Waynesboro’s identity is often tied to the fact that a river runs through it—literally. Outdoor recreation associated with the South River and beyond it add to the town’s slogan: “Where good nature comes naturally.”
“Waynesboro’s location– under four miles from where the Blue Ridge Parkway-meets Skyline Drive-meets the Appalachian Trail– has made it a natural stop for visitors interested in outdoor recreation and scenic beauty,” said Courtney Cranor, Waynesboro’s Assistant Director of Economic Development & Tourism. “The opening of the Waynesboro Water Trail and the expansion of the Greenway Trail really pull that experience into town. Having the South River run through downtown where there’s a burgeoning arts and culture scene only enhances that.”
Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway are two of the most scenic drives imaginable at any time of year. Hiking, camping, cycling, horseback riding, canoeing /kayaking and fishing are all staples for vigorous individuals seeking outdoor challenges. Sherando Lake Recreation Area and George Washington National Forest are an easy drive from downtown.
As great as the outdoor options are, it would be short-sighted to overlook everything else this growing community offers tourists. Festivals, entertainment, dining and shopping, and history draw visitors, too. Some highlights below:
Once home to the well-known Fly Fishing and Wine Festival (which has moved to Doswell), Waynesboro is now the site of the South River Fly Fishing Expo (April 22 – 23, 2017) This event will offer seminars, exhibits and demonstrations featuring expert fly-tiers, professional guides and others, with plenty of chances to fish the South River.
The Fall Foliage Art Show, Oct. 14-15, 2017, has been operating for 45 years and now draws 15,000 to 20,000 people. This juried fine art exhibition is hosted by the Shenandoah Valley Arts Center.
The Wayne Theatre/Ross Performing Arts Center anchors Waynesboro’s entertainment scene. “The Wayne Theatre helps downtown Waynesboro thrive,” said spokesperson Crystal Graham, “and its impact can be felt on any show night with surrounding restaurants and coffee shops bustling. It’s certainly helped ignite the nightlife in the downtown area.”
“The Wayne is a place for all ages, offering a wide variety of programming,” added Executive Director Tracy Straight. “We’ve had over 25,000 people from 25 states in the first 10 months of being open.”
The Wayne offers a diverse combination of performances and concerts, plus community-based productions, and their own original productions like Xanadu (coming in May). Straight is an ex-educator and welcomes many school field trips that give the kids a true sense of the performance experience. The Wayne even holds educational workshops for pre-K to 12th grade and adults. Classic films—“There’s nothing like seeing Casablanca on the big screen,” said Straight–are also part of the package. Unlike most theaters, the Wayne also has an Exhibit Gallery—on display through February. 26th is “The Properties of Imagination: The Art of Fine Craft.” Check the theater’s full calendar of performances to plan your entertainment.
Wine and Dine
Barren Ridge Vineyards, a family-owned operation in Fishersville (about five miles northwest of Waynesboro), offers award-winning wines along with breathtaking vineyard views.
Waynesboro has many dining options. A few of the more recent startups: The Farmhaus on Main is a specialty coffee shop with breakfast, salads and sandwiches relying heavily on the bounty of local farms. Jake’s Bar and Grill offers discounts for AT thru-hikers, active military and veterans, and emergency workers/first responders. The French Press offers more coffee and espresso variations than you knew existed. And the Basic City Beer Company hosts live music to accompany everyone’s a wide selection of innovative brews.
The Waynesboro Heritage Museum– located in a 1908 renovated bank building, preserves memories of Native Americans, early European settlers, the Civil War (including the Battle of Waynesboro) and Revolutionary War General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, for whom the city is named. Here, visitors can also learn that, in 1944, Camp Sherando Lake was converted to a German prisoner of war compound and re-named Camp Lyndhurst.
Choose from big chain hotels, charming B&Bs or well-organized campgrounds. A few can’t-go-wrong options:
Waynesboro 340 North Campground
For more information call the Waynesboro Department of Tourism at 540-942-6512.