A Day Off in Staunton

Editors’ picks for 24 hours below the Blue Ridge.

Photo courtesy of Visit Staunton

In Staunton, the deep roots of Virginia’s history meet the charm of small town living. Specialty stores line picturesque streets, nestled between popular restaurants that draw devoted hikers, campers and passers-through alike. A day off spent in this Shenandoah Valley destination promises a glimpse at a city carving its identity out of past traditions and new community. Here, we offer a few ways to make the most of it.

9:00 a.m. Fresh off the farm

With only a few tables and a high-demand housemade sausage that sells out fast, Farmhouse Kitchen & Wares offers a perfect first taste of Staunton. The restaurant’s farm-to-table philosophy produces fresh favorites for breakfast like made-from scratch waffles, sourdough toast and quiche du jour. A select line of cookware is also available for diners to browse—wares with European farmhouse elegance that emphasize the restaurant’s aesthetic. FarmhouseKitchenandWares.com

10:30 a.m. Trace your roots

Search your lineage at one of Staunton’s many historic locations, including the Augusta County Courthouse or Thornrose Cemetery. The town was first settled in 1732, making it a prime location for Virginians to discover surprising branches of their family trees. Who knows? Perhaps you’re descended from Lady Rebecca Staunton herself, or a distant relative of Staunton-born President Woodrow Wilson. Genealogy experts at the Augusta County Genealogical Society are available by appointment to help you dig further. VisitStaunton.com

2:00 p.m. Take a slice—or two or three

Satisfy your afternoon rumblings at Shenandoah Pizza Company, a downtown restaurant and tap house serving up homemade dough topped with a signature house red or white sauce. Keep it simple with the Augusta Margherita, or sample one of several more creative offerings, such as the Virginia Vineyard pizza with fresh grapes, gorgonzola and rosemary, or the Newtown with spicy marinara, General Tso’s chicken, broccoli, onions and fresh mozzarella. Beer lovers will also enjoy the extensive tap list featuring local brews. ShenPizza.com 

3:00 p.m. Sweet indulgence

Don’t even say that you don’t want dessert. The Split Banana Co. offers Italian-style gelato made fresh on-site. Flavors of the month include lemon, pistachio and coconut, along with other rotating and seasonal selections, such as banana stracciatella, chocolate hazelnut, and peanut butter and jelly. Grab a cup or cone to go and enjoy a stroll through Staunton’s streets with your treat in-hand. TheSplitBanana.com

3:30 p.m. Boutique browsing

Spend the afternoon wandering up and down Beverley Street, home to the largest cluster of Staunton’s shops and boutiques. Duck into the Staunton Antiques Center or Crown Jewelers to browse for your kind of gem, or visit the recently rebranded Mint Julep Boutique for an upscale vintage women’s collection. Just around the corner is the Beverley Cigar Store, whose wide selection and polished leather and wood interior promise your smoking jacket will fit right in. StauntonDowntown.org, CrownLTD.net

6:00 p.m. Toast the town

Make a pit-stop at Yelping Dog Wine and Cheese Shop. High-top tables and soft lighting meet shelf after shelf of local and global wines in this cozy bar. The shop’s wine by the glass changes weekly, ensuring a fresh experience any time you visit. Gourmet cheese and charcuterie plates are available for order, as well as a popular grilled cheese dish, which affords a more casual take on the aperitif tradition. YelpingDogWine.com

7:30 p.m. Old style dining

For dinner, settle in at the Mill Street Grill, housed in one of the city’s nineteenth century flour mills. The restaurant offers relaxed dining with classic American dishes and a proud variety of meat selections, including New York Strip, charbroiled pork chops, St. Louis ribs, and even a Flinstone’s Barbecue Platter for the bold. But don’t worry, seafood, vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available. MillStreetGrill.com

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