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

New Year’s Eve in Staunton

Time flies when you’re having fun, and 2016 sure was a blur. Come ring in 2017 with fantastic New Year’s Eve fun in Staunton! We have a place for you to stay, plenty of food … make yourself at home.


Pompei Lounge is hosting their annual Masquerade with The Judy Chops. This is a party you’ll want to arrive early for as it tends to sell out. The fun starts at 10 p.m. and only costs a $10 cover, which includes a midnight champagne toast. Hang out until 2 a.m., if you want. 

Baja Bean Co. always has one of the best New Year’s Eve parties around – The Findells Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Party with champagne toast at midnight! Enjoy the great food and drinks before the music and countdown begin.

Byers Street Bistro is hosting a New Year’s Eve Party that includes dinner specials, live music from Gypsy Town from 9-12:30, and a champagne toast at midnight.

Redbeard Brewing Company is hosting Magnolia Mountain Grill to offer food, and Drägön Wägön with a special guest for entertainment.

Downtown 27 @ The Clocktower invites you to their NYE Bash with Maybe Tomorrow and DJ Neili Neil. The fun starts at 8 p.m. and winds down at 1 a.m. $15 cover.


Zynodoa has a special four-course prix-fixe menu at $65 per person on New Year’s Eve.

Come see us! #loveva #farmtotable #itsbeginningtolookalotlikechristmas

A photo posted by Zynodoa (@zynodoa) on

The Arts

The American Shakespeare Center has a very special showing at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. It’s the last performance ever of “The Twelve Dates of Christmas,” a play written for their stage by one of their actors. Enjoy $2 glasses of champagne to celebrate the evening.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve, but don’t forget to designate a driver. Better yet, call a cab. Happy New Year!


A Holiday Weekend for Two in Staunton


Sneak away before Christmas to enjoy a holiday weekend for two. Packed with arts and entertainment, December 16-18 is an ideal time to visit Staunton. Pack for two nights on the town but don’t forget your comfortable walking shoes for last minute downtown shopping. 

Staunton Holiday Weekend

Check into our historic Stonewall Jackson Hotel and take advantage of the Shakespeare Package which includes breakfast, parking, and tickets for two. Add a night to round out the weekend. You’ll need it!

Friday, December 16

Heifetz Holiday Homecoming is a “dose of holiday cheer” that includes alumni of the Heifetz International Music Institute. A wide range of holiday carols, including Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker for string quartet. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Mary Baldwin University’s Frances Auditorium. TICKETS

Saturday, December 17

Andrew Goldwasser as Scrooge in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Photo by Michael Bailey
Andrew Goldwasser as Scrooge in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Photo by Michael Bailey

Put those comfortable shoes to work and explore downtown Staunton for Stop Staunton First Saturday. We’ve even provided something of a shopping list for you, affectionately called our Favorite Things. You’ll love our restaurants and cafes for impromptu stops for coffee and treats along the way. When you need a break and want to sight-see, pick up the Trolley along the green route for just $.25.

The tickets from your Shakespeare Package come into play today. There are two shows to choose from and hopefully you can agree on one. If not, rock-paper-scissors is always a fun way to make a decision.  “A Christmas Carol” is offered at 2 and 7:30 p.m. “The Santaland Diaries” begins at 5 p.m. Be sure to peruse the gift shop at the American Shakespeare Center before or after the show to pick up a souvenir of your visit.

Before you turn in for the night, stroll through downtown to admire our decorated shop windows!

Sunday, December 18

Yelp users love The By and By for breakfast and they’re open at 10 a.m. on Sundays. Grab a bite before you hit the road. Heather R., a Yelp user, wrote, “Quaint and simple place. It fits the charm of the town. I had a simple bagel sandwich. Service was quick and friendly and the breakfast sandwich was hot and fresh.”

Looking for More to Do?

Staunton’s Favorite Things: A Guide to Gifts We Love

“Oprah’s Favorite Things” is an annual guide to what’s hot, trendy, useful, and even traditional for holiday gift-giving. We have a few favorites here in Staunton and have created our very own uniquely Staunton “favorite things” list for your gift-giving consideration!



Those who have participated in Queen City Mischief & Magic and enjoyed their experience will appreciate a sterling silver charm only available at H.L. Lang & Co. Jewelers. They also carry a variety of Staunton-esque charms; everything from the Willy Ferguson’s iconic watering can to the gazebo at Gypsy Hill Park. 



Wild Woolies are sweet felted coin purses perfect for a sweet little someone on your list. Handcrafted by women in Nepal with 100% natural wool and non-toxic dyes. See the collection at Latitudes Fair Trade Store.


Pufferbellies is the place to find fun gifts for kids and adults alike! Take the unicorn mug, for example. We’re sure you know a variety of gals who would love this! 

The smells of Staunton can be yours! Choose a candle like “Queenie” at Made; By the People, For the People.They’re poured and sold with nothin’ but love right in the store, crafted with American-grown soy.


Happy holidays from all of us at Visit Staunton!

Seven Ways to Play Before Santa Comes to Town

The busiest time of the year is upon us as we hustle around taking care of party planning and decorating. Be sure to balance all of that with some down time, doing something fun. Breathe in the season with a quick trip to Staunton. 

Enjoy a slower pace for a hot second. Get a cup of coffee and just sit with a friend. When you’re good and ready, stroll our downtown and check out the window displays.

These are the top seven ways to play before Santa comes to town:

1. Sparkles & Sweets | November 11, 6-9 p.m.

This special downtown event kicks off the holiday season with late shopping hours, carriage rides, a variety of street entertainment, and sweet treats at more than 30 participating businesses. While supplies last, a free “downtown. shopping. bag.” will be available at the City National Bank courtyard on Central Avenue and at Sunspots Pavilion.

2. Holiday Window Reveal | November 18

Staunton’s downtown shopkeepers compete in an annual window decorating contest, but the real winner is YOU! The creativity is always impressive, and an evening stroll to admire them is a great way to unwind and enjoy time with the ones you love this season.

#magicalmainstreet #fairyqueencity #finished! #lovestaunton

A photo posted by Pufferbellies Toys & Books (@pufferbellies) on

3. Celebration of Lights | November 21 through January 1

For families in the Shenandoah Valley, the annual trip to drive through Gypsy Hill Park during Celebration of Lights is a tradition. Amazingly, it’s free! The 214 acres will feature lighted holiday displays and creations from 5 to 11 p.m. nightly. Perhaps the best thing about Celebration of Lights is that it’s made possible by community organizations, churches, and individuals who claim a space to decorate. 

4. Small Business Saturday | November 26

Why not abstain from the Black Friday chaos and #ShopLocal on #SmallBusinessSaturday? Our downtown shops will be overflowing with great cheer and deals, carriage rides from Classic Carriage will be offered, and your first two hours of parking at the Wharf lot and the Johnson Street garage are FREE! Plus, it always feels so good to support the “mom and pop” shops, doesn’t it? Lend a hand!

5. Staunton Christmas Parade | November 28, 7 p.m.

“Magical Main Street” is the theme for this year’s Christmas parade and ASC’s Scrooge will be the Grand Marshall. It’s the annual showcase of holiday-themed parade floats, marching bands, local organizations, and of course, Santa Claus.

6. American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse

Oh, the fantastic acts you need to see this season! 

The Santaland Diaries by David Sedaris, Adapted for the Stage by Joe Mantella
The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Ginna Hoben
A Christmas Carole by Charles Dickens, Adapted for the Stage by Jim Warren

7. Historic Staunton Foundation’s 44th Annual Holiday House Tour | December 3, 5 p.m. and December 4, 1 p.m.

Come along and celebrate the diversity of Staunton’s architecture as you walk a section of the Newtown Neighborhood. Five distinct private homes will be showcased and discussed.

Cheers to a merry and bright season in Staunton!


Five Ways to Holiday Prep in Staunton

We love fall. The colors, the flavors … the shopping! It’s the perfect time to get away, and you can make a weekend whatever you want it to be: wine and food, shopping, the arts, outdoor adventure … we have all of that and more in Staunton.

The Shenandoah Valley offers one of the best displays of fall colors in the country. m01229
The Shenandoah Valley offers one of the best displays of fall colors in the country. m01229

Here are five ways to prep for the perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas when you take a mid-autumn break and head our way.

  1.  Our sweet boutiques are overflowing with beautiful seasonal decor and gifts. A handcrafted keepsake from Sunspots Studios makes a great gift. Will you choose to blow your own glass pumpkin or an ornament? Here are a few other suggestions to find that perfect Holiday trimming…

2.  Taste before you serve at Ox Eye Vineyards Tasting Room in downtown Staunton. Find the perfect wine for your Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and don’t forget a dessert pairing.

3.  Some of the best bread you will ever get your hands on comes from Newtown Baking. Grab a sandwich while you’re in town and take a few loaves or rolls to go. They’re the perfect addition to your meal, and they freeze well. Newtown suggests popping it into a 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes “to revive some of the crispiness of the crust.”

4.  The American Shakespeare Center Blackfriars Playhouse offers performances every weekend and most weeknights. Treat yourself to a showing of Twelfth Night, King Lear, or The Rise of Queen Margaret (Henry VI, Part 2) and then swing by the gift shop to buy a gift certificate for someone special. 

Insider’s Tip – ASC’s Christmas performances of A Christmas Carol, The Santaland Diaries, and The Twelve Dates of Christmas sell out quickly, so get your tickets ASAP!

Good morning from the beautiful #BlackfriarsPlayhouse. #americanshakespearecenter #theatre #shakespeare #staunton

A photo posted by American Shakespeare Center (@americanshakespearecenter) on

5.  Finally, you’ll need sleep and the gift of a night away is much appreciated to overworked friends, parents of small children, and those with a love of travel. Choose a bed and breakfast, hotel, or cabin for yourself. If you approve, inquire about a gift certificate to give.

Cheers to your holiday prep weekend! We hope you #LOVEStaunton!