharpened blades like scissors with the pivot point at the end. Skilled shearers can remove the wool quickly and keep it in one piece.

Do sheep like getting shorn?

Sheep shearing is very much like getting a haircut, but nervous sheep may struggle during the shearing process. It takes a lot of strength to hold them still and clip the wool at the same time. Sheep shearers should take their time to prevent injuries. Shorn sheep feel cooler for the upcoming hot weather and are probably relieved to be rid of their heavy, dirty coats. 

How do they clean the wool?

Contrary to what we see in picture books, sheep are pretty dirty. Museum interpreters use their hands to pull and tease the wool fibers apart to get rid of dirt and parasites. Next, they wash and card the wool. Carding untangles the fibers and stretches them out so that they can be spun. The museum staff will teach you how to perform each of these steps.

How did settlers color the wool?

We didn’t have the synthetic dyes we use now until the middle of the 19th century. Before that, people colored their fabrics with plants, lichens, and even insects. They used fixatives like salt and vinegar to help the dyes stay in place. Professional dyers were very protective about their recipes since some worked better than others. Many colors weren’t readily available, especially in the materials for the dyes that came from far away. Wool can be dyed before or after spinning.

How did they turn that pile of wool into my favorite sweater?

Spinners wind stretched-out wool fibers into yarn. Next, the yarn is formed into a fabric by knitting or by weaving on a loom. Both the German and the Irish farms have looms and visitors can watch the intricate, time-consuming process of working one.

What else can I see at the museum?

The Frontier Culture Museum is a living history museum that will connect present-day people with the lives and histories of those who lived in the past. The walkable museum offers a chance to explore the homesteads of the various people who settled in the region from other places. They include farms from West AfricaEnglandIreland, and Germany. The museum also offers a Native American village and American farms from various time periods.

Have more questions? Head to Wool Week to get answers!

Check out more events on Staunton on Tap.

“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.

Plan Your Family’s Staunton Summer Adventure

Are you looking for a new place to take the family this summer? School lets out in just a few weeks, so it’s time to start planning now. Staunton has tons of fun activities to delight the whole family. You can’t go wrong planning a trip around an event or festival, but Staunton is lovely any day of the year.

Events and Festivals

  • June 24-26: Everyone in the family will get up and dance as the biggest names in folk music appear at Red Wing Roots Music Festival in Natural Chimney’s Park. Besides the music, festival attendees can expect a beer garden, food and craft vendors, bike rides, yoga, and lawn games for adults and kids alike.
  • Bring the family to Gypsy Hill Park this Independence Day for the free, family-friendly Happy Birthday America celebration. Have a blast with a 5K race, a lively parade, concessions, live music from local acts and country group Wilson Fairchild, and fireworks. (Free)
  • August 12-21: Musicians will love The Staunton Music Festival’s classical concerts spanning over 600 years. Dozens of musicians will perform in both large and small ensembles in a variety of Staunton venues like Trinity Episcopal Church and Blackfriars Playhouse. (Some concerts are free, some are ticketed)
  • September 4-5: Join the fun at the Staunton Augusta Art Center’s 55th annual Art in the Park festival in Gypsy Hill Park. You’ll find amazing art, community spirit, live music, food, and creative activities for the kids. The park boasts lots of parking, shade, and playgrounds to keep everyone happy. (Free)
  • September 24-25: Join thousands of seriously excited fans in downtown Staunton for themed shopping, dining, performances, and hands-on activities for all ages at the Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival. This home-grown fan festival celebrates J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series as well as all things magical and mystical. (Many activities are free, some are ticketed)
  • July 26-30: Visit Augusta Expo for the rides, shows, food, and fun at the Augusta County Fair. Check the schedule for more upcoming fun like train shows, dog shows, and tractor pulls.

Family-Friendly Lodging

Kid-Friendly Restaurants

  • Start your day with a hearty meal at Kathy’s Restaurant, where they heap on goodness and serve traditional breakfast fare served all day. Have you ever tried a Captain Crunch biscuit? Vic’s Eats serves an eclectic menu with delights like honeybuns and fried bologna.
  • For a pre-dinner beverage, check out the kid-friendly beer gardens and phenomenal craft beer at Skipping Rock Beer Co. or Redbeard Brewing Company.  
  • Kid-friendly Shenandoah Pizza offers plain and loaded gourmet pies that celebrate local ingredients and lore. Oh, and parents can order more beer from their extensive tap list.
  • The Depot Grille is another tasty, family-friendly way to catch a bite. The restaurant serves delicious American fare and includes a menu for kids. 
  • If your family enjoys Mexican, order dinner at the Baja Bean. The menu has loads of options including choices for the younger set and an impressive tap list for the grownups. 
  • Wright’s Dairy Rite serves its kids’ meals in boxes shaped like antique cars. You sit in a booth and order your food over the phone. The food is traditional diner fare, just the way picky kids like it.
  • However, if you have more of an adventurous eater on your hands, Taste of India offers a range of fresh Indian dishes. Diners choose how mild or spicy they want their dishes to be.
  • Complete the day with one (or more) of the 18 fresh-made flavors of frozen gelato at The Split Banana or indulge yourself with a giant soft-serve cone from Kline’s Dairy Bar, which has been perfecting their creamy flavors for decades.

Play Outside

  • Spend a fun Saturday morning exploring the Staunton Farmer’s Market. Listen to live music, talk to local farmers and taste seasonal fresh fruit and a variety of baked goods. This is a great way to catch a snack, introduce the kids to new tastes, and connect with Staunton’s bustling community.
  • Take a hike in one of Staunton’s parks or hit the playground or tot lot at Gypsy Hill Park. Montgomery Hall Park has a regular playground and Nature Ridge, a playground made of natural elements to aid in exploring nature and having fun. Montgomery Hall also has miles of hiking/biking trails and an 18-hole disc golf course. 
  • Get out of town to Shenandoah National Park or George Washington and Jefferson National Forests for a dose of Next, summon your inner billy goat gruff and climb up to the historic Sears Hill footbridge to Woodrow Park
  • Step back in time at the Frontier Culture Museum, which invites visitors to explore the lives of people living in the Valley from the 1600s through the mid-1800s. Walk between working farms where costumed interpreters answer your questions and demonstrate daily activities. Little folk will love the animals, and you can rent a wagon if your kids can’t handle lots of walking.

Indoor Activities Everyone Will Enjoy

  • Staunton is home to the American Shakespeare Center and the Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater. If you come in May, you can get tickets for one of the final shows of Romeo & Juliet or The Comedy of Errors. Summer programming includes Every Brilliant Thing (in conversations with Romeo & Juliet), Twelfth Night, and Thrive, or What You Will (an exploration of themes from Twelfth Night. If your kids are a little young for the Bard, you might find an age-appropriate movie at the Visulite.
  • Work together to solve one of the active puzzles at Crack the Code Escape Room. Pick from several challenges like Subway, NYC, or Staunton-themed Lang’s Legacy. You’ll have an hour to decipher the clues and break out of the mysterious room.
  • Get an intro to the fascinating art of glass-blowing at Sunspots Studios. Artisans answer questions and demonstrate how they blow and shape molten glass into globes and art pieces. You’ll want to study this process or reserve a spot in a  “Blow Your Own Ornament” session, led by a trained artist. 
  • USA Today calls Beverley Street one of the “most charming main streets” in America and several stores cater to families. Look for dollhouse gear at Warehouse Miniatures and modeling supplies at Hobby Surplus Outlet. The Dragon’s Hoard will meet your gaming needs, and Pufferbellies, the largest independently owned toy store in the Valley, has something to fascinate the kid in all of us.
  • Teach the kids to knock down some pins at Staunton Lanes!

Hopefully, this list has given you some ideas on how to take your family on a Staunton Adventure this summer. Start planning today!

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

How to Beat the Dog Days of August

We’ve all heard the term “the dog days of August”. It’s when dogs supposedly pass out from lying on the hot pavement and you can fry an egg on the hood of your car. The expression carries negative associations: drought, dangerous storms, rabid dogs, and just plain old bad luck. Though the term actually refers to the sun’s apparent location near the Canus Major “big dog” constellation, area kids are bummed that summer vacation is ending. It’s time to take a quick trip to Staunton and eke out a tiny bit more fun before the grind begins again. 

Dance to Roots Music

You don’t want to miss the dinner-concert Roots Music Events at the Frontier Culture Museum. You’ll hear bluegrass, blues, gospel, traditional Appalachian music and more during the five nights of concerts which “celebrate the influence of these musical roots genres on American frontier culture.” Grab dinner from onsite food vendor Island Wheels Caribbean Cuisine and listen to artists like Wound Tight Bluegrass and Southern Hospitality. Make a day of it by exploring the museum where you’ll learn all about the Valley’s earliest residents through living history farm exhibits, questions and answers with interpreters, and hand-on experiences. This museum is suitable for history buffs as well as kids, who can play historic games and check out cows, goats, pigs, and cats. 

Find Cheer with Craft Beer

August is Craft Beer Month, and fortunately most of our area breweries have areas that are family friendly. Redbeard Brewing Company is having a monthly outdoor concert series and on August 28, it will welcome the Findells. Come sing, dance, and enjoy some delicious craft beer. Skipping Rock Beer Company hosts live music most Friday and Saturday nights. Come get comfortable in their beer garden, grab a pint of your favorite brew, and get ready for a great night. Look for upcoming acts like VS., HoboJac, McHale & Justina, and more! Queen City Brewing sells “all kinds of beer in all kinds of ways.” Come check out their outdoor seating area and plan to come on a night where there’s something fun going on: trivia, live music, open mic nights, and more.

Splash Your Blues Away

Just because school is starting doesn’t mean it’s too late in the season to swim. Take the family to one of our area’s lakes or rivers for a day on the water. Good bets include spring-fed Sherando Lake and Todd Lake in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Both include sandy beaches, swimming areas, and restrooms. Paddlers will like the urban Waynesboro Water Trail and the more remote Goshen Pass, one of the top-rated kayaking spots in the area. For more on water fun, read Staunton’s Nearby Swimming Holes and Places to Cool Off.

The Best Way to Drive-Into Fall

If you’re sad because Staunton’s Movies in the Park 2021 season is over, you can still get your fill of the alfresco cinematic experience with a trip to Hull’s Drive In. Though it’s a bit of a drive, it’s worth it for the classic big-screen experience, the snack shop fare, and the community experience. Plus, it only costs $20 per carload of people for a double feature!

Dine out Downtown

There’s still plenty of time to dine out and shop in downtown Staunton. Each Friday night at 4 p.m., Beverley Street closes and stays closed until Monday morning. This lets restaurants in the busiest section of town use the sidewalk and street as dining, tasting room, and retail space. Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co., 101 West Beverley, Baja Bean Co., Shenandoah Pizza & Taphouse, Zynodoa, and more are all participating in the initiative. Stop by the Staunton Olive Oil Company, which is under new ownership, to taste some olive oils and vinegars on freshly baked 100% gluten-free bread, which we’ve heard tastes just like a normal French bread loaf. Follow this up with a selection of keto treats, which include blondies, power bars, brownies, and cheesecake bars. A map of the area with parking, pedestrian walkways, and restaurant take-out/pick-up spots clearly delineated is available here.

Pick Your Spirits Up

If your family hasn’t gotten enough fresh fruit pie from all the peaches you’ve been picking or buying, there’s still plenty of time to make more with bounty from the Staunton Farmers’ Market. Spend a Saturday morning perusing the stands, chatting with growers, and selecting the best fresh produce in the area. If you’d rather have a more hands-on experience, head to one of our nearby pick-your-own farms. Grapes and apples are coming into season at  Wenger GrapesSunrise Orchards, and Carter Mountain Orchard. School lunches always taste better with fresh fruit!

Just Let the Dogs out!

Nothing lifts our spirits like our pets, and since it’s the dog days of summer, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a nod to Staunton’s dog-friendly destinations. Let your pet work off excess energy at Staunton’s Bark Park in Gypsy Hill Park. Divided into separate spacious runs for small and large dogs, it lets dogs play and socialize while their owners do the same. Other city parks are stocked with doggy-bag stations and open to well-behaved dogs on leashes. Serious hikers might enjoy the Betsy Bell Wilderness Area and the trails at Montgomery Hall Park. Finally, reward a good dog with a treat at the Well-Balanced Paw. This shop carries treats and supplements and provides nutritional guidance and therapeutic massage.

Savor the Sweet Staunton Summertime

Can you believe there are only a few weeks of summer vacation left before everyone heads back to school? If you’ve already been camping, cheered at a baseball game, and spent a week at the beach, here are a few more ways to savor the sweet Staunton summertime! 

County Fairs and Festivals

The Augusta County Fair is happening now through July 31. Gorge on carnival food and see rides, exhibits, livestock, acrobats and other sideshow performances, music, tractor pulls and more! If you miss the fair in Augusta County, head up to Rockingham County Fairgrounds for the Rockingham County Fair from August 16-21 for more fair action, including music by Hardy with the Hackens Boys and a demolition derby. The Rockbridge Regional Fair and Expo is happening in Glasgow on August 26-28 and will feature music, rides, pageants and more.

Normally a springtime festival, Art in the Park is being held in the fall this year. On September 4-5, head to Staunton to enjoy the shady space by Gypsy Hill Park’s bandstand as you browse the work of a variety of juried artists. You’ll find photography, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, wood turnings, activities for kids, and more.

Pop over Afton Mountain on August 5 for fun and to support a good cause at the Rockfish Valley Volunteer Fireman’s Carnival. You’ll find rides and games for the entire family as well as delicious pit-cooked chicken and other food. Grottoes Volunteer Fire Department will host a Chicken in the Park event on August 14, and a Sunday lunch on August 15.

Fruit Picking

Nothing says summer like a fresh fruit pie or smoothie, and nothing says family like time spent bonding in an orchard or berry patch. Here’s how to head into the country and make some memories this summer. Remember to check what’s in season on this calendar and call the farm ahead of time to see what’s available. Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray!

Troyer Nursery specializes in strawberries, but there’s still plenty to pick later in the season. You’ll find sweetcorn, tomatoes, green beans, red beets, squash, zucchini, onions and other vegetables. They also sell milk and ice cream mix from Mount Crawford Creamery. Critzer Family Farm is dedicated to environmentally-friendly farming practices and education. It’s a nice place to take the kids to learn about food production and to pick seasonal strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pumpkins, and fresh veggies. Don’t skip home-churned ice cream after your time in the sun!

If you want to wait for the weather to cool off a bit before heading outside, mark your calendar for the end of August when the crops of Concord and Niagara grapes start to ripen at Wenger Grapes. Another good option is Sunrise Orchards, a small pick-your-own apple orchard that offers Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Jonathan by the bag, peck, half bushel, or bushel from early September until the apples are gone. Carter Mountain Orchard is a bit of a drive, but they offer the pick-your-own fruit experience on a large scale. You can pick or buy pre-picked apples and other seasonal fruits and shop at the farm market, making sure to order a plate of the apple cider donuts! The pumpkin patch at Middle River Farms opens in the middle of September. You’ll find beautiful views and over 30 varieties of pumpkins and gourds. Their wagonload deal is one of the best around!

Best Barbecue

Barbecue season lasts all summer, giving you plenty of time to celebrate and try all the Staunton varieties of this juicy, smoky warm-weather staple. Here are the places worth the drive!

Peck’s Bar-B-Que is a local favorite, known for Virginia-style smoked pork served chopped, sliced, or coarse. Get your meat on a sandwich or on a platter with sides like coleslaw and hush puppies. If you want straight meat, you can order that too. The less carnivorous will enjoy salads, fish, and chicken choices. Shredder’s BBQ also serves your favorite Virginia barbecue. It’s made with locally raised meats and smoked with hickory wood.

Kline’s Hog Wild BBQ serves Carolina and sweet-style barbecue and sides for dining in and taking out. Drink a milkshake with your meal or finish with some of the fresh-churned ice cream that Kline’s is famous for! Big Red Barbecue’s menu is packed with selections like pulled pork and fried catfish. The menu also includes a ton of breakfast selections. Check Facebook for daily specials like jerk chicken and shrimp and grits. Valley Smokehouse specializes in seafood, barbecue, and steaks. Be on the lookout for events like all-you-can-eat seafood or scallops, prime rib, and tuna steak meals! Finally, next time you dine at Mill Street Grill or The Depot Grille, make sure to sample their slow-cooked ribs and homemade barbecue sauce.

For even more summer fun, visit our blogs on Live Music, Ice Cream and Swimming Holes.

Staunton’s Nearby Swimming Holes and Places to Cool Off

So far 2021 has been taking the prize for the hottest summer in reported history. Here’s how Staunton can escape the blazing temperatures and suffocating humidity with swimming pools, paddling put-ins, waterfalls, and more.

Pools

If you’re not lucky enough to have your own pool, never fear. Staunton has public pools at Gypsy Hill Park and Montgomery Hall Park. The pool at Gypsy Hill Park is an Olympic-sized L-shaped pool with a shallow section for hanging out and a separate area for swimming in lanes. The pool has a diving board, slides, and a kiddie pool with a zero-depth entry for the youngest visitors. Montgomery Hall’s Pool is smaller but has a cool twisty slide and a shallow area with sprinklers for kids. There’s a nearby playground and picnic area for after-pool fun. Both pools can be rented for parties!

Lakes

The George Washington and Thomas Jefferson National Forests boast nearly two million acres of unspoiled nature. There are lots of opportunities to get outside, including chances for swimming and fun in the water. When the weather gets hot, Staunton residents head to Todd Lake or Sherando Lake. 7.5-acre Todd Lake is located northwest of Staunton and will prove a perfect place for a family swim, picnic, or even a camping weekend. Built to control flooding in the 60s, the lake now features a sandy beach, playground, bathhouse, picnic area, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and hiking trails. You can even launch your non-motorized boat in the water. Day-use fee applies.

Head southeast of Staunton to reach Sherando Lake, known locally as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge.” Come enjoy the spring-fed water for the day, or stay overnight in the campground. The 25-acre lake has a clearly marked swimming area and a sandy beach. There’s plenty of room on the beach and surrounding grassy area to spread out your blanket and chairs. There’s a bathhouse and lots of shaded picnic tables. If you’re feeling energetic, hike around the lake or swim out to the island. The recreation area was built in 1933 by the Civil Conservation Corps. Day access fee applies.

Rivers & Streams

If you’re willing to hike a bit to beat the heat, try one of these pristine swimming holes in nearby rivers and streams.

The 9.5-mile Rip Rap circuit hike is widely considered one of the best loops in the southern part of Shenandoah National Park. The 50-foot-wide icy cold swimming hole you’ll encounter midway has a lot to do with that reputation. Access this deep, spring-fed beauty by hiking down from the parking area at MM 90 on the Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park fees apply).

Take the four-mile out-and-back hike through St. Mary’s Wilderness for a beautiful and exhilarating plunge into an icy mountain pool under St. Mary’s Falls. Make sure you bring water shoes since there are multiple water crossings and this popular trail to the swimming hole might be washed out in places.

A third hike that’s great for summertime is the 4.5-mile loop starting on the Blue Ridge Parkway that passes White Rock Falls. Though there’s not a huge swimming hole beneath the 40-foot falls, you’ll find pools that are good for wading and cooling off. If you have younger kids, consider the shorter down-to-the-falls-and-back-up version of this hike that begins and ends at the Slacks Overlook.

You won’t need to do a lot of hiking to find your special spot at Goshen Pass, but you might need to scramble over some enormous rocks to get there. The water in the 3.7-mile section of the gorge carved by the Maury River 420 million years ago is refreshingly cold. You’ll see forests punctuated with jagged rock formations and you’ll discover countless private pools if you want to swim or hang out on your own private island. The site is also popular for tubing and offers some of the most challenging kayaking around. If you want ease of access, try the gravel beach at the picnic facilities where the gorge opens out and the water flows slowly.

Paddling and Tubing

If your preferred way to cool off is a leisurely float down a river, check out the Waynesboro Water Trail. This 4-mile stretch of the South River flows right through downtown Waynesboro and offers several convenient put-in and take-out points as well as nearby canoe and kayak rentals from Rockfish Gap Outfitters. Just north of Staunton, a lazy stretch of the Middle River flows past a waterfall and through the Shenandoah Valley Campground, where you can rent inner tubes at the general store. Another good place to launch your kayak or inner tube is at Grottos Landing in Mountain View Park, Grottos. From here, you can float to Port Republic and beyond!

When swimming or boating in natural areas, remember to wear water shoes and sunscreen. Also keep an eye out for slippery rocks, poison ivy, glass, and reptiles.

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.