Where to Find a Bit of Europe in Virginia

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American Shakespeare Center Blackfriars Playhouse. Photo by Traveling Newlyweds @traveling_newlyweds and courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation

The Shenandoah Valley is one of the first true melting pots of America. It’s a place many Europeans settled in the 1700s, and those cultural and architectural influences are evident daily for those with a keen eye and desire for discovery. Allow us to show you where to find a bit of Europe in Virginia, and specifically, the Shenandoah Valley.

Staunton, VA

One of the first places to visit is Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton. Explore the replica and reconstructed buildings from Germany, Ireland, and England, all of which represent the early settlers of the Shenandoah Valley. Interpreters personify the dreamers before they set sail for the New World. Hear their stories, watch them work, and listen to their hopes and dreams while experiencing their way of life in the Old World.

Expand on the experience of England with a stop at nearby American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse in downtown Staunton. It’s the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor Blackfriars Theatre, a former 13th century monastery in London. Reserve a Playhouse tour weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and plan to catch an upcoming show for the real treat of a Shakespeare performance.

Twelfth Night showing through August 6
> The Tempest, September 23 – November 19
> Pericles, September 30 – November 12

Staying in Staunton a while longer, make it a point to enjoy as many bits and pieces of the Staunton Music Festival as you can. The 2021 festival runs from August 12 to 21 and features more than 90 world-class musicians in a packed schedule of classical music. The festival kicks off with a Handel Extravaganza and concludes with Haydn’s The Creation.

Full Schedule of Events

While you enjoy your Staunton explorations, do include a stop at Reunion Bakery to devour their beautiful French pastries and breads. Some of them are almost too beautiful to eat, like the lovely (and tasty) strawberry rhubarb galette pictured below!

Rockingham County, VA

White Oak Lavender Farm in Harrisonburg is a large lavender farm welcoming to anyone who wants to soak in the relaxing atmosphere it provides. Seasonal farm tours are available as are u-pick opportunities for lavender lovers to take home a bit of this favorite French herb. Lavender products are for sale, and you won’t want to skip a tasting at The Purple WOLF Vineyard tasting room.

White Oak Lavender Farm

Italy is the vibe and inspiration at CrossKeys Vineyards in Mt. Crawford. You’ll love every Tuscan touch from the piazza to the courtyard. Visit the Bistro for lunch or appetizers after your tasting.

Northern Shenandoah Valley, VA

Sturdy timber frame cabins influenced by the owners’ German heritage are the claim to fame at Shadow Mountain Escape in Luray.  Designed with Old World flair, guests find the cabins warm, inviting, and romantic. Much of the décor was purchased in Europe, and the ironwork was designed by the owners. Book your romantic getaway in one of the four cabins this year.

In Winchester you’ll be greeted by the lush European gardens at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. If ever there was a time to stop and smell what’s blooming and admire the beauty, it may be now. At seven acres and with much to see, you can easily spend time admiring the many gardens, including the Parterre, a 1600s French idea of ornamental plantings best viewed from above.

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Get a piece of southeast Europe when you attend the Winchester Greek Festival August 20 and 21 at the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church on Amherst Street. The early visitor gets the best selection of gyros and desserts!

East of Winchester in White Post is L’Auberge Provençale, which is quite French, if you can’t tell by the name. Treat yourself to a Provençale suite and splurge on the incredible Chef’s Tasting Menu. And trust us, it IS incredible. Then it’s on to brunch the next morning, where crepes are absolutely on the menu. Maybe just plan to live at L’Auberge? Delicieux!

South of White Post and east of Luray you’ll find Copper Fox Distillery in Sperryville. It’s THE place to enjoy a flight of whisky based on “the best whisky in the world,” according to Rick Wasmund … the whisky of Scotland. Copper Fox created the first applewood-aged whisky in the world when it was introduced in 2003, and their 2005 tasting room opening gave the world a peek into the past with “the first US distillery malt floor and kiln since the repeal of Prohibition” in 1933.

Which stop will be your first as you sample piece of Europe in Virginia? Show us your explorations by tagging us in your Instagram pics and reels!

Header image by Traveling Newlyweds (IG: @traveling_newlyweds) and courtesy of Virginia Tourism Corporation.

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