4 Seasons of Fun: Historic Natural Wonders near Waynesboro, VA

Waynesboro and Augusta County, Virginia, were once America’s western frontier.

The Shenandoah Valley’s renowned rugged beauty and secluded natural treasures continue to attract adventurous spirits. Today’s explorers will discover a wild and wondrous landscape rich in geological, natural, and cultural significance. Like a kaleidoscope, each turn of the seasons reveals fresh sights to enjoy.

Autumn: Skyline Drive

Old Rag in Shenandoah National Park. Photo credit National Park Service.

The southern entrance to Skyline Drive is located just three miles from Waynesboro. This iconic drive through Shenandoah National Park is designated a National Scenic Byway and a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Over 300 species of wildlife and more than 1,400 species of plants are found in the Park. An extensive network of trails and 75 strategically-placed overlooks provide ample opportunity to experience this protected wilderness. Ranger-guided tours of President Hoover’s summer retreat, Rapidan Camp, visitor center exhibits, and park programs give visitors an up-close look at the natural and cultural history of the Park.

Fall foliage season is an especially gorgeous time to meander along Skyline Drive with its mountain top views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont to the east. To time your visit with peak autumn color, check fall foliage updates frequently.

Winter: Grand Caverns

Grand Caverns is a wonderland of rock formations, some exceedingly rare. Photo courtesy of Grand Caverns Facebook page.

When the weather is too frigid or slick for a hike, head to Grand Caverns where it’s a constant 54 degrees Fahrenheit regardless of the season. There are only ten National Natural Landmarks in Virginia, and Grand Caverns located right here in Augusta County is one of them. The caverns contain exceedingly rare and ornate shield formations as well as beautiful draperies, flowstone, stalactites and stalagmites.

Discovered in 1804 and opened for tours in 1806, Grand Caverns is the oldest continually operating show cave in the United States. The cave was popular with both Confederate and Union soldiers and is now listed as a Civil War Trails site. Over 200 of their signatures have been found in the caverns!

Now when you visit Grand Caverns, you can explore two cave sites in one day! Don helmets, headlights, knee pads & gloves for a guided Adventure Tour through Fountain Cave. Discovered in 1835, Fountain Cave was once a commercial cave but hasn’t been open to the public for almost 100 years. This tour is for those looking for a more hands-on, lights-off caving adventure. There’s a rugged 1800’s pathway, but be prepared for climbing and crawling.

When you venture back up to the surface, enjoy a picnic right there at Grand Caverns Park. After lunch you can take a stroll along the public park’s scenic hiking and cycling trails, part of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, or get some fishing in along the South River.

Spring: Blue Ridge Parkway

Spring Rhododendron at Marby Mill. Photo credit: Bernardo Egli.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was designed to link Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Far from being a thoroughfare from Point A to Point B, “the idea is to fit the Parkway into the mountains as if nature has put it there.” Construction began in 1935, but it wasn’t until 1987 that the Blue Ridge Parkway was officially dedicated – all 469 miles of it. The result is a National Park that has utilized engineering and landscape architecture to create a leisurely and awe-inspiring experience for visitors.

The northern end of the Parkway is just outside Waynesboro at Humpback Rocks. Begin your exploration at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and outdoor Mountain Farm Museum. Costumed interpreters, exhibits, and hiking trails provide a unique look into the natural history and cultural heritage of the Appalachian Mountains.

The wide range in elevation along the Blue Ridge Parkway creates a rich biodiversity. To see what wildflowers may greet you along your drive, take a look at the Parkway’s Bloom Schedule and Wildflower Report.

Summer: Natural Chimneys

Natural Chimneys. Photo credit: Augusta County Parks & Recreation.

Standing in the shadow of Natural Chimneys, you can’t help but feel the weight of history – 500 million years of history! These seven towers range in height from 65 to 120 feet and are made up of numerous layers of compacted sediment, fossilized sea creatures, and lava. These incredible formations are found at Natural Chimneys Park and Campground in Augusta County.

The park has over 2.5 miles of hiking and biking trails, including a route to the top of the Natural Chimneys. After your summit, head back down to cool off in the park’s swimming pool.

Ready to explore? Throw your boots or bike in the car, top off the fuel tank, and head to Waynesboro. Four seasons of fun await you in the Shenandoah Valley!

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Romance is in the Air in Waynesboro, VA

Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables. Copyright Jeff Gleason Photography.

Fall deeper in love with a romantic getaway to Waynesboro, Virginia! With venues that express your personality and magnificent vistas to help capture the magic, the picturesque Shenandoah Valley creates a gorgeous backdrop for your engagement photos, wedding ceremony, renewal vows, or romantic weekend.

Sky Ridge Farm. Copyright Mackenzie Leigh Hopkins.

Imagine saying “I do” surrounded by enduring beauty and natural elegance.

Sky Ridge Farm offers stunning mountain views and a breathtaking, colorful barn.

Photo ops abound at Red August Farm, from the stately cherry tree-lined drive to the historical barn full of vintage details and chandeliers.

Red August Farm. Copyright Ward Photography.

And for the backdrop of a stately horse farm in a winery-like setting, look to Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables. Your guests will love visiting with the horses during Carrotini Cocktail Hour!

Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables

The Iris Inn Bed and Breakfast offers both a gorgeous mountain venue that overlooks the Shenandoah Valley and a multitude of options for on-site lodging for the wedding party and guests. Closer to town, you have the beautiful terrace and ballroom at the Waynesboro Country Club and the Queen Anne-style Fairfax Hall built in 1890 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For even more ideas, check out these additional wedding resources and venues in Waynesboro.

Old Rag, Shenandoah National Park. Photo credit National Park Service.

For a romantic getaway weekend in Waynesboro, treat your love to a night in the Orchid Room at Belle Hearth Bed & Breakfast, complete with cozy gas fireplace, plush robes, and a three-course gourmet candle-lit breakfast in the morning. Spend the day meandering along Skyline Drive, hiking to Rose River Waterfall, and pausing to experience the serenity of Shenandoah National Park’s panoramic overlooks.

Thinking a natural retreat with the one you love? Book a stay atCabin Creekwood’s honeymoon cabin, located just one mile from Sherando Lake, “the jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains.” The spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway is just 1.5 miles away, making it easy to capture romantic photo ops at the cascades at White Rock Falls and all along the Parkway.

To time your romantic getaway with the Shenandoah Valley’s famous October fall foliage, bookmark the Virginia Department of Forestry’s online fall foliage guide where you can find recommended fall foliage driving tours and foliage reports.

No matter the season, Waynesboro, VA is the place for all lovers and romantics. Bring your love to our backdrop to create memories of a lifetime.

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Fall is for Brewery Fare & Food Trucks in the ‘Boro!

Surrounded by the Shenandoah Valley’s rich farmland, rolling vineyards, and hop yards, Waynesboro,VA is a city that celebrates good nature and local flavors. Whether you come for our fall foliage, festivals, or outdoor fun, you won’t want to miss what our brewery and mobile kitchens are serving up at these 9 one-of-a-kind eateries.

Hops Kitchen located at Basic City Brewery

Photo credit Hops Kitchen Facebook page

Craft food meets craft beer in the Hops Kitchen! Their mouth-watering menu includes dishes that infuse Basic City beer, local charcuterie boards, Build Your Own Burgers, and chef’s specials like chicken adobo, spicy drunken shrimp, and Mojo Cuban Sandwiches.

Nobos Kitchen located inside the Seven Arrows’ taproom

Photo credit Seven Arrows Brewing Facebook page

NOBOS offers a full delicious menu that is made from scratch and often sourced from area farms. One look at the menu and you’ll see you have a tough choice ahead of you: Steak & Seven Arrows Beer Cheese Hoagie, beer battered shrimp, or local beef burger? Maybe you should also order the zesty chicken bacon wrap to-go!

Stable Craft Brewing’s Agri-pub

Photo credit Stable Craft Facebook page

The agri-pub at Stable Craft Brewing offers locally-sourced beef and farm fresh fare. Kick back in the Biergarten or pavilion with one of sixteen beers on tap while you peruse the menu. From the ale-infused cheese dip to the pulled pork or angus grilled meatloaf you simply can’t go wrong. Unless, of course, you don’t leave room for dessert. “Brewers Grain Brownie, drizzled with stout chocolate sauce.” Need we say more?

El Habanero Food Truck

Photo credit El Habanero Facebook page

To satisfy your craving for authentic Mexican food, make a beeline to El Habanero. Their chorizo quesadillas, tacos, sopes, burritos, and tortas will compete for your affection!

Magnolia Mountain Grill Food Truck

Magnolia Mountain Grill Facebook page

Locally sourced home cookin’ is the specialty of Magnolia Mountain Grill. Their wood-fired smoker kicks out savory burgers and BBQ. Top those off with Mom’s Potato Salad, Aunt Gail’s Baked Beans, and Christian’s Homemade Mac n’ Cheese and you may just park yourself next to this food truck all week!

Alex’s Taco Truck

Alex’s Tacos Yelp page

At this local favorite, deliciousness comes in the form of fresh, homemade guaraches, tortas, carnitas, and tamales. You’ll want to come hungry to Alex’s Tacos!

Delicias Marina Food Truck

Delicias Marina’s Facebook page

One of the joys of eating out is experiencing new dishes you might not take the time to make for yourself. Enter Delicias Marina, where you can find the real flavor of Uruguay, Argentina, and Brasil, including milanesas, empanadas, and chivitos. Pure comfort food!

Little Gio’s Food Truck

Photo credit Waynesboro.com Facebook page

Now located at 305 East Main Street in Waynesboro, Little Gio’s is your stop for a delicious gyro, pita pocket, steak fajitas fries, pupusas, souvlaki, cheese steak, and so much more!

Holy Smokes BBQ of Virginia Food Truck

Photo credit Holy Smokes’ Facebook page

This award-winning BBQ food truck is a must for meat lovers! Swing by for your fill of smoked sausage, turkey panini sandwiches, pulled pork nachos, hand-cut fries, and Holy Smokes’ house-made sauces. Irresistible!

Now who’s hungry? Bookmark this page and hop in your car! A foodie’s paradise awaits you in Waynesboro, VA.

 

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Civil War Driving Tours

Bordered by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, the Shenandoah Valley acted as a north-south passage for travelers during its settlement and growth, and at no other time was its location so critical than during the Civil War. Union and Confederate troops clashed along its length as the two armies sought to gain ground while driving the enemy backwards. Today, Civil War buffs can experience those costly battles through a variety of museums, films, tours, battlefields, and re-enactments. Since any point in the Shenandoah Valley is easily reached within an hour or two of Waynesboro, the region is ripe for day trips and driving tours.

A cavalryman rides across the battlefield during Waynesboro at War’s Civil War Weekend. Photo by Katie Ford, courtesy of Waynesboro at War.
  1. Battle of Waynesboro Driving Tour

 Waynesboro was the site of the last Civil War battle fought in the Shenandoah Valley. On March 2, 1865, Confederate General Early faced off with Union General Sheridan in a brief skirmish that ended in a Confederate defeat. Just two months later, General Lee would surrender at Appomattox.

Start your driving tour by visiting the Plumb House Museum at 1012 W. Main Street (open Thurs-Sat, call 540-943-3943). The house, built between 1802 and 1804, stood just opposite the battle site and has the holes in its walls to prove it. From there, ascend the hill to 301 Pine Avenue to stand on the Confederate defensive line, which ran roughly the same direction as Pine. Next, drive to Ridgeview Park at the end of Magnolia Avenue. Here, a surprise attack was staged by the Union army along the gravel alley connecting the baseball fields to the end of Locust Avenue, which marked the left end of Early’s Confederate line. You can park at the baseball fields and walk the gravel alley, as motorized traffic is prohibited. For your final stop, head to the Waynesboro Heritage Museum at 420 W. Main Street in downtown Waynesboro. Here, Confederate Colonel William H. Harman was surrounded by five Federals and gunned down. The museum now stands as a wealth of information on the battle and general history of Waynesboro, so be sure to stop in.

A more detailed printed guide of this tour is available at the Waynesboro Downtown Visitor Center or by calling 540-942-6512.

Expand Your Experience

September 16-17, 2017: Waynesboro at War presents a Civil War Weekend. Held annually at Coyner Springs Park, the event highlights the Civil War action seen in Waynesboro. Spectators are invited to meet soldiers from each army, taste camp life, witness the battle, and even participate in an 1860s “Blue vs. Grey” baseball game.

Soldiers occupied tents such as these during the war. Photo by Katie Ford, courtesy of Waynesboro at War.
  1. Winchester Driving Tour

At the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester endured numerous battles as the armies fought over its key position. Here, Stonewall Jackson established his headquarters for his famous 1862 Valley Campaign, and here generals Lee, Early, and Sheridan saw action during their own campaigns. A generous number of sites—more than can be mentioned in this driving tour—can be visited here.

Begin your tour at the Old Courthouse Civil War Museum at 20 N. Loudon Street (open Wed-Sat). This 1840 courthouse was used as a prison and hospital during the war and now exhibits over 3,000 artifacts from the Winchester area as well as soldiers’ graffiti on the walls. Next, stretch your legs along the many miles of interpretive trails through the Third Winchester Battlefield Park at 541 Redbud Road. This area saw some of the fiercest fighting of the whole war! When you’re ready to come indoors, head to Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters Museum at 415 N. Braddock Street, where you’ll find one of the largest collections of Jackson memorabilia. Wrap up your day at the Kernstown Battlefield on the Pritchard-Grim Farm at 610 Battle Park Drive (open May-October, weekends only). This 315-acre farm was the center of the First and Second Battles of Kernstown and now houses a visitor center and exhibits.

Expand Your Experience

September 16: Friendly Fire, Murderous Fire: The Fight for the Middle Field – Third Winchester. Find out why this particular skirmish was called “that basin of hell.”

September 23: Civil War Era Ball. Hosted by the Kernstown Battlefield Association, this second annual ball will feature live music and dances called by the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Era Dancers.

Belle Grove Plantation, Middletown
  1. Signal Knob Area Driving Tour

Signal Knob served as a key lookout point on the 60-mile long Massanutten Mountains, which split the Valley in two from Strasburg to Harrisonburg. Hikers may enjoy the aggressive 10-mile hike to the top of the knob, but for those content to stay on level ground, start your tour at the Visitor Contact Station at 7712 Main Street, Middletown. Here, you will gain an overview of the history of the valley and the war, enhanced by a fiber optic map. Next, drive to the stately Belle Grove Plantation (336 Belle Grove Road). The plantation paints a picture of valley life prior to and during the war. The Battle of Cedar Creek was fought on and around the plantation’s grounds. For more in-depth interpretation of the Cedar Creek Battle, visit the CCB Foundation Headquarters, at 8437 Valley Pike. Finally, head to Hupp’s Hill Civil War Park at 33229 Old Valley Pike, Strasburg, where you’ll find a museum interpreting the 1864 Valley Campaign.

Expand Your Experience

September 23: Fisher’s Hill Bus Tour. Historian and author Scott Patchan will lead this in-depth bus tour of the Fisher’s Hill battlefield, covering both well-known and seldom-seen battlefield sites.

October 13: History at Sunset—Treating the Wounded at Cedar Creek. Join Ranger James Horn as he examines the treatment of wounded and the general practice of medicine during the Civil War.  This special program will be held at St. Thomas Chapel, which was used as a hospital by the Union army following the battle.

October 14-15: Battle of Cedar Creek Reenactment and Anniversary. Relive the largest Civil War battle in the Shenandoah Valley held on the original battlegrounds in Middletown, VA.

For more information on these or other Shenandoah Valley Civil War sites, visit Shenandoah at War.

 

 

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2017 Fall Art Festival Guide – Waynesboro, VA

Waynesboro Fall Foliage Art show and festival, Sunday Oct. 9, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer).

 

This fall treat yourself to an invigorating getaway to beautiful Waynesboro, Virginia, where nature inspires artists and artists inspire community. From street art to plein air, this year’s art festivals are sure to bring color and spunk to your autumn.

Virginia Street Arts Festival
September 9, 2017

Virginia Street Arts Festival, photo credit Ed Scerbo.

The annual Virginia Street Arts Festival brings together muralists, graffiti artists, musicians, and art lovers for a day of family-friendly entertainment and art(ist) appreciation. Last year’s canvas measured 100-feet-long by 20-feet-high and transformed the side of an industrial building into a vibrant collaborative work of art. This year’s event will be held at Basic City Beer Co., providing the perfect backdrop for both the street artists and those who appreciate great microbrews. Hops Kitchen & El Habanero’s delicious fares, live music, and children’s activities throughout the day make this a community festival you don’t want to miss!

Shenandoah Valley Art Center Open Studio Tour
September 16 & 17, 2017

The art and studio of Steve Doherty. Photo credit Shenandoah Valley Art Center.

For one glorious weekend each year, the Shenandoah Valley Art Center hosts an Open Studio Tour of artists’ work spaces and galleries in Waynesboro, Staunton, Augusta County, and Nelson County.  The free, self-guided tour allows visitors inside access to a wide variety of demonstrations, studio environments, and creative processes.  Last year’s festival included 14 venues and 26 artists ranging from painters and sculptors to photographers and metal workers.

Buckley Moss Barn Show and Gallery Open House
October 13-15, 2017

Photo credit P. Buckley Moss

The Fall Barn Show and Gallery Open House is a must for fans of P. Buckley Moss’s iconic work.  The popular Barn Shows provide visitors the opportunity to meet with the artist in her home and to have their favorite pieces signed and personalized. Keep an eye out for new paintings being released at the event!

Virginia Fall Foliage Art Show
October 14 & 15, 2017

Waynesboro Fall Foliage Art show and festival, Sunday Oct. 9, 2016. (Photo by Norm Shafer).

Organized by the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, the annual Fall Foliage Art Show welcomes 15,000-20,000 visitors to downtown Waynesboro for the region’s largest two-day, outdoor, fine art show. The juried festival showcases over 150 artists and artisans, selected for their high quality arts and crafts including paintings, photography, sculpture, pottery, prints, metalwork, glasswork, and woodwork. Rounding out the festival are gourmet food trucks, craft beer, and local musicians!

With all this fresh air & plein air, you, too, may be inspired to create a new work. Check out the adult classes and children’s classes at the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, take a funshop at Make Waynesboro Clay Studio, or sign up for a workshop at the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing!

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Your Kids Will LOVE these Waynesboro Activities

Waynesboro,VA is the greatest playground a kid (and their adult) could ask for!  Fresh mountain air, family-friendly venues, and engaging hands-on fun, provide endless outlets for curiosity, creativity, and energy.   The kid in your life will love these favorite Waynesboro activities.

Wildlife Center of Virginia Tour

Maggie is one of several education animals at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Celebrating a birthday?  Looking for a unique family outing?  Schedule a tour of the renowned Wildlife Center of Virginia!  Kids will learn about the inner-workings of a wildlife hospital and have a close-up experience of one of the resident non-releasable owls, hawks, or eagles.  A guided nature hike led by a Wildlife Center educator will give children a fresh look into the animals and habitat of the adjoining George Washington National Forest.

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Good Nature is Only a Step Away in Waynesboro, VA

Recreation is a way of life in Waynesboro, Virginia.  Residents and visitors to this beautiful Appalachian Trail Community have countless options for enjoying nature year-round.  And Waynesboro is proactive in expanding its Outdoor Recreation Network to provide easy, interconnected access to the hundreds of miles of trails, routes, and waterways running through and around the city.  Whether you like to walk, bike, run, or paddle, you’re only a step away in Waynesboro!

Walk the Greenway

Waynesboro’s South River Greenway gives walkers a beautiful 1.2 mile stretch along the river from the YMCA near Rife Park, north through Constitution Park and on to the Port Republic Road Historic District.

Get walking with this route that will guide you from the Waynesboro Public Library to Constitution Park and back.  If you’d prefer a loop, take the Waynesboro Walkabout, a 2-mile route that includes both a long section of the South River Greenway and parts of the Historic Downtown District.  The city is currently expanding the Greenway to extend to North Park with plans to later add connections to Ridgeview Park, Basic Park, the future Sunset Park, and the Crozet Tunnel. Continue reading “Good Nature is Only a Step Away in Waynesboro, VA”

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Frosty Treats in Waynesboro

Have you mowed the lawn until the grass is sticking in your throat? Are you slaving over an outdoor grill, flipping hamburgers while the sweat trickles between your shoulder blades? Do you drive a car without air conditioning, peeling your thighs off the seats and sporting a windblown hairstyle? Then make a beeline to Waynesboro for one of these throat-soothing, spine-chilling frosty treats!

Micah’s Frozen Mocha includes homemade whipped cream.

Frozen Mocha

Micah’s Coffee. 1000 West Broad Street. When the weather turns hot, Waynesboro’s popular drive-thru coffee stand whips up cold espresso drinks and frappes. One of their most popular treats is the Frozen Mocha, blended with Ghiradelli chocolate, espresso and milk, topped with homemade whipped cream. Kids will enjoy a Frozen Hot Chocolate, the same recipe without the espresso.

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Waynesboro, VA: The Perfect Day Trip/Getaway from Richmond, VA

Stuck in your Richmond office daydreaming about wide open spaces and cool mountain streams?  Idling in traffic and wishing you were high above it all?  Want to trade in that concrete jungle for a forest path? You’re only 90 minutes away from a rejuvenating getaway.  Hop on I-64 West, set your sights on those Blue Ridge Mountains, and before you’ve finished your playlist, you’ll be in Waynesboro, VA, the playground of the Shenandoah Valley.  Here are 6 reasons to jump in the car this weekend.

Continue reading “Waynesboro, VA: The Perfect Day Trip/Getaway from Richmond, VA”

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Be an Artist in Waynesboro

2017 will mark the 45th year Waynesboro hosts the annual Fall Foliage Art Show, which draws over 150 fine artists and artisans from around the country to the City’s downtown in October. But the City is doing more than just bringing artists in; it’s producing artists of its own. A growing number of visual and dramatic arts venues promise the advance of creative expression in a community already rich with that heritage.

The Shenandoah Valley Art Center hosts the Fall Foliage Art Show every year in October. Photo by Norm Shafer

Continue reading “Be an Artist in Waynesboro”

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