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Category: Outdoor Recreation

Scenic September in Staunton

Clear blue skies, temps in the seventies, and low humidity are reasons why September shines as a month to get outside. Short on time? These destinations are all in town, so plan a stroll or bike ride to find your favorite spots. Bring the kids along to visit the parks, feed the ducks and stretch their legs. Here’s how to enjoy scenic September in Staunton.

Gypsy Hill Park

Gypsy Hill Park is the most popular of Staunton’s Parks, and there’s definitely a festive atmosphere when little league games and live music are happening. Walk, jog, or pedal the 1.3-mile loop and you’ll definitely meet a friend or neighbor. Little ones will enjoy the two updated playgrounds, and your dog will love making paw pals at the dedicated bark park. There’s aquatic life, too, in the form of ducks, geese, swans, and fish to feed at the duck pond and fish to hook at Lake Tams. Brave souls with good balance can shred it at the skatepark. Fuel up for the rest of your day at Chicano Boy Taco.

Gypsy Hill Golf Club

September is perfect golfing weather, and there’s no better place to do it than on the par 71 Gypsy Hill Golf Club, part of Staunton’s history since 1919. The terrain is steep, but stunning, with lots of old trees and long-range views of the mountains. Fees, cart rentals, and private lessons are reasonable. Head over to Queen City Brewing after your round.

Montgomery Hall Park

Montgomery Hall Park has a bit of everything, from playgrounds to hiking trails to sports fields to picnic pavilions. You can’t miss the spiderweb and tall slide tower as you drive into the park, but did you know there’s a less visible natural playground in the park, too? This quiet and shady spot is the perfect environment for kids to develop imaginations, balance, and appreciation for nature’s toybox. Hikers and mountain bikers share several miles of well marked and maintained trails winding through the trees and hills. This area is also used for a popular 18-hole disc golf course. And if the cooling weather means racquet sports to you, get your game on at the tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts. Grab a bite or a loaf of bread at Newtown Baking & Kitchen.

Betsy Bell and Mary Gray Wilderness Area

Betsy Bell Wilderness is Staunton’s best-kept secret when it comes to natural areas within the city limits. You’ll enjoy a peaceful hike or bike away from the bustle. The climb is steep, so catch your breath and survey the city from above at one of the two overlooks. Betsy Bell is a hotspot for birdwatching and good for walking your dog. Treat yourself after your hike with a cone from Kline’s Dairy Bar!

Woodrow and Landes Parks

Woodrow and Landes Parks are so small that you might not even know they exist. And while you might not be able to play a baseball game there, they’re part of a perfect loop for stretching your legs and snapping some beautiful photographs. Climb the steep steps to the Sears Hill Bridge from the Wharf.  Cross the bridge, stopping to gaze up and down the railroad tracks and out over Staunton’s rooftops. Rest a while in Woodrow Park before strolling through the Sears Hill neighborhood. Take Middlebrook Avenue back to downtown and you’ll pass through Landes Park as it passes under the tracks and skirts the edge of Lewis Creek. Your pics in this space will be cool and moody. Make sure you visit nearby Crucible Coffee or Ciders from Mars for a quick sip before heading home.

Other Places to Have a Stroll

While not part of the city park system, historic Thornrose Cemetery and the Frontier Culture Museum make good places to take an urban hike. Thornrose Cemetery was built on the park cemetery model popular in the 1800s. Since city park spaces were rare, cemeteries made up for it with interesting architecture like towers, bridges, and scenic paths. See Explore Staunton on Foot: Thornrose Cemetery for more information. The Frontier Culture Museum brings the past to life on eight working farms representing the Valley’s early settlers. Costumed interpreters do chores and educate visitors who explore the sprawling complex at their own pace. Later, get dinner at nearby Thai Staunton.

Finally, consider taking one of our self-guided walking tours to learn the history of one of Staunton’s historic districts.

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.

Beat the Heat – Light Bites and Hidden Spots to Eat:

It’s officially summer and that means lots of time outside on pool decks and at picnic tables. But if the lure of fresh air and fireflies has given way to sunburn and sweat, probably the last thing you want to do is spread out a heavy meal in the sun. Here are some ideas for light bites and hidden spots to eat your meal out of the sun.

Light Bites

If you want to go out to eat, but the idea of a heavy meal gets you heated, try a light bite from one of these restaurants. Dine-in, eat outside during Shop and Dine Out in Downtown, or grab some takeout for your picnic adventure.

Raw Power 

Raw Power is the newest addition to Staunton’s culinary scene. It offers healthy eating in the form of fresh juices and smoothies as well as wraps and sandwiches. Patrons can eat inside or on the porch, or they can easily grab their orders to go. Offerings have fun and punchy names like Cool Hand Cuke and Refresh & So Clean, Clean. Raw Power is located a short walk from the Staunton Public Library’s Brenda L. Papke Memorial Sensory Garden, which would be a nice place to sit and enjoy your food.

Laughing Bird Pho

Laughing Bird Pho is a locally-owned Vietnamese noodle shop serving authentic pho, a popular street food in Vietnam. Pho is slow-simmered beef or vegetable broth poured over meat, noodles, and vegetables. Season the soup to your own tastes with garnishes like bean sprouts, peppers, and lime. Laughing Bird Pho also serves rice noodle salads and summer rolls as well as boba tea, which is a “fruity, foamy, tea-based drink served over chewy black tapioca pearls.” 

The Green Room

The Green Room is a hip gathering spot in Staunton run by Blackfriars Playhouse actors. Stop in for wine, craft beer, cider, specialty non alcoholic cocktails, and more. The Green Room also serves artisan snacks and light fare like loaded tots, charcuterie boards, and sandwiches. Visit for a quick drink before dinner, settle in and hang out with friends, or grab something to take home with you from the curated selection of beverages and board games for a fun “night out at home.” 

The 101 

The 101, aka “that bowl place” is a poke-bowl restaurant where diners can customize all parts of their meal from the grain to the protein to the sauce. Hawaiian poke-bowls traditionally contained raw fish, but this casual eatery offers chicken, beef, or vegan-friendly tofu options. You can also order gluten-free and allergy-safe items. Choose from a selection of pre-designed bowls like the Atlantic salmon salad. Thai shrimp and kimchi, or Southwestern chicken. You can also design your own bowl by mixing and matching all sorts of healthy and delicious ingredients. The 101’s corner location makes it a prime spot for watching the downtown bustle.

Cranberries Grocery & Eatery

Cranberries Grocery & Eatery is located in the heart of downtown and is a convenient way to grab a fresh bite for breakfast, lunch, or dinner that emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and organic grains. Breakfasts include favorites like waffles and fruit, house-made granola, breakfast burritos, and Southwest tofu scrambles. Lunch specialties are wraps and sandwiches made with chicken, turkey, beans, tempeh, veggies, and more. There are numerous options for vegetarians, vegans, and those who eat gluten-free diets. Cranberries also boasts gourmet coffee and a juice bar. Stock up on natural food items and remedies in the grocery.

Nu Beginning Farm the Store

Nu Beginning Farm the Store is focused on helping you enjoy delicious, clean, and healthy food in a convenient manner. The store sells organic and local produce, meats, dairy, baked goods and more, and allows pre-ordering and curbside pickups. Those looking for a quick bite should grab a pre-made meal to enjoy at home. People with limited time to cook who want to eat healthily can order custom-made meals. Schedule a consultation to discuss preferences and dietary needs – it’s like having a personal chef!

Chicano Boy Taco

Chicano Boy Taco is a Mexican-American taqueria that serves up handmade tacos and enormous mission-style burritos prepared on some of the best tortillas you’ve ever eaten. Order from the simple menu (burrito, taco, or burrito bowl, nachos, or salad) plus your choice of fillings (chicken, beef, pork, sweet potato and beans, chorizo, squash) and salsa at the counter. There’s also a kids’ menu that includes a quesadilla and ice cream from Kline’s. There’s seating inside or on the patio as well as plenty of beer (Mexican, craft, and “cheap”) to wash it all down. Chicano Boy is located just a short walk from downtown Beverley Street, but also offers ample parking.

Hidden Spaces

It’s sure nice to eat outside in the fresh air, but not if the sun blazes a hole through the back of your neck. Here are some of our favorite al fresco dining spaces that offer both shade and a bit of privacy.

R R Smith Center Garden

The R R Smith Center’s Mevluda Tahirovic Memorial Garden is a quiet and hidden space that displays plants like hostas and climbing hydrangeas, shade, and tables and chairs away from the bustle of downtown. Tucked between buildings, the urban space can be accessed from the Smith Center or Barrister’s Row. It’s open to the public during daylight hours.

Montgomery Hall Park

Montgomery Hall Park has acres and acres of places where you can spread a blanket. If you’re a parent, you’ll be pleased to discover picnic tables in the shade at the playground. There’s also a new covered picnic pavilion near the swimming pool. Even better is the Nature Ridge natural playground. Not only is the entire playground in shade, but there are two picnic tables and several benches for grownups to rest up while the kids wear themselves out. And while nearby Jones Garden isn’t exactly a picnic space, it’s a new community garden dedicated to area beautification, healthy eating, and affordable food, and is currently seeking volunteers. See the schedule for days the garden sells to the public.

Gypsy Hill Park

Gypsy Hill Park has plenty of picnic tables and most of them are easy to access from the 1.3-mile driving/walking loop. Shade lovers can find suitable spots to eat near both playgrounds, under the picnic pavilions, and in the softly wooded area around the bandstand. If you visit the bandstand in the evening during the week, you’ll probably get to hear live music.

JMD Farm Market and Garden Center 

Take a short drive into the countryside to visit JMD Farm Market and Garden Center. Not only can you take care of your gardening needs with annuals, perennials, vegetables, pottery, and more, you can also buy a glass of local wine and spread out for a snack while the kids play in the small natural play area.

Sears Hill Bridge 

The Sears Hill Bridge and Woodrow Park overlook downtown Staunton, which provides the perfect backdrop for lunchtime. 

STAR Trail at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center

The STAR Trail at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center is an accessible half-mile loop trail around a small lake. The trail itself is mostly flat with lots of shade and there’s a covered picnic area that overlooks the lake. The trail connects with the longer, paved shared-use Lifecore Trail that leads to Augusta Health.

Interested in additional picnic spots? Check out Eat Your Heart out at One of Staunton’s Best Picnic Spots.

Top Things to Do in Staunton This Summer

After a year spent hiding in our homes it’s time to get outside and LIVE again. From live music to alfresco dining, here’s our roundup of fun things to do in Staunton this summer.

Shop & Dine Out Downtown

Celebrate summer by heading downtown to the Beverley Street area to dine alfresco during Shop and Dine Out in Downtown. Staunton closes Beverley Street from 4 p.m. Friday afternoon to 7:30 a.m. Monday morning so that restaurants and businesses can use space on the sidewalks and in the roadway for dining areas and merchandise displays. Customers can spread out and stay safe. Restaurants participating in Shop and Dine Out Downtown include: Laughing Bird Pho, Shenandoah Pizza & Tap House, Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company, Baja Bean Co., BLU Point Seafood Co., and more.

American Shakespeare Center at MBU’s Rose Terrace

Check out a performance by the American Shakespeare Center.  See the schedule for dates and showtimes of Macbeth, Henry V, and All’s Well That Ends Well. Some shows will be happening on-site at the Blackfriars Theatre, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s performance space. For a special summer treat, watch the Bard’s work under the stars on Mary Baldwin University’s Rose Terrace. Historic Rose Terrace has the distinction of once being the most expensive house in Staunton, and it appears on the National Registry of Historic Places. Its beautiful flat lawn makes a lovely, sheltered performance space.

SummerStage at The Blackburn Inn

How about kicking back on the lawn of the historic Blackburn Inn for a concert under the stars this summer? You’ll enjoy the sounds of Americana, roots, country, folk, and bluegrass bands during the weekly SummerStage series of concerts. The concerts will take place each Friday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. You’ll be able to dine on a gourmet picnic box and enjoy beverages from local breweries, cideries, and vineyards. The series will feature artists like Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass, Fireside Collective, David Wax Museum, Bonnie Bishop, and more. Get your tickets today!

Get Your New Beerwerks T-shirt

Have you signed up for the Beerwerks Passport yet? As if you needed more incentive to try the 18 breweries along the Beerwerks Trail. Not only can you enjoy tasty craft beers, Valley views, and brewery entertainment like live music and trivia, but once you get your passport stamped at eight breweries, you can send it in for a free t-shirt. That’s high summer fashion! Start with Redbeard Brewing Company, Queen City Brewing, and Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co. right here in Staunton. Next, venture out of town to Skipping Rock Beer Company, Seven Arrows Brewing Co., and Stable Craft Brewing.

Nearby Swimming Holes 

Escape your stale house and take a break from the kiddie pool this summer! The Staunton area has several swimming lakes like Sherando and Todd Lakes with hiking trails, picnic areas, and sandy beaches.  Water seekers will also like hiking to waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park or the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. St. Mary’s Falls is a four-mile out-and-back hike that pays off with an icy mountain pool and scenic waterfall. For more splashy ways to beat the heat, check out our post on area swimming holes

Frontier Culture Museum’s summer events – Juneteenth, 4th of July, Roots Music

Make sure you visit the Frontier Culture Museum this summer for a living history lesson on the earliest settlers in our area. You’ll get to see how various groups lived, worked, and passed the time. Exhibits include Native American, African, German, Irish, English, and American farms. The museum is hosting a free Juneteenth Celebration (June 19). This year’s theme is “The Continual Evolution of JUNETEENTH” and it will feature live music and event speakers. Later, the museum teaches visitors how our ancestors celebrated 4th of July with demonstrations, games, and more. Come to the museum in August for a series of live Roots Music concerts. You’ll enjoy the music of Karen Jonas, Haze & Dacey, Wound Tight Bluegrass, Troy Breslow, and Southern Hospitality.

Staunton Parks – Gypsy Hill & Montgomery Hall

There’s lots to do at Staunton’s public parks. Jump in the pool or take your dog to the Bark Park in Gypsy Hill Park. Let your kids feed the ducks, play on the playgrounds, or ride their bikes around the 1.3-mile loop. Set up your blanket for live music Monday – Thursday nights at the bandstand. Montgomery Hall Park also offers a pool as well as playing fields and playgrounds. Of special note is the Nature Ridge natural playground, where kids are encouraged to explore and interact with nature. Bird lovers and mountain bikers will love the miles of trails winding through the woods.

Music Festivals – Red Wing Roots Festival, Heifetz, Staunton Music Festival

There’s no shortage of live music this summer, and that’s wonderful news after last summer’s silence. 

  • Add live music to your summer schedule with The Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts. The festival, made up of 50+ concerts, includes performances by Heifetz students, alumni artists, celebrity faculty members, and special guests hailing from around the world. The music will range from chamber music, to Fourth of July music, to the multi-genre Heifetz Hootenannies. It all starts on June 29 and extends through August 6. 

  • The annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival (July 9 -11) is your chance to groove to wonderful music under the towering limestone Natural Chimneys. Listen to The Steel Wheels, Tim O’Brien Band, Son Little, Ragged Mtn String Band, and many more. Camp in the Natural Chimney’s campground and enjoy outdoor activities like daily group bike rides, hikes, morning yoga, fun runs, and activities for kids. Your entire family will have fun at this festival, whether you come for the day or the whole weekend.

  • The Staunton Music Festival (August 13-15 and August 18-22) is an “immersive classical music experience featuring more than 600 years of music” from the middle ages to world premieres. Dozens of musicians will perform during the festival in both large and small ensembles in a variety of locations throughout historic downtown Staunton. While some events are ticketed, many are free.

Music & Miniatures of Note in the Valley Exhibit at the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art

“Music & Miniatures of Note in the Valley” is a fun exhibit at the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art featuring the whimsical pairing of the region’s musical story with miniature scenes from the Valley’s past. The exhibit runs April 23 – September 6.

Augusta County Historical Society History Gallery in the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art
20 S. New St., downtown Staunton
Free & open to the public
Exhibit hours: W-F 1-4 p.m., Saturday 10-4

Watch for special events associated with this exhibit throughout the summer.

Pick Your Own Fruit & Produce 

Imagine a summer day in the fresh air soaking in the scenery and picking the freshest fruit and produce around. The entire family can enjoy this wholesome pastime away from the crowds. Consider Critzer Family Farm, which provides strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, peaches, plums, pumpkins, and fresh veggies, the “freshest, best-tasting and healthiest produce that you can find.”  The farm boasts environmentally-friendly methods and a commitment to educating kids and bettering the land and community. Enjoy your bounty in baked goods, canned for later, or by the handful on the car ride home.  Click here for our guide to more local pick-your-own fruit and produce farms.