It’s not a stretch to say the whole Shenandoah Valley is “affordable,” at least comparatively. There are restaurants in the Valley where a good dinner for two is cheaper than a day of parking in Washington, DC.
Below we list seven ideas that will guarantee you an enjoyable visit to the Valley at prices just about anyone can handle.
See a Play
American Shakespeare Theater, Staunton
The ASC Blackfriars Playhouse (the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre), is open year-round for productions of classic plays. Here, the ASC troupe performs Shakespeare’s works on a simple stage, without elaborate sets, and with the audience sharing the same light as the actors. Of course ticket prices vary depending on mid-week or weekend dates, where you sit, etc., but now through April 13 you can get in for $20 and see The Merry Wives of Windsor just about any time.
Known for its culture, art, Victorian architecture, fine food, music and outdoor fun, Staunton continues to satisfy a diverse array of travel interests. The Wayne Theatre in Waynesboro and Shenandoah Summer Music Theater in Winchester are equally sure things for high quality stage performances at comfortable prices. See more arts/entertainment options here.
Hike George Washington National Forest/Jefferson National Forest for free. A combined 1.8 million acres in total, the forests comprise one of the largest swaths of public land in the eastern United States. They include 325 miles of the Appalachian Trail, 23 Wilderness areas, and 2,340 miles of perineal streams. (The two forest were combined administratively in 1995.)
Float the Shenandoah River or ride horses up a mountain trail. Rent a tube for $22 or a kayak for $36 from Shenandoah River Outfitters. They’ll shuttle you upriver a given distance, then you just float back to the starting point. You can get a one-hour guided horseback trip at Fort Valley Ranch (just outside Luray) for $35, or a one-and a-half hour guided group for $45 at Jordan Hollow Stables, in the foothills of Shenandoah National Park. Star B Stables near Staunton charges $40 for a one-hour guided trip.
Visit a Museum
The Shenandoah Valley offers a wide variety of museums—some large, some small, some really small. But virtually all of them are low- or no-cost to explore. One example—the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester. Admission to the MSV includes access to the galleries, house, and gardens. Admission for Adults is just $10 or $8 for Seniors. Wednesdays are FREE!
See History, Culture and Museums for a full listing.
Whether you’re looking for true antiques, slightly used furniture or locally made Virginia gifts, the Shenandoah Valley is bursting with options. Small and large antique shops can be found in every town—though the notion that “They didn’t know what they had” is perhaps a myth. Still, you may well find exceptional bargains if you shop carefully. Three stops for authentic Valley shopping experiences include: the Dayton Market, just south of Harrisonburg; the Factory Antique Mall in Verona, and the Shenandoah Heritage Market in Harrisonburg.
Taste the Wine
Virginia now boasts 312 wineries and is sixth in the nation in wine grape production. Some of the state’s most beautiful vineyards are in the Shenandoah Valley, and self-guided tours like the Blue Ridge Whisky-Wine Loop make a day or weekend of wine tasting easy. Just one example: At Wisteria Farm and Vineyard just south of Luray, sample eight wines and get a souvenir glass for just $8.00.
In the last few years there has been a noticeable increase in the number of wedding venues opening in the Valley. (The Luray – Page County Chamber of Commerce even holds an annual Wedding Forum for locals entering or expanding their role in the wedding business.) Engaged couples from nearby cities like Richmond or Baltimore are invariably delighted to learn you can hold a comparatively low-cost ceremony and reception at landmarks like Luray Caverns or Shenandoah National Park, as well as a wide choice of hotels, cabins, inns and even museums. Of course, prices can escalate depending on a variety of factors. Visit our Weddings page to see the options.
Eat a Great Meal
Woodstock and Edinburg are two small towns in scenic Shenandoah County, both with revitalized downtowns. Dine at the historic Edinburg Mill and revel over a 16-ounce prime rib for $25—the top price on the whole menu. The restaurant is located on the lower level of the Edinburg Mill building, a Virginia Historical Landmark since 1848. In Woodstock, visit the Woodstock Café on Main Street for an extensive selection of beer and wine, great weekend brunch options and a surprisingly diversified daily menu.
Other dining options for reasonable prices abound throughout the Valley. The Apple House in Front Royal, Violino Ristorante Italiano in Winchester, and Brookside Restaurant next door to Shenandoah National Park, are all longstanding favorites with locals and visitors. See even more options in our site’s Dining section.
Photo courtesy Shenandoah River Outfitters