Helmet…check. Spare tubes…check. Sense of adventure…check. If you’re looking for a bicycling destination that offers a variety of picturesque landscapes and delectable wayside stops, pack your gear and head to the Shenandoah Valley. With Waynesboro, Virginia, as your base camp, you’ll have an abundance of on-road and off-road routes to choose from, taking you everywhere from the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the historic towns nestled below. Start your adventure rested and well-fed with a night at The Iris Inn or Belle Hearth Bed & Breakfast, then spend your day exploring one of these suggestions.
For a scenic ride along some of our county’s flattest road miles, Bike the Valley recommends this Waynesboro to Grottoes loop. Be sure to plan in time for a tour through Grand Caverns, a National Natural Landmark, or the more rugged Fountain Cave Adventure Tour. This 35-mile bike loop also gives you the opportunity to visit the renowned Viette Gardens. Each season at the gardens highlights a fresh palette of colors and textures, and visitors in the fall can stroll beside stunning daylilies, ornamental grasses, and fall berries.
Waynesboro, Virginia, is a popular destination for outdoor lovers regardless of season. But there’s definitely something about autumn in the Shenandoah Valley that fires up the senses. You’ve got the invigorating sunshine, the crisp mountain air, and rolling vistas of dazzling fall foliage – all beckoning you to come out and play. In addition to the famous Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, Waynesboro offers an abundance of options for those looking to leaf-peep off the beaten track.
Witness Peak Color & Aerobatics at Rockfish Gap
Every autumn, thousands of raptors soar high above the juncture of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway as they migrate through Rockfish Gap. Broad-winged hawks, ospreys, bald eagles, and peregrine falcons are just four of the 16 species you may witness gliding from thermal to thermal.
The Rockfish Gap Hawk Watch, located on the grounds of the Inn at Afton, is easily accessible by car and offers 180 degree panoramic views of both the migration and the fall foliage of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the Piedmont Region to the east. Local volunteers are at the watch from August 15 to November 30 to collect raptor data for global research and education. If the volunteers are in the midst of counting and unable to chat “raptors”, please direct your curiosity to the educational panel on the site. Songbirds, Monarch butterflies, and dragonflies also migrate through Rockfish Gap. Pack a picnic and enjoy a colorful aerial show above and around you!
Travel the Civil War Trails Route 250 Corridor
For a mix of scenic beauty and historic perspective, follow the Civil War Trails Route 250 Corridor from Waynesboro’s Plumb House to Camp Allegheny at the West Virginia border. Landmarks, activities, and interpretive signs along the route include a wartime farmstead, overlooks, a walking trail, and quaint towns to explore. Additional Valley Campaign driving tours and this Civil War Trails map can help you take full advantage of October’s gorgeous autumn days.
Find Solitude in St. Mary’s Wilderness
Get off the roads and into the wilderness with a family-friendly hike to Saint Mary’s Falls! Virginia’s largest designated wilderness area, Saint Mary’s Wilderness is over 9,800 acres of vistas, waterfalls, fern forests, meadows, and wetlands. With seventeen miles of trails, this is also a destination for those hikers looking for a challenge.
Saddle-up for Autumn in the George Washington National Forest
Travel under, through, and above the George Washington National Forest’s autumn colors on a half day, full day, or overnight adventure with North Mountain Outfitter. Their gorgeous mountain trail rides include the region’s highest points, ridges, streams, & valleys. Reserve your saddle today to experience the Shenandoah Valley’s fall foliage by horseback!
To time your Waynesboro visit for peak leaf-peeping, check in on the Virginia Department of Forestry’s weekly fall foliage update. And while vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds above you may vie for your attention, don’t forget to also look down – our fall wildflowers are not to be missed either!
Waynesboro, Virginia, is renowned for an abundance of high-octane thrills, with mountain biking and rock climbing often highlighted. A spirited heritage runs deep in these Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, and an exploration into the region’s rich lore and mystique is itself an adventure!
These Spirited Mountains
“Mash,” “granny fee,” “singlings,” “mountain dew,” and “a bootleg turn”… the language, mystique, and modern media portrayals of Blue Ridge moonshining have created quite a body of lore.
For the real scoop on the history and culture of untaxed liquor in the mountains of Virginia, there’s no better resource than the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum’s online exhibition, “Moonshine – Blue Ridge Style.”
Settlers to the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains in the 1700s brought their traditions with them, including distilling grains into whiskey and fruit into brandy and using the leftover “slop” from the process for livestock feed. The United States government first began taxing alcohol to help pay for the Revolutionary War. Those distillers who chose not to get a license nor pay tax on their whiskey became known as “bootleggers” and “moonshiners.”
When Virginia banned alcohol in 1914, the demand for moonshine only increased, and previously licensed distillers and bootleggers alike found illegal, but highly creative means to continue to produce and deliver their liquor.
To get your taste buds on premium Virginia spirits, there’s no need to hazard a brush with the law – just head up the mountain from Waynesboro to Silverback Distillery! Mixing tradition, pure ingredients, modern craftsmanship, and a fully licensed establishment, Silverback Distillery produces ultra-premium vodka, gin, rye whiskey and honey rye whiskey, with bourbon on the way. And as distillers of old, Silverback Distillery sources their grains from local farmers and then the spent mash returns to farms as animal feed and fertilizer.
Full Throttle Adventure
The connection between the illegal liquor trade and stock car racing is not what you may think. While legend has it that moonshiners were the forefathers of racing, according to the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum, very few bootleggers were oval track drivers. Rather, it’s the mechanics who are the moonshine connection. High-performance engines and modified suspensions were valuable to racers of all stripes as they attempted to outrun their pursuers. And while organized racing didn’t routinely call for a bootleg turn to avoid capture, the legends of the day needed every trick of the trade to take home the night’s purse.
From the beginning, stock car racing has been a community and family affair, from the racing team to the spectators. Speedways became community hubs for entertainment, competition, holiday celebrations, and charity events.
Raceways across Virginia continue to be community gathering places. Eastside Speedway in Waynesboro is a prime example, with yearly activities that include nostalgia drag races, championship car shows, and family-friendly events, in addition to their full schedule of races.
Before you go, brush up on your hot rod terms so you’ll know your “stock” from your “mini-mod!” But when in doubt, just ask your new friend standing beside you cheering their driver. Waynesboro is, after all, renowned for our Good Nature!
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
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
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
School may be out, but recess is in! If you’re an outdoor lover, there’s no better place to spend your summer than in Waynesboro, Virginia. We’ve got the peaks, the valleys, the water, and all the good nature your body and spirit crave. Can’t decide where to start? Check out these summer events you won’t want to miss, then pack those hiking boots, bike helmets, or racing shoes and escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains for an adventure-filled getaway!