7 Things to Do When You Move to the Shenandoah Valley

Thinking about moving to the Shenandoah Valley? Are you looking at a home and trying to imagine what the weekends here will look like? We’ve compiled a very short list of the region’s must-see activities and can assure you that this is only the starting point to a vibrant and exciting community that you can look forward to being a part of.

Take a drive

Perhaps no roadway in America can top the views offered on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Internationally recognized as one of the most beautiful roadways in the world, the Parkway begins in Afton, VA – easily accessible right off of Interstate 64 and conveniently situated at the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park.

the Blue Ridge Parkway, photo by Harold Blackwood

Whether you just want to ride with the family, or you’re looking to put your feet to work on any of the dozens of trailheads, there’s always something new to discover on the Blue Ridge Parkway – as well as the equally gorgeous Skyline Drive, which travels north through the National Park. 

Go for a walk in the park

It doesn’t have to be a national park to be a big draw – as proven by the parks that dot the communities that make up the Shenandoah Valley. Whether it’s taking a kayak out on the South River in Waynesboro’s Ridgeview Park or catching some local music at Staunton’s Gypsy Hill Park bandstand.

A special shout-out goes to the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum – part of the James Madison University campus in Harrisonburg. A woodland sanctuary and nature preserve, the Arboretum is a beautiful and serene setting right near the heart of the city.

Enjoy a show

Blackfriars Playhouse, photo by Lauren Rogers Parker

When it comes to local culture, there is no shortage of wonderful options in the region, but one would be hard-pressed not to recommend the brilliance that is the American Shakespeare Center. The only recreation of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars indoor theater, the ASC would be worth the trip based on the beauty of the venue alone. Combine it with the outstanding performances put on by the actors on stage, and you have world-class experience that lures in travelers from all over the world. For the brave, the ASC offers stage seating – meaning you can sit on stage with the performers and become a (small) part of the show.

Soak in some natural beauty

Up and down the Valley, there are all kinds of natural formations that can serve as the backbone for an entire day or weekend-long trip. One formation that comes to mind is the nearby Natural Bridge State Park, located south of Lexington, Virginia. Natural Bridge is precisely what it sounds like – a naturally-occurring limestone bridge formed by Cedar Creek. It is a unique and stunning feature boasting over six miles of accessible trails and is located conveniently close to nearby hotels, caverns and freakin’ drive-thru Safari Park. There’s truly something for the whole family.

Learn your history

There is no shortage of history to be found in and surrounding the Shenandoah Valley – no matter what subject might interest you. For those interested in the very earliest days of our nation, there is the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton – a beautiful outdoor living museum that recreates the families who built this country and the homes they inhabited. For those interested in learning more about our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson’s lovingly preserved and beautiful Monticello estate is only a short drive away. If the Civil War is more your speed, there are several battlegrounds in the area to tour as well.

Pick some new (old) stuff

Every watched a show like American Pickers and thought “Man, I wish I could find some of that stuff but I by no means think it’s appropriate to walk into someone’s shed and start throwing money at them for things they may or may not want to sell?” Well, boy are you in luck. The Factory Antique Mall – just off of Interstate 81 in Verona – is the perfect place to find a new treasure to act as a centerpiece for a new home. This mall has 130,000 square feet of shopping space. That’s not a typo – it’s the largest antique mall in the country, and the pieces on display are constantly changing. It’s incredibly easy to lose an entire day here – and that doesn’t include the time spent looking for antiques at the smaller shops dotting every downtown up and down the Valley.

Have a farm-to-table dinner

Rappahannock Oysters from The Local Chop House

The Shenandoah Valley is largely an agricultural area, which means there is no shortage of opportunities to wine and dine on the bounty of the Valley. Farm-to-table restaurants are a tentpole of every downtown trip from Winchester to Roanoke, featuring incredibly talented chefs preparing locally sourced meals – restaurants like The Shack or Zynodoa in Staunton and The Local Chophouse in Harrisonburg, or The Butcher Station in Winchester are just a very small sampling of the kinds of restaurants that are making the rest of the country take notice.

If you prefer your locally sourced goods to be of the liquid variety, you will find some of the best wineries, distilleries, and breweries in the state – all of which would be more than happy to welcome you as a local regular. And if you want to get a little more up close and personal with your food – there are few parts of the country that can rival the agritourism scene of the Shenandoah with the Fields of Gold farm trail being an excellent place to begin planning a trip.