Of all the elements that go into the perfect fall getaway, it’s the leaves that matter most. Generally speaking, fall color will peak in most of the Shenandoah Valley around the middle of October. But keep in mind the length of the Valley and differences in elevation influence the exact dates.
Fall is the perfect time for virtually any outdoor recreation in the Valley, and it’s the most satisfying time of year for a scenic drive on Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Where to stay in the Valley is only a problem because there are so many choices. Here, moving from north to south, is a small sampling of accommodations for your consideration. (See more options here.)
West Virginia: Capon Springs is a mountain hideaway less than two hours west of Washington, DC. offering 14 cottages. Family-owned, Capon Springs offers child care if (when?) the adults want a little private time. But all guests eat together and numerous family-oriented activities are available. Plus there are 4,700 acres of wilderness nearby to explore. Golf, swimming, kids playgrounds, peaceful porches, and total relaxation.
Winchester: The George Washington, a Wyndham Grand Hotel is just steps from the city’s irresistible Old Town. Stroll the Pedestrian Mall, shop, dine, enjoy nightlife, then retire to the hotel. But don’t forget a dip in their indoor pool, modeled after a Roman bathhouse.
Clarke County: L’Auberge Provencale in White Post is a French-influenced, romantic B&B with superb dining, lovely suites and a variety of package deals involving food, cooking classes, wine, massage/spa visits and even horseback riding.
Shenandoah County: Fort Valley Ranch offers bunkhouse cabins or camping, along with guided horseback rides in the beautiful George Washington National Forest. Minutes from Luray Caverns. Bryce Resort is a four-season facility with various vacation rentals, condos, and timeshares, plus, events, bike trails, golf packages, dining, a zipline and fun on Lake Laura. Call 800-821-1444.
Luray and Page County: Luray was just named “Most Charming Virginia Small Town,” by onlyinyourstate.com. Perched high atop a hill overlooking Main Street, the stately Mimslyn Inn has welcomed fall travelers since 1931. In addition to the Inn’s old-world charm, formal dining and casual pub (The Speakeasy), they now offer the adjacent Manor House and Cottage Collection.
A bit down the street, the Hotel Laurance is an extensively restored boutique hotel offering 12 fine suites, 10 of which are full apartments. Both the Hotel Laurance and the Mimslyn are minutes from Luray Caverns and Shenandoah National Park.
Page County is also the Cabin Capital of Virginia, with about 200 rentals available ranging from off-the-grid to truly luxurious. Study some of the options here. (Scroll to the bottom, under “Lodging.”)
The Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce can also help find the best option for you, as can All Star Lodging.
Shenandoah National Park Lodging: Stay in the pinnacle of fall color at Skyland, Big Meadows, or Lewis Mountain. Hike to nearby waterfalls, wonder at the night sky viewing, or just motor to dozens of scenic overlooks.
Harrisonburg: One of the biggest cities in the Valley, Harrisonburg is home to many major chain hotels, plus inns, cabins, B&Bs, etc. (View many options here.) Truly hospitable staff, plus you can walk to dozens of fine restaurants, shops of all kinds, museums, art galleries, live music and theater.
Staunton/Waynesboro: Blue Ridge Parkway Cabins offers nine pet-friendly cabins near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Sherando Lake. Rent kayaks or canoes or take a swim in the pool. About three hours from Washington, DC. A great location with two small, vibrant cities nearby, and an easy escape to George Washington National Forest.
If you prefer the full scale hotel experience, the 124-room Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center is located in the heart of downtown Staunton and has all the amenities you could ask for: fitness center, heated pool, etc., and many attractive offerings like the “Shakespeare Package.”
Lexington: What? You haven’t ridden a llama? Try something really new at Applewood Inn and Llama Trekking, located between Lexington and Natural Bridge. Located on 37 peaceful acres, the Inn is a passive solar home a short drive from Lexington, a favorite location for lovers of Virginia history.
Bedford: Situated on Abbott Lake and surrounded by three Blue Ridge mountaintops, Peaks of Otter Lodge offers autumn views as good as they get. Hiking, dining, night sky viewing, wine tastings, and live music are just some of the ways to fill your getaway time.
We regret there are just too many lodging options in the Shenandoah Valley to cover them all here. Take a look at this page or click on “Contact Us at the bottom to let us help you find exactly what you need.
Banner photo courtesy Sarah Hauser, VTC