Small Town Hidden Gems in the Shenandoah Valley

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Have you noticed not all small towns are created the same? Some have bustling Main Streets while others lack a stoplight or even the official title of town. In fact, some of them are more “village” status. This round up is kind of like that. Explore these precious places and enjoy the epic experience of small town hidden gems in the Shenandoah Valley.

Uber Small and Delightful Brownsburg

Brownsburg, Virginia doesn’t register as a town though it does have its own zip code. Brownsburg is most like a village … a somewhat sleepy one, at that. In 1973 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places because it had changed very little. That remains true today.

A visit to Brownsburg must include a stop at the community-run Brownsburg Museum, a place dedicated to its history and offering a new exhibit every year or two. Explore more with a self-guided walking tour, and note that each spring brings a home and garden tour you won’t want to miss. Drive beautiful, winding Route 252 to reach Brownsburg and consider off-shoot stops at nearby Wade’s Mill and Rockbridge Vineyard as you go; all part of the North Rockbridge Trail.

Meet Shepherdstown: West Virginia’s Oldest Town

A Potomac River community, Shepherdstown, West Virginia has played a part in many historical moments, most notably as a C&O Canal town (1830s) and later, bearing witness to the tragedies of the Civil War after the Battles of Antietam and Shepherdstown (1862). Like Brownsburg, Shepherdstown was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Get a fantastic overview when you step up for a Shepherdstown Mystery Walk, offered year ‘round.

To someone who has never experienced Shepherdstown, its art and dining scene are a pleasant surprise. Of special note is the Contemporary American Theater Festival each summer, which has been hailed as one of the “50 Essential Summer Festivals” by The New York Times.

Dining is an art unto itself in Shepherdstown. Check out newcomer Alma Bea, a taste-testing study in Appalachian cuisine, or The Press Room, with its daily specials based on available local and regional ingredients.

Distinctive, Quaint Dayton, Virginia

Renown throughout the Valley for its annual Dayton Days Autumn Celebration, Dayton is a somewhat underrated sweet spot. At any moment, a horse and buggy could pass, and it’s not any kind of tour you’re missing out on. Dayton and greater Rockingham County are home to a thriving Mennonite population who still conduct life in a bygone fashion. Take that wonder a step further and visit Silver Lake Mill (1822) and Fort Harrison (1749) – both robust in history. A self-guided walking tour leads to more.

Be sure to shop The Dayton Market where many vendors offer a variety of clothing, art, collectibles, and more. When it’s time to eat, look no further than Dayton Tavern, but leave room for Grammie’s Ice Cream!


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Luray, Virginia: Gateway to Shenandoah National Park

Home base for a grand outdoor excursion inside Shenandoah National Park or out, Luray is known as the Cabin Capital of Virginia and it’s home to wonderous Luray Caverns. Enjoy a bit of adventure within town limits on the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway or venture a few miles out to Lake Arrowhead, a great place to fish, boat, and hike. Additionally, the South Fork of the Shenandoah River flows just outside of town, and it’s a popular place for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

Those who are into art will love the Luray Arts Trail, a self-guided tour of the hidden gems dotting downtown. Staying at Hotel Laurance or The Mimslyn Inn makes downtown a very walkable idea. To get in a few more steps, consider South Court Inn B&B or Mayneview B&B. Hit up Broad Porch Coffee Co. for your morning fix and contemplate afternoon beverages at Hawksbill Brewing Company.

Luray-Hawksbill Greenway

Luray-Hawksbill Greenway

Proud, Beautiful Bedford, Virginia

Tucked southeast of Peaks of Otter and the Blue Ridge Parkway is Bedford, the home of the National D-Day Memorial. It’s a fact that little ol’ Bedford suffered the most casualties per capita on D-Day, June 6, 1944. That was the day allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in World War II. The Memorial is one immense reason to visit the town of Bedford, but there are others as well.

Dive into the local theater scene with a stop at Fred Harper Theatre, home of Little Town Players. The cast just dropped the curtain on “Annie Warbucks,” the sequel to “Annie,” but this fall brings more theatrics for guests to enjoy. A venture outside of town to find Thomas Jefferson’s personal retreat post-presidency. That’s Poplar Forest, where archaeological digs are continually underway.

Dining is a must, and we can’t decide which we prefer. Our grandmothers would say Liberty Station (and we love it, too!) but there’s a part of us that just salivates for Beale’s, which is a brewery first and the most awesome pulled pork second.


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Walkable Pot Town (aka Strasburg, Virginia)

An easy pace gives you time to discover murals and hidden gardens, as well as window shop. Strasburg is a dynamic Shenandoah Valley town offering a sweet art scene, easy river access for outdoor exploration, and a good chunk of history for lovers of such. Start at the Strasburg Museum to jump into the latter. It’s located at the 1890 Strasburg Steam Pottery, which is just the spot to find out why Strasburg is called Pot Town. A head start for you … the oldest pottery created in Strasburg dates to 1761.

Antiquers and thrifters love Strasburg and hit the shops one by one until they’re all conquered. Start at the Strasburg Emporium and work your way along. When it comes to food, Box Office Brewery has an awesome vibe and the menu at Old Dominion Doggery & Burger Shoppe is out of this world. Whatever burger or hot dog concoction you can dream, they’re probably already thought of it.


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So where are you headed first? All of these small towns deserve their due attention, so we hope you work all of them into your weekend getaways for years to come.

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