18 Things to Do in Staunton (Virginia’s Most Underrated City)

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Staunton is one of the coolest cities in Virginia. Perhaps even the entire East Coast (just trust me here).

These are some of the best things to do in Staunton VA for a rookie visitor, including my favorite place to stay for an unforgettable trip!

Are you planning your trip to Staunton last minute?

If you’re traveling to Staunton last minute, you want to ensure you have your lodging booked ahead of time! Below are some of my top picks.

🛌  Best places to stay in Staunton:

  1. The Blackburn Inn (this is my top pick – I discuss my stay below!)
  2. Hotel 24 South (located in the city center)
  3. Berkeley House Bed & Breakfast

🚗  Looking for the best way to get around VA? Click here to check rental car rates for Virginia!

I know Virginia like the back of my hand. I spent my childhood (and into my teenage years) traveling the state extensively every weekend and summer for sports tournaments.

And, throughout the years, I realized that Staunton had something going on that was unique to other cities and towns in the state. With a historic downtown and rolling hills as Staunton’s backdrop, this city was special.

Best things to do in Staunton (from a fangirl of the city!)
Best things to do in Staunton (from a fangirl of the city!)

When I went back to explore it as an adult, I was completely shocked at how cool Staunton was!

This guide will contain some of the best Staunton attractions, places to visit, and landmarks that helped make this city my absolute favorite weekend getaway in the state of Virginia.

Mill Street - one of Staunton's most famous restaurants
Mill Street – one of Staunton’s most famous restaurants

And, at the end of this Staunton travel guide, I have included a map of exactly where to find the places I have put on here!

Please let me know if I missed anything on this guide (or if any new, cool spots have opened) so I can check them out when I am back.

Best Things to Do in Staunton, VA

1. Wander the Historic Downtown

For those visiting Staunton for the first time, start downtown! Honestly, it is one of the best downtowns in the state of Virginia (I personally think it is THE best) and it offers a glimpse into the city’s past with a touch of its present (and future).

It is prettier when the weather cooperates...
It is prettier when the weather cooperates.

Along the streets of downtown Staunton, you’ll see street art and murals, independent cafes and restaurants, and more.

Depending on when you are visiting Staunton, you might also find a festival or two being held along the red brick sidewalks of the old town.

Wandering the downtown after dark
Wandering the downtown after dark

In this guide, you will find plenty of the places I list actually located downtown, so I won’t give too much more info here, but just trust me. Staunton’s downtown is one-of-a-kind.

2. Support Local Artisans at The Foundry Pop-Ups

Address: 17 W Beverley St.
Website: https://thefoundrypopups.com/

My very first stop on my last trip to Staunton was The Foundry Pop-Ups, a shop that allows local artisans and craftspeople to put their masterpieces on display and for sale.

The Foundry also has a sister shop in Hagerstown, MD, which I thought was pretty cool (I also think Hagerstown is severely underrated). 

Inside The Foundry Pop-Ups
Inside The Foundry Pop-Ups

Nevertheless, this shop gives these local artists a place to build a customer base as they are growing and developing their businesses. Their motto is ‘You focus on the product, we manage the business’. Honestly, what a genius idea.

Inside, I found everything from homemade candles to artwork and local jewelry.

Jewelry from The Foundry
Jewelry from The Foundry (by Toothmark Metals)

I picked up a ring from a local artist called Toothmark Metals who repurposes metal into jewelry. I bought their Hypnotist ring.

This is the perfect place to grab a Staunton souvenir to go home with!

3. Stay Overnight at The Blackburn Inn

Address: 301 Greenville Ave
Check hotel rates and availability

There is nothing better than booking a night at a historic hotel in Virginia, and The Blackburn Inn allows you to do just that in Staunton.

The Blackburn Inn and Conference Center is a stone’s throw from downtown (I walked the distance, but you can also drive) and has 49 rooms available, all offering modern comfort with a ‘timeless charm’, as they call it.

A view over the 'complex'
A view over the ‘complex’

While the rooms were comfortable and worth staying in simply for that, the best thing about The Blackburn Inn is the property itself.

It is kind of like its own little ‘village’ within the property.

The Blackburn Inn
The Blackburn Inn

Not all buildings (like The Brookdale and The Bindery) are open for guests, but you are mostly free to wander about the property and see some of the historical buildings on your own.

Historically, the Blackburn Inn was the former Main Administration Building for the Old Western State Hospital. It dates back to 1825.

Inside The Blackburn Inn and Conference Center
Inside The Blackburn Inn and Conference Center

Today, the complex contains the hotel, conference center, spa, Second Draft Bistro, and more.

🔥 PRO TIP: This is the most random tip, but if you’re visiting during the summer, wait until it is dark and head to the front of the property. I have never in my life seen as many fireflies as I saw when staying there. It was absolute magic.

I can also vouch for the on-site breakfast. Absolutely delicious and worth the trip!

Delicious breakfast sandwich at The Blackburn Inn
The delicious breakfast sandwich at The Blackburn Inn

4. Stop by the Famous American Shakespeare Center

Address: 10 S Market St.
Website: https://americanshakespearecenter.com/

The world-famous Shakespeare Theater has only been recreated once—and right in the heart of Staunton, Virginia!

The American Shakespeare Center, also known as the Blackfriars Playhouse, entirely focuses on recreating the plays of William Shakespeare.

The theater itself is based on similar ones from the time period. Anyone who loves literature or the works of Shakespeare in particular absolutely needs to check the theater out on a trip to Staunton.

Performances are hosted all 52 weeks of the year using two rotating ensembles and 16 different titles, so there will always be something to see.

The program also offers labs for anyone interested in learning more about the plays.

5. Explore the Local Wine Scene at Yelping Dog Wine

Address: 9E Beverly St.
Website: https://www.yelpingdogwine.com/

One of the key places I was keen to visit when in Staunton was Yelping Dog Wine.

Ninety percent of my desire to visit was because of the name, and the other 10% was to explore the wines they offered. I can now confirm that the name was cool, but 100% of the reason you should go there is to discover the wines they have on offer!

Wine selection at The Yelping Dog
Wine selection at The Yelping Dog

Nevertheless, I wandered in there in the early evening, and it was one of the first stops I made on my last trip to Staunton. I was greeted by the friendliest bartender and a woman sitting at the bar.

The woman was a teacher who moved to Staunton from West Virginia simply because the city was so cool. I guess other people do get it…

At Yelping Dog, you will find local wines and craft beer, as well as a delicious menu.

They have beer too!
They have beer too!
My grilled cheese
My grilled cheese

I opted for their grilled cheese called ‘The CFO’ which had fig and goat cheese. It was outstanding, and I am not a grilled cheese person.

I also enjoyed a bit of wine (including their house signature) as well as local craft beer from Three Notch’d and Brothers.

Please note that Yelping Dog is closed on Mondays.

6. Go Back in Time at the Frontier Culture Museum

Address: 1290 Richmond Ave
Website: https://www.frontiermuseum.org/

The Frontier Culture Museum is located in Staunton, Virginia, and is a great place for history lovers who want to know more about the Shenandoah Valley, where Staunton is located.

German farms at Frontier Culture Museum
German farm at the Frontier Culture Museum

At the museum, one can learn all about the way the people migrated from the Old World to America starting in the 1600s and settled in the Shenandoah Valley.

In addition, visitors will be able to see reproduced or original buildings from the era, such as an English farm from the 1600s or a German farm from the 1700s.

Frontier Culture Museum Irish Farm from 1700s
Frontier Culture Museum Irish Farm from the 1700s

It also features an American Exhibit, where one will be able to see a growing variety of buildings from the settlers’ multiple cultural backgrounds.

This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Staunton and is a true blast from the region’s past.

7. Get Fueled Up at Crucible Coffee Roasters

Address: 300 Church St. Suite 201
Website: https://cruciblecoffee.com/

Founded by friends Brandon and Kean, Crucible Coffee Roasters is an essential place to visit in Staunton, even if you’re not a coffee drinker!

Both have traveled the globe and explored the coffee scene of various countries (and Kean is a US military veteran) before bringing back their knowledge to beautiful Staunton.

This place was my morning savior!
This place was my morning savior!

Inside Crucible, it felt comfortable but modern. There were cozy little corners and a bar-top area near the window that was a great place for me to get some quick work done before carrying on with my day.

I ordered a cortado, and it was made to perfection.

Inside Crucible Coffee Roasters
Inside Crucible Coffee Roasters

They had a variety of drinks on the menu, and even my partner was able to get something that wasn’t a coffee-based drink (he is a British tea drinker).

Crucible offers coffee subscriptions, and you can buy bags to go. They have a diverse portfolio of single origins and blends ranging from Yirgacheffe to El Regalito from Guatemala.

8. Visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library

Address: 20 N Coalter St.
Website: https://www.woodrowwilson.org/

Did you know that the 28th US President, Woodrow Wilson, was born in Staunton, Virginia?

Learn more about the former president at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library. The museum offers many programs for people of all ages to enjoy, as well as the opportunity for people to conduct research.

It is also possible to view all the different collections at the museum, the most popular of which is the President’s 1919 Pierce-Arrow Limousine.

Birthplace of Woodrow Wilson
Birthplace of Woodrow Wilson – Frank Romeo – Shutterstock.com

Visitors will also be interested in the World War I Trench exhibit, where they get to experience what soldiers went through during the war, see authentic weapons and uniforms, and learn more about the doughboys.

9. Taste the Best of Staunton at The Green Room

Address: 130 W. Beverly St.
Website: https://www.thegreenroomstaunton.com/

In the heart of Staunton’s beautiful downtown, you will find The Green Room, a wine, cider, and beer bar that also offers tasty food.

Thinking that no one can be a ‘jack of all trades’? Well, The Green Room will prove you wrong because everything they serve is exceptional… and their standards are extraordinarily high.

The Green Room can take all my money...
The Green Room can take all my money…

Everything from the interior to the cheese boards was perfection. But what really caught my eye was their selection of natural wines and local craft beer (and some other East Coast favorites).

The interior of The Green Room
The interior of The Green Room

It is really hard to explain this place in better detail; you just have to go there for yourself and see what I mean.

10. Eat Your Way Through Staunton’s Best Restaurants

Staunton’s restaurant scene is incredible, given the size of the city. I grew up in a city that is slightly smaller than Staunton, and our restaurant scene was horrific when I look back on it.

In this Central Virginian city, you will find an array of different places to eat, including many international restaurants.

Seafood at Blu Point
Seafood at Blu Point

I ate at three of the places below, and the others are on my list for my next trip. All get exceptional ratings on Google!

  • Blu Point Seafood Company (seafood restaurant and raw bar)
  • Byer’s Street Bistro (American bistro)
  • Gloria’s Pupuseria (Salvadorian restaurant)
  • Chicano Boy Taco (Mission-style tacos)
  • Mill Street Grill (an American restaurant located inside a repurposed flour mill – also has live music)
  • Ubon Thai Restaurant (Thai food)
  • Zynodoa Restaurant (Southern food)
  • Shenandoah Pizza (just as it states!)
  • Depot Grille (American food)
  • The Split Banana Co. (ice cream shop)
Byer Street Bistro for lunch was a great decision!
Byer’s Street Bistro for lunch was a great decision!

To be honest, I recommend not staying in Staunton for only one day because I think the restaurant offerings are so good that they warrant an entire weekend (or longer).

11. Check Out the Camera Heritage Museum

Address: 1 W Beverley St 
Website: https://www.cameraheritagemuseum.com/

Photography lovers unite! Do you want to know more about the history behind the profession (or hobby)?

One of the best attractions in Staunton is the Camera Heritage Museum, which offers visitors the opportunity to check out some of the first cameras ever made.

The vast collection of 6,000 cameras dates back to the 19th century and ranges all the way to the present, giving visitors the chance to see how much technology has evolved.

Aside from the antique cameras themselves, the museum provides a glimpse at the history behind the cameras and the photographers themselves.

It is also possible to purchase limited-edition commemorative coins at the museum.

12. Drink Your ‘Apple a Day’ at Ciders from Mars

Address: 121 S Lewis St
Website: https://cidersfrommars.com/

I must admit, I have never been much of a cider person. I am learning, though, and I am learning that Virginia has some really good cider.

Cider from Mars is one of those making the tasty stuff, and visiting their tasting room is one of the most popular things to do in Staunton!

Flight of ciders at Ciders from Mars
Flight of ciders at Ciders from Mars

A newer addition to the Staunton community, this cidery founded by Nikki and Jeremy opened its doors in spring 2021. What I loved about the place was that they had a variety of cider, including dry cider, which was perfect for me.

When you go there, you can even do a flight of ciders and taste your way through their offerings, which include Hellas Dry (their flagship dry cider that contains a variety of Virginia-grown apples), Mellow Gold (uses Virginia Goldrush apples), and Pink Oceans (made 100% with Virginia-grown apples and fresh strawberries).

Staunton swag at Ciders from Mars
Staunton swag at Ciders from Mars

They even have bottles you can take home with you and some merchandise at the front of the tasting room.

Ciders from Mars was one of my Staunton highlights and a place I will forever recommend to visitors!

13. Go Fly Fishing in Staunton

If you’re an adventurous soul and want to take to the outdoors, fly fishing is a good place to start!

With Middle River Outfitters, you can head out from anywhere in the Shenandoah Valley (including Staunton, Waynesboro, Lexington, Charlottesville, and beyond!) for a trip into the lush wilderness and the chance to go fly fishing with an expert!

This region of VA is home to several species of fish, most notably brook, brown, and rainbow trout.

Fly fishing in VA
Fly fishing with Middle River Outfitters

You can customize a trip to the South Fork of the Shenandoah River (that spans over 96 miles), where fly fishing is super popular, or somewhere a bit more off the path in the region.

Middle River also organizes trips for catching smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah Valley. 

Click here to find out more about fly fishing in Staunton!

14. Relax in Betsy Bell Wilderness Park

Address: 525 Betsy Bell Rd

With amazing views of the Shenandoah Valley, you’ll regret not having visited Betsy Bell Wilderness Park during your stay in Staunton! So make sure you stop by!

You can check out the views of the Shenandoah Valley all the way to the Blue Ridge Mountains from the observation platform at the park.

In addition, you can enjoy a picnic on a warm spring day at one of the park’s many picnic facilities.

Or, you can practice some of your mountain climbing skills there. It is a tough hike, but the views are rewarding, and you will have the opportunity to explore nature and see some deer along the way.

Click here to check out the park on the city’s website.

15. Try Local Wine at the Ox-Eye Vineyards Tasting Room

Address: 44 Middlebrook Ave.
Website: https://www.oxeyevineyards.com/

At Ox-Eye Vineyards, visitors will be able to taste wine made from grapes grown right in the Shenandoah Valley, which is something I highly recommend when visiting Staunton!

John and Susan Kiers purchased the 100-acre farm in 1996 with the intention of growing grapes for wine.

Ox-Eye (from The Green Room)
Ox-Eye (from The Green Room)

The region is one of the best for these grapes because it does not rain often and the region offers deep limestone soil, ideal for the grapes to grow in.

Today, you can visit their tasting room in downtown Staunton! And, if they are not open when you happen to stop by, head over to Yelping Dog Wine, as they have Ox-Eye wine for purchase.

Ox-Eye Vineyards is one of the best wineries near Shenandoah National Park and in the Shenandoah Valley.

16. Learn About the Art of Glassblowing at Sunspots Studios

Address: 202 S Lewis St
Website: https://www.sunspots.com/

All visitors will have an amazing experience at Sunspots Studios Glassblowing in Staunton.

When you visit the gallery, you will be able to witness glassblowing firsthand and even have the opportunity to make your own hand-blown glass ornament!

In addition to that, the gallery has a gift shop where visitors will be able to choose between a wide selection of art pieces that are one-of-a-kind. Some of the pieces available at the gift shop include vases, art, jewelry, other accessories, and bird feeders.

Sunspot Glassblowing
Sunspots Glassblowing

It is possible to participate in glassblowing until 4 PM almost every day, but the gallery recommends that you call and confirm beforehand.

Unfortunately, the day I stopped by to check things out, it was not yet open for the day and I was unable to stick around until they were. Visiting Sunspots is at the top of my list for my next trip there!

17. Take a Day Trip from Staunton to the Grand Caverns

Address: 5 Grand Cavern Rd, Grottoes, VA
Website: https://www.grandcaverns.com/

Located in the town of Grottoes, Virginia (about 20 miles from Staunton), these limestone caves cannot be missed on your trip.

Grand Caverns America’s oldest show cave and a National Natural Landmark designated by the National Park Service.

Grand Caverns are one of the best day trips from Staunton!
Grand Caverns are one of the best day trips from Staunton!

Some of the unique features of the cave are the shield formations, flowstone, stalactites, and stalagmites, making it a stunning place to visit especially for people interested in geology.

Visitors can tour the Virginia caverns or participate in any of the activities offered on-site, such as hiking and biking trails, picnic centers, the swimming pool, and mini-golf. It is a great place to visit on a hot summer’s day!

18. Take a Short Hike to Nearby Folly Mills Falls

Address: View location here

One of the coolest hidden gems in Staunton (okay, so locals know about it… but most Virginians don’t!) is Folly Mills Falls, one of Virginia’s beautiful waterfalls.

You will need to take a short walk to the falls from the parking lot and it can be relatively muddy after the rain, but you can definitely go and witness it any time of the year!

Folly Mills Falls in Staunton VA
Folly Mills Falls is one of the best places to visit near Staunton

To get there, you will need to turn west onto Cochran’s Mill Road from Rt 11 (south of Staunton). You will see the parking lot on the left just before you cross Folly Mills Creek.

Beware that the rocks near the falls are slippery, so wear proper shoes!

Staunton Bucket List (On a Map!)

🗺️  HOW TO USE THIS MAP: You can use your fingers/mouse to zoom in and out. To get more info about a place, simply touch/click the icons. Want to save this map for later use? Click the ‘⭐’ by the map title and it will add it to your Google Maps account (Saved > Maps or ‘Your Places’).

Where to Stay in Staunton

There are many places to stay in Staunton. Here are some of my top hotels, inns, and Airbnbs.

There are so many cool things to do in Staunton VA that this guide merely touched the surface. You can visit Shenandoah National Park, take a day trip to Waynesboro, or head out on a beautiful hike.

Love this city so much!
Love this city so much!

Let me know your favorite places to visit in Staunton in the comments… especially if they were not on this list! Thanks!

More Virginia Travel Inspiration

2 thoughts on “18 Things to Do in Staunton (Virginia’s Most Underrated City)

  1. Gail says:

    There’s a thriving art scene in Staunton, led by CoArt Gallery at 22 W. Beverley St. In 2023 they are celebrating 25 years of bringing the work of award winning local and regional artists to Staunton. It is a cooperative gallery run by almost 40 artists creating in a wide variety of styles and media.

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