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Plunge into Summer: 6 Staunton-Area Swimming Holes

It’s time to escape your stale air conditioning and take a break from the local pool this summer! If you want to beat the heat in a spot that’s a little more offbeat, try one of these pristine swimming holes, all within a short drive of Staunton.

Sherando Lake

OK, so the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge” isn’t exactly private, but 25-acre Sherando Lake is worth the trip for the large sandy beach and gradual deepening of the deliciously cool spring-fed water. Lounge while your kids splash and play in the sand, or man up and swim out to the island. There’s also access to camping, hiking, boating, fishing, showers, and picnic facilities. The recreation area was built in 1933 by the Civil Conservation Corps. Day access fee applies.

Todd Lake

Head northwest of Staunton for a fun day at 7.5-acre Todd Lake. There will be too many people around to skinny dip, but it’s still a great place for a family swim, picnic, or camping weekend. The lake and the Todd Lake dam were built in 1963 as a flood control dam. Today, this spot features a sandy beach, bathhouse, picnic facilities, playground, kid-friendly hiking trails, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, boating (non-motor), bird-watching and camping. Day access fee applies. 

Goshen Pass

Where’s your special swimming hole in Goshen Pass? Swim, tube, kayak, fish, lounge, picnic, and scramble over the rocks along this three-mile mountain gorge carved by the Maury River. 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.

St. Mary’s Falls

If you want to swim under a waterfall, St. Mary’s Falls should be your next destination. Enjoy a four-mile out-and-back hike and earn the exhilarating payoff of the icy mountain pool and scenic waterfall. The trail to the swimming hole may be washed out in places and includes multiple water crossings.

White Rock Falls

The White Rock Falls hike is a 4.5-mile loop hike accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway. For a shorter 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. The bottom offers a refreshing area to wade and snack.

RipRap Hollow

Want some privacy as you take your dip? Try the 50-foot-wide swimming hole on Riprap Trail. Access this deep, spring-fed beauty by hiking down from the Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park fees apply) or up from Rt. 612. Make a day of it by taking on the entire 9.5-mile circuit hike, which includes Riprap Trail and Wildcat Ridge Trail. Many consider this hike of the best loops in the southern end of Shenandoah National Park.

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

Public Pools

And finally, if you want a quick dip without the hike or the natural elements, Staunton has two great community pools ideal for all ages and abilities. Daily fees apply. 

Gypsy Hill Park Pool: 600 Churchville Ave.

Montgomery Hall Park Pool: 1000 Montgomery Ave.

Staunton Biking Adventures: Grab Your Vacation By the Handlebars 

Staunton Biking Adventures: Grab Your Vacation By the Handlebars 

 

Nothing restores the body and mind like exercise, fresh air, and beautiful views from the back of your bike. Staunton offers long excursions through the surrounding Shenandoah Valley, thrilling single track, and places for short jaunts with the kids.  What are you waiting for? Join us for some Staunton biking adventures and upcoming events. Grab your vacation by the handlebars!

Special Events

Virginia Trail Festival/The Virginia Mountain Bike Festival 

May 25-28, 2018. Come hang out at the Stokesville campground for the 12th annual Virginia Trail Festival. The festival features family-friendly activities and rides for all abilities in the National Forest where the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition has developed biking trails. Click here for more information

4th Annual Lee Warren Queen City Century

June 16, 2018. Starting in downtown Staunton, this 25-, 50-, or 100-mile ride heads west into picturesque Augusta County.  Enjoy farm and country views from quiet, paved roads. This ride benefits Renewing Homes of Greater Augusta.  Click here to visit the website.

Tour de Valley 

September 1, 2018.  The Tour de Valley, which includes both a 100-mile option and at 62-mile option, starts at Waynesboro’s Ridgeview Park and loops through Augusta County south and west of Staunton. Stay for the after-party or head back to Staunton when your ride is over.

Valley Veterans Ride for Heroes

September 8, 2018. The Valley Veteran Ride for Heroes allows participants to choose from a 25-mile or 50-mile option. Both non-competitive rides leave Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park and wind through the countryside. The event supports Boulder Crest Retreat, a therapeutic and wellness facility for veterans.

Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival

October 19, 2018. The 28th annual Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival will offer mapped and supported riding opportunities for all abilities. Enjoy riding, sightseeing, food, and entertainment at this popular Staunton biking festival.

 

Road Biking

For amazing road biking routes in the area, check out Bike the Valley, which maps and details lots of different routes at different distances, appropriate for varying skill levels. Here are some of our favorites:

Staunton Polyface Ride

Starting in the historic Wharf District near Black Dog Bikes, the 23-mile Staunton Polyface ride explores neighborhoods in Staunton as well as the surrounding rural countryside to the west. The ride has a few short hills, but is considered fairly easy. It becomes intermediate if you add the gravel section in Swoope leading to Polyface Farm, a leader in the development of “emotionally, economically, environmentally enhancing agricultural enterprises.” If you choose to continue to Polyface Farm, consider taking a self-guided tour and visiting the farm store.  

Staunton Frog Pond Smoky Row

The 22-mile intermediate Staunton Frog Pond Smoky Row route travels through the scenic area west and south of Staunton.  It offers sustained climbs, long, downhill glides and is entirely on paved roads. The ride begins and concludes in downtown Staunton near places to eat, drink and shop. For fuel, check out Redbeard Brewing Company and Byers Street Bistro.

Staunton Badger Road Loop

If you’re looking for a local ride that’s a little more challenging, try out the 45-mile Staunton Badger Road Loop. This figure-eight ride offers two big climbs, but views of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains make the effort worth it. Start in Gypsy Hill Park and ride northwest of Staunton through the villages of Spring Hill and Mount Solon. 

Mountain Biking

If you enjoy the heart-pounding thrills of off-road biking, these rides will spike your adrenaline!

Montgomery Hall Park

Want to stretch your mountain-biking legs in downtown Staunton? Put Montgomery Hall Park on your bucket list. Over 4 miles of well-maintained single track snake through the trees, and you can get quite a workout attacking the hills. The trails tend to be quiet, but you might occasionally encounter hikers. After your ride, head over to Newtown Baking for pastries, sandwiches or pizza.

Reddish Knob

Mountain bikers rate 19-mile  Reddish Knob: Timber Ridge to Wolf Ridge as an advanced-level ride. Multiple trails climb the 2,900 feet to the ridge and they’re all challenging, including the paved road, which is your best bet. The view from the top of the Shenandoah Valley to the east and West Virginia to the west is worth the long, steep climb. And the single track descents are out of this world. Steep and technical, they require sharp eyes and strong brakes, but they have amazing places to go all out. Take Timber Ridge to where it intersects with Wolf Ridge Trail for the best downhill ride.

The Southern Traverse

The Southern Traverse is 36-mile ride through the George Washington National Forest that combines punishing ascents of over 3,000 feet, spectacular ridge riding on Shenandoah Mountain with views for miles, some technical rocky areas, and a long stretch to hurtle down the mountain. The final leg back to your car cruises along quiet country roads.

Biking with Kids

If you’re looking for a place to ride with your kids, try one of these easy, family-friendly rides.

Gypsy Hill Park

Gypsy Hill Park offers a 1.3-mile paved loop that is open to pedestrians, bikes, and cars. Traffic can be heavy at times, but drivers move slowly and know to be cautious. The duck pond and playgrounds are good post-cycling destinations.  If your youngsters are just learning to ride, the park also offers a large, flat parking lot near the Gypsy Hill Gym. Used as event parking, this lot is often empty. If your family enjoys a post-ride pizza, pick up a pie at Fresco.

Augusta Springs Wetlands

Augusta Springs Wetlands, once the site of a turn-of-the-century resort, is now where Staunton nature lovers flock to walk and watch birds. The ¾-mile main loop trail is also a nice place to take beginning cyclists. The flat path meanders over wooden boardwalks and pea gravel, and it offers interpretive nature stops along the way.

Staunton Named One of Virginia’s Foodie Towns To Try – Virginia.org

We’ve known all along that Staunton is a “foodie” paradise filled with lots of options for all palates and price points. Thanks to 
Virginia.org we’ve been named one of Fifteen Virginia Foodie Towns to try in the new year. Check out Part Two of their blog series. 

See who made the Staunton’s shortlist and add them to your Must Eat/Drink list in 2018: 

For Dinner

The Shack

Zynodoa

For Drinks

 Ox-eye Vineyards

yelping dog

For Dessert

Cocoa Mill Chocolates

For the full list of Fifteen Virginia Foodie Towns see the blog

Source: Click here to read the original blog by Patrick Evans-Hylton

Don’t Hibernate! Plan Your Winter Escape to Staunton

With four distinct seasons, each offering an unparalleled experience, plan an unforgettable  trip— any time of year—to the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

Day 1: Attractions Galore

Start your day at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library where you’ll discover the life and legacy of the country’s 28th president in the city where he was born. Visitors will receive a guided tour of Wilson’s birthplace, as well as a self-guided tour of the museum featuring seven galleries which explore Wilson’s early years, his eventful presidency, suffrage, prohibition and World War I. Highlights include the President’s restored 1919 Pierce-Arrow limousine as well as a new, state-of–the-art World War I trench exhibit complete with lights and sound to experience what life was like for soldiers as they engaged in battle.
Winter Hours: Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm and Sunday: 12 pm – 5 pm.
“Pay What You Wish” for Sunday admission during the months of January and February.

Shakespeare is serious fun at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater. Take a backstage tour where you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look as you go on, behind and under the stage. Photography— including selfies–are encouraged!
Winter Tours (through March 31): Monday-Friday at 2 pm and Saturdays and 11 am.

Other “winter friendly” attractions include: the Camera Heritage Museum, R.R. Smith Center for History and Art and Sunspots Studios.

Head back to your hotel and freshen up for a night out. Enjoy dinner at one of our local restaurants in downtown Staunton. Visit Emilio’s for its authentic Italian taste; Aioli’s for its Mediterranean fare; Mill Street Grill for their barbecue ribs; or The Depot for American inspired dishes.

Then it’s off to the Blackfriars Playhouse for an award-winning performance. The Actors’ Renaissance Season (running January 19-April 8) embraces the spirit of early modern rehearsal conditions where the actors lead the charge in directing the shows, choosing the costumes, and producing all with limited rehearsals. Filled with murder, love, laughs, revenge, and rediscovery choose from five different plays, including: Hamlet, Richard II, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, The Way of the World, and Antonio’s Revenge.

Day 2: Shop ‘til you Drop

No trip to Staunton is complete without shopping! Explore our nationally recognized Main Street featuring over 100 unique boutiques, artisan studios, antique shops, galleries, and restaurants. Lovers of antiques can peruse from eight different shops in and around Staunton. And if you haven’t found what you’re looking for, head to the Valley’s premier antiquing destination: The Factory Antique Mall. With 200,000 square feet of antiques and over 200 vendors, making it the largest antique mall in America.

Hobbyists will enjoy a number of eclectic shops that range in interests from clocks to model trains, planes, and automobiles and even miniature houses.


Day 3: wildlife viewing

Situated between Shenandoah National Park and the Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Staunton is a great place to view winter wildlife. Check out these local hot spots for when the chilly weather keeps you close to your hotel. If you’re looking for a trip that takes you farther afield, see Winter Wildlife Hot Spots Part 2. 

Special Events:

Winter Wine Festival: February 24 from 12-5 pm at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel
Enjoy samples from the states most accomplished vineyards and wineries along with live music and light bites.

Annual Swedish Fire Festival:  January 27 at Barren Ridge Vineyard
This annual event features Nordic cuisine paired with Barren Ridge wines, live music and sometimes dancing! A Swiss alphorn performance, melted Raclette cheese, warm and spicy mulled red wine, and the lighting of Swedish fire torches complete this festive evening.

Winter Wildlife Part 2: Farther Afield

Staunton and its surroundings are great places to view winter wildlife.  If you’d like to stretch your legs and explore, take a quick trip to one of these cool spots. If you’re looking for something within city limits, try one of the sites in our post Winter Wildlife Hot Spots Part 1: Staunton.

STAR Trail

Drive east on US 250 to visit the STAR Trail (Supporting Therapeutic Access to Recreation) at Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center. This ½-mile wheelchair-accessible trail circles a lake, crosses a pretty bridge, and winds through a pine grove. It also offers benches for viewing waterfowl, a gazebo, a picnic shelter, fishing, and even a fitness trail. White-tailed deer, Canada Geese, and black bears sometimes appear here. 

Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway

The entrances to the Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway are an easy 20-mile drive from Staunton. Both offer scenic overlooks, abundant opportunities to enjoy winter wildlife, and trailheads for hikes of varying difficulty.

Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch

The Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch commands a 180-degree vista of both the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont Region. This site is easy to access, and provides a spectacular place to watch migrating raptors, especially broad-winged, sharp-shinned, and Cooper’s hawks. The site receives the most traffic (avian and human) during the fall migration. At this time, volunteers from area bird clubs set up lawn chairs and log long hours recording data. Common winter sightings of red-tailed hawks, ravens, and vultures make this a worthwhile stop all year.

Wildlife Center of Virginia

The Wildlife Center of Virginia has been helping sick or injured wild animals for 25 years. The center holds open houses several times a year, but spots are limited so register ahead of time. The hour-long tour (for ages five and up) educates visitors about rescuing and providing medical care for sick and injured animals. Guests visit the operating rooms and meet the education animals.  These animals are permanently handicapped or have imprinted upon humans and cannot return to the wild.

Sherando Lake

Twenty-five miles to the southeast of Staunton and part of the George Washington National Forest, 25-acre Sherando Lake is Augusta County’s own “Jewel of the Blue Ridge.” A bustling summer destination for swimming and camping, it becomes serene in winter. Hike the trail looping the lake and, if it’s cold enough, pack your ice skates! E-birders report common loons, Cooper’s and red-tailed hawks, and pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers in winter.

Sherando Lake in winter

Augusta Springs Wetlands

The Augusta Springs Wetlands is part of George Washington National Forest and 16 miles southwest of Staunton. This ¾-mile all-access loop trail traverses elevated boardwalks through a wetland that was once the sight of turn-of-the century resort. As you pause to read about wildlife at the learning stations, also notice the occasional foundations (buildings, fountains, bottling plant). In winter, you might spot Canada Geese, wood ducks, mallards, ring-necked ducks, and hooded mergansers on the two large ponds. Vultures and red-shouldered hawks are also common this time of year.

Braley Pond

Hiking trails around Braley Pond explore a hardwood forest, and some of the trees show signs of beaver teeth! Winter bird species noted here include great horned owl, red-shouldered and red-tailed hawk, belted kingfisher, and pileated woodpecker. The Forest Service built the pond for recreation in 1965. You might see ice fishermen if the water freezes. 

Braley Pond

Forest Trails

Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ Birding and Wildlife Trails showcase great spots to see wildlife across the state. The following trails are easily accessible from Staunton.

Forest Trails  

Skyline Drive

North River

Winter Wildlife Hot Spots Part 1: Staunton

Situated between Shenandoah National Park and the Washington and Jefferson National Forests, Staunton is a great place to view winter wildlife. Here are some local hot spots for when the chilly weather keeps you close to your hotel. If you’re looking for for a trip that takes you farther afield, see Winter Wildlife Hot Spots Part 2: Farther Afield

Foxes, opossums, deer, raccoons, beavers, and rabbits stay active all year. You might encounter them at many of the locations on these lists. Hibernation patterns in other animals, such as Virginia black bear, can vary each year. Bears generally hibernate late in November or December, but they sometimes emerge during thaws to forage for food. 

Montgomery Hall Park

Many birders visiting Montgomery Hall Park record seeing 20 or more of the 94 reported species in a single visit. According to ebird.com, winter birds seen here include red-bellied and downy woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks, rock pigeons, and golden-crowned kinglets. The 148-acre park boasts several miles of secluded hiking/biking trails winding through the wooded hills. It also has fields, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a rich history as an important African American park established in 1947. 

Trail in Montgomery Hall Park

Betsy Bell Park

Betsy Bell Park is a 63-acre pocket of wilderness rising 1,959 feet in the middle of the Queen City.  The park has a network of solitary hiking trails and a scenic, east-facing overlook. Some of the land was given to Staunton in 1941 to be both recreational space and a memorial for veterans. Park to explore the trails on foot or carefully drive up the gravel road to the top. Birds spotted in December include woodpeckers, Carolina wrens, and white-breasted nuthatches.

Bells Lane

Nature enthusiasts love Bells Lane, a quiet country road winding through picturesque farmland just a mile outside of downtown Staunton. Measuring nearly two miles each way, it offers runners and walkers a popular out-and-back route. Open meadows, woods, and marshy ground provide habitats for many species. E-birders report 199 total species, noting American kestrel, bald eagle, northern harrier, and short-eared owl activity in the winter. Birders record their discoveries on a chalkboard near the Rt. 11 end of the road. Between US 11 and Va. 262.

Duck Ponds

If feeding the birds is more your style, visit the duck and fish pond at Gypsy Hill Park. You can also feed the ducks at the Frontier Culture Museum. Don’t share bread or other human food, though – it’s detrimental to ducks’ health. Duck feed can be purchased at both locations.

 

 

Giftable Staunton Experiences


Those looking for a last-minute gift can score big points with these giftable Staunton experiences. Far better than a sweater with a gift receipt, your loved one will love the special treatment you’re about to bestow upon them. It will be a happy holiday indeed!

For the Chef

A Cooking Class at Staunton Olive Oil Company is perfect for a solo gift or a couple. “Oil & Vinegar 101” is a two-hour class that includes an apron for each participant and “easy munchie recipes” to take home.

For the Beer Lover

Bequeath the beer lover in your life with a Craft Beer Tour. Centered around the breweries of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, Shenandoah Tours escorts you to the tastiest beverages of the season. And an added bonus get a FREE T-shirt once you’ve visited six breweries and received a stamp at each one through the Beerwerks Passport Program.

Download Traipse, an app that guides you through the city uncovering places you might have otherwise missed. Along the way, pick up a few gift cards for thirsty friends on your list.

For the Artist

With pen or brush in hand, your favorite budding artist will thrive during a Beverley Street Studio class. A variety of drawing and painting classes are available.

For the Tired Folk

Help the overworked mom or dad find a rejuvenating moment for themselves. The gift of a massage is widely considered to be one of the best gifts to receive. Contact Mill Street Body & Soul Day Spa for a gift certificate.

For the History Lover

Take in a High Tea for Two at Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room. Don your best hat and don’t forget the pinky finger. The tea experiences now feature four teas that were known to be thrown into the Boston Harbor during the infamous Boston Tea Party, as well as a Chocolate Tea that is attributed to Martha Washington.

For those Who Never Get a Date Night

“Dinner and a show” is one of the most common date nights in Staunton thanks to our thriving restaurant scene and the incredible talent displayed at American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse.

For the Wine Lover

The Winter Wine Festival is coming up in February! Snag two tickets and book an overnight at the host venue, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, all for one low rate. Get a bottle of wine to top it off at Ox-Eye Vineyards. 

For the Outdoor Lover

Connect your hiker friend with a place to stay in Staunton, an excellent hub for nearby hikes like Humpback Rocks, Spy Rock, and St. Mary’s Falls. Hook ’em up with a gift card to Wilderness Adventure while you’re at it. That will score them goods for the trip.

Another vantage point for an outdoor lover is to hit the Fields of Gold Farm Trail in the spring. Arm your friends with a gift card or two to help them patronize trail partners, and then top it off with another for a meal at Nu-Beginning, a farm-to-table hot spot in Staunton. 

We’re confident that whomever you’re shopping for will love a Staunton experience unique to their tastes. Let us know if we can help you identify other giftable experiences. Happy Holidays!

Staunton’s Awe-inspiring Churches

Staunton’s awe-inspiring churches are especially splendid during the holiday season with beautiful candle-lit windows, greenery, and of course, special programming. Here are a few reasons why you should make the drive to Staunton to take it all in. 

Tiffany Windows at Trinity Episcopal Church

Staunton’s oldest church dates to 1746 and features 12 Louis Comfort Tiffany windows. Intricately crafted and dating to 1897, the windows include the Benedicite, The Archangel Michael, The Madonna and Child, The Praising Angel, The Good Samaritan, Easter Windows, Angel with a Script, and The Beloved Physician Saint Luke. The oldest, most prominent of the windows are The Ascension Triptych, a series of three windows centered behind the altar. The church is open to visitors Monday-Friday from 1 pm-4 pm.

Special Events:

– December 31: Playing of the Merry Organ with Ben Fairfield, trumpet

> The Trinity Episcopal Church Self-Guided Tour of Windows and Furnishings Guide

 

Gothic Revival Architecture at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church was the first major design by architect T. J. Collins, built in 1895. One of the most beautiful buildings in Staunton, St. Francis is a beacon for the faithful and those who love architecture. The parish website explains the architecture: “… the spiritual goal of Gothic revival architecture is to lead the beholder to mystically reach towards the heights of Heaven …” Collins called it “English Gothic.” Whatever anyone chooses to call it, we call it captivating. Before you come, take a virtual tour of the church to truly appreciate the distinctive  architecture, stained glass windows, various church furnishings, and the liturgical excellence of St. Francis Church. 

Special Events:

– December 12: Advent Penance Service, 7 p.m.
– December 24: Christmas Youth Choir performs prior to 5 p.m. Vigil Mass

> Tour of St. Francis of Assisi Church

 

Glorious Arches at First Presbyterian Church

When you look upon the facade of First Presbyterian Church on Frederick Street, the first things you’re likely to notice are the three large entry arches and complimentary stained glass arch soaring above them. It’s an impressive sight. Historical tidbit: The 28th President of the United States of America was baptized in this beautiful church led by his father, Reverend Joseph Ruggles Wilson. That’s Thomas Woodrow Wilson, if you need a refresher. The church manse where Wilson was born is now part of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum campus. And here’s a fun fact: the basin used to baptize the would-be President of the United States is still in use today. 

> History of Staunton First Presbyterian Church

Staunton’s First African-American Church: Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church

Organized in 1865, Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church was the first church in Staunton and west of the Blue Ridge Mountains established by people of color. The church body met at various locations for a number of years until 20 members of the congregation secured the original 1868 building site at 921 West Beverley Street. In 1997, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church moved to a more accessible location at 936 Sudbury Street. You’re welcome to drive past the original 1868 site, but it is now a private residence.

> Our History, Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church

Dive a little further into our beautiful downtown by getting to know our five historic districts. They’re all stunning during the holiday season and beyond. Consult the Calendar of Events to plan your next trip to Staunton and see our list of other holiday happenings taking place

Staunton’s 5 Most Photogenic Spots

Staunton, Virginia is a beautiful place in any season, but if you’re looking for our favorite locations, we’ve chosen our five most photogenic. They’re perfect for family photos, selfies, and even architectural or scenic beauty.

Sears Hill Bridge

For a while, Sears Hill Bridge was gone. Literally, it was removed and placed in storage until funds could be raised to restore it. In 2013, a restored Sears Hill Bridge was reinstalled, once more providing a vital passageway for residents of Sears Hill to reach downtown Staunton. 

Historic C&O Train Station

While the 1902 train station is not the original station in The Wharf District (it’s the third), it’s obviously a historic attraction and transportation hub. It would be easy to overlook this bit of nostalgia when considering photo ops, but you’d be remiss. A variety of portraits are staged here in every season, and if you time your photos to coincide with Amtrak arrivals and departures, you’d capture even more intriguing photos.

Johnson to Byers Sidewalk

As you walk the avenue of trees from Johnson Street to Byers Street, you’re likely to whisper, “wow.” Don’t worry, we do, too. There’s something so beautiful about a lane of trees shadowing a sidewalk. You’re likely to also appreciate how tucked away and quaint the shops ahead of you are, and how nice it would be to sit and enjoy a drink on the patio. Take it all and capture a few photos so you won’t forget.

Mary Baldwin University

Located in Stuart Addition Historic District, Mary Baldwin University is one of the most picturesque places in Staunton. Some of the more notable locations for photos are the Lyda B. Hunt Dining Hall with its soaring columns, the Rose Terrace in front of Flora McElwee Miller Chapel, and Spencer Residence Hall with its mature trees, archways, and semi-circular portico with iron railing.

Gypsy Hill

Somewhere on the 214 acres of Gypsy Hill Park you’re going to find a gorgeous location for a picnic and photos. Our favorites are the Bandstand and Lake Tams, a 2.5-acre storm water retention pond that beautifully reflects the surroundings. 

Show us your best photos taken at any of these locations or share with us your favorite spot. We would love to share them and help you show them off! Be sure to include the hashtag #ScenicStaunton to get our attention.

A Blue Ridge Christmas in Staunton

Beverley Street decorated for the holidays.The holidays never felt so magical! Embark on a two-night/two-day holiday trip to Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Staunton’s historic and enchanting downtown is one of America’s most celebrated Main Streets and offers a truly authentic holiday experience. Here’s a list of some of our favorite holiday events and activities.  

christmas activities AND EVENTS

Downtown Shopping: Art for Gifts

Find something for everyone on your shopping list! Staunton’s downtown is lined with boutiques and artisan shops offering unique gifts for all ages and interests. One shop you can’t miss is the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art. This gallery and museum is transformed into a holiday market showcasing works by 70 Virginia artists and artisans and features quality, handmade fine art and crafts.

Holiday Tea at the Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room

Cozy up to the fire at the Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room for a beautiful tea luncheon complete with hand-made scones, tea sandwiches, and shortbread all served with imported jam, clotted crea, and tea. Spend the afternoon catching up with friends and enjoying this beautifully decorated tea room. Be sure and peruse their collection of fine china, jams, and tea along with other goods for purchase.

 
Lantern Tour at Frontier Culture Museum

Embark on an after-hours tour of the Frontier Culture Museum as you take a horse-drawn carriage through time. Experience 19th century England, Ireland, Germany, and America as you visit original farmsteads with costumed interpreters performing music and short works. The tour culminates with light refreshments. Tours run December 15-17 and 21-23.

Blow Your Own Ornament at SunspotsSunspots ornaments

Create a family tradition for years to come by blowing your own ornament at Sunspots Studios! Trained glassblowers will be by your side to assist you in making a one-of-a-kind ornament to adorn your tree at home. Visitors can also watch live glassblowing demonstrations daily from 11 am to 4 pm.

Gingerbread Workshop

The Paris Cake Company presents their 2nd Annual Gingerbread House Workshop. Come ready to decorate your very own pre-built house with all the trimmings complete with royal icing and a candy bar! Parents can enjoy this stress free event (no prep or clean-up to worry about) with hot chocolate and cookies. Reserve your house today. Date: Sunday, December 10

Historic Staunton Foundation’s Holiday House Tour

Known for its rich architecture, tour one of Staunton’s historic neighborhoods on this year’s Holiday House Tour. The tour highlights five beautifully restored homes and one business nestled along the streets of the historic Oakenwold neighborhood situated behind the Staunton Public Library. Walk this wonderful neighborhood and visit these sites beautifully decorated for the holiday season!

Downtown Walking Tour with Traipse

Take to the streets! Discover one of the “Best Main Streets in the USA,” (USA Today) with the free app, Traipse. Explore Staunton’s historic sites, architectural treasures, and awe-inspiring attractions on this tour/scavenger hunt in Downtown Staunton. Choose from several tour options and go at your own pace.

 

holiday PERFORMANCES

American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse
The cast of A Christmas Carol. 2016. Photo by Lindsey Walters

This holiday season choose from two performances: the classic, A Christmas Carol or the zany compilation, Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!) Enjoy ghostly season’s greetings filled with memorable music and cheer with this contemporary twist on the age-old tale of Marley, the three Christmas ghosts, the Cratchits and Tiny Tim. Or ring in the holidays with this fast-paced Christmas journey through all of your favorite holiday classics! Be prepared for a whirlwind of laughter, carols, and joy as you experience the Holiday Spirit like never before. Performances run November 29-December 27. 

Heifetz Holiday Homecoming

‘Tis The Season!  The Heifetz Institute’s brilliant alumni performers return to Staunton for a welcome dose of holiday cheer. This special program features an all-star cast of Heifetz alumni, Artists in Residence, and faculty, including violinists Ji-Won Song and Yiming Mao, violist Molly Wise, cellist Noémie Raymond-Friset, and pianist Anton Smirnoff, with a special appearance by soprano Angel Azzarra in a program of classical masterworks and music fit for the season. Performance: Monday, December 11 at 7:30 p.m,