Strolling along the Main Streets of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley is a pleasant experience thanks to the beauty, architecture, history, and people who create the buzz and atmosphere. These cities and towns are walkable, and you’ll actually want to walk them. There is so much you’d miss if you simply drove through, so don’t do that. Park the car and get the full experience, from the views and chatter to the smells and flavors. Welcome to the beautifully walkable Main Street communities of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley!
Bustling and beautiful, Winchester is known for its annual Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, its incredible Old Town pedestrian mall, and its early American history. Plan to spend a couple of days in Winchester to bite off as big a chunk as possible. The George Washington, a Wyndham Grand Hotel is well situated for your walking adventures.
There are many places to choose from for dining and relaxing. Families will enjoy the toy stores, Old Town Splash Pad, Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, and ice cream along the way, but there’s also plenty for pet lovers, beverage lovers, antiquers, crafty souls, and probably most everyone else, too.
Within downtown you can encounter several museums and historic sites of interest, including George Washington’s Office Museum, Patsy Cline Historic House, and. Not walkable but worthy of the short drive is the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley; don’t miss it!
Known as the Cabin Capital of Virginia, Luray is a thriving small town and a gateway to Shenandoah National Park. Along their Main Street (Route 211 Business), you’ll see the Luray Singing Tower at Carillon Park and the renown Mimslyn Inn. Within the downtown city blocks are coffee shops, bakeries, and cafes; an outdoor and sports store; bookstore; wine shop; consignments; ice cream parlor; and access to the Luray Hawksbill Greenway.
Just off Main Street and worth the walk of two short blocks is the Warehouse Art Gallery. Cross the train tracks and you’ll find sudsy refreshment at Hawksbill Brewing Company.
Check the calendar at The Center for Performing Arts to possibly catch a show while you’re in town. For an overnight, The Mimslyn is a traditional go-to, or there are several bed and breakfasts, as well as a boutique hotel within the walkable downtown.
Centrally located in the Shenandoah Valley at the intersection of Interstates 81 and 64, Staunton is the home of American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse and Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum. The downtown is architecturally beautiful with rising spires and many nuances contributed to TJ Collins, a prolific architect in Staunton from 1891 to 1911. Take your time walking and admiring things high and low in the Queen City.
Make Hotel 24 South your home base for exploration, or just outside the grid of downtown (yet still walkable) is The Blackburn Inn. The American Shakespeare Center is right next door! From there you’ll find plenty to eat, drink, and see as you make your way. Quirky shopping, toys, antique automobiles, a camera museum, glassblowing … there is much to take in!
Don’t leave the city without a visit to Frontier Culture Musuem. You’ll learn more than you expect and get hands-on demonstrations that will give you a new appreciation for the past.
The best way to experience Lexington is on foot, but the second-best way is by carriage. A narrated horse-drawn carriage tour will give you the historic overview of town and let you see the sites, scoping out what you’d like to experience next.
A growing boutique hotel is an excellent overnight consideration in downtown. Seek out locally roasted coffee, handmade donuts, and more for a filling breakfast – both of which are just steps away – then rock-paper-scissors your way to a farm-to-table selection. Best of luck; they’re all great!
Lexington is an artisan’s haven for both mountainous and pastoral views. See and take home gorgeous pieces of art from one of the numerous galleries in town, or make your own treasure at the DIY shop at the top of Main Street. An arcade, game store, pet shop, and ice cream parlor are added perks for families looking for fun. Don’t forget a trip to Virginia Safari Park or Natural Bridge State Park for even more fun!
Header image by Robert Harris (@robertharris) and courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation.