Discover Staunton: A Small Town with Big Character

Nestled in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Staunton beckons travelers with its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and breathtaking natural beauty, as per this travel blog post from SouthernLiving. This small town, pronounced “Stan-ten,” boasts six well-preserved historic districts, each adorned with beautifully restored buildings and Victorian-style architecture. Despite its size, Staunton offers a diverse range of attractions and activities for every type of traveler.

Staunton’s arts and culture scene is thriving, with the American Shakespeare Center and the Blackfriars Playhouse at its center. The Blackfriars Playhouse, a re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater, is considered one of the world’s most historically significant theaters. Here, you can enjoy performances of Shakespeare’s timeless classics like “Hamlet” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” as well as seasonal works like “A Christmas Carol.”

For a deeper dive into history, the Frontier Culture Museum, located on the outskirts of Staunton, is the largest open-air living history museum in the Shenandoah Valley. Costumed interpreters bring to life the stories of Native American tribes, European immigrants, and enslaved Africans who settled in Virginia. Music enthusiasts will find themselves in heaven during the Staunton Music Festival, a late-summer event that hosts over 80 renowned and emerging musical artists across more than 20 performances. Best of all, most of the concerts are free to the public. If you prefer live bands, venues like Gypsy Hill Park and Tempest Bar & Lounge regularly feature local talent.

Staunton’s walkable historic downtown area is a treasure trove of boutiques and cafes, making it a delight for leisurely strolls. The town is home to Mary Baldwin University, adding youthful energy to the mix. But it’s not just about shopping and education; Staunton has a rich historical heritage to explore. The Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum is a must-visit, showcasing historic photographs, artifacts, and even the Pierce-Arrow limousine that carried President Wilson after negotiating the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. You can also explore the very house where the 28th president was born. The Camera Heritage Museum is a photographer’s dream, featuring over 7,000 cameras spanning more than 150 years of photography technology. Additionally, the museum boasts a collection of more than 2,000 vintage photographs of Staunton and Augusta County.

For those who enjoy shopping, Staunton offers a variety of options, especially along Beverley Street, the town’s main thoroughfare. Vintage shops like Billy Opal, Juniper Lane, and Eclectic Retro are perfect for unique finds. Remedy Burger is a must-visit for burger lovers, with options like the signature Remedy Burger and the veggie-centric Broccoli Burger. If you’re craving Salvadoran-style food, Gloria’s Pupuseria serves up mouth-watering pupusas, pasteles, and tamales. For a taste of nostalgia, don’t miss Wright’s Dairy-Rite, which has been serving burgers and fries since 1952. Their curb service adds a touch of old-school charm to your dining experience, and you must try the Wright’s Wheelie– a hot glazed donut topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. Satisfy your sweet tooth at Sweet Addie’s Waffle Shop, where liege waffles can be adorned with toppings like crushed Oreos, mini marshmallows, and more. They also offer savory waffle combinations, including fried chicken, gravy, and white cheddar mac & cheese.

When it’s time to rest, Staunton has several charming accommodations. Berkeley Place, dating back to 1896, is an elegant boutique inn steeped in history. Recently renovated, this one-time mansion now enchants guests with its historical charm. Gibson’s Warehouse, a boutique property, boasts industrial-chic guest rooms with exposed brick walls and unique design elements. Hotel 24 South combines historic charm with modern amenities, including luxurious pillow-top mattresses, an indoor pool, and the 1924 Lounge for casual dining.

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