12 Distinctive Staunton Wedding Venues

The flowers are blooming and the trees are filling in nicely in the Staunton area, which means it’s wedding season! Day-dreaming girlfriends and Pinterest-frenzied fiancées, we have a dozen uniquely distinct venues for your consideration (and pinning!).

If you’ve never seen the historic gardens at Woodrow Wilson’s birthplace, you’re missing a ready-made, gorgeous, historic ceremony setting. The gardens are one of 13 maintained by the Garden Club of Virginia, and feature the only boxwood bowknot bed ever created by landscape architect Charles Gillette.

Historic Garden Tour Day Staunton 2016

Accommodating up to 150 people, the historic gardens are available for four hours and $1,200. Many brides choose to host the reception between the gardens and terrace, an expansion that can be realized for only $400 more.

The caveat with any use of the Woodrow Wilson historic site is membership. The League of Friends is the donor backbone to support the privately funded site, and membership in The League allows for facility rental. Fortunately, “a complimentary Family membership is included in the rental fee for non-members,” according to the Facility Rental guidelines, which is valued at $100 and provides free unlimited admission, discounts, and more.

> Wedding Brochure


Multiple ceremony and reception options make Gaie Lea (Old English for “Happy Meadows”) quite the contender when it comes to all-in-one wedding venues. Two hundred acres ensures privacy at any of the sites, which include a pavilion overlooking a pond, a hilltop pool for cocktail hour or reception, a formal English boxwood garden, a stone patio and fire pit near the pond for cigars and bourbon or a s’mores snack, the estate home itself, and whatever else your imagination leads you to on the expansive property.

Treat your wedding party or immediate family to an overnight at the estate. Fifteen guests can be accommodated in the six large guest rooms.

Real Gaie Lea Weddings:


Whether you’re an alumnae or simply appreciate the beauty of a meticulously manicured college lawn, you’re in luck. The views from Mary Baldwin may be some of the best Staunton has to offer.

Real Mary Baldwin College Weddings:


You’ve never seen a venue like the Blackfriars Playhouse, and you likely never will. The world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, this is the place for any romantic, Shakespeare aficionado, or one who is into old English architecture. The details at Blackfriars are impressive. Floral arrangements (unless very large) would be a waste in this space.

Real Blackfriars Wedding and The American Hotel Reception: Janice + Brian



For those seeking an all-inclusive approach to their wedding day, the Stonewall Jackson Hotel may be the perfect Staunton fit. You facility rental will include tables, linens, place settings, dance floor, candle centerpiece … the works. Toss in a few rooms for your bridal party and out of town guests (yours is free, by the way!), plus the Hotel catering and that doesn’t leave you with a great deal to worry about. Classically beautiful and worry free!

Stonewall wedding
Stonewall Jackson Hotel Wedding

Real Stonewall Jackson Hotel Weddings:

> Wedding Brochure


Indoors or out, with a barn or under the sun … you have many choices at the Frontier Culture Musuem, and your guests (up to 400) are in for a real treat, should you spring for a group rate admission for them to explore the grounds.

The Lee S. Cochran Pavilion is open air for warm months and tented for cooler months. A catering kitchen makes prep and delivery super easy while museum staff takes care of setting up and taking down the tables and chairs. The Lawn is a great place for the ceremony itself.

The Octagonal Barn is two levels (you may access both or one) and boasts a small amphitheater for your use as well. This space also includes a catering kitchen.

The Lecture Hall is a sleek, converted dairy barn with soaring ceilings and dinner seating for up to 100. Or, clear it out and dance the night away! Caterer’s staging area with sink is available.

Real Frontier Culture Museum Weddings:



Eight Events for One Amazing Weekend

Eight Events for One Amazing Weekend

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Your and your guests are cordially invited to
~  Staunton Spring Arts Festival Weekend  ~
April 21-24, 2016

◊  ◊  ◊

Eight events promise to keep you entertained and engaged like never before while our hospitality industry rolls out the red carpet. You won’t want to miss a minute!

The Events

Thursday, April 21

◊ The Queen City Plein Air Festival kicks off with an array of artists set up throughout Staunton, creating beautiful paintings. You will find them here, there, and everywhere … even at the gardens on tour for Historic Garden Tour Day. Look for them Thursday through Sunday.

Friday, April 22

◊ Break out your best frock and hat for an evening Garden Party at Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum! From 5 to 7:30 p.m. some of Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley’s best food, wine, and craft beer will be served while musician Kathy Lafon creates a jubilant atmosphere. It’s all in support of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Garden Fund.
Purchase Tickets

◊ Classical music lovers are in luck this weekend! Staunton Music Festival will be performing two concerts. The first, Beethoven’s Cello Sonatas, will be performed at Trinity Episcopal Church at 7 p.m. Stay until Sunday for the second.
Purchase Tickets

◊ You’ll be blown away when you see the exceptional talent of two Heifetz Institute alumni. Featuring 13-year old violinist Masha Lakisova and 14-year old cellist Isaiah Kim, Heifetz on Tour “Spring in the Valley” Concert will be held at Mary Baldwin College’s Francis Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. All proceeds benefit the Heifetz Institutes’s 20th Anniversary Shenandoah Scholarship Campaign. Enjoy the sneak peek of Masha and Isaiah below.
Purchase Tickets

Saturday, April 23

◊ Spanning Saturday and Sunday is the Virginia Hot Glass Festival at Sunspots Studio. It’s

Fire-Breathing Dragon by Josh Ries from Art of Fire.

a hot, happenin’ good time of constant glass blowing demonstrations and guest artists showing off their talents. Kids love the fire-breathing dragon and the flaming ray gun. Have a glass of Barren Ridge wine while you peruse the second floor gallery or check out the stone carving across the street. It’s free, fun, and all day long, so see you there!

◊ Dogwood Road is the main path for this year’s Historic Garden Tour Day in Staunton. Set up to be a walkable affair between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., the tour features those plein air artists mentioned above as well as classical musicians, floral designers, and of course, stunning gardens. See the seven properties at your leisure.
Purchase Tickets

◊ If you want evidence of how dedicated the Staunton community is to each other and preserving history, look no further than the celebration that is Bridge Day at Sears Hill Bridge. Reclaiming the condemned pedestrian bridge connecting the Sears Hill neighborhood to downtown Staunton was a labor of love, dedication, and perseverance that took a little more than two years to accomplish. Enjoy the live music, crafts, great food, and family fun between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

◊ It’s the 400th Anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, but rather than donning black garb and mourning, the American Shakespeare Center is throwing a bash on Market Street! Join in the family-friendly #Shakespeare400 Block Party for free from noon until 6 p.m. If you care to see a show at Blackfriars Playhouse, there will be two available for you. At 2 p.m., Shakespeare’s Julius Casear will be performed. Later, at 7 p.m., the cast of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest will take the stage.
Purchase Tickets for Julius Caesar
Purchase Tickets for The Importance of Being Earnest

Importance of Being Earnest
Tim Sailer as Jack, Zoe Speas as Gwendolen, and Josh Innerst as Algernon in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. Photo by Michael Bailey.

Sunday, April 24

The weekend finale is Staunton Music Festival’s presentation of Schubert’s Final Piano Sonatas at Trinity Episcopal Church at 4 p.m. This concert will be a real treat as Carsten Schmidt performs Franz Schubert’s last two sonatas, D.959 A major and D.960 B-flat major, on an 1830’s fortepiano.
Purchase Tickets

The Accommodations

Shakespeare packages are almost as famous in Staunton as The Bard himself. Choose from these to have a fantastic stay and tickets to one of the Saturday shows:


The Food

Sit down for a special one-time seating of a five-course, wine-paired French dinner at Stonewall Jackson Hotel on April 22 at 6:30 p.m. RESERVE

Say you’ll join us?

A Perfect Picnic Made in Staunton

A Perfect Picnic Made in Staunton

As the warm weather draws you out to enjoy the beauty of and around Staunton, plan a full day of explorations complete with a perfectly packed picnic.


If you need a picnic basket, you’re in luck. Antique stores are known for them (and we have some of those), or you might find your next handmade heirloom to pass down when you visit Appalachian Pieceworks on Middlebrook Avenue.



Cranberrys picnic
@cranberryseatery More healthy additions to our grab and go fridge just in time for Spring! Fruit and veggie cups and a kale salad with tahini lemon dressing

Good luck with this one, as you’ll probably want more than a picnic basket full of what Staunton has to offer. With a broad stroke of the pen, these are some goodies we think you’ll love to take along.

  • Cranberry’s Club at Cranberry Grocery features house-made cranberry mayo on Newtown sourdough bread.
  • Caromont Plank Road Round cheese pairs well with crusty bread and fruity red or white wine. Pick it up at Yelping Dog.
  • Order a small bowl (or large, if you want) of Gourmet Olives or Waldorf Salad at Lewis Creek Market.
  • Ask for the Hummus Plate to go at George Bowers Grocery. It includes fresh veggies, feta, and crackers. You have our permission to get a cucumber and banana milkshake to go.
  • Swing by The Store for fresh tomatoes or cucumbers (because you need them outside of a milkshake, too).


So where will you enjoy your picnic? Will it be one our parks? How about an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Take a scenic drive and look for a great place to pull over and enjoy the sunshine.

Cheers to eating, loving, and exploring locally!


Staunton’s Green Spaces are Fun Places

‘Tweens and teens average six to nine hours of entertainment media consumption per day according to a recent study by CommonSenseMedia.org1. Break away from the screen time (yours and theirs) and enjoy the great outdoors. Staunton’s parks are a fantastic place to start! Go blow off steam and relax in a natural environment for a change.


Within the 214-acre Gypsy Hill Park are ball fields, a duck pond, a fishing pond, the Action Skate Park, a swimming pool, multiple playgrounds, horseshoes, volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts, bandstand, mini train, picnic tables, and an 18-hole golf course. It’s a beautiful backdrop for capturing video and Instagram shots of your kids at play, as long as you promise to be “in the moment” after you capture a few moments.

Instagram pic 3  for blog 3-24-16
Gypsy Hill Duck Pond Instagram photo by: @davidpogojetski https://www.instagram.com/p/BCOwo0Ugxiy/?taken-by=davidpogojetski

The Action Skate Park features a half-pipe and several other launches and rails to polish your skills. BMX bikes, skateboards, and inline skates are permitted.

The train lovers of your bunch will likely enjoy the Gypsy Express, the mini train knocking on 60 years of family fun. The train runs from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from May through October. Tickets are only $1 and FREE on Independence Day and Labor Day. Do note that the train does not run in the rain.

Do you have a little explorer on your hands? Feed the sense of adventure and mystery when you geocache in our parks. Learn more about the process and fun of geocaching, then locate our area caches to get started.

If you’re visiting during the summer months, plan to enjoy Family Night Flix at the Bandstand on Friday nights at dusk. The outdoor movie series kicks off June 10 with Minions!


Montgomery Hall Park is 148 acres and a go-to for hiking or mountain biking along the trails. Multiple ball fields make this park a bustling spring and summer destination for local youth. Come throw horseshoes or a round of disc golf before cooling off in the pool (which will open in mid-June following renovations ). Afterward, you’ll find the pavilions to be a nice shady place to picnic.

If you’re looking for a pickleball court, you can find a few at Montgomery Hall Park. “What’s pickleball?” you ask? It’s kind of like badminton or tennis but with a plastic ball (like a whiffle ball) volleyed over a lower net by players with wooden paddles (like ping pong). A larger version of ping pong, faster version of badminton, and slower pace of tennis, perhaps? You play and decide.

Before summer, development on the Natural Play Area will begin behind Lancaster softball field. This will be a special place for children to explore the environment without the typical playground equipment. Imaginations will run wild!

Learn more about these two parks as well as a few more at Staunton Parks & Recreation.


1 Tweens, Teens, and Screens: What Our New Research Uncovers. CommonSenseMedia.org.

Great Food & Craft Beer. Oh Yea, We’ve Got That

Great Food & Craft Beer. Oh Yea, We’ve Got That

Some days just call for naughty splurge, don’t they? (Diet? What diet?) Fortunately, Staunton has several places dedicated to delivering just that. Sink your teeth into these filling options and ask for a frosty mug of something local.

BAJA BEAN CO. | 9 West Beverley

“Southern California-style Mexican” is the menu at Baja, but locals know, it is also the go-to place in Staunton for craft beer. Their 12 taps are carefully curated on a weekly basis. Want help pairing your Big Burrito with a beer? The staff at Baja Bean Co. dedicates quite a bit of time choosing the worthy, and will gladly assist you in making a wise choice.


Get comfortable and order The Statler (fennel sausage, smoked bacon, red onions, and fresh mozzarella) with a Devils Backbone “Eight Point IPA” or a Blue Mountain “Full Nelson.” There’s just not much that beats pizza and beer, am I right?


Choose from a wide range of “well cultivated” bottled and canned craft beer at this legit craft shop loaded with local, artisanal wares and made-to-order delights. Try the Classic Reuben, their signature sandwich featuring Farmstead Ferments sauerkraut from Charlottesville and handmade Russian dressing. It pairs well with Brothers Craft Brewing’s “Drift” session ale, according to Matthew Miller of Craft Beer Nation.


Southern comfort food rises to the top at Byers Street Bistro. Start with fried green tomatoes, then move on to shrimp and grits or meatloaf. Skip dessert in favor of something tasty like the latest release from Pale Fire or Starr Hill.


When you know that quality is the cornerstone priority of a restaurant, you can trust great food and great service await. Clocktower embraces that responsibility, delivering scratch-made entrees to each guest. With that in mind, savor the wait with a choice of several Virginia craft beers like State Street, Champion, and Port City found among the 16 taps.

Which Staunton establishment boasts the best selection of Virginia craft beer AND serves your favorite dish? Tell us all about by leaving a comment!

Fair Trade, Handmade and US-Made Fashion in Staunton

One of the best parts of a stroll down a funky, historic main street — like our Beverley Street — is the thrill of ducking into a little boutique and scoring unique clothing not to be found in the larger, national stores.

Love scoring cool, unusual fashions and looking to double down on that thrill of the find? Then come check out Staunton’s ethical fashion scene.

Not familiar with ethical fashion? This is a loose term used to describe clothing options that are focused on fair trade, local sourcing and handcrafted design and production. From local artists to international buying trips, Staunton offers an amazing breadth and depth of ethical fashion options for all.

Made in the USA

Made; By the People, For the People offers reasonably priced American made new and vintage clothing. The boutique offers a wide array of styles from flirty dresses to locally printed T’s for both men and women.

We stopped by Made to talk with owner, Corrie Park “Our shop’s mission is not born of divisive politics or extreme nationalism, instead we aim to shed light on exactly why one can’t help but to feel great when making a purchase at our boutique: satisfaction in knowing your purchase directly helps to sustain the local economy; acknowledgement of the fellow citizens who have created a product that adds comfort and beauty to the day; an appreciation of the regulations that protect American workers from so many of the labor atrocities that occur abroad; and immense pleasure in realizing that the very nature of domestically produced goods results in a lower carbon footprint, and represents adherence to more stringent environmental laws than can be found in most exporting countries.”

Made; seeks to fill the void by offering reasonably priced American made new and vintage clothing
Made in the US Vintage finds
Made in the US Vintage finds
Locally made A-Line skirts from Queen City Sewing

In addition to American made clothing and locally handcrafted products, Made; is excited to be expanding their line up of monthly classes where locals can get in touch with their own creative sides. Check Facebook and Instagram for more information.

15 East Beverley Street  | Facebook

Local Artisan-Made Fashion

When we stopped by Artful Gifts, tucked in one end of the wharf, we found Lisa and Jim Jacenich working on a custom felting commission (a camouflage vest)  in their divine studio and showroom. The couple have been active in textile arts for 20 years, having started in Highland County before moving to their current location in Staunton.

Artful gifts specializes in using natural fibers, like wool and silk, to create the amazing felted fabrics they are known for. In addition to creating unique felts (available for purchase by the yard,) the couple creates unique embellished fashions using their custom fabrics as well as upcycled garments.

While Lisa focuses on the felt and design, Jim works in kumihimo, or Japanese braiding, to create belts and necklaces integrated with beads and hand-blown glass and jewelry.

Be sure to stop by Artful Gifts whenever you are looking for completely unique, one of a kind handcrafted fashion made right here in Staunton.

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6 Byers Street | Facebook

Fair Trade, Boutique Style

Latitudes Fair Trade takes the search for ethical fashion across our borders. Latitudes is a fair trade store that specializes in hand-made, artisanal goods from around the world. Owner, Anna Schoenduby, worked in international travel and education before trading in her corporate gig to focus on her passion – working to create positive economic relationships between American consumers and marginalized artisans from developing nations.

The fashions on display at Latitudes bring a modern flair to the fair trade scene, with vintage style fit’n’flare dresses in classic, feminine prints and classic geometric wrap dresses. We stopped by Latitudes to visit with Anna, where we learned about her upcoming trip to India where she’ll meet with the artisans who create some of the amazing clothing and accessories you’ll find at Latitudes.

Stop by and find the perfect party dress for you or as a gift!


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16 East Beverley Street | Facebook



Breweries, Beer Gardens & Tap Rooms of Staunton

Breweries, Beer Gardens & Tap Rooms of Staunton

It’s no secret that craft beer has been on the rise in Virginia, and Staunton is fortunate to have three breweries concocting flavor-filled suds. A trip to any of their tasting rooms yields not only a flight of whatever is on tap, but an education about the process of creating great beer. The breweries aren’t the only places to immerse yourself in this small craft culture, however. Read on.


When Queen City Brewing opened in 2003, it became Staunton’s first post-Prohibition brewery. A visit to Queen will offer more than you expect with 22 beers on tap and the opportunity to craft your own beer or soda.

There’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the indoors or the out at Redbeard Brewing Company, and you’ll love their small batch/high demand brews. In warm weather, a food truck or two is known to pop up for belly fill-ups.

Shenandoah Valley Brewing Company shares their home-brewing knowledge, making them an undeniable destination for aspiring brew masters. Stop by to curate your own flight, fill a growler, or scoop up the stuff needed to pull off DIY craft beer. *Recipes*



The By & By has grown from a coffee shop on the corner to a Staunton beverage mecca. The menu includes a rotating stock of craft beer and wine, gourmet espressos, loose leaf teas, and Italian sodas to enjoy with paninis, pastries, and pies. To sweeten the stop, the beer garden is a cool place to chill from May to October.

Newtown Baking probably wouldn’t be on your radar when seeking craft beer, would it? Oh, but it should be. Order a wood-fired pizza (Thursday-Sunday, 5-9 p.m.) and enjoy it out back in the garden with a frosty brew; there’s a picnic table waiting.

The Staunton Abbey has plenty of craft beer to choose from with 12 taps flowing and more than 300 bottled selections. Stay a while and enjoy a sub, pizza, calzone, stromboli, burger, wings, or salad. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for free pizza slice days, tap takeovers, and special releases.



Shenandoah Hops is your go-to for mix-and-match six packs of bottled craft beer as well growler refills. Stop by Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m. for beer tastings, often poured by the brew masters themselves.

The Wine Cellar is a misnomer for our purposes, as they do indeed stock a healthy selection of craft beer from around the world. You can also mix up your own six pack of singles here, and doing so will earn you 10% off. It pays to try something new! You can’t visit the Cellar without taking home a box of their handmade chocolate truffles.