Many people know the Shenandoah Valley as a peaceful and scenic destination for a weekend getaway. But it’s so much more than that. With world-class outdoor adventures, scenic roads that connect authentic mountain towns, fascinating historic sites and more, this 3-day itinerary is designed to help you discover the Southern Valley’s small towns and cities and bring you into their unique atmosphere.
Go horseback riding with North Mountain Outfitter. With trails ranging from flat ground to moderate inclines, this horseback riding opportunity will give you a chance to explore the outdoors and maybe even learn a new skill.
Then stop over for an afternoon tea and a snack a The Inn at MeadowCroft. This beautiful 1795 log home that has been renovated with all the modern amenities into a beautiful inn, sits right next to a working farm and is surrounded by terraced gardens.
Take a tour of the Polyface Farms where you can learn about their goals to push environmentally friendly farming practices toward new levels of expertise.
Head to downtown Staunton to explore the area, the little shops and quaint cafes, before stopping for dinner.
Enjoy an amazing dinner at The Shack, a 26-seat restaurant with a constantly changing menu influenced by the region and accented by James Beard Semi-Finalist Chef/Owner Ian Boden’s mountain roots and Eastern European Jewish heritage.
Spend the night at The Blackburn Inn, a boutique historic hotel in Staunton, that sits on 80 acres and exudes old-time charm while promising modern finishes, artful design and modern amenities in each of its 49 guest rooms. Learn more about its unusual history as the place started as a hospital, became a prison and now is one of the most celebrated inns in the Valley.
Start the day with a French-inspired breakfast at Reunion Bakery & Espresso, a place that owner and head baker Bryan Hollar envisioned as a social crossroads for people of all ages and backgrounds. The beautiful dining room, French-inspired baking and wickedly good espresso can all be found here and are guaranteed to help you start your day right.
Continue the morning with a hike along Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive.
After that active morning, stop for lunch at Basic City Beer/Hops Kitchen in Waynesboro. The restaurant is located in a renovated foundry and everything about this place is based on the Basic City beer. The company even leverages a natural spring to pump artesian water as the foundation of the brewery’s beers, which are served across one of the largest single-pour zinc bar tops in the U.S.
Check out the local kombucha at the Blue Ridge Bucha, the first full-service kombucha taproom in the state of Virginia and one of just a handful on the East Coast. The fruit- and flower-infused flavors of this Certified Organic kombucha are brewed from pure Blue Ridge Mountain water.
Take a tour of Wade’s Mill, the oldest continuously operating commercial grist mill in the Shenandoah Valley, Wade’s Mill has been stone-grinding local grains in the traditional way since 1750.
Stop over for a few drinks on the terrace at Rocca Bar Ristorante, on Lexington’s Main Street.
The head over to Haywood’s Piano Bar for dinner. Named in memory of a man who liked to eat well, loved Dixieland, jazz and big swing music, never met a stranger and never saw a piano bar he didn’t like, Haywood’s Piano Bar offers a casual lively experience with locally sourced chef-driven cuisine and nightly entertainment.
And if you feel courageous, take a tour of the Ghost/Stonewall Jackson Cemetery to learn about the rich history of this cemetery. The tour is only about 40 minutes long so you won’t be caught at midnight there, just in case that’s spooky for you.
Stay overnight at the Hampton Inn Col Alto, Manor House, a breathtaking manor house – the Col Alto Mansion – nestled on seven acres. Some of the rooms here feature contemporary touches while 10 of the rooms are restored manor rooms that offer a glimpse into the past.
Star the day with a visit at Natural Bridge State Park. Once owned by Thomas Jefferson and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 215-foot-tall Natural Bridge is a limestone gorge carved out by Cedar Creek. But the newest Virginia State Park is more than just the bridge: beautiful forests and rolling meadows, vistas of surrounding mountains and the James River valley all display nature’s splendor.
Take a tour of the Virginia Safari Park, an 180-acre drive-through zoo located in the town of Natural Bridge which features 1,000 free-roaming animals. Visitors can drive through or take a public tractor-driven wagon.
Stop for lunch at Southern Inn. Located in the heart of historical downtown Lexington, the Southern Inn Restaurant offers a contemporary American menu as well as classic Southern dishes.
Go back in time with a Horse-Drawn Carriage Tour of Historic District and discover Lexington as you travel the streets of this unique 19th-century college town and learn about its captivating history.
Enjoy a treat at Sweet Things Ice Cream Shoppe where you can delight your senses with homemade gourmet ice creams in the Shoppe’s famous hand-rolled waffle cones, along with sundaes, shakes, splits, cakes, and pies.
Explore Washington & Lee University campus and Virginia Military Institute Post. Founded in 1749, Washington and Lee is one of the preeminent liberal arts colleges in the country and Virginia Military Institute is a small, public college committed to leadership development in a military environment.