Looking for a worthwhile day trip or overnight trip from Washington, DC? Look no further than the town of Luray, Virginia. The city is a mere two-hour drive from the nation’s capital and features an array of attractions and activities that will satisfy the entire family. Its location within the Blue Ridge Mountains allows for plenty of outdoor activities including hiking, cycling, and camping, while its proximity to Lake Arrowhead Recreational Park provides plenty of opportunities for fishing. Here are some suggestions on things to do in Luray Virginia.
Things to Do in Luray Virginia: Places to Visit
The town’s most visited attraction sits some 75-feet underground. Despite it being highly commercialized, the Luray Caverns remain a sight to see. Columns that rise up to 140 feet above ground are common within as are the massive rooms filled with stalactites and stalagmites. A guided tour that lasts approximately one hour is available for anyone visiting the caverns. The highlights of the tour include Washington’s Column, named after the nation’s first president; the stunning folded stones that mimic draperies; the serene and perhaps most beautiful section referred to as Dream Lake, and the fascinating room that houses the great stalactite organ.
The caverns are also a hit with families. Children enjoy the stories guides tell surrounding Pluto’s Ghost and Skeleton’ Gorge. They are also encouraged to ask questions about geology and speleology (study of cave exploration) to spark their interest in the natural sciences.
The caverns are open daily with last admission until 7 p.m. on peak summer days. Rates start at $14 for kids and $23 for adults. The price of the ticket also includes entrance to Car & Carriage Caravan and the Luray Valley Museum.
The Garden Maze
Not far from the caverns is also one of the best things to do in Luray Virginia. The Garden Maze is the largest hedge mazes on this side and section of the country and is absolutely charming. Each panel of meticulously trimmed grass and hedges stand eight feet tall, curving in different directions to challenge the adventure-seeking individual. Misting fog is present for added effects and an emergency button available in some corners in case you find yourself delirious and unable to cope from the twists and turns.
Adult admission begins at $9 while children 6-12 can get in for $7 each.
Luray Valley Museum
There’s more to the Luray Valley Museum apart from being the place to redeem your free gift. The main building of the museum features over 300 year of Shenandoah Valley history including artifacts from the early European settlers in the area. It also has a section that highlights the region’s involvement during the American Civil War and an exhibit showcasing its place in the state of Virginia’s history. Kids can roam around the outside garden designed to mimic one built in the 19th century or learn how to mine for gems. Admission is included with the cavern fee.
Luray Singing Tower
As you approach the entrance to the Luray Caverns, you can’t help but notice the towering structure to your left. With luck, you might even hear it play a tune. But what is it exactly? Known officially as the Belle Brown Northcott Memorial but referred to as the Luray Singing Tower, the tower is a carillon that plays music on weekend evenings from spring until fall. It stands inside Carillon Park, located just to the east of the caverns.
Shenandoah National Park
It’s almost impossible not to stop by Shenandoah National Park during your 24 hours in Luray, Virginia trip simply because one of its main entrances, Thornton Gap, lie just a mere 12 miles away. Immediately after the entrance, you’ll find yourself on Skyline Drive with an option to head north towards D.C. or further south into Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia. The highlights should you decide to head south include the Old Rag Mountain hike; the Hawksbill overlook (highest point of the park), and the Big Meadows section where you’ll find picnic tables and park lodging options. Those northward include the Three Sisters Mountain view, camping ground at Matthew’s Arm and Gooney Run overlook where you’ll get a glimpse of the curving Shenandoah River. As you drive your rental car, keep an eye out for some of the park’s wildlife which includes black bears, wild turkeys, and deer.