#LOVEstaunton

#LOVEstaunton

Staunton: One of the Best Small Towns in Virginia

Cradled by the Blue Ridge and surrounded by massive national forests and vast wilderness areas, the Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton has endless appeal. One of the oldest settlements in the Blue Ridge, the Victorian-era town is a living museum. Staunton was largely spared the destruction unleashed on other locations in the Shenandoah Valley by … Continue reading Staunton: One of the Best Small Towns in Virginia

Crabtree Falls is the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge, and a very popular hiking destination. Karen Blaha
Crabtree Falls is the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge, and a very popular hiking destination. Karen Blaha

Cradled by the Blue Ridge and surrounded by massive national forests and vast wilderness areas, the Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton has endless appeal. One of the oldest settlements in the Blue Ridge, the Victorian-era town is a living museum. Staunton was largely spared the destruction unleashed on other locations in the Shenandoah Valley by Union troops during the Civil War—most of the buildings in Staunton’s downtown area are more than a century old, and the town’s residential neighborhoods are still dotted with elegant 18th and 19th century homes. A bustling commercial hub even during the colonial-era, Staunton still lures visitors with its architecturally stunning downtown—now lined with eclectic boutiques, inviting eateries, and cozy tasting rooms pouring locally produced wine and craft beer.

Beyond the proudly preserved architectural wonders, Staunton’s rich past is still evident all over town. Staunton was a stop along the Great Wilderness Road, a southward route used by newly arrived European immigrants as portal to the frontier until the middle of the 19th century—a thoroughfare that later became the Valley Pike, now Route 11. Staunton’s Frontier Culture Museum is a living-history, open-air museum that brings the past to life, demonstrating the daily lifestyles of the Valley’s early settlers through original farmsteads and costumed interpreters.

Marquis Building by Warren Faught
Marquis Building by Warren Faught

One of America’s most influential presidents also called Staunton home: Woodrow Wilson was born in the town in 1865, and the 28th president’s home still adorns a hill in Staunton’s Gospel Historic District, now maintained as the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.

For outdoor lovers, options in Staunton are almost endless. The strategically placed, mountain-fringed town is the ideal launch pad for a bounty of outdoor adventures. Staunton is flanked by two massive national forests—the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests—long, slender slices of wilderness stretching from one end of Virginia to the other, laden with recreational opportunities. You also have quick access to the spectacular Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most scenic drive in the state.

Staunton is surrounded by incredible hiking trails, like this one near Crabtree Falls, that are particularly scenic in the fall. Karen Blaha
Staunton is surrounded by incredible hiking trails, like this one near Crabtree Falls, that are particularly scenic in the fall. Karen Blaha

The town is also ringed by a collection of vast roadless wilderness areas traversed by extensive trail systems. Just about 20-miles west of Staunton, the 19,290-acre Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness is crisscrossed by 37 miles of trails and loaded with craggy peaks and laced with trout-blessed streams. Just south of town, the 10,090-acre Saint Mary’s Wilderness is flush with 27-miles of trails—capped off by high peaks including Cellar, Bald, and Big Spy mountains—and spider-webbed by gushing mountain streams culminating in cascading waterfalls.

Staunton provides easy access to two of the most scenic byways in the state—and arguably, on the East Coast. Just north of town is the entrance to Skyline Drive, the vista-rich, 105-mile thoroughfare bisecting Virginia’s 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park, offering access to the area’s 500 miles of trails. Almost immediately after entering the park’s less-frequented southern section, Skyline Drive also intersects the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail, which rambles through the park for 101 miles.

Staunton, Virginia, is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as the perfect base camp to explore the region. Malee Oot
Staunton, Virginia, is located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, serving as the perfect base camp to explore the region. Malee Oot

In Rockfish Gap, 20 miles from Staunton, Skyline Drive also merges into the southbound Blue Ridge Parkway, the iconic byway running 469-miles from the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Some of the most spectacular sites along the entire parkway are in the northernmost section—just minutes from Staunton. First, the Humpback Rocks Recreation Area offers access to a range of hiking trails, with options for quick leg-stretchers or extensive loops. The massive 3,080-foot rock formation known as Humpback Rocks is also touted as one of the parkway’s premier vistas—and one of the most popular.

Just after Humpback Rocks is another treasure: The Sherando Lake Recreation Area is one of the byway’s most inviting detours. The 25-acre, spring-fed lake is edged by hiking trails, leafy campsites, and a sandy swimming beach. Slightly further south, the parkway also offers access to the one of the most stunning waterfalls in the east—and the highest in the Virginia Blue Ridge—Crabtree Falls. Two trailheads just a few miles from the parkway offer hikers intimate access to the cascades plunging 1,800-foot course to the Tye River.

Black Dog Bikes in Staunton is a great resource for cycling in the region. Malee Oot
Black Dog Bikes in Staunton is a great resource for cycling in the region. Malee Oot

The vast tracts of wilderness and extensive byways accessible from Staunton also make the locale a hub for cyclists. Options for bike rides abound—from two-wheeled historical tours of Staunton to longer circuits through the bucolic landscape of the Shenandoah Valley. Find a number of local circuits mapped out by Bike the Valley. In Staunton, local cyclists congregate at Black Dog Bikes in the evenings from spring to early fall for weekly rides, with more leisurely loops on Tuesdays and fast-paced, longer circuits on Thursdays as well as Women on Wheels riding every Wednesday. The town’s cycle culture is also celebrated every October with the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival, a weekend of rides showcasing the region’s vibrant seasonal color. You’ll find routes suitable for riders of all levels—from lazy, 12-mile loops to century circuits full of brag-worthy climbs.

The Shenandoah Valley isn’t just a playground for cyclists. The verdant valley is also sprinkled with farms, wineries and craft breweries—linked by routes like the Fields of Gold Farm Trail, the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, and the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail. In Staunton, the bounty of the valley is showcased at the Augusta Farmers Market (Wednesdays and Saturdays, from 7 a.m.-noon, April to November) and celebrated by the town’s vibrant farm-to-table restaurant movement.

But, it’s not just local eateries highlighting the abundance of locally sourced, seasonally rotating ingredients—Staunton has also become a hub of craft beer. The town is now home to three different craft breweries—Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing, and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company.

Eclectic microbrews, a seasonally evolving and locally inspired food scene, and a charming, historic downtown—all minutes away from vast wilderness areas, national parks, and forests. The next time you find yourself in Staunton, sipping a freshly poured craft brew while recounting backcountry Blue Ridge adventures, you too may wonder, is this the best kept secret in Virginia?

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.

 

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. Here are five ways to prep for the perfect … Continue reading 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!

 

Staunton After Dark: Tastes and Tours to Savor and Explore

Unlike some cities, Staunton comes alive after five. Tasting and touring your way around after dark gives you a whole new perspective of just how great the Queen City really is. Nights on the town anywhere are best experienced with others, so bring your whole crew or make it a date night! Manse by Flashlight … Continue reading Staunton After Dark: Tastes and Tours to Savor and Explore

Unlike some cities, Staunton comes alive after five. Tasting and touring your way around after dark gives you a whole new perspective of just how great the Queen City really is. Nights on the town anywhere are best experienced with others, so bring your whole crew or make it a date night!

Manse by Flashlight

Did you know Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, was born in Staunton? His Presidential library and the manse he was born in are located on Coalter Street. The manse will be open November 11 and 12 for flashlight tours between 7 and 9 p.m. If you’ve toured Wilson’s birthplace before, we can guarantee you’ve never seen it like this.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum at Night
Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum at Night

Ghosts of Staunton

Ghosts of Staunton Tours
Ghosts of Staunton Tours
HURRY! >> While it’s doubtful you’ll encounter anything too scary at Mr. Wilson’s house, the next tour promises the exact opposite. Ghosts of

Staunton offers three tours to choose from, but of course, we recommend trying all three. For more history, choose the Downtown Historical Walking Ghost Tour. To focus on the super cool lore of the Depot, try the Haunted Depot Tour. For a great overview of all of Staunton’s spooky tales, join in the Haunts of the Queen City Ghost Walk. All three occur Fridays and Saturdays at 7, 8, and 9 p.m. during the month of October.

 

Traipse the Town

“Take your brain for a walk” at dusk when you use Traipse, an app that unlocks the city with history and quirky, fun brain teasers. 

Dine Around

While it’s certainly lovely to enjoy a meal in one spot, why not jazz up your night with a dine around featuring a different course at various restaurants? For example:

Drinks, Appetizer, Soup, or Salad: Zynodoa (115 E. Beverley)

Main Course: Aioli (29 N. Augusta)

Dessert: Emilio’s Italian Restaurant (23 E. Beverley)

Delicious blueberry stuff! 🍸

A photo posted by Laura Peters (@peterpants) on

Dancin’ in the Dark

Bruce Springsteen would be so proud of you. Staunton has plenty of places to choose from for live music. Tap your toes or all out shake your bon-bon, for which Ricky Martin would be equally proud. A few ideas:

Baja Bean Co. 

Queen City Brewing

Redbeard Brewing

Byers Street Bistro

The Pompei Lounge

Mill Street Grill

 

Think You Could Bike the Entire Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail?

Imagine riding your bike on quiet country roads with views of forested hills on one side and rolling, pastoral fields on the other. Add refined vineyards and quaint B&Bs. Sound like an expensive trip to Bordeaux, Tuscany, or even the Napa Valley? Nope, it’s right here in the eastern United States. That’s right, two-wheeled adventure … Continue reading Think You Could Bike the Entire Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail?

OxEye Vineyard Tasting Room in Downtown Staunton
Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room in Downtown Staunton

Imagine riding your bike on quiet country roads with views of forested hills on one side and rolling, pastoral fields on the other. Add refined vineyards and quaint B&Bs. Sound like an expensive trip to Bordeaux, Tuscany, or even the Napa Valley? Nope, it’s right here in the eastern United States. That’s right, two-wheeled adventure at its best can be found locally along the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail. Riding the SVWT—like any great bike tour—doesn’t require a particular agenda or pace. Instead, savor the small things and soak up the experiences along the way.

The trail travels approximately 200 miles (though that varies, depending on how many detours you take), through 19 different vineyards. The Veramar Vineyard in Berryville, Va., forms the northern end while Blue Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Rock, Va., anchors the southern end. Although this tour could easily be done in a long weekend, it is best to give yourself some time to truly take in all of what the Shenandoah Valley has to offer. The SVWT lends itself to a casual 5-7 day ride at a leisurely pace.

To really do the trail right, embrace the many worthwhile stops and cultural experiences found within the Shenandoah Valley. On the northern end, riders will probably want to follow roads paralleling the North Fork Shenandoah River. There you’ll find the North Mountain Vineyard and Winery in Maurertown, Muse Vineyards in Woodstock, and the second oldest winery in the state, Shenandoah Vineyards, in Edinburg. Moving further south along the SVWT, you might want to spend some time checking out the spectacular large chamber rooms and unworldly stalactite and stalagmite collection found at Luray Caverns before sampling some of the offerings from Wisteria Farm and Vineyards in Stanley, Va.

Barren Ridge Vineyard
Barren Ridge Vineyard

The northern border of the Shenandoah National Park is found just outside of Luray and following Skyline Drive through the park is a good option as you make your way south toward the college town of Harrisonburg, home of James Madison University. On this leg of the trip you can take in all the splendor of a national park from the saddle of your bike. Harrisonburg would be a good option for a lunch stop. If you need to replenish any supplies or tune up your ride, the Shenandoah Bicycle Company and Rocktown Bikes are located right downtown. Restaurants such as Local Chop and Grill House, Clementine, The Joshua Wilton House, and the Little Grill Collective serve a wide variety of quality food throughout the price spectrum. Just outside of Harrisonburg, you’ll find the beautiful CrossKeys Vineyards and Bluestone Vineyard.

About 25 miles south of Harrisonburg is the town of Staunton, which is one of the most bike-friendly towns in the Shenandoah and one of “America’s Favorite Mountain Towns,” according to Travel + Leisure. Staunton is another great stop on the trail, and perhaps the best place to stay overnight. The town hosts festivals like the Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival, which is one of America’s best fall bike rides.

Staunton is close to many outdoor attractions, including the 1,200-foot Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi. Another must-do side trip is Humpback Rock, a massive rocky summit with panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. With both St. Mary’s Wilderness and the Blue Ridge Parkway nearby, Staunton is ideal for an active rest day filled with excursions.

shen-valley-bike-1

It’s also home to an attractive lineup of downtown restaurants and three breweries, should you want to switch things up. If you want to stick to wine, choose from two vineyards, one of which is located right in downtown, Ox-Eye Vineyards. Restaurants such as Aioli Mediterranean Tapas, Byers Street Bistro, The Shack, and Zynodoa have become destinations for foodies. Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing, and Shenandoah Valley Brewing serve up a wide variety of local craft beer.

Walking throughout downtown, browsing the artisan shops, and taking in the historic architecture provides a nice break from time in the saddle. When you’re finally ready to settle in for the night, there is no shortage of accommodations with many hotels, motels, campgrounds, and over a dozen B&B’s such as the Frederick House to choose from.

As you continue to work your way south down the SVWT you’ll be surrounded on both sides by vast stretches of wilderness in the George Washington Forest. Depending on your level of comfort, you might want to explore some of the nearly endless miles of forest service roads found here. A pure road bike with racing skinnies would be outmatched on most of these roads, but with a fatter tire more suited for touring you’ll be fine.

The last big town that you’ll pass near is Lexington, and in that vicinity you have Jump Mountain Vineyard and Lexington Valley Vineyard. Like Harrisonburg and Staunton, Lexington would make a fine stopping spot with all kinds of amenities available and loads of nearby attractions. Restaurants like the Red Hen and Haywood’s serve farm-to-table style meals with most ingredients sourced locally in the Shenandoah Valley. Prime outdoor attractions like Natural Bridge, Chimney Rock Overlook, and the Blue Ridge Parkway are close by.

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.

Fall Flavors: Four Field-to-Fork Gourmet Markets

Seasons are exciting! We love the changes in temperature, the visible transitions in our landscape, and the fall flavors of our field-to-fork gourmet markets. If you’re looking for something awesomely autumn, this is for you. Fill up, take something great to go, and don’t forget your craft beer, wine, specialty oils, or other gourmet sundries. 1. … Continue reading Fall Flavors: Four Field-to-Fork Gourmet Markets

Seasons are exciting! We love the changes in temperature, the visible transitions in our landscape, and the fall flavors of our field-to-fork gourmet markets. If you’re looking for something awesomely autumn, this is for you. Fill up, take something great to go, and don’t forget your craft beer, wine, specialty oils, or other gourmet sundries.

1. Farmhouse Kitchen & Wares | 101 W. Beverley Street

Truly farm to table!

A photo posted by Farmhouse Kitchen & Wares (@farmhousekitchenandwares) on

This sweet cafe and kitchen shop offers breakfast and lunch, and always has an eye on the fields for inspiration. “Healthy and hearty” salads include locally grown veggies. Choose one and then add on a seasonal vegetable soup for a fantastic taste of the Shenandoah Valley. A filling breakfast option is the European yogurt featuring local granola and honey.

Local providers include Geezer Farm, Edwards Sausage, Caramont Cheeses, and Wade’s Mill.

2. Lewis Creek Market | 300 Church Street

lewis-creek-market

Hot plates, cold plates, salads, and soups are daily options at Lewis Creek Market, but the flavors change all the time depending on what’s seasonally available. Vegan and gluten-free diners will find something tasty and healthy, as will hearty meat-eaters and vegetarians. With chilly fall days ahead, keep this warming soup in mind: A chowder of cauliflower, carrots, celery, onion, and Lima beans. Mmmm.

Local providers include Grazelen Farm, Shenandoah Peaks, Five Maple Farms, and MeadowCroft Farm.

3. George Bowers Grocery | 219 W. Beverley Street

Four Cheese Grilled Cheese.

A photo posted by Ken Cox (@shenvalleyhoo) on

The burgers and hot dogs are the way to go at George Bowers. Load ’em up with fresh fixin’s and know they’re not only the best tasting, but the best for you. From nearby Polyface Farms, the pork even finds its way into soft tacos topped with housemade pico de gallo. 

Additional providers include Newtown Bakery and the Community Garden at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

4. Pennywhistle Provisions | 10 S. New Street

Healthy, happy chickens. #eggmobile #polyface #internlife #livethelifeyoulove

A photo posted by deeprootsfarmRI (@hippytendencies) on

Sure, you can “grab and go” at Pennywhistle, but know that it’s not fast food in the traditional sense of the phrase. The bread is homemade, the meats and vegetables are farm fresh, and it’s all prepared honestly by hardworking hands. “Food & Drink Post Haste” is the way they roll at Pennywhistle Provisions.

Local providers include Newtown Bakery, Polyface Farms, and the Community Garden at the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

Looking for more farm-fresh favorites? Check out Downtown Staunton’s 10 Best Places to Dine.

How to Tack Three More Breweries on to Your Next Brew Ridge Trail Tour

While Virginia has rightfully emerged as one of the country’s premier wine producers, the Old Dominion State is no slouch when it comes to craft beer. Virginia’s Blue Ridge region is peppered with craft breweries, linked by bucolic beer trails just begging to be explored. In Albemarle and Nelson counties, the Brew Ridge Trail winds … Continue reading How to Tack Three More Breweries on to Your Next Brew Ridge Trail Tour

Downtown Staunton
Downtown Staunton

While Virginia has rightfully emerged as one of the country’s premier wine producers, the Old Dominion State is no slouch when it comes to craft beer. Virginia’s Blue Ridge region is peppered with craft breweries, linked by bucolic beer trails just begging to be explored. In Albemarle and Nelson counties, the Brew Ridge Trail winds past six different breweries, spread from Crozet south to Arrington. But the Brew Ridge Trail is just the beginning. Why stop after just a half-dozen pint savoring pit stops? Just a short hop from the trail, another beer trail awaits. The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail is centered in the historic Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton, which boasts a highly concentrated collection of craft breweries pouring an eclectic array of ales. So the next time you’re savoring inspired local brews with a Blue Ridge backdrop, why not stop and see what’s on tap at Staunton’s three breweries?

Redbeard Brewing Co.
Redbeard Brewing Co.

Start your tasting tour of Staunton at the Redbeard Brewing Company. Grab a seat in the bright and roomy taproom and sample from the brewery’s selection of meticulously crafted microbrews. Redbeard usually has just over half-dozen beers on tap, running the gamut of styles, from choices like the subtly fruity Blueberry Wheat Ale (5.5%), to the refreshing Citra Grisette Saison (3.8%), or the 221B Baker Brown (6.3%), a beer that just medaled at the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup. The tap list changes about every two months, and Redbeard regularly showcases newly concocted seasonal beers with release parties, like the upcoming celebration of autumn-inspired offerings like the Harvest Ale and the Sweet Potato Pie Porter, slated for late September.

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co.
Shenandoah Valley Brewing Co.

Next, make your way over to Staunton’s Wharf Area Historic District and stop by the cozy taproom at the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company. The four-year-old brewery has a well-rounded tap list, including rich, full-bodied brews like the Glenhaven Scottish Ale (5.2%) or the Buck and Ball Brown Ale (5.6%), along with European-inspired options like the Three Rivers Belgian (5.3%) and lighter, golden ales like the Long Meadow Kolsch (5.2%) and the ShenVal Lager (4.9%). Beyond the beers, with a laid-back, affable vibe, the homey taproom is also a place worth lingering—there are board games out for patrons to play, and pretzels on the bar to snack on.

The taproom also regularly turns into an intimate musical venue, showcasing regional artists. Home-brewers can also load up on essentials in the supply store attached to the tasting room—and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company even has a handful of beer recipes to peruse, from IPAs to porters.

Queen City Brewing
Queen City Brewing

Finish up just a few minutes from the heart of downtown Staunton at Queen City Brewing, touted as the town’s first post-Prohibition brewery. Sit at the bar or grab one of the umbrella-shaded outdoor tables and try not to be awestruck by the selection. With more than two dozen beers on tap, Queen City Brewing pours everything from the crisply drinkable Gypsy Gold (4.7% alcohol) lager, to fruity, seasonal brews like the Grapefruit Shandy (4.5%), to heavier selections like the Black Rabbit Stout (5.3%), a nod to Ireland’s most iconic dark stout.

But it’s not just beer on tap. The place also has options like the Ale-tail Mimosa (7%), Ginger Beer (6.2%), Blackberry Sangria (7%), and even serves a number of non-alcoholic, homemade soft drinks, including birch beer and cherry cream soda. At Queen City Brewing, aspiring brewers also can try their hand at crafting a batch of flavorful beer to take home—with more than 80 different taste-tested recipes to pore over for inspiration. The brewery also regularly showcases live music with Open Mike Nights on Wednesday and Friday night Picks n’ Pints sessions.

Still need an encore? Continue along the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail.  Just 15 miles east of Staunton in the town of Waynesboro, try a tasting at the Seven Arrows Brewing Company. Sample from golden brews like the Aurora Pils (6%), heavier beers like the seasonal Hermenator Dopplebock (7.2%), or branch out and try Barefoot Bucha, an organic, Fair Trade, craft-brewed kombucha. Swing by on a Saturday morning for the brewery’s weekly Om Brew, a yoga session capped off with a craft beer.

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.

8 Reasons to Escape DC and Head to Staunton this Fall

Just over two hours from the nation’s capital, picturesque Staunton, Virginia, provides an inviting escape any time of year—but during the fall, the historic Shenandoah Valley town is perhaps even more appealing. Celebrate the colorful seasonal transition on foot, exploring the hundreds of miles of hiking trails lacing the mountains and forests surrounding the Blue … Continue reading 8 Reasons to Escape DC and Head to Staunton this Fall

8-reasons-1
Explore the fall colors in Shenandoah National Park. Vijay Kalakoti

Just over two hours from the nation’s capital, picturesque Staunton, Virginia, provides an inviting escape any time of year—but during the fall, the historic Shenandoah Valley town is perhaps even more appealing. Celebrate the colorful seasonal transition on foot, exploring the hundreds of miles of hiking trails lacing the mountains and forests surrounding the Blue Ridge town, savor the autumn harvest at Staunton’s open-air farmers market and farm-to-fork restaurants, and spend the evenings soaking up the local arts scene. The town has plenty to offer craft-beer-connoisseurs, adventure-seeking outdoor lovers, and seasonally-inspired foodies—or just about anyone looking for an excellent weekend getaway.

1. Cozy Bed & Breakfasts

Inn at Old Virginia
Inn at Old Virginia

Spend a restorative weekend recharging at one of Staunton’s historic bed & breakfasts. Opt for the garden cottage at the lovingly landscaped Artist’s House Bed & Breakfast; stay in one of the historically themed rooms at the Berkeley House B&B; or sequester yourself in the barn at the Inn at Old Virginia. Beyond the eclectic collection of bed & breakfasts in Staunton, the charming town also has plenty of elegant inns and boutique hotels—like the intimate Frederick House, a cozy hotel with a bed & breakfast vibe, or the centrally located and amenity-rich Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

2. Timeless Shakespearean Performances

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson | American Shakespeare Center
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson | American Shakespeare Center

 

Compensate for the increasingly earlier sunset time with an evening indoors at Staunton’s amazing performing arts venue, the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse. The venue is the world’s only recreation of the indoor Renaissance-era theatre graced by William Shakespeare. The Staunton-based playhouse showcases not only Shakespearian productions, but also more contemporary performances—like Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, a raucous show loaded with classic rock-style power ballads (on stage through November 26).

3. The Fall Foliage Bike Festival

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

Explore the Shenandoah Valley’s vibrant seasonal color on two-wheels at Staunton’s Fall Foliage Bike Festival (October 15-17). The two-day cycling celebration draws bikers from all over the East Coast and features routes of varying distance to suit both casual riders and seasoned cyclists— all of course looping through the bucolic Shenandoah Valley. The weekend also includes a vibrant Saturday Night Street Party in downtown Staunton, complete with a free public concert.

4. The Shenandoah Valley’s Harvest

Peruse the fresh, locally grown, Shenandoah Valley produce and seasonal artisanal delicacies at Staunton’s Farmers Market (Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon, April through November; Wednesdays 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., May through late September). After shopping for your own locally sourced ingredients, see how some of Staunton’s most celebrated chefs prepare the Shenandoah Valley’s seasonal bounty. Sample from the seasonally inspired menus at the town’s farm-to-fork eateries, like Zynodoa, serving elegant southern-inspired cuisine or The Shack, selected as “One of the Best New Restaurants in America” by Esquire magazine. The Store is a down-to-earth grocery store and local café using ingredients sourced directly from their farm, Nu-Beginning.

5. Seasonal Craft Brews

Celebrate the flavors of fall with seasonal newcomers to the tap list at Staunton’s three craft breweries—Queen City Brewing, Redbeard Brewing Company, and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company. Sample autumn-inspired brews like Redbeard’s Sweet Potato Pie Porter, slated for release in late September, and the Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company’s Fallback Apple. Or try crafting your own festive fall brew with the option to “Become the Brewer” at Queen City Brewing and whip up your own batch of ale. The brewery has more than 80 different recipes to peruse for inspiration. Staunton is also a stop along the regional Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, making the town a strategic jumping off point exploring a whole collection of mountain-fringed, regional breweries scattered throughout the Blue Ridge. You can find even more beer (and wine) options at Shenandoah Hops, an impressive retailer that also has a Friday night tasting event each week.

6. Stunning Scenic Byways

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The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the country’s most scenic fall drives. abi.bhattachan

Staunton is not only a portal to Skyline Drive, the iconic 105-mile thoroughfare bisecting Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, but it also sits at the northern cusp of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Flanked by the 200,000 acres of the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive is laden with 70 different scenic overlooks, while there are a staggering 280 viewpoints along the 469 miles of the national forest shrouded Blue Ridge Parkway—making the roadways arguably some of the best leaf peeping thoroughfares in the east. Check out Shenandoah National Park’s weekly fall report for peak leaf conditions.

7. Foliage Flanked Hiking Trails and Bountiful Backcountry Backpacking

Hit the trail during fall’s seasonal sweet spot—when the balmy summer weather has disappeared and the bugs have thinned. In Staunton, the options are almost unlimited, for everyone from casual day-hikers to trail-savvy backcountry gurus. Just outside town, the southward-winding Blue Ridge Parkway is a portal to more than 300 miles of trails, while Skyline Drive provides access to more than 500 miles of hiking trails in the Shenandoah National Park.

Staunton is also flanked by several sizable wilderness areas ideal for both extensive backcountry trips and seriously rugged day-hikes. The 19,290-acre Ramsey’s Draft Wilderness, dappled with 4,000-foot peaks and traversed by fishable trout streams, is just 20-miles west of Staunton. You can also explore the massive 27,248-acre Little River Roadless Area, which includes the second highest point in the George Washington National Forest, the 4,400-foot Reddish Knob.

8. Browse-Worthy Boutiques

Get a jump on the seasonal shopping and explore the eclectic assortment of uniquely local boutiques lining Staunton’s historic main drag. Pop in and peruse the fashionable styles at clothing stores like Design@Nine and Made; By the People for the People. Shop for socially conscious gifts at Latitudes Fair Trade Store and hunt for forgotten treasures at the Staunton Antiques Center. For a uniquely artsy shopping experience, spend an afternoon watching the glass blowing masters at Sunspots Studios (see live glassblowing daily until 4 p.m.)

Originally written by RootsRated for Staunton VA.

Fall Flavors: Farm-to-Cask Brewers Challenge

The long-awaited flavors of fall are captured in special release beers presented in the Farm-to-Cask Brewers Challenge. The first fall collaboration among the breweries of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, Farm-to-Cask showcases a one-weekend-only beer by each craft brewery. It’s a great day to sample and celebrate the harvest of the Shenandoah Valley. The charge to incorporate local ingredients with … Continue reading Fall Flavors: Farm-to-Cask Brewers Challenge

The long-awaited flavors of fall are captured in special release beers presented in the Farm-to-Cask Brewers Challenge. The first fall collaboration among the breweries of the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, Farm-to-Cask showcases a one-weekend-only beer by each craft brewery. It’s a great day to sample and celebrate the harvest of the Shenandoah Valley.

The charge to incorporate local ingredients with seasonal brews kicked off last weekend in Harrisonburg. Robust flavors were on tap at caskrelease_shareimage1200x1200_sept17Brothers Craft Brewing, Three Notch’d Tap Room, and Pale Fire Brewing. Now see what the brewers of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County have whipped up for this Saturday’s cask tap.

FARM-TO-CASK FALL FLAVORS

At Queen City Brewing Co. the Blackberry IPA includes local blackberries, of course. The abundant fruit is so readily available that neighboring Shenandoah National Park hosts an annual “all things blackberry” celebration in July.

Redbeard Brewing Co. has infused their Mosaic IPA with locally-grown Carolina Reaper Peppers, proclaimed the “world’s hottest chili” by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2013. The Carolina Reaper’s average SHU (Scoville Heat Units) is 1,569,300. For comparison, a Jalapeňo averages 2,500-5,000 SHU. 

The working farm brewery in Waynesboro, Stable Craft Brewing, is using home-grown ingredients to add über local flavors to their Harvest Ale. Cascade hops are a foundation of the Stable Craft line-up, but fresh-from-the-farm peaches and blackberries will add a sweet punch for your palate.

It’s apple season in Virginia, and Seven Arrows Brewing Co. is tapping a very Virginia apple lager this weekend. After brewing, the beverage is infused with locally-grown Cascade hops. Venture over and take a sip.

POST SIPPING

Wrap up your Farm-to-Cask day with more tastes of the Valley. Restaurants like The Shack and Zynodoa offer savory farm-fresh entrees to complete your adventure. 

PAC’N the Streets for a Staunton Street Fair

Old time street fairs rarely exist anymore, which is one more reason to #LOVEStaunton.  Staunton is arguably a top arts destination in Virginia, and PAC’N the Streets is one more box to check on the growing list of reasons. Sponsored by Staunton Performing Arts Center, this street fair is reminiscent of a bygone time that … Continue reading PAC’N the Streets for a Staunton Street Fair

Bella Skaggs, 8, of Waynesboro looks to monkey Django. She listens to street performer Jerry Brown while at the 'P.A.C.'n the Streets' celebration on East Beverley Street in downtown Staunton on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. Sponsored by the Staunton Performing Art Center Experience (S.P.A.C.E.), the celebrates the 100th birthday of The New Theatre.
Photo by Mike Tripp courtesy of The News Leader

Old time street fairs rarely exist anymore, which is one more reason to #LOVEStaunton. 

Staunton is arguably a top arts destination in Virginia, and PAC’N the Streets is one more box to check on the growing list of reasons. Sponsored by Staunton Performing Arts Center, this street fair is reminiscent of a bygone time that great-grandparents will likely still remember. It’s wholesome family fun with an honesty and goodness that exudes from every entertainer, every venue, and the city itself. There’s nowhere else to be on September 10th than downtown Staunton for PAC’N the Streets.

WHERE’S the fun?

The fun has spread an additional block for 2016! Beverley Street from Market Street to Central Avenue will be cordoned off for pedestrian-only traffic. That’s three blocks with a stage of entertainment at each end and a block of interactive children’s fun, too.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT?

Staunton Performing Arts Center will provide music, skits, and general merriment all day (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Something new will take each stage every 20 minutes, which is why PAC’N the Streets has become a highly popular event drawing thousands to the Queen City.

In addition to the stages, roaming performers, magicians, and characters will keep the atmosphere alive with amusement.

Arts and crafts vendors will be on hand, and a wide variety of food will be available for purchase. Seating for dining and watching the shows will be provided.

Kids will love the fun that Staunton Parks & Recreation and other entities provide. Look for the mini petting zoo featuring rescued animals. It’s a new feature this year that everyone will love.

Don’t be afraid to look beyond the fair, as Staunton’s shops and restaurants love to get in on the festive fun, too!

PAC’N the Streets is a rain or shine event. It’s also FREE! See you September 10th!

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 … Continue reading 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