Staunton, Virginia is Your National Park Hub

As the National Park Service celebrates 100 years, Staunton celebrates as well. Centrally located between Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Staunton is a National Park hub of food and culture.

In just 20 minutes, travelers drive from Staunton to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park. Entry points for both are atop Afton Mountain. The Parkway is known as “America’s Favorite Drive” and President Herbert Hoover chose Shenandoah as his presidential retreat. The reasons for both are quite obvious: immense views, hikes with payoffs (waterfalls included!), and abundant wildlife. 

Speaking of presidents, Staunton’s very own Woodrow Wilson put his executive signature on the National Park Service. Born in Staunton, Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916. His birthplace and presidential library are open daily for visitors to learn more about his life and legacy.

Visitors to Staunton enjoy a variety of accommodations, including the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, bed and breakfasts, and city stays. Likewise, dining opportunities are varied with farm fresh, casual, and ethnic flavors within reach. Staunton’s coffee shops and breweries are a hit with most everyone, and are perfect places to unwind.

If you have time between parks, catch a show at the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse. In addition, a self-blown glass ornament from Sunspots Studios is a perfect reminder of your trip. Shop our boutiques, and simply soak in the beautiful downtown architecture.

Staunton welcomes you, outdoor lover.

Remaining 2016 National Park Service Fee-Free Days:

August 25-18 – National Park Service Birthday

September 24 – National Public Lands Day

November 11 – Veterans Day

Staunton & Shenandoah: 10 Ways to Celebrate 100 Years

North Mt. Marshall Vista Credit: NPS/Neal Lewis
North Mt. Marshall Vista
Credit: NPS/Neal Lewis

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, a momentous occasion worth celebrating. Shenandoah National Park is a mere 20 minutes from downtown Staunton, making our place your home base for outdoor explorations.

Gear up at Wilderness Adventure, then pack a picnic loaded with our favorite local goodies. Next, #FindYourPark!

Staunton’s Top 10 for Shenandoah

Doyles River Falls Credit: NPS
Doyles River Falls
Credit: NPS
  1. Drive the park via Skyline Drive from one end to the other, stopping at overlooks along the way.
  2. Seek out one of 10 gorgeous waterfalls.
  3. Enjoy your picnic, but DO leave room for dessert! The blackberry pie at Skyland Resort is a real treat. 
  4. Climb the park’s highest peak – Hawksbill – for a selfie you won’t forget.
  5. Head to Big Meadows for birdwatching, a part of the park that is home to birds not found in other areas of the park. 
  6. Tag along with your kids on a Junior Ranger Program, an opportunity for ages 7 to 12 to get hands-on with nature.
  7. Go for an Ancient Volcano Hike to get the scoop on the lay of the land.
  8. Try your hand at nature photography. There’s no better place, and there happens to be an August 27th seminar to help you hone your skills.
  9. Settle in atop Little Stony Man Cliffs and await a breathtaking sunset.
  10. Need more blackberries in your life? Come on back to Staunton and toast your day with a Blackberry Wheat Ale at Redbeard Brewing.

WINE Your Way Through Autumn Splendor in the Shenandoah Valley

ShenValleyScenic_28It’s no secret that October is the best month for leaf peeping in Shenandoah Valley. But did you know that it’s also Virginia Wine Month? Here’s a guide on how to uncork the fun:

Staunton and Harrisonburg are located just off Interstate 81, which runs north south through the Shenandoah Valley. These two vibrant cities – just 25 minutes apart – form the perfect bookends to your next wine getaway.

Downtown Staunton
Downtown Staunton

If you like curvy county roads, skip the highway and try Route 11 or Route 42.  Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park provides a loftier option (and with the higher elevation, an earlier color show.)

Fall’s cooler temperatures bring clear skies with spectacular views of the mountain ranges to the east and west.

Nearby Vineyards

The view from Barrenridge Vineyards
The view from BarrenRidge Vineyards

BarrenRidge Vineyards is located on the grounds of a family-owned apple orchard, and features an 1890′s apple barn that has been converted into a state-of-the-art winery.

In addition to a beautiful landscape, Bluestone Vineyards offers tastings and tours so guests can get a deeper look into the winemaking process. At CrossKeys Vineyards, you can sip al fresco on the patio, and grab a bite from the pairing menu.

Downtown Sips   

It’s always wine-time in downtown Staunton, so if you’re serious about sipping make time to visit Barking Dog Wine Bar, AVA Wine Bar, and the sleek downtown tasting room of Ox-Eye Vineyard.  Need something to carry home or share a favorite wine purchase? Check out the handcrafted, witty (and reusable!) wine bags at Made, conveniently located next to Barking Dog Wine Bar!

In Harrisonburg, Downtown Wine & Gourmet offers free wine tastings every Friday from 5-7pm. If you need to stock up for the ride home, check out Vintage Wines which offers the largest selection of wines in the Shenandoah Valley.

Dinner at Zynodoa

Dine Out in Style

In Staunton, you’ll want to book a table at Zynodoa or Emilio’s. In Harrisonburg, you can’t miss with either Local Chop & Grill House or Joshua Wilton House. All of these fine restaurants proudly offer Virginia wine by the glass, and offer customized wine pairing suggestions for your meal.

Wondering how long to stay?

Plan to spend at least two nights, more if you want to take in museums, theaters, art galleries and other attractions. You can begin your wine-getaway in either Harrisonburg or Staunton – why not spend a night in each city to get the best of both worlds?

Travel tip: visit mid-week and skip the crowds!

Lodging packages

Want to stay in the city? Make plans to stay at The Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton.  Originally built in 1924 and a member of Historic Hotels of America, this 124-room is a Shenandoah Valley landmark. Ask for the “Downtown Wine” package (includes complimentary Virginia wine upon arrival, wine tasting for two at Ox-Eye Tasting room, 50% off bottles of wine in Sorrels Lounge, and more.)

If you prefer a more intimate location, luxurious amenities await you at By the Side of the Road Bed & Breakfast in Harrisonburg. When you book your reservation, ask for the “Shenandoah Wine Trail” package (includes complimentary Virginia wine upon arrival, a light gourmet picnic to carry to one of your vineyard stops, discounts at local vineyards, voucher for a romantic dinner for two, and a hot gourmet breakfast basket delivered to your cottage door.)

In the Shenandoah Valley, local goodness is everywhere. Stop by a local farmer’s market, brewery, or pumpkin patch to bring some of this season’s bounty home with you.