Virginia has more to offer than the first US landing, although that is pretty cool. Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is home to some of the world’s oldest mountains and their rolling hills display all the agony and weathering they’ve gone through. None-the-less, the Blue Ridge Mountains offer some of the best scenery in the entire world. Miles upon miles of hiking trails, countless rustic towns, and a community and culture like none you’ve ever experienced.
However, the Shenandoah is often overlooked for multiple reasons: a) it’s “inferiority” to mountain ranges like The Rockies, b) it’s semi-difficulty of arrival. But, if you’re lucky enough to make it here one day, I’ve created this guide to help you along.
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If you’re flying into Virginia, it’s more than likely you’re flying into either Richmond or Washington DC. To get to Shenandoah, VA, it’s about equally as far from each airport. If, somehow, you’re able to fly into the Charlottesville Municipal Airport, that will decrease your travel time significantly.
Now, once you’re in Virginia, actually getting to the Shenandoah National Park is no easy task. I took the liberty of looking up public transportation there, and it’s not very favorable.
As you can see, it’s quite pricey. At that rate, you might as well rent a car. In my opinion, having a car will be most beneficial to you. It’ll allow you to see what you want to see, have the freedom to move around as you please, and, probably the most important, I didn’t see a single cab while I was there. You’d have no way of getting around.
Where to Stay
The Shenandoah Valley is littered with adorable cabins just waiting to be rented, and so if I were you, that’s they way I would go. There’s nothing like having a pine-smelling, fireplace burning, wood cabin. You can find a lot on AirBnB!
However, if these are a bit out of your price range, there are plenty of options in terms of hotels! We saw Budget Inns, Comfort Inns, Candlewood Suites, and more. Prices start around $35/night, depending on time of year and availability.
I just checked, and there seems to be quite of Couchsurfing hosts in the surrounding area, so that’s definitely worth checking out!
What To Do
Oh boy.. the list is endless, but I’ll try and make it short and sweet.
One of Virginia’s most proud possessions: miles upon miles of beautiful stalagmite/stalactite filled caves. Located in Luray, Virginia, this natural attraction is something we Virginian’s hold very near and dear to our hearts. For $26.00, you’ll be able to experience one of the coolest natural wonders this side of the Mississippi.
I took that picture two days ago, and I’m still in awe. The beautiful national park offers over 70 vistas, and each is just as beautiful as the last. This attraction is the longest national park in the world covering hundreds and hundreds of miles. For $20.00 per car, you can spend hours driving up and down the Blue Ridge Mountains, stopping as many times as your heart desires, to admire the natural beauty that is Virginia.
Assuming global warming ‘chills out’ (get the pun?) skiing at Massanutten is a great time for families, especially those with kids due to the fact that many of the runs are Green. For $40, you can enjoy the view over the valley atop a pair of skis and, if you so please, a hot chocolate in the lodge.
Meander the Endless Country Roads
There isn’t much to say about this one.. Some of the most picturesque scenery we saw was when we picked a country road, off the random, and just drove. And kept going and going until there wasn’t any more road. We made friends along the way, like these horses, and some cows, and some more horses!
If you’re someone who enjoys hiking, the Shenandoah is for you. Old Rag, however, is easily the most well-known in the area, with a combination of both standard hiking with a bit of rock scrambling. If you’re hard core enough, you’ll hike early enough to catch the magnificent sunrise over the valley.
Where to Eat
In Shenandoah itself, we couldn’t find many restaurants that spiked our interest. However, a quick jaunt north to Luray, VA, and you’ve got countless restaurants waiting to serve you spectacular food.
One of our favorites was Uncle Buck’s, and their bacon cheese fries! They were to die for; so good we went back the next day to get them again! If only they delivered to Fredericksburg, VA….
It was Maggie’s 21st, and they even gave her first beverage on the house! Moderately priced as well, a main dish could run you anywhere between $8.00 and $18.00 (the $18.00 dish was a steak).
Address: 42 E Main St Luray, VA 22835
West Main Market
When we were searching for a place to eat, we also heard of another place, a cheaper place, called West Main Market. Now granted, we never had the opportunity to dine there, we heard nothing but good things. Their Yelp page agrees.
The deli-style market offers panini’s, hot subs, cold subs, soups, and salads, all for a great price. I’ve seen pictures and they’re mouth watering.
Address: 123 W Main StLuray, VA 22835
Gennaro’s Italian Restaurant
If Italian’s your thing, then Gennero’s is your place. Four out of five stars definitely spikes my interest so I decided to look into it. Calzones, subs, pizzas, pasta, Italian sausage’s, you name it, they’ve got it. Small plates around $7.00, large plates around $10.00; definitely worth the portions you’d get.
Address: 402 W Main St Luray, VA 22835
NOTE: If you didn’t notice already, all of these places are located on Main St. There are plenty of other restaurants, including cafés and patisseries for you to enjoy some nice people watching. Walk up and down Main St. and you’ll for sure find something you’ll enjoy.
There aren’t too many fine dining options in Luray, so don’t plan on having some extravagant 5 Star, four course meal.
All of this was from my experience’s. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some things so be sure to pick up a guide book and check out their Tourism website for some other ideas! Comment below if there’s something I missed that should be in here!