Ye Olde Weekend Getaway
July 11, 2014 7:30 AM   Subscribe

Heading to Staunton, VA for a little anniversary getaway/Shakespeare nerd-fest in a few weeks. Aside from a show and tour at the reconstructed Blackfriars (which I am BEYOND excited about), what should we not miss?

We have a backpacking trip planned for a few days before we get to Staunton, so our outdoor/hiking needs are well taken care of. We're now looking for things to see and do in "downtown" Staunton on Friday/Saturday/Sunday morning, since we're only in town for two nights. We love:
- food (I'm vegan and GF, he's mostly vegetarian, but we're otherwise adventurous and generally good at making non-veg menus work for us)
- used bookstores
- quirky/unique shops
- farmer's markets/artisan markets/makers markets
- museums, historic sights, and other geeky/touristy things
- fun/unique bars/watering holes
- strolling and window-shopping

We're staying within walking distance to the theatre, and would love to not have to drive anywhere. We'll also have our pooch with us, so suggestions for dog-friendly parks etc. are also appreciated!
Thanks for the suggestions, friends!
posted by Dorinda to Travel & Transportation around Staunton, VA (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have heard good things about Baja Bean - vegetarian/Mexican-ish. It's a pretty small town though.
posted by headnsouth at 7:36 AM on July 11, 2014

Best answer: They have a cool glass-blowing factory/shop down by the train station. They have little bleachers set up in the shop so you can watch the process, and lots of cool/affordable blown glass objets if you are into that.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:41 AM on July 11, 2014

Best answer: For geeky museums, absolutely go to the Frontier Culture Museum. It has about a dozen historic buildings, mostly original farmhouses and associated buildings both from the area and from the countries of origin of people who lived in the area (England, Ireland, Germany, Africa).

You could easily spend three or four hours there, or more if you want to have long conversations with the staff about 17th century farming techniques, the difference between African and American varieties of goats, and the economics of 18th century forging.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:51 AM on July 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Is wine gluten-free?

Several years ago, while on a weekend getaway in the Shenandoahs, my wife and I made our own wine at Queen City Brewing, which is in downtown Staunton. (They also let you brew your own beer, but that's certainly not gluten free.)

We had to make a return trip after 6 weeks to do something to the wine, and then I think it was another few weeks until we could pick it up -- so if you're traveling from far away that may not be feasible for you.

Unfortunately, the wine seemed to have gone off about a year after we picked up the cases, but it was good until then.
posted by tckma at 8:10 AM on July 11, 2014

Best answer: Aside from the Frontier Culture Museum, which is indeed a good take-in, Staunton has a respectable little historic downtown with brick sidewalks and some nice shops. Beyond that, unless you're in the mood to visit Western State, the sprawling state mental hospital, there's not much I can reccommend to do in town proper. I may be biased, having just moved from there, but I think you'd do well to consider driving to Charlottesville, which is 45 minutes away on Route 64, just over Afton Mountain from Staunton.

Charlottesville is the home of Thomas Jefferson and UVA, has a killer Saturday farmer's market downtown, and has several walkable neighborhoods that would fit all of your parameters. The Downtown Mall is a bricked-in pedestrian street/plaza teeming with shops and restaurants, the Corner area about a mile away is the UVA student restaurant district, and you can always kick around UVA's beautiful campus as well and check out some of the school-affiliated museums and libraries.
posted by killdevil at 8:12 AM on July 11, 2014

Best answer: The Woodrow Wilson museum.
posted by brujita at 8:27 AM on July 11, 2014

Lexington is just a half hour down Route 11 (scenic), with plenty to offer anyone interested in the Civil War or 19th century architecture, and has a very good arts scene as well.
posted by mmiddle at 8:44 AM on July 11, 2014

Best answer: You should plan to drive to the Frontier Culture Museum (which is worth it) - it's a multi-mile walk along a big road with no sidewalks in many places.

Sadly, the Statler Bros. Museum shut down quite a while ago (There is a tribute circle where you can sit on stool and pretend to be a Statler, but it's just not the same), but the Woodrow Wilson Museum is nice, and glassblowing is always good. There is a camera history museum that I have not managed to go to yet, but my camera-nut friend really liked it.

You'll probably be Shakespearing it up in the evenings, but Staunton has a summer Collegiate league baseball team, and I hear the games (which are in the evenings) are a good time.

There is a farmer's market in Staunton on Saturday mornings. The nice thing about farmer's markets in this area is there's usually a local band playing, and most of the produce is actually local, and there are usually a couple of different Mennonite bakeries there with delicious baked goods.

Because the Civil War never really touched Staunton, there are a lot of antebellum houses (in varying states of repair - if you like houses, take a walk down Beverley St. past Downtown to see said houses, various states of renovation, etc. Or if you want a more formal walking tour, Historic Staunton does 2 hour tours of Staunton, tracing its history.

I find that I tend to browse more than buy in antique shops in Staunton, particularly the ones down by the old train station, which tend to be more expensive than the ones off the downtown streets (or alleys behind the streets). As for bookstores, the Black Swan is Staunton's used book bookstore (right on Beverley)

As for food, my knowledge is far spottier. My favorite Indian restaurant in Harrisonburg has a sister restaurant in Staunton, Taste of India, that is supposed to be as good.
posted by julen at 1:59 PM on July 11, 2014

IIRC, Staunton is cute but pretty small, and I wouldn't feel unduly anxious about missing anything that's there in the downtown area; you'll probably have ample time to see all of it. There's also a little tourism office that can give you some customized advice.

Charlottesville is fairly close, and is a lovely place to check out, if you need a side trip. Walk up and down the "downtown mall" (pedestrian area with stores and restaurants), or go to the UVA campus and check out the Thomas Jeffersonian architecture.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 11:32 AM on July 12, 2014

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