#LOVEstaunton

Category: Restaurants

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.

Eat, Drink, Love Staunton

There’s a lot to love about Staunton. Not only does it have proximity to the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, a vibrant arts and cultural scene, and a rich history and agricultural heritage, it also serves up a wide range of culinary experiences. From coffee shops to farm tours, here’s how to eat, drink, and love Staunton.

Eat

Begin your day with love at one of Staunton’s bakeries or coffee shops. Réunion Bakery & Espresso pairs fresh coffee drinks with authentic French pastry like apple galettes with pecan cream. Check the menu for what they’re baking this week: their focaccia and quiches are to die for.

Crucible Coffee Roasters is a great place to meet with friends and share site-roasted coffee in an urban cool environment. Prefer your coffee at home? Consider a coffee subscription. Newtown Baking creates “artisanal everything” and is known for its pastries, fresh breads, and wood-fired pizzas.

If you’re more interested in diner food, you should know that Kathy’s Restaurant is the reigning breakfast champion. Not only is it wonderful and filling, it’s served all day long. And people in other states fantasize about classic-Virginia-style breakfast (and pie) menu at Mrs. Rowe’s Family Restaurant and Bakery

For a small city in Virginia, Staunton has an exciting global dining scene. Check out Chicano Boy Taco, a Mexican-American taquería boasting a simple (but amazing) menu and some of the best burritos you’ve ever eaten. Gloria’s Pupuseria stuffs its pupusas with chicken, blended pork, vegetables and cheese, and this Salvadoran dish packs major flavor. You can also get tamales steamed in plantain leaves, fried plantains, or Salvadoran enchiladas.

The enticing scents from Taste of India will distract you as you explore downtown, so you might as well go inside this gem and order a serving of chicken tikka masala or lamb vindaloo. Meat-free dishes like aloo gobi vegan and saag paneer will please vegetarians. You can get a good selection of Indian beers, wine, and yogurt lassi drinks. Staunton boasts authentic Thai cuisine at Ubon Thai, and you can dine on Vietnamese noodle soup at Snapdragon Pho. Aioli offers creative Mediterranean cuisine, and Gonzo’s Pollo sells irresistible charbroiled Peruvean chicken.

Staunton is a leader in farm-to-fork dining, and many of its restaurants emphasize using fresh local ingredients. You’ll find an upscale and modern exploration of Southern favorites at Zynodoa, which serves entrees like housemade spaghetti and Autumn Olive Farm Sausage or crispy skin speckled sea trout.

For a guided tour of seasonal excellence, try the four or five-course tasting menu at The Shack or pre-order takeout at Lundch, which serves family-style meals like asparagus and shiitake lasagna and grilled mahi-mahi. Table 44 has barbequed shrimp and grits or steak frites with grilled Angus as well as a selection of fancy sandwiches. And if it’s Virginia seafood you crave, BLU Point Seafood has some of the freshest you’ll find in the state as well as a raw bar where you can find delicious Virginia oysters.

Finally, you can’t go wrong with steak or pasta at the family-friendly Mill Street Grill and Depot Grille. Don’t forget to follow your meal with The Split Banana gelato or a classic cone or sundae from Wright’s Dairy Rite.

Drink

Virginia’s award-winning wine and craft brewing culture is giving out-of-towners a reason to visit. Hundreds of vineyards and breweries dot the landscape, making use of locally grown ingredients and the magnificent views from tasting and taprooms. Jump on the Shenandoah Wine Trail, which stretches from Rockbridge County to the south all the way up the Valley to Frederick County and Winchester. Nearby favorites include Barren Ridge Vineyards, Bluestone Vineyard, and Rockbridge Vineyard & Brewery

In Staunton, you’ll want to head down to Oxe-Eye Vineyards tasting room to sip estate-grown wines. Choose your favorite from a selection of reds, whites, and seasonals. Another place to taste to your heart’s content is Yelping Dog Wine. This wine bar stocks an extensive collection of local, regional, and international wines to enjoy by the glass or the bottle over gourmet cheese plates and good conversation. The Green Room is a local meeting place that sells wine, beer, upscale snacks and more in an Instagram-worthy setting.

Speaking of beer, downtown Staunton is home to three craft breweries: Redbeard Brewing Co., Shenandoah Valley Brewing, and Queen City Brewing. Make yourself at home over delicious beer in their welcoming taprooms. Want to be entertained? Come on a night when there’s live music, trivia, karaoke, open mike, table-top gaming and more on the schedule. These three breweries (along with 16 others) are part of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. Other local restaurants with deep beer lists (as well as tasty fare) are the Clocktower, Shenandoah Pizza and Taphouse and Baja Bean.

Staunton is now home to Ciders from Mars, which ferments Augusta County apples into the hard cider it serves in its new, downtown taproom.

Love

You’ll love spending a Saturday morning at the Staunton Farmers’ Market producer’s only market in the historic Wharf district downton. Listen to live music, and say “hi” to your neighbors as you browse the stalls for your favorite flavors. You’ll find ripe, organic fruits and vegetables, fresh baked goods, cut flowers, and much, much more.

 

 

There’s nothing like having a delicious meal outside, and on weekends, Beverley Street in downtown Staunton transforms into a pedestrian mall, with access to dining and shopping. Visit Shop and Dine Out Downtown for more info.

Want to learn more about the food you eat? Why not take a self-guided, private, or “lunatic” farm tour of Polyface Farms, a leader in ethical, sustainable, and clean meat production?

Share the love with your family by taking a trip to a nearby pick-your-own farm for fruit, produce, or decorative gourds in the fall! Celebrate grape season at Wenger Grapes, stock up for apple pie baking at Sunrise Orchards, or up your autumn game with a wagonload of pumpkins from Middle River Farm.

Staunton’s Legen-Dairy Ice Cream Sweet Spots

Did you know that ice cream first came to the U.S. in the 1700s, but only members of high society could afford it? That vanilla is America’s favorite flavor? That the waffle cone was invented in 1904 at the St. Louis Fair? That it takes approximately 50 licks to finish a cone? July is National Ice Cream Month and Staunton has plenty of places to go to find your favorite flavor. Whether you like soft-serve, gelato, classic shakes and malts, or traditional scoops, we can help you find your Staunton-area sweet spot.

Wright’s Dairy Rite

Just look for the glowing neon sign! Generations of Stauntonians have been eating themselves happy at Wright’s Dairy Rite, which has been a Staunton mainstay since 1952. Not only can you sit in a retro booth and order your food with the built-in phone, you can also drive in and get classic curbside service. Originally a frozen custard store, Wright’s serves a full menu of burgers, subs, and sandwiches along with its frozen treats. The menu offers dipped cones, funnel cake fries, flurries, splits, milkshakes, malts, and drink freezes to cool off on a mighty hot day. To curb a raging sweet tooth, try a Wright’s Wheelie. This warm donut is mounded with ice cream, whipped cream, and your choice of topping. Keep an eye out for the next Wright’s Cruise-In antique car rally, returning September 5, 2021.

Kline’s Dairy Bar

The Staunton location of Kline’s Dairy Bar has made its ice cream fresh every morning since 1997. If you grew up in Staunton, you probably went to Kline’s after your big baseball win. Your best friend probably had a birthday party in the back room. This local chain has been in business since 1943, and that’s given it plenty of time to perfect its “continuous freeze” method of producing a soft, dense ice cream. Kline’s always makes vanilla and chocolate, but there are two different special flavors that change over on Wednesday. Check the sign, flavor card, or website each week for a rotation of can’t-miss flavors like banana and cake batter or local favorites like raspberry and lemon gingersnap in cones, cups, shakes, and sundaes. Kline’s in Staunton also offers Hog Wild BBQ, so you can get sweet or Carolina-style barbecue and burgers there, too. 

The Split Banana

Next time you’re in downtown Staunton, walk up to the window at The Split Banana and order the best part of your day. The Split Banana uses local grass-fed milk to create its award-winning gelato. At any given time, you can pick from 24 delectable and fresh-made flavors from a rotating lineup of more than 50. Choose traditional tastes or opt for something more adventurous like espresso biscotto, peanut butter and jelly, hazelnut, or cocoa ancho. Curious how gelato is different from ice cream? It uses more milk, making it lower in fat. But it’s also dense and creamy because it incorporates less air. Gelato tends to deliver intense flavors because it is served at a slightly higher temperature. A favorite of locals and tourists alike, The Split Banana stays open late, so night owls should stop in after dinner or a show. Can’t cram enough ice cream onto one cone? The Split Banana sells ice cream to go by the pint or quart.

Coming Soon: Crumbl

Crumbl is putting the finishing touches on its new downtown Staunton location. It’s set to open at the end of July. While Staunton’s newest bakery won’t necessarily specialize in ice cream, we couldn’t help but include Crumbl in this roundup because their rotating variety of cakes, cookies, cookie dough, brownies will include delicious and spectacular-looking ice cream cake!

Smiley’s Ice Cream at Mt. Crawford Creamery

Since a cow gives enough milk to produce two gallons of ice cream a day, the folks at Mt. Crawford Creamery have virtual ice cream machines on their hands! Onsite Smiley’s Ice Cream turns that milk into ice cream and that ice cream turns into smiles. Smiley’s is a bit of a drive from Staunton, but the slow-churned “front porch ice cream” and local ingredients like strawberries, peaches, and blueberries they serve is worth it. Smiley’s dips up 16 different flavors each day and shifts those flavors seasonally. Regular flavors include java chip, salted caramel chocolate chunk, black raspberry, and lime sorbet. Many options are gluten free. Order your ice cream at Smiley’s or plan ahead and buy online. Stay tuned: Smiley’s will soon be moving to a new, larger location in Bridgewater.

Sweet Creations at Valley Pike Farm Market

If you’re heading up to Harrisonburg, stop off at the Valley Pike Farm Market for a treat at Sweet Creations. You can order a cone, cup, or sundae made from fresh Homestead Creamery ice cream. It comes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and a rotating selection of specialty flavors.

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.

 

New Staunton Flavor: Ciders From Mars

If you’re into exploring Staunton’s best flavors, make sure you stop in at the newly opened Ciders From Mars on Lewis Street in the historic Wharf District. Located in the former Black Dog Bikes space across the street from both Redbeard Brewing Company and the Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room, the new cidery offers visitors a third tasting option.

Inside, the space is cool and modern, decorated with slick surfaces and a neutral color scheme. There are a lot of choices for seating with plenty of room to spread out: at the bar, at tables, in a more relaxed lounge area, or on the large outdoor patio that overlooks the Wharf. Visitors inside the taproom can look through a glass wall and actually see the cider being fermented. Visitors who choose to sit outside can enjoy the sun, the fresh air, and the bustle of downtown.

Valley natives and JMU grads Nikki West and Jeremy Wimpey own and run Ciders From Mars. West, a geochemist, learned cider distillation techniques from the Cider Institute of North America. The couple have planted their own orchard in Mount Solon, but the trees are not mature yet. Meanwhile, they use local apple varieties like gold rush, winesap, and other vintage and modern varieties from area orchards. The Ciders From Mars ciders tend to have low sugar content. Some get more flavors by co-fermenting with other fruits like peaches, pears, and cherries.

The cidery serves cider by 9 oz. drafts, bottles, or flights of four flavors in 100 ml pours, which they present in beaker-shaped glassware. 

Did You Know:

  • Hard cider is an old drink. People in England drank it in the 1600s (as well as beer and wine) because water wasn’t always clean enough to keep them from getting sick.
  • Cider is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants from the apples.
  • It’s a great gluten-free alcoholic option for those who are intolerant. 
  • Hard cider is NOT the same thing as apple juice and it contains 4.5 to 10 percent alcohol by volume.
  • The length of time a cider ferments usually determines how sweet it will be. Ciders tend to lose sweetness and get drier as they age. They also gain more alcohol by volume.

Ciders From Mars is on Untappd. Check there to see what’s on tap and what your friends are drinking.

Food Truck Spotlight

Staunton’s food truck scene has exploded in recent years. Restaurants on wheels offer families relaxed and affordable dining opportunities; they also provide chefs a chance to be creative, and allow them to roll to their cuisine to events, breweries, and private functions. A far cry from fast food, Staunton’s food trucks bring exotic ingredients, gourmet creations, and convenience to the customers who crave them. Here are some local ways to connect with your moveable feast.

Food Truck Round-Up

When: June 23, 2018, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Where: Gypsy Hill Park

Ever have trouble aligning your day with the schedule of your favorite food truck? Here’s your chance to catch several standouts in one place. Enjoy great food as you relax and play in beautiful, family-friendly Gypsy Hill Park. This event offers live music and activities for the kids.

Subject to food truck availability, food and drink will be available for purchase from the following vendors:

Food Truck Battle and Beer Competition

When: September 2, 2018 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Where: Augusta Expo

Every year the Food Truck Battle and Beer Competition gets bigger, and now, on its fourth anniversary, the event has moved into a new space at Augusta Expo. Eighteen food trucks and six breweries will compete in this award-winning festival, judged by both judges and visitors. And there’s more than just food: expect live bands to provide a rocking soundtrack while you shop for treasures at artisan, craft, and specialty vendor booths. Let the kids frolic in the large children’s area packed with entertainment and activities. The competition benefits the Madee Project, which provides support to pediatric cancer patients and their families.

Attendees can select their choice of ticket options:

  • A $10 general admission ticket (food and drink purchased separately)
  • A $25 beer-tasting general admission ticket (sample and vote for your favorite beers)
  • A $40 VIP ticket (taste food and vote for your favorites in the first round)

The lineup (at the time of this writing) includes:

Before you go:

  • This is a rain or shine event
  • Family friendly: children under six are free (no tastings included)
  • For tickets click here
  • You must bring your ID to purchase alcohol
  • Bring your blanket or lawn chair
  • Love capturing the moment? Share your photos with hashtag #VAFoodTruckBattle

Staunton breweries that host food trucks

Redbeard Brewing Company hosts food trucks several nights each week. Check the events calendar  or Facebook for upcoming visits by The Saucy Bird , Eats On the Streets, Sweet Baby Cheeses, Big Red BBQ, Holy Smokes BBQ, Gloria’s Papusuria, Firkin Pie Company, and more.

Every Friday night, Queen City Brewing features a local food truck from a rotating list including The Saucy Bird and Big Red BBQ.

Staunton’s Best Burger Bets

Want to tickle your taste buds with a good, old-fashioned burger? How about an exotic twist on the classic? Staunton restaurants have elevated hamburgers from the filler section of the menu. From reliable diner burgers with unusual toppings, to scrumptious pub fare, to fine dining, to meat alternatives, Staunton burger joints offer something for just about any taste.

Wright’s Dairy Rite

Wright’s Dairy Rite has been a Staunton institution since opening as a drive-in in 1952.  You can still pull your car under the canopy, order through a speaker, and waitstaff will deliver your meal to your car. Inside, you order from a telephone at your booth. Kids’ meals arrive in boxes designed to look like classic cars. You can get just about any combination of toppings you please, including chili, coleslaw, and onion rings. Other specialties include a half-pound “Monster Burger” a ham cheeseburger a classic “Super Burger.”

The Depot Grille

Located in the old train station in the historic Wharf District, The Depot Grille has two yummy burger choices on its menu: the bacon cheddar burger and the mushroom swiss burger. Both can be made to order and you can even substitute bison if you want a change of pace. If you’re lucky, the Polyface Farms burger will be on special. This burger showcases grass-fed beef, pepper-jack pimento cheese served on brioche. Belly up to the 40-foot antique bar if you want a bit of history with your meal.

The Shack

Both tourists and locals continue to flock to The Shack for its award-winning food, and even a burger from the ever-evolving menu is something special. A current offering features cheddar, marrow roasted onions, dill pickles, black garlic mayo, and bacon. This small restaurant cannot accommodate parties of more than five. Reservations are strongly suggested.

Bedlam Brewing

You might visit Bedlam Brewing, a small-scale microbrewery, for the beer, but don’t leave without exploring the food menu as well. This hidden gem focuses on incorporating local produce and locally-raised livestock in its meals. Let Bedlam tempt you with its sliders, a delicious pair of beef and pork burgers topped with cheddar, bacon, and spicy mayo, and accompanied by pub fries. All this and a killer beer list as well? You won’t regret it!

Table 44

Food at Table 44 tastes amazing and the presentation is wonderful, too. If you’re looking for a burger, you can’t go wrong. The “Southern 44” burger enhances a standard burger with barbecue pork, pimento cheese, barbecue mayo, and jalapeno peppers. Another tasty pick is the “Bacon & Blue” burger topped with bacon onion marmalade, barbecue mayo, and blue cheese. For those who don’t fancy meat, the black eyed pea burger with jicama slaw and garlic aioli on a gluten free bun is a delicious choice. Follow your meal with a sweet treat from the Paris Cake Company.

Mill Street Grill

Try a delicious burger at Mill Street Grill. Enjoy a generous ⅓ pound mix of ground sirloin and filet mignon cooked to order with a large selection of optional toppings including avocado, mushrooms, and havarti cheese. If you’re not feeling the beef, Mill Street also offers a turkey burger option and a spicy black bean burger served with grilled onion, guacamole, lettuce and tomato, and cilantro-citrus mayo on the side. Complete your meal with an extensive appetizer menu and a full selection of wine, beer, or drinks from the bar.

Byers Street Bistro

Is your stomach rumbling for a tasty burger for lunch? Byers Street Bistro has three interesting options on the menu, all made with Angus chuck. The “Bistro Burger” is topped with grilled mushrooms, bleu cheese, garlic mayo, and red wine butter. The “Bacon Royale Burger” incorporates candied bacon, bacon aioli, and smoked cheddar. The “Wharf Burger” uses soy-glazed mushrooms, swiss, white truffle mayo, and fried onions. Hungry yet?

Baja Bean

If you’re looking to complement your Mexican meal, look no further than the Baja Bean’s “Baja Burger.” This burger, made with cheddar, bacon, mushrooms, and jalapenos, comes with a side of beans, rice, or fries. Make your meal a celebration by ordering one of Baja’s 12 carefully curated craft beers on tap. Don’t forget to order fried ice cream for dessert!

Clocktower Restaurant and Bar

Try the Clocktower Food & Spirits “Downtown Burger,” made with fresh Angus and lettuce, tomato & red onion on a grilled pretzel roll and served with house-made potato chips. Order beer-battered onion rings or sweet potato fries to go with it. Originally this building housed the second YMCA built in Virginia. Much of the original clock in the tower remains, though some parts have been modernized. Listen to it ring on the hour during your meal!

Girlfriends’ Getaway

Staunton has plenty of trendy restaurants, local wine, luxurious lodgings, and unique shopping and entertainment opportunities. That’s why it’s the ideal environment for making new memories during a wonderful girlfriends’ getaway. You and your besties will want to make it an annual trip. Here’s a fun roundup of must-do activities.

Explore Staunton

When you arrive, head straight for Staunton’s extremely walkable downtown. The Staunton Farmer’s Market opens on the first Saturday in April, and often features live music. Nibble a baked treat and scout out seasonal produce, honey, jams and pickles to take home. Next, explore Staunton’s five historic districts, visit the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace, or take a tour of the American Shakespeare Center. Stop in at Paris Cake Company for something sweet. And if cupcakes are your particular passion, you can’t skip the giant cupcakes and egg-less raw cookie dough at Sweet Nana Cakes.

Shopping

Staunton has a lot to offer girlfriends who enjoy shopping together. Plan to spend some time exploring our boutiques, galleries, and antique stores. Design at Nine offers the latest in women’s fashion, shoes, and accessories. Try Latitudes for fair trade selections ranging from women’s apparel, to jewelry to recycled metal wall art. If you’re looking for more art to buy, check out Beverly Street Studio, where local artists exhibit and sell their work. You might also be captivated by the spectacular glass work at Sunspots.

Relax and Recharge

Recharge your mind and body with a class at Sanctuary Yoga and Wellness.The studio welcomes walk-ins and offers classes in a variety of styles, including vinyasa, hatha, and yin. See here for a schedule. If you’re serious about relaxing, why not share a spa day with your girlfriends? Indulge yourself at Breezy Hill Day Spa, housed in a historic mansion or Mill Street Body and Soul Day Spa and Salon,  which is right downtown. Both spas’ services include massage, facials, manicures, and pedicures. Breezy Hill offers an all-day session that includes lunch.

Outside Fun

Take a scenic drive to Fishersville and ramble around the Andre Viette Farm. Viette is world famous for his daylilies, and the farm and garden center is open year round. Get inspired by the beautiful gardens and take some plants home to your own. If fresh flowers are your thing, explore the Pebble Hall Wildflowers. Pick a bouquet of whatever’s in bloom, pet the horses, and plan a picnic to appreciate the view. If you’re outside for something more rigorous, remember that you’re in some of the best hiking country in the world. For some ideas, see An Alternate Spring Break: 5 Awesome Hikes. You might also rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard from Rockfish Gap Outfitters in Waynesboro for a fun-filled day of paddling on the South River or Lake Sherando.

Drinks and Light Fare

Still wishing there were one more season of Downton Abbey? Drown your sorrows in tea at the Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room.  Enjoy traditional High Tea, light lunches and afternoon cream teas in a picturesque thatched cottage surrounded by gardens. You can even sample all the teas thrown into the harbor during the Boston Tea Party! If you’re still thirsty, head to Ox Eye Tasting Room to taste a variety of their wines. Follow your tasting with a full glass of your favorite. Or go to Yelping Dog Wine, where wine can be enjoyed by the glass or by the bottle, and you can munch on a cheese plate or gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. If you prefer a vineyard with a view, take a picnic to Barren Ridge Vineyards, only a short drive east of Staunton.

Dinner with Friends

Staunton boasts a rich restaurant scene with much to choose from, but if you’re looking for fare to share with your girlfriends, try a range of Spanish tapas and other Mediterranean food at Aioli Restaurant. If pizza and beer are more up your alley, split a gourmet pie at Shenandoah Pizza and Tap House. And if you still have room for more food, get some scoops of homemade gelato at The Split Banana. Here, a number of flavors, both traditional and exotic will tempt your taste buds. Guinness Extra Stout in a waffle cone, anyone?

Staunton After Dark

Many of Staunton’s watering holes host events on different nights of the week. Fun stuff includes trivia, live music, and karaoke. Check out the Staunton on Tap and the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail events page for more info. Downtown 27 is Staunton’s own dance club. Downtown 27 offers live music, DJ dance parties, and other exciting entertainment. And if active puzzle games are your style, book a Staunton’s Crack the Code Escape Room. Groups of six or fewer use their wits to puzzle out clues and escape the room in under an hour.

Theater

A trip to Staunton isn’t complete without some Shakespeare at the American Shakespeare Center. You can catch a performance almost every night year-round, and you can even sit on stage to get very close to the actors. If you’re lucky, they might use you as a prop! Check out what’s on stage at Shenanarts, where you’ll see ambitious and energetic performances by local talent almost every weekend.

Other good stuff:

For a list of Staunton restaurants known for brunch, see our post: Staunton’s Brunch Bunch.

If you’re planning to stay in Staunton overnight, here are some quirky and fun places to stay or click here for our bed and breakfast picks.