So many Americans don’t use banked paid time off and lose it at the end of the year. Don’t be like them! Even if you don’t have the time (or budget) to take a far-flung vacation, you can still take your vacation days by planning a “micro-cation,” a long weekend in which you travel less than 100 miles and stay fewer than four nights.
It’s time to enjoy your paid time off. Use it, don’t lose it with this long weekend itinerary full of shopping, entertainment, and dining, in Staunton.
How to Maximize PTO
- Write plans on your schedule ASAP because the more set-in-stone something seems, the less likely your work schedule will be to eat it away.
- Take advantage of pre-scheduled long weekends like Labor Day Weekend or come for an event weekend like Staunton’s Queen City’s Mischief and Magic (September 24-25).
- Try traveling on Thursday night and working remotely from your lodging the next day. You’ll be inspired by the new location and excited to finish up and explore.
- Revive with a vacation close to home. Simply getting away from home, work and routine can help you glean many of the wellness benefits of a longer trip, even if you don’t travel very far.
Travel to Staunton
- It’s an easy, pretty drive on I-81, with long views framed by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. If you want a leisurely route, drive along the Skyline Drive or Blue Ridge Parkway. Here’s a guide to scenic overlooks in Shenandoah. Visitors from the east and west will enjoy driving up and over the mountains. Take advantage of scenic waysides and hiking trailheads.
Stay in Staunton
- Staunton offers great lodgings for all preferences. Book an elegant room in a luxurious, historic hotel like Hotel 24 South or the Blackburn Inn. You might also like a cool, upbeat space like Gibson’s Warehouse or Tru by Hilton. Travelers with families might prefer budget lodgings like Howard Johnson or Days Inn. And if you’re outdoorsy at heart, there are several nearby campgrounds to pick from like Walnut Hills Campground and Shenandoah Valley Campground.
Eat in Staunton
- We know you’re hungry after all this traveling and settling in. We recommend starting your trip with a big meal at Shenandoah Pizza and Taphouse or Remedy Burger. If you’ve booked tickets for Summerstage at the Blackburn Inn, you’ll be able to get food and libations before and during the music.
Find Some Friday Night Fun
- Spread out your blanket for a night of music under the stars at the Blackburn Inn’s Friday night SummerStage concert series. The concerts showcase talents like The Arcadian Wild and Scott Miller. Along with the music, you can enjoy beverages from local vineyards, breweries, and cideries as well as food from the 2nd Draft Bistro.
Visit the Farmers’ Market
- Meet the locals when you visit the Saturday morning Staunton Farmer’s Market in the historic Wharf District. Listen to live music, talk to farmers, and taste seasonal fruit and fresh baked goods. This is a great way to catch a quick snack and get a sense of Staunton’s bustling community.
- Explore charming downtown Staunton on foot. Check out our wealth of independent shops, galleries, and antique stores. You’ll find a range of wares including books, artwork, specialty housewares, and unique gifts. Bonfire Begonia sells original artwork as well as beautiful one-of-a-kind jewelry made with repurposed materials. For other places to buy gifts, try Jude’s, a Fine Emporium, Made; By the People for the People, The Sparrow’s Nest, and The Foundry Pop-Ups.
- Take a walking tour with the Historic Staunton Foundation or use the Traipse App to customize your own tour with keywords like “shopping,” “history,” or “libations.”
Eat Some Lunch
- Grab a quick bite before you set out for more adventure. Try one of the lunch specials made with fresh tortillas at Chicano Boy Taco. Gloria’s Pupuseria prepares authentic Salvadoran cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. Farm-to-table gourmet sandwich shop, Seed to Tail also showcases local ingredients. Magdalena Bake sells savory empanadas made from beef, pork, criolla, or caprese. If you’d rather munch burgers and ice cream as you venture down memory lane, Wright’s Dairy Rite is an old-fashioned drive-in diner that’s straight out of the 50s.
- Take a bike ride through town, on the trails at Montgomery Hall Park, or out into the countryside with one of our local bike routes. Independently-owned Black Dog Bikes can help outfit you if you need gear.
- Float one of or lakes or rivers. Todd Lake and Sherando Lake are good choices for paddlers. If you crave moving water, launch your craft on the urban Waynesboro Water Trail, a 4-mile stretch of the South River that flows through town. Rent gear from Rockfish Gap Outfitters.
- Staunton is smack dab in middle of some of the country’s best hiking. Head back into Shenandoah National Park, or set out for adventure in George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. There’s even hiking in town (and overlooks that give a different perspective of the city) at Betsy Bell Wilderness Area.
Clean Up for Dinner
- Scrub off the dirt and river water and put on your clean clothes for dinner. Start with a glass of wine and a cheese plate at Yelping Dog Wine or The Green Room. For your main course, try Blu Point Seafood Co., which specializes in fresh seafood and has bars for both cocktails and oysters. Table 44’s southern cuisine with a twist features meals like barbequed shrimp and grits or steak frites. Looking for steak? Get your fill of that and more at Mill Street Grill.
Find Nightime Entertainment
- Have you seen a show at the American Shakespeare Center? The summer season at the world’s only recreation of the Blackfriar’s Playhouse includes Twelfth Night and Thrive, What You Will, a modern companion piece that provides “cross-centuries conversation” with Shakespeare’s classic comedy.
- Celebrate music with this year’s annual Heifetz Institute’s Festival of Concerts. Heifetz Hootenanny informal series “features students, staff, and special guests in one-of-a-kind, multi-genre mash-ups.” You might hear bluegrass picking, Broadway belting, folk fiddling, or rollicking rhythm and blues!”
Sit Down for Breakfast
- Zynodoa holds Sunday brunch from 10-2 and features a seasonally-driven menu with delights like cornbread French toast with whipped cream or Virginia lump crab fritters. Accompany this feast with a bloody mary or mimosa. Vic’s Eats serves “bomb biscuit sandwiches” and other mouth-watering breakfasts like red-velvet pancakes and yogurt bowls. For breakfast classics like eggs and stacks of pancakes, you can’t go wrong with local favorite, Kathy’s Restaurant.
Have a Little More Fun Before You Go
- Don’t head home without a little more fun. Catch a matinee at the Visulite Cinema, a convenient and comfortable theater right in downtown. You can check out new releases and have a glass of wine or beer while you’re watching.
- Stop in to see a glass-blowing demonstration at Sunspots Studios. Using extreme heat, artisans blow and shape molten glass into globes and art pieces. You’ll want to watch this process over and over before visiting the gallery to purchase a reminder of the fun.
- Don your Sherlock hat and try to solve one of the active puzzles at Crack the Code Escape Room. You’ll have one hour to solve multiple puzzles and escape a themed room.
- Bone up on history at the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library, a museum dedicated to the life of our 28th president as well as the time’s important cultural challenges. Another historical and educational gem is the Frontier Culture Museum, where costumed interpreters tending working farms share all the details of early settler life in the Shenandoah Valley.