Down in the Valley: Visit Shenandoah Valley
Nestled between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains in Virginia, the Shenandoah Valley offers beautiful rolling hills and rich local culture. Visitors – including families with kids, couples, groups and solo travellers – will discover natural attractions such as caves, natural bridges and mountaintop vistas, as well as wineries, breweries, outdoor adventure, folk music and more. Vibrant small towns feature local shops and restaurants, plus a sense of rural hospitality, all just a two-to-three-hour drive from Washington, DC and Maryland. Best of all, this large swath of western Virginia spans more than 200 miles, offering abundant and diverse opportunities for adventure every season of the year.
Cruise the Countryside
Venture off the beaten path in Shenandoah Valley by following Route 11 through small towns and beautiful countryside. This scenic alternative to the busier Interstate 81 offers visitors a chance to discover rural charm and small town hospitality. Stop off Route 11 for authentic Americana experiences such as a visit to the Route 11 Potato Chip factory in Shenandoah County and a tour of Luray Caverns in Page County.
Skyline Drive, which spans 105 miles within Shenandoah National Park, soars across mountaintops and offers expansive scenic vistas from frequent overlooks. Journey by car, bicycle or motorcycle on this unique two-lane road that winds through the park’s lush forests. Stops along the way offer visitors centres with interpretive displays, lodging, campgrounds and trailheads.
Get Outdoors in Any Season
Any time of year, find plenty of options for outdoor adventure throughout the Valley. Explore forested mountains on established hiking trails at Shenandoah National Park, George Washington and Jefferson national forests and other parks. Hike a section of the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail, which runs through the valley – more than 100 miles are within Shenandoah National Park. Come nightfall, stay at park campgrounds or enjoy the backcountry as you explore beautiful, remote areas of the national park. For added adventure, explore Shenandoah Valley trails by horseback on a guided trail ride.
Spring through fall, visitors can canoe, kayak, relax in a river tube and white-water raft down the Shenandoah River. Or, cast a line into the region’s many waterways and creeks as you discover the valley’s fishing spots on your own or with a guide. Come winter, take to the slopes for skiing and snowboarding at Bryce Resort in Shenandoah County or Massanutten Resort, which is located in Rockingham County.
Celebrate Agricultural Roots
With roots in agriculture and farming, Shenandoah Valley offers a wide variety of locally produced goods. The growing number of craft breweries and vineyards offer visitors an authentic taste of the valley. Drive part or all of the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail to discover many of the valley’s beautiful wineries and vineyards, featuring beautiful views, wine tastings and scenic settings where you can enjoy a glass of wine. Also sample locally crafted beers with unique flavours at regional breweries, as well as apple ciders pressed from locally grown apples at valley cideries.
Find regionally produced foods at numerous farm markets and venues, including the Shenandoah Heritage Market in Harrisonburg and Kitchen’s Orchard and Farm Market in Martinsburg-Berkeley County, West Virginia. At the Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns, discover agricultural heritage exhibits plus an indoor beehive and more. In addition to edibles, scout art and crafts made by local artisans at many shops and galleries.
Experience farm life first-hand by picking apples – which come in dozens of varieties – and other produce, such as strawberries, at local orchards and farms.
Marvel at Natural Wonders
Because of the Shenandoah Valley’s unique geographic location, the region features many unusual and interesting natural wonders, including limestone caves and warm springs. Grand Caverns Regional Park, Luray Caverns and Shenandoah Caverns all offer illuminated underground caves with incredible limestone formations. Visitors can easily walk through the caverns on guided tours. Important regional history surrounds the Natural Bridge of Virginia, a 215-foot-high natural rock arch that soars above a creek-side trail. For relaxation, soak in warm mineral springs such as the Jefferson Pools at Homestead Resort in the County of Bath.
Amble Through Small, Historic Towns
Many small towns throughout the Shenandoah Valley feature quaint, revitalized downtown streets lined with shops and restaurants as well as small museums and parks. There are typically wineries and breweries, farms and orchards, farmers’ markets and recreation opportunities within a short drive. Visitors may also hear regional bluegrass and mountain music performed at valley festivals, concerts and events throughout the year.
In Harrisonburg, visitors stroll along an eclectic downtown to discover Oasis Fine Art Gallery, craft beer and local eateries. Virginia’s first Culinary District offers a variety of both locally owned and nationally recognized restaurants that will take you on a culinary trip around the world. Nearby, find beautiful trails and botanicals at James Madison University’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Other local attractions include the Virginia Quilt Museum, White Oak Lavender Farm and Harrisonburg’s year-round, open-air farmers’ market.
Popular attractions in Waynesboro, include the Shenandoah Valley Art Center and the Waynesboro Heritage Museum and Plumb House. Sample libations at local wineries, breweries and cideries, and enjoy easy access to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive.
A historic college town, Lexington, features the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University in a vibrant downtown full of dining and shopping. Other Lexington attractions include Natural Bridge Caverns, the Virginia Horse Center, Hull’s Drive-In Theater and local ghost tours.
Find six national historic districts in Staunton, where you’ll also enjoy wine bars, coffee houses, wineries and local breweries in addition to cultural attractions such as the American Shakespeare Center. Nearby, explore Grand Caverns Regional Park and Natural Chimneys Regional Park.