Love is in the air in Staunton

Looking for a place to spend Valentines Day with your sweetie, spouse or BFF? Whether it’s a romantic evening or just hanging out for the afternoon, there are tons of options right in Staunton.

Special Tasting with Mike Lund Foods

Get the weekend started right with one of Mike Lund Food’s exclusive tasting menu dinners on Friday and Saturday night. Start out by mingling over Rappahannock River oysters and sparkling wine and settle in for a full table of offerings including truffled mac’n’ham’n’cheese, curried lobster soup and a dessert bar. Check out the menu here and don’t forget that reservations are required for this incredible event!mike lund food

835 Springhill Road | Facebook | For reservations

Southern Style Farm to Table in Four Courses

Looking for a romantic evening on historic Beverley Street? Zynodoa is planning three full nights of a four-course chef-tasting valentine’s-themed menu on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Share some heated looks and old-school (with a new twist) cocktails over crab cakes, pork belly and beef tenderloin. Be sure to make reservations and come early for a romantic stroll down Beverley.


115 East Beverley | Facebook | Event Information

A Bevy of Choices on Beverley!

Looking for more options? Ava Restaurant & Wine Bar is offering not one, not two, but three prix fixe options this Thursday through Sunday. Choose from a light three course dinner for two, or opt for a full night with five courses. With wine pairings for each level (but sparkling wine for all!) Ava is the place for lovers (and lovers of wine.) Looking for just a a bite and some people-watching? Stop by and choose from the appetizers and drinks menu for a tête-à-tête. Reservations required.


103 West Beverley Street | Facebook | Event Information

Tiffany and Trivia

Not looking for a Valentine’s Day theme, but still want a fun day in Staunton with your sweetheart (or buddies?) then check out one of the best date ‘afternoons’ downtown! Start out at Trinity Episcopal Church, founded in 1746, and check out the collection of twelve Trinity windows and locally-made Taylor & Boody organ. Take a stroll around the lovely grounds and head across the street to George Bowers Grocery for a hot game of 80’s trivia, cold beer and local Polyface grass-fed burgers.

george bowers
from top right | Light streaming through the windows at George Bowers Grocery; trivia, 80’s style; cozy up for burger, beers and trivia; historic Trinity Church

George Bowers Grocery | 219 West Beverley Street | Facebook
Trinity Church | 214 West Beverley Street | Website

A Valentine’s Weekend at The Bistro

Don’t miss out on the Valentine’s Day (and weekend) fun at the Wharf. Chef Joey Sprouse has pulled together an amazing menu of oysters, prime rib and salmon for all you Wharf-loving lovers out there! Dinner service starts at 5 p.m. come for dinner and stick around for an evening of live music.

Friday, February 12 | William Walter & Company | 9:00pm – Midnight
Saturday, February 13 | Firecracker Jam Band | 9:00pm – Midnight

the bistro


Fun Things To Do In Staunton When It’s Chilly Outside

Fun Things To Do In Staunton When It’s Chilly Outside

Looking for for something fun to do in Staunton when it’s not so fun being outside? We’ve got plenty of options to keep the whole family engaged when the weather’s not cooperating!

Live Glassblowing Classes and Demonstration

Sunspots Studios, a favorite destination for many of Staunton’s repeat visitors, offers an amazing opportunity to learn about the art of glassblowing. With daily live demonstrations until 4 p.m., come with the whole family and take advantage of the up-close and personal viewing area and watch one of the in-house artists create beautiful works of art.

sunspots studios

The gift shop and gallery is full of one-of-a kind home and garden glass treasures, artisan jewelry and handbags.

If you’re ready to jump in for hands-on fun, Sunspots offers a unique glassblowing class. Suitable for ages 7 and up, come and spend some time in the studio and create your own hand-blown glass ornament.

Call ahead for glassblowing demonstration and class times.

202 South Lewis Street | Facebook

Special Valentines Day Event At Sunspots Studios

Join Sunspots Studios for an exclusive Valentines Day event Wednesday, February 10, 2016 through Sunday, February 14, 2016.  Sunspots has new, special equipment to allow you and your Valentine to blow an ornament at the same time, locking your breath together forever! Get more information here.

A Picturesque Walk Through History

Tucked away in the heart of historic Staunton, the Camera Heritage Museum is packed full of over 4,500 cameras and accessories, covering the history of man’s fascination with recording the moments of our lives.

Leave behind selfie sticks and Snapchat and stop by the the museum to get a glimpse of 150 years of history seen through the lens of this amazing collection. Some of the featured items rare historical photographs, such as that taken by a camera on board a Japanese planes during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the personal photograph collection of the John Wilkes Booth family and a signed photograph of the Beatles performing on the Ed Sullivan show.

The collection includes vintage and modern examples of camera technology, as well as the work of regional photographers dating back to 1847 when Charles F. Hamilton was working with daguerreotypes right here in Staunton.

camera heritage museum

The Camera Heritage Museum is open to the public Monday – Friday 9 to 5, Saturdays 9-2. Tours are $5.

1 West Beverley Street | Facebook

Five Staunton Destinations to Enjoy with Kids

Five Staunton Destinations to Enjoy with Kids

This is part of a series of three articles which will highlight the best of downtown Staunton, per traveler reviews.

Family travel is not for the faint of heart. I know. I’m a mom of three and a bargain hunter to boot. Research shows that moms typically make the travel plans, so with you kindred weary spirits in mind, here are the top five things to do with your children in Staunton (and on the cheap).

Blackfriars Playhouse The Taming of the Shrew AMERICAN SHAKESPEARE CENTER – 5 stars – Thursday-Sunday Show

The Bard’s original English Blackfriars Playhouse is recreated in Staunton (the only one in the world), delivering the most authentic William Shakespeare experience in America. What you see is what would have been – no sets, no lighting effects, no microphones. It’s a rare opportunity for aspiring actors and actresses ages 7 and older to see passion and dedication up close (some guests sit on stage!).

Can’t make it to a show? Playhouse Tours are available for $7 per person. Each tour is guided and delivered as a mix of entertainment and education. Photography is allowed on the tour but not during performances.

>> PRO TIP: The first few performances of each production offer a unique opportunity for those without reserved seats to “pay what you will.” Check the calendar for specific dates. Otherwise, ticket prices vary by performance and seat preference (generally $18-$59).

“Go on with an open mind and get ready to smile. It is simply a great way to spend an evening (or afternoon). My two teenagers laughed like it was a teen movie and my wife and I loved it. Quirky and fun!” -BaldAndHappy, Washington, DC


Sunspots ornaments SUNSPOTS STUDIO – 4.5 stars – Open Daily – Free Demonstrations

This glass studio will leave your kids in awe. Warn them of the “look but don’t touch” rule while in the gift shop, and then check out the glassblowing in action. If you’re visiting between Wednesday and Sunday, blow your own family ornament (ages 7 to adult; $40-45 each). Should you choose not to, at least find a bauble to take home as a souvenir.

“It was very interesting and even my 7 yo enjoyed it. There are seats, so that it’s a comfortable place … Definitely worth checking out!” -NCtraveler73, Raleigh, NC (TripAdvisor)


CWP--FCM_MayDay_05-04-13_22 (2)

 FRONTIER CULTURE MUSEUM – 4.5 stars – Open Daily

Perhaps one of the most underrated experiences in Virginia, the Frontier Culture Museum tells the story of westward migration by those who forged the way. The great pioneers were English, Irish, German, and West African. See working homestead farms representative of the 1600 and 1700s, as well as early American dwellings and a Native American dwelling that would have been customary for the Blue Ridge around 1730.

>> PRO TIP: Sunday is “pay what you will” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the tour is self-guided. Otherwise, rates are free to $10 depending on age.

“Kids had a great time trying the different frontier activities. Definitely worth going.” -Kevin L. (TripAdvisor)

Did you know Woodrow Wilson is the only President of the United States to hold an earned doctoral degree? Or that he went by “Tommy” through childhood and into his years at College of New Jersey (now Princeton University)? How about that his face is on the $100,000 bill? It’s not surprising if you missed that question. Those were never publicly circulated, only 42,000 were created, and it’s illegal to own one. Learn what else you don’t know about President Wilson when you visit. Rates are free to $14 depending on age.

>> PRO TIP: Traditionally Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library is free to active duty military, National Guard, Reservists, and their families Memorial Day through Labor Day thanks to the Blue Star Museum Program.

“Good displays portraying Wilson’s life. Informative, interesting, well done. Even a craft/activity room for kids. Especially enjoyed learning about his car!” – Lydspot, Staunton, VA

STAUNTON FIRE & RESCUE – 4 stars* – Open Daily – Free
It’s doubtful that this would be on your “must do when we’re in Staunton” list, but it should be if you’re traveling with kids. Actually, grandpas, dads, and uncles will probably enjoy this visit, too, as it’s the oldest volunteer fire station in Virginia (1790; paid as of 1893) and home to one of maybe two remaining 1911 Robinson Fire Engines.
*Rating via Trekaroo

Where do you love to roam around Staunton with kids in tow? My personal favorite is Pufferbellies, a fun toy store that’s actually a great deal more. Not only will you find specialty toys for STEM learning, but they also have a great selection of books, arts and crafts, and even an adult coloring section.

Leave a comment or go share your experience with a TripAdvisor review.

Downtown Staunton’s Five Best Places for Nightlife

Downtown Staunton’s Five Best Places for Nightlife

This is a series of three articles which will highlight the best of downtown Staunton, per traveler reviews.

When you’re visiting Staunton and seeking a nightcap with a side of city vibe, these are the places to check out. You’ll mix with locals and other travelers – business, leisure, alumni – and you’ll soon understand why this city is one of Virginia’s most beloved. Cheers to good times, new friends, and Staunton.

Brick’s Restaurant and Pub – 4 stars – Pizza, Bar, Italian
Open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Brick’s is a good place to unwind. As Rod O. from Charlottesville wrote in his Yelp review, “Is it a sports bar? It could be, maybe, though it seems like a comfortable place to relax! I could give this pizza no less than 4 1/2 stars!” Local Chris H. recommends Brick’s calling it a “great local hangout … the pizza is addictive!” Claudia H. from nearby Verona dubbed it a “pizza dive bar,” which is not a negative comment by any means, as she went on to write that it’s “a great new addition to downtown Staunton.” Come as you are, shoot pool, get a homemade pizza, cheese fries, calzone, or wings, and wash it down with a Devils Backbone Vienna Lager or Pabst Blue Ribbon, whichever way your taste leads.

The Pompei Lounge – 3 stars – Lounge, Italian
Located within and above Emilio’s Italian Restaurant, Pompei is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Head upstairs after an excellent meal at Emilio’s and enjoy a Lemon Drop Martini (Yelp reviewers recommend it) with live tunes. When it’s warm, you’ll love the view from the rooftop terrace. There’s always something going on at The Pompei Lounge.
“… a great local place that felt as much like a house party as a bar, with plenty of little nooks, crannies, rooms and terraces (seriously, it felt as though this place went on forever!) to make a night of it with a good group of friends …” -Maki P., Seattle, WA
“Holy crap, this place rocks! Excellent atmosphere, attentive staff, kickass bartenders!” -a love note from Vinyl Rob on The Pompei Lounge Facebook page

Marino’s Lunch – 4.5 stars – Bar, Burgers
A Staunton institution, Marino’s is an authentic local hangout with bluegrass jams Tuesday and Friday nights. Rub elbows with area musicians and learn a thing or two about their skills, as well as plenty of lore and tall tales. Slide into a booth, order a drink and a cheeseburger, and let the good times roll.
“This place is a great way to meet the local scene. I went on a Tuesday night and it was packed. Everyone is super friendly and up for a good time. Their cheeseburgers are fantastic and cheap.” -Amanda L., Pine, CO
“If you are in Virginia, this place is worth a 100 mile detour.  You will not forget it, ever.  It is the kind of place people write stories about.” -Christy R., Italy, TX

ALSO SEE: Downtown Staunton’s 10 Best Places to Dine

Yelping Dog Wine – 4 stars – Wine Bar, Sandwiches
A wine and cheese shop open until 9 p.m. (10 on Fridays and Saturdays), Yelping Dog is decidedly low-key and chill with live music from time to time. Order a cheese plate or gourmet grilled cheese and ask for the perfect wine pairing.
“Hands down my favorite place to spend a relaxing afternoon or evening!” -Erin M., Fort Defiance, VA

Byers Street Bistro – 4 stars – Music Venue, American (New)
Count on a lively band every Saturday night at Byers Street Bistro. Open until midnight, you can sample a range of draught Virginia craft beers with appetizers like fried green tomatoes, smoked bacon and corn hushpuppies, and Chesapeake crab cakes.
“The restaurant has a nice atmosphere both upstairs and down in the pub area.  Fun place to catch live music on the weekends too.  This has been my go to spot, if I’m in the area, for the past ten years.” -Jesse V., Winchester, VA

What is your favorite fine dining, nightlife, dive, or café in Staunton? Head to Yelp and leave a review, plus fill in the missing details for each: hours, outdoor seating, etc. Share your knowledge and #LOVEStaunton.

Downtown Staunton’s 10 Best Places to Dine

Downtown Staunton’s 10 Best Places to Dine

This is a series of three articles which will highlight the best of downtown Staunton, per traveler reviews.

Staunton’s culinary scene is diverse and delicious, according to diner feedback on Yelp. Dishes from the most highly rated restaurants span the globe, but “fresh and local” is the primary theme of what you’ll find in Staunton.

Sera_Petras_Photography_Zynodoa-51Zynodoa – 4.5 stars – New American
This gem has risen to the top because of the constantly changing menu. Entrée options rely on local farmers and purveyors, so you may not experience the same meal twice, or at least, not for a while. A new reason to go? Taste what chef Ryan Zale is up to since his appearance on Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.”
“Small town dining that gives big cities a run for the money!” -Chris S., San Francisco, CA

Mill Street Grill – 4 stars – New American
 It may be the on-the-house peppermint ice cream that seals the deal for many diners, but others do rave about specific menu items like the ribs, which are a Mill Street staple. Dining at MSG has become a tradition for many traveling through or visiting the area.
“The ribs are done KC style and done perfectly – the meat just fell right off the bone.” -Tiffany L., Fremont, CA

Byers Street Bistro – 4 stars – New American
People love the patio at BSB, and they love that their dogs are welcome there, too. The menu features fresh new spins on southern favorites, and varying genres of bands keep things hopping on Friday and Saturday nights.
“I especially love their creative takes on classic southern dishes (chicken and waffles with an orange chile syrup, yes please!).” -Amanda M., Baltimore, MD

Nu-Beginning Farm Store – 4.5 stars – Café
Don’t be fooled by the name or the façade. Nu-Beginning Farm Store (The Store) is a café Yelpers love to yelp about. Local producers are listed on the chalkboard so that visitors know exactly where their meal is sourced.
“… the place that makes the hummus I crave …” -D’oh D., Washington, DC

AioliAioli – 4.5 stars – Mediterranean
Aioli is a beautiful restaurant with beautifully presented, flavorful food. France, Italy, and Spain are represented in Chef Said Rahfiri’s menu, as well as on his beverage list.
“The crab cake ‘killed’ … this is not just food.  This is artistry.” -Ranzo T., St. Petersburg, FL

The Shack – 4.5 stars – New American
James Beard nominated chef and owner Ian Boden is all about food and perhaps less about venue. Simple, it feels like going to grandma’s house with love-worn place settings and family photos on the wall. Why so simple? Perhaps it’s to direct your undivided attention to your meal. Make reservations for this 26 seater; it’s popular for food critics and those of us who want something good to eat.
“Had a killer brunch – biscuits with rabbit gravy and a softshell crab po’boy that made me swoon.” -Corey A., Louisville, KY

The Depot Grille – 4 stars – Traditional American
The Depot is located in a 1902 train station (fitting, huh?). You’ll love the old details of the place – the original floors, reclaimed wooden church pews for booths, and a deliciously intricate bar from the Ten Eyck Hotel (1918) in Albany, NY. You’ll definitely want a cocktail in a setting like this.
“The burger special with bourbon bacon jam (oh yes) and the prime rib sandwich with chipotle queso were excellent.” – Candi W., Midlothian, VA

Ubon Thai Victorian Restaurant Inn – 4 stars – Thai
A most unique mash-up, Ubon Thai is located in a functioning Victorian Inn (yes, you can stay the night!). Choose from a generous menu and then dictate which level of heat your palate will withstand.
“We ordered spring rolls (fried) for appetizer, they were the best homemade ones I have ever tasted.” -Judy W., Little Rock, AR

Taste of India – 4 stars – Indian
The elegant presentation of Taste of India is perfectly complemented by the warm, attentive staff. Many people love the buffet, as it’s the best way to sample a little bit of everything this authentic Indian restaurant has to offer.
“My favorite dish was the goat curry.  I’ve traveled to India on many occasions … including Northern India as far as Dehradun, and A Taste of India knocks it out of the ball park for tasty and affordable Indian cuisine in Staunton, VA.” -Jerry C., Nellysford, VA

AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar – 4.5 stars – New American
Wine newbies and snobs alike will appreciate the house sommelier who can connect the food and wine dots at AVA. The extensive wine list brings some of the world’s best vintages to Staunton while the menu boasts options for nearly every diet.
“Their duck breast is very savory and delectable!  It was accompanied by just the right amount of sauce and vegetables.” -Mat G., Laurel, MD

It’s your turn. Head over to Yelp to tell the world all about your favorite restaurants and their dishes.

A Haven For Textile Artists

A Haven For Textile Artists

Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, Staunton is a natural gathering place for makers and crafters of all stripes. If you’re always on the lookout for a new local yarn shop or unique lengths of fabric, Staunton has just what you’re looking for.

Vintage bits, yarn treasure-trove and unique fiber arts

Tucked just a few blocks north of historic Beverley Street, Ragalia is a true find that will fill any crafter with glee. Judi Jones, proprietress, has spent decades as maker and shopkeeper. Visit Ragailia and hunt through piles of unusual fabrics, vintage clothing, notions, baskets of yarn and an eclectic collection of needles, cases and buttons. Judi, a maker herself, works in a variety of textiles and is always up for a chat while you check out her finished knitted garments, hooked rugs and felted projects.

Clockwise from upper left | charming facade, a basketful of fiber, tons of unique textiles, embroidery and quilt hoops
Ragalia | 713 North Augusta | Facebook

A local yarn shop with a bit extra

My Yarn Stash is a new and welcome addition to downtown Staunton. Previously located in Monterey, Virginia, this cozy yarn shop boasts a wide offering of yarns, needles and notions, plus a back room of quilting fabrics. Curl up in one of the armchairs and check out the book selection while chatting with owners, Emily and Theresa Wagner.

If you’re lucky enough to live near Staunton, check out one of the knitting classes on the schedule. And if you’re just passing through, stop by and be sure to leave with a ball of yarn to remember your trip to Staunton!

Upper left | Emily Wagner, manager, My Yarn Stash
My Yarn Stash | 16 West Beverley Street | Facebook

Nineteen years and counting all the quilts!

Rachel’s Quilt Patch is celebrating 19 years of helping Staunton stay cozy with a wide selection of quilt fabrics and notions, along with gift items like soaps and a stash of embroidery and sewing thread.

Stop by Rachel’s and help with the celebration! On Saturdays in January get in on gift basket drawings by spending at least $19. Even if you miss out on the drawing, get a free fat quarter and shop pin with each $19 purchase. Anniversary festivities will wrap up on the 23rd as Rachel’s celebrates Local Quilt Shop Day, a national celebration. Stop by for refreshments, discounts and a one day sale on select bolts ($5 yard.) For more information on anniversary festivities, check out Facebook.

rachels quilt patch
Clockwise from upper left | The 3rd generation helps out with some sale signage to celebrate 19 years in business, lovely shop filled with wonderful fabrics, great selection of solids, shop kitty watches over the proceedings
Rachel’s Quilt Patch | 40 Middlebrook Avenue | Facebook

But that’s not all! There’s plenty more for crafters to check out while visiting Staunton.

The Best Cocktail(s) In Staunton

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer and hailing in the new year! While January will bring about a surge of decluttering, housecleaning and clean eating… we’ve still New Year’s to celebrate. We thought we’d help out by doing a bit of field research to hunt down some of the best cocktails in Staunton.

Craft Cocktails with a Twist

If you’re looking for a craft cocktail with a southern twist, then look no further than Zynodoa. This stylish restaurant is tucked just steps away from Staunton’s renowned Blackfriars Playhouse and specializes in farm to table southern cuisine.

The night we stopped by we chatted with Macon, cocktail enthusiast partially responsible for developing the unusual drink offerings on the menu. We tried the Beverley Beau, a smokey and tangy blend of Knob Creek rye, vermouth, hickory syrup and grapefruit juice. Big brother to the previously popular, slightly more refined Beverley Belle, the cocktail was set off perfectly by a garnish of dried sour cherries.

As we sipped and snacked on house made cheddar crackers (to die for), Macon filled us in on the process of developing the cocktail menu. New drinks are added throughout the year, often inspired by locals who frequent Zynodoa. In fact, another perennial favorite on the menu, The Unencumbered, a gin and cucumber concoction, was added after repeated special-orders.

Clockwise from upper left | Beverley Beau, Housemade Crackers, Dried Cherries, Cocktail menu
If cocktails aren’t to your taste, check out Zynodoa’s carefully curated wine list. It’s packed full of plenty of local selections and Zynodoa provides staff with a semi-annual six week wine course, so you’ll be sure to have an able resource for recommendations.

Make reservations online for the 2015 New Year’s Even Prix Fixe Menu. 

Zynodoa | 115 East Beverley | Facebook

Going Old School

Looking for something a bit more traditional? Sorrel’s, located in the lobby of The Stonewall Jackson hotel, offers up a casual menu with a cozy fireplace and lovely view of the striking marble lobby.

The Blue Ridge Martini is a fine choice at the Stonewall. We tried two different versions, one exactly as on the menu — blue ridge vodka, elderflower liqueur and champagne — as well as a special ‘off-menu’ version with a bit of Blue Curacao for extra zing.

The Stonewall Jackson is a truly cozy, laid back place to grab a quick pre-theater drink to start out your evening!

Clockwise from upper left | Blue Ridge Martini, Decorated for the holiday, relaxing by the fire
Clockwise from upper left | Blue Ridge Martini, Decorated for the holiday, relaxing by the fire
Sorrels Lounge at The Stonewall Jackson Hotel | 24 South Market Street, first floor lobby | Facebook

Live Music and Margaritas

Our final stop was at The Baja Bean, long-time staple in downtown Staunton. Baja Bean specializes in craft beer — 12 taps — with a great selection of margaritas! If you’re in the mood for margaritas, friendly bartenders and live music then Baja Bean in Staunton is the place for you.

baja bean
Friendly bartenders make Baja the place to be!
We sampled Baja’s best selling margarita — the Cat’s Meow. Super tasty with a shot of grapefruit juice, it’s easy to see why this is the best-selling drink at the Baja! If grapefruit juice isn’t to your taste, then try the Taltos ‘Rita, blood-red from a splash of red wine!

the cat's meow
The Cat’s Meeeeooooowwwww
The Baja Bean | 9 W. Beverley | Facebook

Looking for something to do this New Year’s Eve?

There’s plenty to keep you busy this New Year’s in Staunton!

Zynodoa four course prix fixe dinner | Details
Ava Wine Bar Black and White Ball | Details
Frontier Gala at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel | Details
Melissa & The Growlers at Byers Street Bistro | Details
Maybe Tomorrow at The Clocktower | Details