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Iconic Sites In Staunton


Staunton might be easy to visit, but it’s nearly impossible to forget. Here you’ll step back in time to experience living history, historic architecture, and delicious treats at a retro ice cream shop. You’ll see the creation and display of art forged from molten materials, ride the same mini-train your grand folks loved as kids, and be mesmerized by theatrical productions. Staunton is a charming town with a rich history, and these are just a few of the many icons that make it so special. So, come on down and experience everything the Queen City has to offer!

Wright’s Dairy Rite

Crave a taste of Americana? Wright’s Dairy Rite has been a Staunton icon since 1952. Known for frozen treats like flurries, splits, milkshakes, malts, and drink freezes, diners can also enjoy burgers, dogs, onion rings, and more. Wright’s Dairy Rite is also known for its signature Wright’s Wheelie, a warm donut topped with ice cream, whipped cream, and your choice of toppings. The shop has a nostalgic atmosphere, with a retro neon sign and car hop service. Customers can also dine in the red, vinyl booths in the dining room and place orders using “Serv-Us Phones.” Make sure to stop by during one of the Cruise-In antique car rallies Wrights hosts twice a year.

Sunspots Studios 

Sunspots Studios is a glassblowing studio and gallery founded in 1999. Sunspots is famous for its beautiful glass art, which is created by hand by the studio’s talented glassblowers. Admire the unique and beautiful glass in the gallery and then head back to the studio to see how it’s made. Bleacher seating gives you a good view of the action as glassblowers manipulate molten glass pulled straight from furnaces. You can ask questions about the process, and, if you’re feeling inspired, sign up to blow your own ornament (with the help of a skilled glassblower).

Marquis and Clocktower buildings

You’ll know they don’t make them like they used to when you spot the 19th-century Romanesque Revival architecture of the Marquis Building at 2-4 E. Beverly Street. This structure has distinctive arched windows, a turret, and even a giant umbrella suspended over the entrance. Once a bank by a marble yard that carved the tombstones for Thornrose Cemetery, it now houses Beverley Cigar Store. Nearby, the Clocktower Building, originally built in 1890 as a YMCA is now a restaurant, event space, and convenience store. The clock still works today. These are just two of many iconic landmarks in Staunton’s Beverley Historic District.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum

The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is a museum and research library dedicated to the life and presidency of Woodrow Wilson. The library is located in the Greek Revival manse where Wilson was born. The museum’s galleries explore Wilson’s early years, his eventful presidency, women’s suffrage, prohibition, and World War I trench warfare. Visitors can also tour the beautiful terraced gardens and see Wilson’s beloved 1919 Pierce Arrow. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library is a great place to learn about an important time in American history. 

Frontier Culture Museum

The Frontier Culture Museum brings to life the stories of the various people who migrated to the Shenandoah Valley during Colonial times. The museum’s working farms represent a Native American village, an African village, European farms, and American farms from a range of eras. Visitors can explore the farms on foot as costumed interpreters demonstrate how people lived and worked. People of all ages will love learning about the history of the Shenandoah Valley and the people who settled here. 

Watering Can

The Staunton Watering Can greets visitors entering town on Coalter Avenue. The 15-foot, carbon steel watering can appears to be watering its surrounding landscaping. It was created by Ferguson Metal Fabrication in 1995 and is one of several large metal sculptures that bring whimsy (and photographers) to Staunton. For more Staunton artistic installations, check out the You Belong Here Mural and other outdoor art.

Gypsy Express Mini Train

Families with kids should hop aboard the popular Gypsy Hill Mini Train that loops a track in Gypsy Hill Park each summer weekend. Rides cost a dollar and include several circuits of the track that crosses bridges and chugs through a tunnel. The train has operated for 60 years and is wheelchair accessible. The surrounding park has playgrounds, a duck pond, and a swimming pool. Here’s more fun stuff to do with the fam.

Blackfriars Playhouse

The world-renowned Blackfriars Playhouse is a re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater, the only one of its kind in the world. The playhouse stages engaging performances of both Shakespearean works and modern plays. It also offers lectures by scholars, chances to chat with actors about the productions and performances, and backstage tours. 

Education

  • Mary Baldwin University is the oldest college for women in Virginia and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Now a co-educational institute, MBU is notable for its strong academics, focus on service and leadership development, and beautiful campus.
  • Known for its rich liberal arts education, Stuart Hall School was founded in 1844 as the Virginia Female Institute. It is now a co-educational boarding and day school for grades 6 through 12.
  • Founded in 1839, the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind is the oldest school of its kind in the country, and is a leader in the field of deaf and blind education. It provides educational, residential, therapeutic, and vocational services to Virginia students.

Schedule your trip to Staunton today! More than just a small town, it’s where memories are made.


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