Beyond the red brick sidewalks and stunning Victorian-era architecture, Staunton dazzles with an energy that is unique in this picturesque region of Virginia.

Recognized as one of the “Best 20 Small Towns in America” by Smithsonian, and named one of “America’s Greatest Main Streets” by Travel + Leisure, Staunton is proof that a small city can make a big impression.

In the heart of Staunton’s celebrated downtown, an eclectic mix of architecture makes up the distinctive streetscape. To fully appreciate the architectural richness of this community, set aside time for complementary walking tour courtesy of the Historic Staunton Foundation, and unearth the fascinating history behind the city’s boom years at the turn of the century while strolling through the city’s six historic districts.

Staunton’s “Red Brick District” beckons with a rich cultural scene teeming with performing arts, art galleries, and live music venues. The American Shakespeare Center is a must see; it is regarded by many as one of the most important Shakespeare destinations in the country. The 300-seat Blackfriars Playhouse is the world’s only authentic re-creation of Shakespeare’s original indoor theatre. History buffs will have a great time exploring the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and museum, as well as the Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia (a living history outdoor museum.) Staunton is also home to a community of glassblowing artists – stop by Sunspots Studios in the Wharf District to watch art being made.

In addition to boasting a rich cultural hub, Staunton is also a hotspot for local food. From the thriving farmer’s market to a wide variety of dining experiences, locovores are in their element. Hailed as “one of the country’s best-kept foodie secrets” (Baltimore magazine), Staunton gives you plenty of options – delight in locally-sourced southern cuisine at hip Zynodoa, savor mouth-watering ribs at the Mill Street Grill (in the base of a historic flourmill), or sample Mediterranean-style tapas plates at Aioli. If you have time before dinner, visit the downtown tasting room for OxEye Vineyards.

Of course, a trip to this area would not be complete if you don’t make time to explore Virginia’s legendary Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. Skyline Drive, which crests the ridgeline of nearby Shenandoah National Park, is “the granddaddy of all scenic drives.” In the Shenandoah Valley, which surrounds Staunton on all sides, stop by a vineyard, brewery, or farm stand to pick up a bit of local goodness before you return home.

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