Today we’re celebrating the staycation, a vacation where you stay home and explore all that your city has to offer rather than spending money to travel somewhere else, hosted by Toni at The Happy Housewife and Andrea at Saving Lifestyle. Come back tomorrow to see the full list of participating blogs to discover great ideas for your city as well!
Although Sean and I both grew up in Maryland, we’ve always loved the Shenandoah Valley area! I grew up attending the Apple Butter Festival in Berkeley Springs, WV with my grandparents and touring Luray Caverns with my school, and we even purchased land in Berkeley Springs before we were married with the hopes of one day building a house there.
We ended up building our home just outside of the actual Shenandoah Valley area, but our home base continues to be Winchester, Virginia, and we’re close enough that we can still enjoy all that the area offers.
From camping to historical sites to natural wonders, here are my favorite ideas for the summer:
Shenandoah National Park / Skyline Drive
Shenandoah National Park consists of more than 200,000 acres of protected land, offering the perfect location for a day of hiking, a scenic drive, overnight camping or a picnic.
At the entrance to the Shenandoah Valley, Harpers Ferry is located at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, where the states of West Virginia, Maryland, and Virginia meet. Built along the river and on the side of the mountains, this historical town also offers easy access to both the Appalachian Trail and the C&O Canal Trail. Camp nearby, enjoy the river with white water rafting, canoeing or inner tubing or explore the town and its museums and historical sites.
Virginia’s Natural Bridge is a historic landmark that has been shaped over hundreds of years from twenty stories of solid limestone rock. In addition, you can explore the deepest caverns on the East Coast (more than 34 stories below ground) and see colorful, exotic butterflies flutter in Virginia’s largest indoor butterfly garden!
Of course, there’s tons to explore right in the heart of Winchester as well, including:
Loudon Street Walking Mall
In the heart of downtown Wincheseter, the Loudon Street Walking Mall features stores, restaurants, coffee shops and more. And each week throughout the summer they’re hosting a FREE Outdoor Family Movie Event, featuring a variety of family favorites.
Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
This little children’s museum (located on the walking mall) is one of our favorites because it is little and not nearly as crowded or overwhelming as some of the larger museums we’ve visited. Spend the afternoon exploring the hands-on exhibits which are focused on the sciences, mathematics, the humanities and the arts for a cool break from the summer heat for kids of any age!
Museum of the Shenandoah Valley
Located just outside of old town Winchester, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley features an impressive gallery of objects to help the history of the Shenandoah Valley come alive. Outside, you can tour the Glen Burnie Gardens, six acres of beautifully cultivated flowers, trees, vegetables and sculptures. Visit on a Wednesday morning between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. without paying admissions fees.
Winchester National Cemetery
We’ve always loved to explore old cemeteries, reading the grave markers and seeing the history of the area, and the Winchester National Cemetery is beautiful and rich with history, offering a final resting place for hundreds of union soldiers.
If you have dinosaur-obsessed kids, Dinosaur Land is the place to go, with huge reproductions of more than 20 dinosaur species!
Thumpers Day Lily Farm
Our family loves visiting Thumpers Daylily Farm to taste the lilies (we have a slight obsession with edible plants) and explore the hundreds of beautiful variations they. We’re slowly adding more lilies to our back hill, and we love to buy them directly from this local farm.
Marker Miller Orchard
Pick your own strawberries, peaches, red raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, green beans, apples, pumpkins or winter squash (in season) at Marker Miller Orchard, or purchase already picked produce from the farm market while the kids play on the large playground, and then enjoy a picnic together afterward.
What other activities does your family enjoy in the Shenandoah Valley? (Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to find the best staycation ideas for your city!)