Virginia April 27, 2016
Why This One Little Town Is Virginia’s Best Kept Secret
It’s the little things that make Staunton one of Virginia’s true small-town treasures. For example, the fact that city planners were careful not to interrupt views of the historic districts with power lines and phone towers. Or that the world’s only existing replica of Shakespeare’s indoor playhouse is the center of downtown entertainment. Culture and charm truly go hand in hand in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, and you’ll want to plan your trip soon. Just be sure you can properly pronounce it (Hint: the ‘u’ is silent). Here are 10 reasons you might consider relocating to Staunton, Virginia.
1. It's the Queen City of Shenandoah
Staunton has been nicknamed the Queen City of the Shenandoah Valley. And while it remains relatively under the radar, this town has had its fair share of accolades. For instance, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized Staunton as "One of a Dozen Distinctive Destinations in the United States." And Staunton was also listed as one of "The 20 Best Small Towns in America of 2012" by the Smithsonian. With the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Appalachians to the west, Staunton is a wonderful place to call home, if only for a day or two.
2. The sightseeing is delightful
There are five historic districts that surround downtown Staunton, and the best way to explore them is by foot. Although the city has plenty of hills to hike up, you won't mind because the sight seeing is top-notch. The combination of original Victorian storefronts and the boutiques inside make for the best kind of window shopping experience. There are many examples of historic architecture to marvel at, such as the Trinity Church with its Tiffany windows.
3. The Blackfriar's Playhouse is a must-see
One of the most unique parts of Staunton is the Blackfriar's Playhouse, located on S. Market street. This performance venue for the American Shakespeare Center is the first re-creation of Shakespeare's original theatre. Even the most sceptic play-goers can appreciate the unique set up of the stage and surrounding audience. The American Shakespeare actors are truly some of the best performers in the business, delivering 400-year-old lines with perfect comedic timing.
4. Excellent choices for fine dining
Staunton has no shortage of dining options, either. Zynodoa Restaurant was deemed "an epicurean delight" by the Washingtonian Magazine. It's here that you'll get a true taste of the Shenandoah Valley, as the restaurant sources from local producers and independent farmers. The restaurant is just a few steps away from the Blackfriar's, making for a lovely location for dinner and a show.
5. There's also plenty of non-Elizabethan entertainment
For a more modern performance, Shenandoah Pizza & Tap House is a great spot. It just doesn't get much better than live music and delicious gourmet pizzas.
6. It's a place to engage with history
If you thought Williamsburg or Jamestown were the only places you could enjoy living museums, think again. Staunton's Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia shares the stories of thousands of colonial immigrants who migrated to America and how they lived their lives.
The Victorian-era Thornrose Cemetery sits atop a hill overlooking the town and holds a section of over 2,000 Confederate Soldiers.
7. The accommodations are beautiful
The Stonewall Jackson hotel was built in 1924 and then revamped and renovated in 2005. It boasts 124 rooms, a heated pool, and the perfect proximity to all you'd want to explore nearby.
8. Saturday morning means a bustling farmers market
If you happen to visit Staunton during the weekend, you'll want to make a stop at the farmers market. It's open from 7 AM til noon, complete with live music, organic produce, and delicious treats.
9. Woodrow Wilson's birthplace
Built in 1846, the birthplace of President Wilson is located atop the historic Gospel Hill. Visitors are encouraged to take the self-guided tour through seven galleries that outline his early years through World War I. Also on the property is a beautiful garden that is only one of 13 maintained by the Garden Club of Virginia.
10. Great coffee shops
If you're looking for a hip place to take a breather, Blue Mountain Coffees is the place to go. In addition to delicious, gourmet coffee this joint also offers bagels and breakfast sandwiches.
Have you visited Staunton recently? Be sure to share your experiences with us!