Intent on continuing my discovery of charming small towns in my current home state, I decided to take the opportunity to go on a Staunton Virginia day trip his past holiday weekend. It is a lovely small town located in the Shenandoah Valley and a mere two and half hours away by rental car from Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Magazine rated it one of the best charming towns in the state so naturally I had pretty high expectations.
As soon as I arrived, it was obvious that the town exuded charm. There was the beautiful architecture and landscape, the high-quality performance art, and the incredible historical locations that attract visitors from around the country. These were the highlights of my Staunton Virginia day trip.
Staunton Virginia Day Trip Highlights
Frontier Culture Museum of Virginia
My visit to the Frontier Culture Museum was certainly the highlight of the Staunton Virginia day trip. Located just off Interstate Highway 81, this living history museum showcases a number of authentic 17th and 18th century outdoor exhibits that tell the story of our Native and European ancestors, as well as the evolution of American life into the 19th century. There’s an exhibit of an English farm that includes a brightly painted 17th century house brought in from England, which was meticulously restored. The museum also showcased German and Irish farms as well as an early American schoolhouse.
The outdoor exhibits provide plenty of interesting historical information and the volunteers and participants within the museum are very knowledgeable and helpful in answering any questions you may have. I highly recommend it for anyone visiting with children since the younglings will enjoy interacting with the animals that freely roam the area and for anyone who enjoys nature in general. There are a handful of short trails you can hike leading to scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Admission price for begin at $6 for children and $12 for adults. Kids aged six years and under get in for free.
Address: 1290 Richmond Avenue, Staunton, VA 24401
If you’re a theatre fan or a lover of all things Shakespeare, watching a performance at the Blackfriars Playhouse is a must during your Staunton Virginia day trip. Home to the American Shakespeare Center, a premiere regional theatre group, the Blackfriar Playhouse features a stunning 300-seat Renaissance style indoor theatre recreated to mimic the original playhouse where the esteemed playwright showcased his works of art. The theatre is the world’s only recreation of the original Blackfriars Theatre that was demolished during the English Civil War in London.
In addition to Shakespeare plays, the playhouse also host original works from local playwrights and holds a summer camp for kids and adults. Ticket prices for performances range from $15-$59 per person. Student rush tickets are also available with a valid student I.D.
If you’re pressed for time and simply want to tour the facility, sign-up for the playhouse tours offered on Saturdays at 11 a.m. It lasts approximately one hour and will include information about the history of the theatre group, details about the theatre itself, and a peek of the backstage and under-stage locations. Tickets are $7 each.
Address: 10 S Market St., Staunton, VA 24401
Trinity Episcopal Church
Don’t leave the town without stopping by Trinity Episcopal Church. This Neo Gothic-designed house of worship stands on the western corner of the town. Established in 1746 as the Augusta Parish, it is the oldest church in town and a must-see on your Staunton Virginia day trip because of the dozen beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows. The church also played a part in American history when it hosted the Virginia General Assembly for several weeks in June 1781 after fleeing from Monticello to avoid being captured by the British.
The church is open to the public on weekdays from 1-4 p.m. and also on Saturday afternoons, 1-4 p.m. from Easter until the end of October.
Address: 214 W Beverley St., Staunton, VA 24401
Image via Flickr by Arthur T. LaBar, CC BY-NC 2.0
Woodrow Wilson Birthplace and Presidential Library
Virginia is known as the “birthplace of presidents” rightly so because 8 of the 45 individuals who’ve held the highest office in America were born in the Commonwealth. One of them, Thomas Woodrow Wilson, was born in Staunton. The house where he was born and the nearby presidential library is a definite must-see during your Staunton Virginia day trip. The house features a Greek Revival architectural style and showcases seven galleries that traces the 28th president’s early years.
A couple of blocks from his birthplace is the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library where you can read memoirs written by those who served alongside him when he led the country during the tumultuous period of World War I.
Birthplace Address: 24 North Coalter St., Staunton, VA 24401
Library Address: 20 North Coalter St., Staunton, VA 24401