Staunton is not only an ideal base from which to explore Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains, it also boasts one of America’s best Historic Main Streets and is known for its thriving Arts and Culture scene. Whether you are interested in art, music, history, architecture, fine dining or outdoor recreation, Staunton is a great place to visit.
1.The Artisans Center of Virginia
© The Artisans Center of Virginia
Staunton and the surrounding Shenandoah Valley has attracted a large number of artists and artisans over the years, many of whom depend upon the Artisans Center of Virginia to promote their crafts and implement systems to improve their economy. The Artisans Center of Virginia has its headquarters in Staunton, where it encourages artists and crafters to showcase and improve their talents through courses, workshops, exhibitions and other arts and crafts events. You can visit their website to find out what event are scheduled and get a full list of the various Craft Trails which you can follow to visit Open Door Studios, Art-related venues, Antique centers, Agri-artisan farms and much more.
The Artisans Center of Virginia, 1290 Richmond Ave, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-886-1684
2.Betsy Bell and Mary Grey Wilderness Park
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If you want to admire some of the best-ever views out over the Shenandoah Valley towards the Blue Ridge Mountains, you will find the Observation Platform (at an elevation of 1,959 feet) at the Betsy Bell and Mary Grey Wilderness Park hard to beat, and getting there is half the fun. You can access the Observation Platform by road provided that you have a high-clearance SUV (and are confident about negotiating a series of sharp bends, narrow tracks and scary heights). Other ways of getting to the viewpoint include a challenging mountain-bike ride or a fairly steep hike. You can bring along a picnic to enjoy while soaking up the sensational views.
Betsy Bell Wilderness Park, 525 Betsy Bell Rd, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-332-3945
3.Bruce A. Elder Antique and Classic Automobiles
© Bruce A. Elder Antique and Classic Automobiles
This one is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in the development of the automobile over the last one hundred years. Bruce A. Elder Antique and Classic Automobiles is located in the heart of historic Downtown Staunton, where it is housed in the legendary Beverley Garage building, which was built in 1911 to be the finest Ford dealership in the South. You will need to schedule your visit for the weekend, as the professionally guided tours of the attraction are only available on Fridays and Saturdays. The collection includes several rare one-off vehicles, race-cars, limos and a few trucks. Amazingly, some of the vehicles on show are available for purchase.
Bruce A. Elder Antique and Classic Automobiles, 114 S. New Street, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-885-0500
4.Frontier Culture Museum
© Frontier Culture Museum
The Frontier Culture Museum is an interesting and educational attraction suitable for the whole family. The museums tells the story of daily life of the early immigrants and settlers by way of 11 permanent exhibitions, housed in original structures which have been brought to the site from England, Germany, Ireland, West Africa and America. Costumed docents are available to answer all your questions and you can tour the museum at your own pace on a self-guided tour - shuttles run back and forth for your convenience. The museum also offers fun and educational five-day Summer Camp programs for children aged 5 to 8, or 9 to 12, who will learn many of the skills which were essential to survival for the pioneer settlers.
Frontier Culture Museum, 1200 Richmond Rd, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-332-7850
5.Kline’s Dairy Bar
© Kline’s Dairy Bar
No visit to Staunton would be complete without a nostalgic visit to Kline’s Dairy Bar to taste their ice-cream of the day. The original Kline’s was established in 1943 in Downtown Harrisburg and was so popular that the owners established another three outlets including the Staunton venue which also serves food and has a private function space. You can taste the difference when you try their delicious ice creams which are still hand-made daily using only the best and freshest ingredients. You can visit their website to see which of their special flavors are available each day. Staunton visitors and locals can also order delicious take-out food for private functions and made-to-order ice-cream cakes will soon be available.
Kline’s Dairy Bar, 906 Greenville Ave, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-885-4664
6.Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room
© Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room
Imagine coming across a traditional British country tea room in the heart of Taunton Virginia, and you will have an idea of what to expect when you visit the Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room. You could be forgiven for thinking that you have journeyed back in time to Shakespeare’s birthplace when you enter the delightfully quaint Tea Room which is chock full of Victorian antiques and crockery. You can try their traditional English High Tea or enjoy a Ploughman’s Lunch, Devonshire Cream Tea or other light snacks and there are also several delicious traditionally English treats to take home with you. Since the Tea Room is quite small reservations are recommended, especially on weekends.
Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room, 950 W. Beverley Street, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-885-8885
7.Oak Grove Theater
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For over 60 years Taunton locals and visitors have been treated to a summer season of plays produced by the Oak Grove Theater group. Every year the performing arts group produces a five-play season which runs from late March to Late September and is held at the delightful Oak Grove out-door theater which provides a unique ambiance. The subject matter of the five plays is varied and usually includes a fair amount of humor and even the odd farce or two.
Theater-goers are invited to arrive early and bring along a picnic to enjoy in the grove before the start of the play. Each of the five plays runs for seven nights and the schedule changes each Thursday.
Oak Grove Theater, 845 Quick’s Mill Rd, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-248-5005
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8.Ox Eye Vineyards
© Ox Eye Vineyards
Named for the distinctive wild daisies that carpet the farm each year, Ox Eye Vineyards are located in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley. The property offers near-perfect vine growing conditions with deep limestone soils, cool-climate breezes and just the right fall temperatures to produce full flavored grapes. After selling their grapes to area wineries for decades, owners John and Susan Kiers started producing their own single-estate wines in 2010 and currently produce a range of delicious food-friendly wines which includes Chardonnays, Rieslings, Pinot Noirs and Lembergers. You can taste their wines at their beautifully restored Tasting Room in Taunton’s historic Wharf district which is open daily.
Ox Eye Vineyards Tasting Room, 44 Middlebrook Ave, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-849-7926
9.Queen City Brewing
© Queen City Brewing
Queen City Brewing opened its doors in 2003 and is the first brewery to do so in Staunton since the prohibition. Over the next 15 years they have expanded their on-site brewing capacity and now offer over 30 beers on tap. Their range includes a selection of lagers, several ales (including Belgian, Irish and British ales as well as IPA’s), porter, fruity blends and much more. If you are not a wine lover you can try some of their home-made sodas, alcoholic ginger beer or their fruity Ruby Sangria. On Friday nights there is always a food truck, (or you are welcome to bring in your own meals) and there is live music every Wednesday and Friday night.
Queen City Brewing, 834 Springhill Rd, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-213-8014
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10.Staunton Music Festival
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Although there is no shortage of musical entertainment in Staunton, the Staunton Music Festival is the highlight of the summer season for all music lovers. The festival runs for 10 days in the middle of August each year and in that short space of time you can attend up to 30 concerts. The great news is that the festival brings the joy of classical music to everyone by hosting one or two free concerts each day and well as a longer evening performance for which you need tickets. Serious music lovers who intend to visit several concerts can purchase an annual or summer pass which offers discounted tickets. The concerts take place at a variety of venues throughout historic downtown Staunton.
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At Sunrise Orchards you can spend a relaxing day in the country enjoying outstanding views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The orchards offer pick-your-own apples every year from the second week of September until all the apples have been picked (usually around the beginning of October). Visiting the orchards is a great day out for families, giving children the chance to see where fruit comes from and to have fun picking their own bushel, peck or bag of tasty apples. Visitors are invited to bring along a picnic and enjoy a day out surrounded by the beautiful landscape. At Thanksgiving you can buy perfect pie pumpkins together with a trusted recipe for the perfect pumpkin pie.
Sunrise Orchards, 218 Mt. Tabor Rd, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-886-5186
12.Sunspots Studios Artisan Center
© Sunspots Studios Artisan Center
You can learn all about the magical art of glass blowing at the Sunspot Studios in Staunton’s historic downtown shopping and dining district. You can visit the studios any day of the week to see a live demonstration of glass blowing and to buy a unique piece of glass art to take home. You can even create your own glass masterpiece – the glass artists will assist you to blow your own ornament – this experience is suitable for anyone over the age of seven. There is a wonderful assortment of beautifully crafted glass vases, ornaments, plates and more available in the gallery.
Sunspot Studios, 202 S. Lewis Street, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-885-0678
13.Staunton Farmer’s Market
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The Staunton Farmer’s Market is the highlight of the week for Staunton locals, who get the opportunity to buy fresh wholesome food products directly from the producers. The Saturday market starts at the beginning of April and runs until the Saturday before Thanksgiving, while the Wednesday market runs from the beginning of May to the end of September. Everything you buy at the market has been produced by stall-holders who are very proud of their produce and in most cases harvest fruit and vegetables the night before bringing them to market to ensure you get the freshest produce. You can buy everything from free-range eggs and fresh herbs to artisan breads and home-make pickles and preserves.
Staunton Farmer’s Market, the Wharf Parking Lot, Downtown Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-448-1937
© The BY&BY
Conveniently tucked in between the Blackfriar’s Playhouse and the Mary Baldwin University, the BY&BY is a favorite Staunton coffee shop which has gone from strength to strength since opening its doors in 2003. BY&BY now serves a variety of great fair-trade coffees and espressos, local teas, iced coffees and more. You are welcome to come in and meet the team while you enjoy your favorite beverage and one of their delicious cakes or pastries. More recently the BY&BY has opened a beer garden and serves fine craft beers alongside all-day breakfasts and delicious grilled sandwiches. On Monday nights you can enjoy outdoor movies in the beer garden (weather permitting).
The BY&BY, 140 E. Beverley St, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-887-0041
© Zynodoa Restaurant
Staunton has a reputation for great restaurants and Zynodoa is one of the city’s most popular meeting and eating places. Zynodoa is a fine example of a true Shenandoah Valley farm-to-fork eatery offering the freshest possible locally-sourced ingredients. Most of the meats you eat at Zynodoa come from the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont area while their fish and seafood is sustainably sourced in Chesapeake Bay. The food is carefully prepared to offer delicious and innovative Southern cuisine. The restaurant is open daily for dinner and hosts a fabulous brunch on Sundays. The wine list is extensive, featuring the best produce of Virginia, California and the rest of the world.
Zynodoa Restaurant, 115 East Beverley St, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-885-7775
16.The Camera Heritage Museum
© The Camera Heritage Museum
Staunton’s wonderful Camera Heritage Museum is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in photography. The museum is home to a unique collection of vintage cameras which trace the developments in photography from the early 19th century to today. Most of the cameras on display come from precious private collections and have wonderful stories to tell, and many have historical significance. The museum has put together an informative self-guided stereo audio tour which you can use to explore the museum at your own pace and learn all about its fascinating collections which literally grow by the week as more and more vintage cameras are donated from all over the world.
The Camera Heritage Museum, 1 West Beverley Street, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-886-8535
17.Staunton Military Academy Museum
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Located on the campus of the Mary Baldwin College, the Staunton Military Academy Museum endeavors to tell the story of Staunton’s famous Military Academy which once owned much of the present day college campus. Today the museum shares its premises with the VWIL (Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership Museum, the former embracing the past while the latter looks to the future. Most of the uniforms, medals and other artifacts at the museum have been donated by former alumni, many of whom went on to join the armed services and represented their country in WWII or the Vietnam War. The museum is open from 1pm to 4pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays and entrance is free.
Staunton Military Academy Museum, Mary Baldwin College, 227 Kable St, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-887-7042
18.Fields of Gold Farm Trail
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The wonderful fertile soil of the Shenandoah Valley is responsible for producing a whopping one billion dollars worth of agricultural produce each year. When you spend a day or a week exploring the Fields of Gold Farm Trail you will get to see what goes into producing that delicious meal on your plate. The Farm Trail will lead you to dozens of valley farms where you can meet the farmers, pick your own fruit, take a tour of a working farm or watch the children feeding the animals. You can visit local Farmer’s markets, enjoy a wine tasting or savor a delicious fresh farm-to-fork dinner. There are several trails to choose from – you can download a Trail map from the website.
19.Free Guided Walking Tour
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Every Saturday morning from May through October you can join a free guided walking tour of Historic Downtown Staunton. As you explore four of the city’s six historic districts you will soon understand why Staunton is widely regarded as having one of the best historic downtowns in the U.S. Your volunteer tour guide will bring the history of Staunton to life with descriptions of how the city has evolved from an early pioneering settlement to become a thriving commercial hub in the 19th century. Architecture enthusiasts will particularly enjoy learning about the history of the beautifully restored historic buildings. No reservations necessary – meet at the R. R. Smith Center (opposite the Visitor’s Center) at 10am.
Free Guided Walking Tour, 20 South New Street, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-885-7676
20.The Wharf Historic District
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If it wasn’t for the arrival of the railroad in 1854 Taunton’s Historic Wharf District may never have existed. The railroad brought booming business to Staunton and warehouses sprang up all over the Wharf District. Taking a self-guided tour of the Historic Wharf District is a must for architecture enthusiasts who will have many interesting buildings to admire; maps of the area are available from several retailers or from the Staunton Visitor’s Center. You will see several different architectural styles as you stroll through the district including the Federal style, Queen Anne style and the Greek-revival American Hotel. The original C & O train station (now The Depot Grill) was curiously built in the Bungalow style which seems a little strange for a station building.
21.Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum
© Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum
Showcasing the life and times of America’s twenty-eighth president, the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum is housed in the late president’s birthplace in Staunton’s Gospel Hill Historic District. The beautifully restored former Manse is a fine example of Greek revival architecture and is furnished with authentic period pieces and many of the late president’s personal effects. You will learn about the president’s early life as you make your way through the seven galleries on a self-guided tour. Highlights of the museum include a 1919 Pierce-Arrow limosine and an eerily realistic World War I trench exhibit and younger visitors will enjoy the scavenger hunt held in the historic gardens.
Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, 20 N. Coalter St, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-885-0897
22.The Yelping Dog Wine and Cheese Shop
© The Yelping Dog Wine and Cheese Shop
The Yelping Dog is the ideal place to head for in Staunton if you want to find a wonderful selection of gourmet cheeses and wines under one roof. But if does not end with cheese and wines – the Yelping Dog also offers a good selection of craft beers to enjoy on the premises or take home with you. You can spend a relaxing evening enjoying craft beers, wines-by-the-glass and a delicious sandwich or cheese platter. If you need any advice about wines the team at Yelping Dog will be happy to assist you select the perfect wine for your planned meal and supply you with food and wine pairing suggestions and tasting notes.
The Yelping Dog Wine and Cheese Shop, 9 East Beverley Rd, Staunton, VA 24401, Phone: 540-885-2275
23.Black Raven Ghost Tours
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Black Raven Ghost Tours are operated by Black Raven Paranormal, and offer a novel way of learning about the history, legends and ghouls of historic Downtown Staunton. When you join their popular Queen City Ghost Tour you will take a lantern-lit trip back in time to the earliest days in Staunton and learn all about the mysterious people who shaped the history of the city as you visit six haunted sites. During October, there are several tours to choose from including the Haunted Depot Tour and the Dark Staunton Tour. Tours meet on the corner of Johnson Street and New Street – book your tour by calling +1 540 448 2743
23 Best Things to Do in Staunton, Virginia
- The Artisans Center of Virginia, Photo: The Artisans Center of Virginia
- Betsy Bell and Mary Grey Wilderness Park, Photo: Courtesy of secheve8 - Fotolia.com
- Bruce A. Elder Antique and Classic Automobiles, Photo: Bruce A. Elder Antique and Classic Automobiles
- Frontier Culture Museum, Photo: Frontier Culture Museum
- Kline’s Dairy Bar, Photo: Kline’s Dairy Bar
- Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room, Photo: Anne Hathaway Cottage Tea Room
- Oak Grove Theater, Photo: Courtesy of Hanoi Photography - Fotolia.com
- Ox Eye Vineyards, Photo: Ox Eye Vineyards
- Queen City Brewing, Photo: Queen City Brewing
- Staunton Music Festival, Photo: Courtesy of Bits and Splits - Fotolia.com
- Sunrise Orchards, Photo: Courtesy of coco - Fotolia.com
- Sunspots Studios Artisan Center, Photo: Sunspots Studios Artisan Center
- Staunton Farmer’s Market, Photo: Courtesy of Shelley - Fotolia.com
- The BY&BY, Photo: The BY&BY
- Zynodoa Restaurant, Photo: Zynodoa Restaurant
- The Camera Heritage Museum, Photo: The Camera Heritage Museum
- Staunton Military Academy Museum, Photo: Courtesy of Amy - Fotolia.com
- Fields of Gold Farm Trail, Photo: Courtesy of travnikovstudio - Fotolia.com
- Free Guided Walking Tour, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- The Wharf Historic District, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, Photo: Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum
- The Yelping Dog Wine and Cheese Shop, Photo: The Yelping Dog Wine and Cheese Shop
- Black Raven Ghost Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Zeferli - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Bram - Fotolia.com