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Staunton’s 2021 Holiday Gifts

Want to make an impression this holiday season? Why not find meaningful gifts for everyone on your list in downtown Staunton? You’ll not only snag a one-of-a-kind Staunton find, you’ll also be supporting the local small businesses that make Staunton such a special place.

Wellness and Personal Care

Really impress someone with an Essentially Zen Artisan Bath and Body curated holiday zen box. Not only will you be giving a relaxing and great-smelling product, but it will also be beautifully packaged, and all you need to do is name the occasion, your budget, and list any no-no fragrances! Essentially Zen will take care of the rest.

Nature’s Bliss hemp and CBD boutique is your answer to holistic health in Staunton. Stop in to try some local products including energizing tinctures and the best brownie you’ve eaten all year!  Tend to you dog’s health at the Well Balanced Paw pet wellness shop. Fill Fido’s stocking with treats, toys, and accessories. Is he stressed over the holidays? Book him a therapeutic massage!

Arts and Music

 The Heifetz Music Shop offers excellent music-themed gifts like sheet music umbrellas and adorable banjo kitty socks. Did you know that they also have an excellent selection of rental instruments so that fledgling musicians can try their hands at violins, saxophones, clarinets and more. You can also inquire about lessons. 

If you’re buying a gift for someone who’d rather just listen to music, head over to the Vinyl Asylum to relive memories in their ever-changing stock of vintage LPs and more.

You don’t want to miss Staunton Augusta Art Center’s annual Art for Gifts. Running through the end of December, the holiday market showcases the work of more than 60 local and regional artists. Shoppers can find paintings, sculpture, jewelry, textile and fiber art, photography, pottery, stained glass, and more.

Gifts

Looking for some holiday table linens like a set of vibrantly colored cotton placemats designed by French artisans and block printed in India?  Or how about a special hostess gift like an aromatherapy wrap filled with organic ingredients like flaxseed, lavender, and essential oils? You’ll find this and much more at Harmony Moon

Do you have a Tolkien lover on your gift list? Known for its handmade swords, armor, and Welsh items, Medieval Fantasies Company also has lots of inexpensive stocking stuffers from Middle Earth like Rivendell and Rohan-scented soaps. More adventurous folk can scrub down with some Smaug-scented soap and follow up with a liberal application of Durin’s Folk handcrafted beard butter.

CFO Trading Co. sells men’s fine gifts and apparel. Here you’ll find something nice to wear, shaving supplies, glassware, and even pit barrel cookers. Better yet, you can buy a glass of wine from CFO’s sister store Yelping Dog Wine and sip while you shop. If you’re looking for a gift for a cigar aficionado, you’ll be delighted with the selection of cigars, pipes, and accessories at Beverley Street Cigar Store.

Staunton Flavor

Experience the magic of hot glass and the beauty created from it at Sunspots Studios.  Blow your own ornament or choose from their spectacular gallery of glass art.

A Staunton charm from H.L. Lang and Company Jewelers will make the recipient think of the Queen City whenever they hear it tinkling. These keepsakes are lovingly crafted from sterling silver or 24-K gold and depict the Stonewall Brigade Bandstand, the Marquis Building, the watering can and other Staunton landmarks. Another place to look for something sparkly is Crown Jewelers, where you can select from both new and estate jewelry.

How about the gift of organizing the year ahead with a Staunton calendar? Local artist Haley Roberts is using her talents to support downtown by creating a calendar highlighting some of the many wonderful local businesses that make Staunton’s downtown life so vibrant, and charming. If you order by December 20th,the proceeds will support the Staunton Downtown Development Association (SDDA).

Make sure to visit the American Shakespeare Center gift shop for Shakespeare-themed goodies like shirts, bags, and face masks adorned with a Shakespeare facial hair design. History buffs will enjoy the offerings from the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library gift shop. Stuff stockings with candles, mugs, notecards, picture frames and holiday ornaments. 

Experiences

If you’d rather gift a Staunton experience this holiday season, why not treat someone to a night in one of our historic hotels like the Blackburn Inn or Hotel 24 South, which both provide luxurious accommodations just steps from downtown.

Now that we’re finally seeing movies in the theater again, you can’t beat the convenience of a gift card from the Visulite. Sign up online and give a gift of any amount that’s good for all the new movies that are coming out next year.

Also consider an annual pass to the Frontier Culture Museum. This pass provides unlimited visits to the museum and select special events for an entire year. The pass also provides a 10% discount at the museum store. 

Finally, how about a semester of art classes from Beverley Street Studio School? Classes are offered for both beginners and advanced students and cover topics like watercolor, streetscapes, and theory and critique.

Shop Staunton’s Small Business Saturday on November 27

Why not burn those Thanksgiving calories, make a dent in your holiday shopping, and support locally-owned businesses all at the same time? Skip the Black Friday lines and instead shop downtown Staunton on Small Business Saturday. You’ll find all sorts of unique products and wonderful customer service. Our downtown shops are filled with great deals and holiday cheer and some merchants may offer discounts and refreshments. 

The Well-Balanced Paw 

The Well-Balanced Paw is dedicated to pampering your pup. This pet wellness shop offers nutrition, treats, massages, and accessories. They will have sales both Friday and Saturday and are giving away Shop Small Mystery Bags with each purchase over $20 on Saturday.

Refill Renew

Help the environment and get a jump on your holiday cleaning and gift giving at Refill Renew. Shoppers get 20% off on bulk Free & Clear Refill Laundry Detergent, Multi-Purpose, and Glass Cleaner on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Spend $35 and receive a free zero-waste gift!

The Book Dragon

The Book Dragon is Staunton’s downtown source for new and used books as well as locally-made pottery and jewelry. The first ten customers who spend $75 on Small Business Saturday score a free Book Dragon tote bag. Choose a free book (advance reader book) with a $25.00 purchase. Make sure you look at the selection of exclusive signed books while quantities last. 

CFO Trading Co.

CFO Trading Co. sells fine men’s clothing, shoes, accessories, and gifts from companies like Pendleton Wool, Duck Head, Stanley and Frost River Bags. They will be offering 15% off everything in the store Friday and Saturday. 

Yelping Dog Wine

Yelping Dog Wine stocks hundreds of types of wine, from bottles produced locally to those made around the world. For Small Business Saturday, the shop will be offering ½ case of wine at 15% off and full cases of wine at 20% off. Parched from all that shopping? Take a break and enjoy a wine by the glass special on Friday and Saturday.

The Foundry Pop Ups

The Foundry Pop Ups promotes the work of local artists and craftspeople and those who have produced unique products. You’ll find clothing, jewelry, bath products, candles, and more. The shop will extend its hours Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and offer complimentary hot cider for customers.

Harmony Moon

Shop Harmony Moon online for curbside pickup or score free shipping on purchases over $49. The first 15 customers (online or in-store) will receive a free gift, and everyone can enter their name into a prize drawing.

Sole Focus Running

Sole Focus Running is your go-to shop for running shoes and gear and great service. Check social media for upcoming details on Small Business Saturday specials.

Traipse Tours

Access even more of downtown Staunton and its locally-owned businesses by taking a Traipse Tour unique to the Queen City. The tours are part scavenger hunt, part history lesson. Different tours explore the historic Wharf and Beverley districts and the unique shops and restaurants. There’s also a tour that seeks to spark creativity by highlighting galleries and supply shops for artists. And if you want a wider view of Staunton, there’s a tour for that, too!

Arts for Gifts

While this isn’t a Small Business Saturday event, it’s too good to skip mentioning. Select something truly special for those on your gift list this year. Staunton Augusta Art Center’s Arts for Gifts showcases work by local artists in a variety of media. You’ll find paintings, stained glass, textiles, and jewelry, as well as seasonal cards, ornaments, and much more. Ongoing through December 31. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Proceeds support local artists and arts education.

Summer Music and More: What’s Happening at Heifetz

Not only does the Heifetz International Music Institute educate young musicians in their artistic growth, it also treats the community to a variety of world-class listening opportunities. After a year of online programming and virtual concerts during Covid, Heifetz is again bringing live, in-person music to a wide audience.

This year marks Heifetz’s 25th anniversary. It was originally founded in 1996 as a 6-week summer experience by concert violinist and teacher Daniel Heifetz. In 2012, Heifetz opened the doors to 62 students in its new Staunton location. It has grown a lot since then: according to the website, even in the midst of the pandemic, 40 Heifetz faculty members virtually served 100 students across 9 time zones. They brought music to over 500,000 viewers through concerts streaming on YouTube, Facebook Live, and the Violin Channel.

HEIR and Other Recent Notable Activity

As an alternative to normally scheduled Heifetz on Tour programming, Heifetz provided music during the pandemic with its HEIR (Heifetz Ensemble-in-Residence) Program. The audience could attend string quartet or piano trio concerts in-person at The Blackburn Inn & Conference Center’s Great Hall. They could also attend and interact through Zoom.

Heartstrings Program

Another part of the HEIR program was Heifetz’s virtual Heartstrings program, which connected performers with frontline workers and patients at Augusta Health. This program included almost 200 virtual, but intimate performances for patients suffering from both illnesses and the emotional toll brought on by months of social distancing. Additional ensemble performances catered to larger audiences and helped bring music and joy to the wider hospital community. These outlets also helped budding professional musicians connect with audiences.

Virtual Concert Hall

2020’s Rubato Virtual Concert Hall recorded sophisticated, all-new performances by Virtual Institute students and broadcast them to audiences. In 2021, most concerts will be recorded for broadcast, even if they are presented to live audiences. Some will be online only because participating musicians will perform from countries around the world. Want to interact with the Heifetz community? Look for special “watch parties.” Additional streamable options included music, commentary, and interviews from years past.

Chock Full O’Bach

Heifetz students (and most other classical musicians) learn a lot from studying Bach. Heifetz students even use the German composer’s work as audition material for the program. Now they’re sharing with the community by sharing some of those compositions with the public. Subscribe to Chock Full O’Bach to let Heifetz help you start each day with a new release! 

What’s Happening Now: Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts

Celebrate music with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts, which extends through August 6th and offers both chamber music and multi-genre selections! Choose from over 50 concerts. Concert offerings can be either free and ticketed, but since children under 12 are invited to attend all concerts for free, there’s no need to hire a sitter!

  • Stars of Tomorrow (First Presbyterian Church, Tuesdays and Thursdays): “The Institute’s signature series showcases breathtaking performances by extraordinary Heifetz students, visiting alumni artists, and our outstanding Heifetz piano faculty.”

  • Virtual Stars of Tomorrow: These live-stream performances allow students from around the world to perform virtually. 
  • Fridays in the Gallery (Staunton Augusta Art Center): Free weekday concerts set against the backdrop of local and regional artists. Register ahead if you plan to attend because space is limited in the venues.
  • Celebrity Series (First Presbyterian Church, Friday evenings): These programs bring top performers to Staunton, including Shannon Lee, Philip Setzer, Shmuel Ashkenasi, and the Borromeo String Quartet. Concerts will feature works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Dohnányi, Schumann, Bach and more.

  • HeifetzPEG Showcase (online): This showcase of young talent serves as “graduation recitals” for young string players.
  • Heifetz Hootenanny (Saturdays): This series “features students, staff, and special guests in one-of-a-kind, multi-genre mash-ups moves to the Blackburn Inn’s expansive new Great Hall, where you might hear bluegrass picking, Broadway belting, folk fiddling, or rollicking rhythm and blues!”

  • Sunday Matinees (First Presbyterian Church, Sunday afternoons): Headliner artists are joined by Heifetz students, alums, and special guests to make wonderful music. Presented by Redbeard Brewing Company.
  • Heifetz in the Vineyard (Barren Ridge Vineyard): Concerts both indoors and out take advantage of the vineyard’s idyllic setting. Plus, there’s delicious Barren Ridge wine to sip as you listen.

  • PianoPalooza (First Presbyterian Church, July 19): Come watch the Heifetz keyboard wizards as they wow you on the ivories.
  • Heifetz Grand Finale (Blackburn Inn’s SummerStage, August 6): The season’s final concert is a passionate gathering of Heifetz students and faculty followed by a farewell feast.

Looking for a Special Gift?

If you like to spoil a music-loving someone on your gift list, head downtown to the Heifetz Gift Shop (107 E. Beverley Street). From music-themed wearables and cards, to Heifetz chocolate bars and sheet music printed umbrellas, you’ll find a unique gift sure to make someone smile. And if you’d like to take an unusual route to supporting Heifetz, you can donate your unwanted household items and clothing to them so they can sell them on eBay. Since Heifetz is a non-profit, they’ll be able to keep 100% of the proceeds and use them to support the Institute.

For other musical experiences in Staunton, click here!

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.

 

Entertainment Returning to Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park Bandstand

It’s been a quiet year of hiding in our houses, but now that it’s safe to get out and mingle, why not set up chairs or a blanket at the Gypsy Hill Park bandstand? The bandstand, which was originally constructed in 1891 for the Stonewall Brigade Band, continues its long tradition of hosting live entertainment. This year, visitors can enjoy live music four nights a week as well as four nights of family-friendly movies. All entertainment is free.

Monday Nights: Stonewall Brigade Band (8 p.m.)

About 70 local and regional musicians come together at each performance of the Stonewall Brigade Band. This community concert band first formed in 1855 as the “Mountain Saxhorn Band,” and today is the oldest-continuous community band in the U.S. The band, made up of volunteers playing woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments has included over 1000 musicians in its time, some as young as 12. The band plays 

The Stonewall Brigade Band will perform on Monday nights from June 7 – August 30. See the full schedule here.

Tuesday Nights: Praise in the Park (7 p.m.)

Linden Heights Baptist Church hosts the annual concert series Praise in the Park in July and August. The concerts include southern gospel, gospel bluegrass, and contemporary gospel. All concerts start at 7 p.m., except for the one on June 30, which will begin at 6:30. Shenandoah Valley favorite Faithful Men will start the season on July 6. Celebrate America on August 3rd with the sounds of One Family Band and by wearing red, white, and blue and waving an American flag. August 10 brings the southern gospel sounds of Ed Pettersen & Streets of Gold Quartet. The season closes on August 24 with Covenant Band “We Will Ride” and a fun blend of praise and rock that the entire family will enjoy. See the full schedule here.

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Wednesday Nights: Bluegrass (7 p.m.)

Staunton Parks and Rec hosts the Wednesday night bluegrass concert series from July 7 – August 25. Concerts start at 7 p.m. and feature local and regional bluegrass entertainers. If you love energetic tunes and banjo picking, these shows are for you! The schedule is still TBD, but past performers have included Marteka and William, performing in the styles of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and Little Roy and the Lizzy Show.

Thursday Nights: Jazz in the Park (7 p.m.)

Celebrate hot summer nights with the Jazz in the Park summer concert series. You’ll hear classic jazz standards performed by S.P.L.A.A.A.T. Quartet, amazing stride/boogie pianist William Hayes performing with The Boogie Kings, and trumpeter John D’earth, who has collaborated with greats such as Tito Puente, Dave Matthews, and Miles Davis. See the full lineup here.

Friday Night Family Flix

Movies under the stars are magical! Bring a big blanket and cuddle up with your kids to make some lasting summer memories. The lineup includes Toy Story 4 (June 4), Jumanji: The Next Level (June 18), Tom & Jerry (July 9), and The Goonies (July 23). Movies start at dusk (usually between 8:30 and 9:15).

Before You Go:

Gypsy Hill Park has lots to do. You can enjoy a full day of golf, biking, tennis, swimming, walking your dog, and playing on the playground before settling down for some evening entertainment.

Most entertainment will go on, even if it’s raining, but check the weather cancellation line just to be sure. 540.332.3947.

Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets. 

There will be concessions available for purchase during the events, but visitors should consider bringing takeout from Staunton area restaurants. Quick and tasty picks include:

The park does not permit alcoholic beverages, but Queen City Brewing is just steps away. Why not enjoy a craft beer nightcap after the show?

A Starlit Soundtrack: SummerStage at the Blackburn Inn

What kind of music will fill your summer nights? Have your ears been yearning for music that doesn’t come through your earbuds? This summer, you can kick back in socially distanced style on the lawn of the Blackburn Inn for a weekly SummerStage series of concerts. You’ll enjoy the sounds of Americana, roots, country, folk, and bluegrass bands from regional and national artists as you relax under the stars and breathe the fresh air.

Headliner artists include North Carolina’s Chatham County Line, Grammy winner Bonnie Bishop, social/environmental activist Ben Sollee, and many more (see full schedule below). Local acts will open each concert.

The concerts will take place each Friday night from Memorial Day through Labor Day. When you buy tickets, you’ll reserve an 8×8 foot square “blanket pod” for up to four people or a smaller “chair pod” for two. Order a southern-style picnic box to savor on your blanket. Purchase beverages from local vineyards, cideries, and breweries from the 2nd Draft Bistro bar. The bar will also serve a grill menu and a decadent, custardy bread pudding with rum sauce.

The Blackburn’s grounds will open at 6 p.m. and music begins at 7. The main event starts at 8, and the bar will close at 10:30. The show will go on, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate! That night’s concert will be held in the Great Hall, part of the Blackburn’s new conference center.

Tickets cost $25-35/person and can be purchased online. Extra tickets, if available, will cost $40 at the door.

Here’s the Lineup

Follow links to learn more about the performers and purchase tickets.

May 28: SummerStage No. 1: Heifetz Memorial Day Weekend Hootenanny

June 4: SummerStage No. 2 Chatham County Line

June 11: SummerStage No.3: The Judy Chops

June 18: SummerStage No.4 Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass

June 25: SummerStage No.5 Fireside Collective

Fireside Collective performs at the 2018 Mountain Song Festival in Brevard, NC.

July 2: SummerStage No.6: Scott Miller

July 9: SummerStage No.7 The Quebe Sisters

July 16: SummerStage No.8: The Golden Age

July 23: SummerStage No.9: David Wax Museum

July 30: SummerStage No.10: Aztec Sun

August 6: SummerStage No.11: Heifetz Grand Finale

August 13: SummerStage No.12 Bryan Elijah Smith

August 20: SummerStage No.13: Bonnie Bishop

August 27: SummerStage No.14: Hackensaw Boys

September 3: SummerStage No.15: Ben Sollee

Make a Weekend of It

If you’re from out of town, Staunton makes a wonderful weekend destination. Take advantage of the SummerStage package at the Blackburn and you’ll be able to drift happily back to your room after the concert is over. The package includes a luxurious room at the historic inn, lawn space for a concert and a picnic dinner for two, and a continental breakfast. 

What Else Should I Do While I’m in Staunton?

Make sure you check out Staunton’s Saturday morning producer’s only Farmers’ Market in the wharf parking lot. You’ll find the heart of Staunton’s community as well as the freshest fruit and produce, and local-made goods.

You’ll also want to make time to walk downtown and explore the Beverley Street area during Shop and Dine Out in Downtown. Staunton closes Beverley Street from Friday afternoon to Monday morning so that restaurants and businesses can use space on the sidewalks and in the roadway for dining and merchandise, allowing customers to spread out and stay safe. 

Learn some history while you’re here by taking a tour at the Frontier Culture Museum. You’ll see living history demonstrations about how the early settlers of the Shenandoah Valley survived and thrived.

Get some exercise by hiking some of the great trails in nearby George Washington and Jefferson National Forest.

Relax and rejuvenate with a massage or a skin or nail treatment at the Blackburn’s new spa.

Staunton in Bloom

Historic Garden Week

Historic Garden Week has been held since 1927, when it was used to raise funds to restore Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate. Each year, more than 250 historic homes across the state open their grounds to visitors. Proceeds go toward preserving and restoring public gardens in Virginia.

After being cancelled for Covid in 2020, Staunton’s Historic Garden Week Tour is back in bloom for 2021!  The walking tour showcases four gardens on New and Lewis Streets in the downtown area, the Gardens at Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum as well as other outdoor spaces decorated with floral installations created by the Augusta Garden Club. For safety reasons, guests will only have access to the gardens and the exteriors of the homes. 

In addition to the tours themselves, guests may also attend several outdoor presentations. These include a “Fun and Fantasy” floral design demonstration taught by Garden Club of America judges. Visitors can attend educational talks about Staunton architect, T.J. Collins, and also learn about the ongoing archeological dig in the gardens of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum. Finally, guests will get to see plein air artists from the Beverley Studio School at work. Take home a memory by purchasing a finished painting at the “Wet Paint Sale.”

If You Go

  • When: April 17, 2021, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Purchase tickets online for a specific time. No tickets will be sold on the day of the tour.
  • Plan to wear flat walking shoes. 
  • Hungry? Purchase a boxed lunch ahead of time, or visit one of our restaurants close by.
  • Please plan ahead: there are no public restrooms on tour properties. Restrooms will be available in the parking lot at tour headquarters at 205 N. Central Ave. 

After visiting Staunton, plan to tour more of Virginia’s historic gardens. See Virginia Garden Week’s suggested itineraries. Nearby destinations hosting tours include Lexington, Albemarle County, and Lynchburg.

Best Gardens in Staunton

If you can’t make it to the Garden Tour, Staunton offers more places where you can enjoy the spring bounty. Walk through many of our public spaces or explore the residential neighborhoods and you’ll be wowed by the gardens. In early spring, flowering trees like redbuds, magnolias, Bradford pears are budding out. Look for dogwood displays to follow. Early spring flowers include daffodils, tulips, forsythia, lilac, and violets. Check out some of our favorites.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum

The Historic Gardens at Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum are open to the public from dawn to dusk. Originally part of a much larger estate, the existing gardens were designed by landscape architect Charles F. Gillette in 1933. Maintained by the Garden Club of Virginia, the gardens include perennials, lilacs, boxwoods, and hostas. Stroll the brick pathways and admire the plants or rest on a quiet bench just steps from the bustle of downtown Staunton.

Gypsy Hill & Montgomery Hall Parks 

Both Gypsy Hill Park and Montgomery Hall Parks have flower gardens maintained by Staunton Parks and Rec. Look for seasonal blooms and annuals in the landscaping around buildings and park features as well as various types of labeled trees. The dogwood tree is both Virginia’s state flower and tree, and for over 100 years. The Augusta Garden Club’s Project Dogwood has planted over 150 of these springtime beauties in both parks. They’ve also erected signage to identify and provide information about the different types of trees.

Gardens at the Staunton Library

The library has several garden beds, including a large one that wraps the corner of Augusta and Churchville Avenues. Make sure to visit the award-winning Brenda L. Papke Memorial Sensory Garden, a small, universally accessible space designed to stimulate all five of the senses. Sensory favorites include: lavender, rosemary, Annabelle Hydrangea, and butterfly bushes. Download a scavenger hunt to use in the library, when open, and the garden.  

Mens’ Green Thumb Park and Watering Can 

Blink and you might miss this little gem as you drive into Staunton. It’s worth a second pass though: Look for spring blooms spilling out of a giant watering can and larger plants like elephant ears later in the season.

Best Gardens Near Staunton

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

James Madison University’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum celebrates native Virginia wildflower, tree, and shrub species in a peaceful, wooded environment. The 125-acre sanctuary contains walking paths, water features, play areas for kids, and daffodil, perennial, and pollinator gardens. Other garden areas showcase ferns, daylilies, herbs, and a shale garden of endemic perennials that survive only in the harshest of conditions.

Boxerwood Gardens

The Play Trail at Boxerwood Gardens will keep your kids busy for hours, but you’ll also want to explore the 15-acre Woodland Garden. Follow the trails through the woods, around the pond, and along the wildflower meadow. Early spring blooms include magnolia and cherry trees.

Shenandoah National Park

Wildflower season at Shenandoah National Park begins in late March and extends all the way through fall. Springtime blooms to look for are redbuds, trout lilies, bellworts, violets, and wild geraniums. Over 850 different species grow here, including many specimens from the aster, pea, lily, mint, and mustard families. Check here for a calendar of what’s in bloom.

Pebble Hall Wildflowers

Pebble Hall Wildflowers offers over an acre of wildflowers and herbs that you can pick to create your own seasonal bouquets. Wander the lovely grounds admiring the views, taking photos, sharing a picnic, and petting the cows. Hula hoops, a small nature museum and a fairy garden will please the younger set. Check out the schedule to see what’s blooming.

White Oak Lavender Farm

Pretty sights and even better smells will greet you at White Oak Lavender Farm. This lavender destination provides beautiful views, a chance to tour and explore the lavender fields and processing areas. You’ll also find a lavender shop where you can purchase lavender-infused items, a discovery area for kids, and a tasting room for the Purple WOLF Vineyard.

Andre Viette Farm & Nursery

The Andre Viette Farm & Nursery is known best for its daylilies, but the extensive display gardens are open to the public and contain much more. The sun and shade gardens will inspire your own landscaping. Check out the garden center to purchase what you like most!

Staunton Silver Linings: How to Spend a Rainy Day

Is a sudden thunderstorm threatening to put a damper on your Staunton plans? Don’t beat yourself up asking “water” we going to do in the rain, because Staunton looks good in clouds, too! Check out these surefire remedies for cabin fever.

Indulge in a Spa Day

If rain makes you stressed, book a spa treatment at the Spa at the Blackburn, Staunton’s newest place for relaxation. Pick from massage, reflexology, nail or skin treatments, or indulge yourself with a full day of luxury.

Other soothing places include 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. If you’d prefer to relax at home, stop by Essentially Zen Artisan Body & Bath Co. You’ll find soaps, bath bombs, candles, gift boxes, and much more to help you relax in these stressful times.

Eyeball Some Art or Visit a Museum

Explore the rotating exhibits of art and history at Staunton Augusta Arts Center, located in the historic R.R. Smith Center for History and Art. The Beverley Street Studio School Gallery and Co-ART Gallery host multiple exhibits of fine local art each year. For more art, visit Mary Baldwin University’s Hunt Gallery. The art ranges from “abstract to classical, reflecting a wide variety of media and artistic intentions.” If you’re hankering for a chance to do your own creative work, Staunton Makerspace offers both courses, space, and tools for independent work.

If you haven’t been to the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library yet, a rainy day is the ideal time to tour the 19th-century manse and bone up on your history. Snatch a selfie in front of Wilson’s 1919 Pierce-Arrow Limousine or tour the state-of-the-art WWI trench warfare exhibit. The museum is also offering live virtual programming and is opening a new exhibit called “The Quarantine Museum,” in which Staunton residents share their stories of navigating the pandemic.

Find the Bottom of Your Glass

When downpours make you thirsty, get a sense of Staunton’s local wine offerings at the Ox-Eye Vineyards tasting room, which is located in a cool, historic building and has a covered outdoor seating space. Hang out with friends at Yelping Dog, for a wide selection of wines from around the world. Redbeard Brewing Company, Shenandoah Valley Brewing, and Queen City Brewing offer delicious craft beer right in Staunton’s downtown. Skipping Rock Beer Co. is just a short drive away. Sip beer and spend the afternoon enjoying your brew over a board game or two or stunning the world with your knowledge during weekly pub trivia.

Take a Break from Netflix

A rainy day is a perfect excuse to watch a play or a movie. Amp up the culture factor with a performance of one of Shakespeare’s hits at the Blackfriars Playhouse, which has started selling tickets for its Actor’s Renaissance Summer outdoor performances of Macbeth. More performances will follow, but in the meantime, take advantage of BLKFRSTV, where you can stream cinema-quality performances in the comfort of your home. Is a movie and a beer more your speed? The Visulite airs the latest movies and lets you relax with a glass of wine or craft beer. Covid safety measures are in place, including extensive cleaning of all touchpoints and socially distanced seating.

Roll the Dice

Speaking of games, if the sound of raindrops makes you eager to roll dice, Staunton has lots of options to get your game on. To purchase a game to take back to your place, try Pufferbellies for family games and puzzles or the Dragon’s Hoard for strategy games or live gaming.

Limber up those wrists and cure your cabin fever with bowling at Staunton Lanes, where you can roll some straights and fill up on nachos and fries. Your peeps will also enjoy a collaborative breakout puzzle at Crack the Code Escape Room. Crack the Code has recently moved to a new location and is offering both live and take-home escape challenges, some of which are Staunton-themed.

 

Score Something New

Staunton has dozens of cool shops offering unique gifts and items. If you’re looking for something uniquely Virginian, check out Made; By the People, Medieval Fantasies Company Gyfte Shoppe, or The Sparrow’s Nest, which features jewelry, clothing, art, decor, and more from local artists and farms. Harmony Moon and Jude’s: A Fine Emporium carry gifts for all members of the family. And if you’re shopping for Fido, hit up the Well Balanced Paw.  Light up your tastebuds at Staunton Olive Oil Company where you’ll find premium olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and the local herbs and spices to complement them. If books are what you’re into, check out Staunton’s newest bookstore, The Book Dragon, which carries new and used books for the entire family. Alternatively, browse for hours through the huge inventory of reasonably priced used books, comics, CDs, and DVDs at Know Knew Books.

Embrace Something with Memories

17 E. Beverley Antiques boasts two floors of goodies, from furniture, fine jewelry, and art, to retro clothing and accessories. Continue the hunt at Staunton Antiques Center, 10,000 square feet bursting with vintage furniture, housewares, and clothing, as well as contemporary work by local artists. The Factory Antique Mall in Verona is the largest in the country. Spend your rainy afternoon browsing acres of antiques, jewelry, toys, and other items sure to evoke memories of another era. Nearby, Verona Antiques fills a space once occupied by a roller rink with high-quality antiques and art. 

 

Staunton Women in History

Everyone has seen the Woodrow Wilson birthplace and heard, or at least heard about, the Statler Brothers lighting up the nights on Independence Day. However, a number of other less presidential, but also important people have ties to the town. From the wife of a president to leaders in education, read on for more about the notable women with connections to Staunton.

Edith Bolling, Wilson’s Second Wife

Edith Bolling Wilson was Woodrow Wilson’s second wife. She was born in Wythville, VA, in 1872 and traced her ancestry back to Pocahontas. Bolling married and moved to D.C., and after her first husband died, married again in 1915, this time to president Woodrow Wilson. When Wilson became bedridden after a stroke, she managed his office and determined what matters of state were important enough to bring to his attention. Edith is known for setting sheep to graze on the White House lawn to save on the manpower that would be needed to cut it during WWI. After Wilson died, Edith worked to preserve her husband’s birthplace, which is now the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library.

Staunton Female Seminaries

Women’s education, which was limited in the 19th century, got a big boost in the 1840s when three female seminaries opened in Staunton.

Mary Baldwin and Augusta Female Seminary (1842)

Augusta Female Seminary was founded by Reverend Rufus W. Bailey, a New England native who came to Staunton to start a Presbyterian school for girls. The Augusta Female Seminary was constructed next to the church. According to Dictionary of Virginia Biography, the school offered an exemplary education for Southern women of the time, stressing academics, devotion to Christian principles, community service, and self-reliance. Mary Julia Baldwin was one of its first students who grew up to later run the school for 34 years. It was later renamed in her honor.

Mary Baldwin attended Augusta Female Seminary and graduated in 1846 as valedictorian. Baldwin started a small school and later took over Augusta Female Seminary in 1863. Not only did she save it from floundering financially, she revamped the curriculum to elevate it to the level of a university. Baldwin proved to be a good businesswoman and administrator, and the school thrived during her 34-year tenure. It came to be “considered one of the most distinguished for young women in the southern states.” Baldwin died in 1897 and is buried in Staunton’s Thornrose Cemetery.

Virginia Female Institute (1844)

Maria Sheffey was a wealthy widow who started a school for girls at her home, Kalorama, in the 1830s. Though Staunton had many schools, this was the first to offer education to girls past elementary school. Later, Ms. Sheffey’s school merged with an Episcopal seminary to form The Virginia Female Institute. Mrs. Sheffey served as a joint principal alongside Reverend James McElroy. The school eventually became Stuart Hall, which still exists today.

Wesleyan Female Institute (1846-1900)

The Wesleyan Female Institute was a Methodist school attended by both boarding and day students. Reverend J.R. Finch was the first principal, and the school was housed in several places over the years, including the church basement and Madison Place.

Local Heroes

YuLee Larner

For 32 years, YuLee Larner wrote weekly “Random Ramblings” and “Larner Lines,” columns for the Newsleader about birds and nature. Larner also wrote Birds of Augusta County, Virginia and Virginia’s Birdlife: An Annotated Checklist. A founding member of the Augusta Bird Club and a president of the Virginia Society of Ornithology, Larner was widely considered one of “the most respected self-taught ornithologist[s] in Virginia.” The YuLee Trail through Staunton’s Montgomery Hall Park is a wonderful place to walk, mountain bike, and look for wildlife. It is named in her honor.

Rita Wilson 

Rita Wilson, Staunton’s first Black councilwoman and vice mayor, served the community for 16 years. She retired in 2008 and passed away in 2016. Staunton City Council named its chambers after her to honor her legacy. Wilson strove to be a community leader and “represent people that she felt were underrepresented.”

Staunton Legends

Ethel Moses (1904-1982)

Ethel Moses was born in Staunton, but she moved to Philadelphia as a child. Nicknamed “The Black Jean Harlow,” Ethel Moses was a hugely popular Harlem performer in the 20s and 30s. She drew crowds to the stage and to her films because of her beauty, her dancing and acting ability, and her engaging personality. She toured with the Cab Calloway band, and began acting in films in the mid 1930s, working with filmmaker Oscar Micheaux on projects such as Temptation, Underworld, God’s Stepchildren, and Birthright. According to Blackpast.org, “Moses remains an important figure as she was one of the few Black underground actresses who represented African American characters in roles that accurately reflected Black life during a time when most major Hollywood filmmakers refused to do so.”

Eva Clark

In 1906, 25-yr.-old Eva Clark, a trapeze artist with the Cole’s Brothers World Famed Triple Railroad United Shows Circus visited Staunton. After her performance, she found herself in the middle of a confrontation between a “friend” and her jealous husband and was shot in the abdomen. Clark was abandoned by both men and the entire circus, but she refused to accuse anyone of a crime, saying it was only an accident. She survived for three weeks at King’s Daughters’ Hospital before succumbing to sepsis. For years, each time a circus came to town, performers would gather to decorate her grave with flowers. In fact, her grave in Thornrose Cemetery is often still decorated with small trinkets and her story has morphed into one of Staunton’s favorite ghost stories.

Other Notable Women

Other notable women who hailed from Staunton include Sadie Adams and Sue M. Wilson Brown, who were African American suffragists. Gertrude Harris Boatwrite Claytor was a mid-twentieth century poet and Mary Yost became the dean of women at Stanford University from 1921-1946. Diana Adams became a principal dancer in the New York City Ballet in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Guide to Arts and Culture for Staunton

From Shakespeare performances to giant metal sculptures to delicate glass art, Staunton offers its residents and visitors a wealth of artistic experiences.  It’s been a tough year for those who rely on visits to performance spaces and galleries, so now that things are opening up a bit, make sure you help keep the arts and culture scene alive and thriving in Staunton. You’ll also enrich your life!

American Shakespeare Center

Staunton’s most famous contributor to the arts and culture scene is American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse. Not only does the playhouse perform Shakespeare’s masterpieces (and more), it also lets you get a sense of how the plays were actually performed in the space. Visitors to the Blackfriars can attend performances that include scholarly lectures or talk sessions with the actors. They can take behind-the-scenes tours of the space and sign their kids up for camps. During the pandemic, the Blackfriars shifted gears and offered performances in alternative spaces, including outdoors on the lawn at the Blackburn Inn. The Blackfriars also filmed seven productions to air digitally on BLKFRSTV. Camps still educated young people, but they were virtual. The ASC SafeStart program will bring “safe, live theatre to audiences online, outdoors, and inside in our beloved Blackfriars Playhouse.”

Staunton Augusta Art Center

Located in the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art, the two galleries at the Staunton Augusta Art Center host regular shows of work by regional artists. With the beautiful, historic hotel building designed by T.J. Collins in 1893 as a background, the curated exhibits will inspire you. Original work is available for sale in the gift shop as well as the annual Art for Gifts sale each winter holiday season. The SAArtC also hosts the annual, juried Art in the Park Festival, scheduled this year for September 4-5. Enjoy a day in Gypsy Hill Park exploring the vendor’s open-air displays while live music happens on the bandstand, and kids take advantage of a number of free activities. The art center runs workshops and summer camps for children. There’s a community arts calendar on their webpage that gives you a centralized schedule of all the upcoming arts happenings in the area.

CoArt Gallery & Beverley Street Studio School

After you contemplate paintings, photographs, and more by local artists at the CoArt Gallery, you should buy your favorites to take home and display on your own walls. Serious art students can sign up for a class with the Beverley Street Studio School. Lectures, workshops, and classes for teens and adults are held in a variety of forms including in-person, Zoom, and outdoors. Love nature? Sign up for plein air painting this June or a course devoted to drawing trees. 

Staunton Music Festival 

The Staunton Music Festival’s annual 10-day summer festival includes world-class chamber music ranging from the Middle Ages to commissioned world premieres. This “immersive classical musical experience” brings over 80 acclaimed chamber musicians to Staunton to perform a number of concerts in a variety of downtown Staunton settings.

Heifetz International Music Institute

The Heifetz International Music Institute educates young musicians in their artistic growth and treats the community to a variety of world-class listening opportunities. After a year of online programming and virtual concerts during Covid, Heifetz will perform live music again as part of its Ensemble in Residence concert series.

Sunspots Studio & Glassblowing

You don’t have a Sunspots glass ornament hanging in your window or on your Christmas tree yet? Don’t worry. Not only can you purchase glass art, glassware, vases, and jewelry at Sunspots Studios & Glassblowing, you can make yourself comfortable in the onsite studio and watch the artists making the art. The live demonstrations happen every day, and the artists will explain what they’re doing in each step of the blowing, coloring, and shaping process. Once the glass cools, you can come back and take it home with you!

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Artmobile

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Artmobile mobile museum and studio will make a stop at the Sunspots Pavilion on May 29-30. The artmobile travels around Virginia carrying selections from the VMFA collection to share with visitors. As visitors view the art, they’ll actually be connected with museum educators via Wi-Fi, so they can get a real-time lesson!  If you miss your chance to see the artmobile in Staunton, you can catch it at Waynesboro’s Fall Foliage Art Show on October 9-10.

Murals

Make time to walk down West Beverley to the corner of North Central Avenue to visit the “You Belong Here” mural. Painted in 2019, by Charlottesville artist Christy Baker, this colorful painting covers the entire side of a building with its welcoming message and Shenandoah Valley imagery of cardinals and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nearby Waynesboro also boasts murals along its Street Arts Trail. More than a dozen interesting and beautiful works have been created during the annual Street Arts Festival.

Giant Metal Sculptures

You can’t miss the giant watering can as you turn under the railroad tracks and head into Staunton’s downtown, but did you know you can find more giant metal sculptures if you know where to look? Ferguson Metal Fabrication created carbon steel flower pots, nuts, books, eyeglasses, crutches, and shoes for the city and area businesses, and they bring a surprising touch of whimsy to the urban landscape.

Oak Grove Theatre and ShenanArts

Staunton is home to two community theaters that, in normal years, offer robust schedules and a chance to enjoy lots of local talent. Oak Grove continues to offer virtual programming and hopes to resume some of its outdoor productions this summer for its 68th season. No date has been set, but ShenanArts will resume normal programming as soon as it is able.

Shops Offering Handmade and Fair Trade Crafts

The Potter’s Daughter Studio is home to both a pottery and painting studio and Concepts Creative constructs custom furniture out of reclaimed wood and other materials. 

If you’re looking for handmade and fair trade crafts, clothing, art, and jewelry by both domestic and foreign artists, make sure to visit Harmony Moon, Latitudes, Blair Made, and Made; By the People, For the People. The Sparrow’s Nest and Medieval Fantasies both carry cool, handmade products.

Nearby

Wayne Theatre

Nearby Waynesboro also has a history and reputation for supporting the arts. Each year, the Wayne Theatre brings many performances to town, including musical theater, movies on the big screen, live music, and art shows. During Covid, the Wayne moved much of its programming online with its “At Home with the Wayne” program. The program has continued to air classic movies as well as taped encore performances of its past hits. Teens and adults have had lots of chances to sign up for online workshops including makeup art, singing, auditioning and more. While much programming remains virtual, the Wayne’s calendar has recently begun filling out with more live events, now that we better understand Covid safety protocols.

Shenandoah Valley Art Center

The Shenandoah Valley Art Center is another wonderful community asset for the arts. Each year, SVAC brings us the Virginia Fall Foliage Art Show. Set against a background of autumnal color, the juried show draws 150 artists to downtown Waynesboro. SVAC hosts a rotating series of exhibits in its galleries and provides art education for children and adults alike with a wide range of camps, classes, and workshops, which are being run with Covid safety measures in place.

P. Buckley Moss Gallery

Buckley Moss became famous by creating “Valley style” watercolors of the Shenandoah Valley, its people, and its history, especially the traditions of the Amish and Mennonites. The P. Buckley Moss Gallery in downtown Waynesboro exhibits a large selection of artwork for view and purchase.