Come experience the splendor of Shenandoah Valley. A paradise for nature-lovers, a treasure trove for history buffs, and an award-winning foodie destination, this valley in Virginia has something for everyone. From breathtaking landscapes and historic downtowns to enchanting natural wonders and cozy vineyards, Shenandoah Valley is your vacation destination for unforgettable memories. Whether you come to play, explore, or just get away, here are 10 activities and things to do that will help inspire your itinerary for your next Appalachian vacation with RCI. And if you need more inspiration, read all about the best caverns, wineries, breweries, and shops in Shenandoah Valley.
1. Skyline Drive
Enjoy mountaintop views without breaking a sweat. America’s famous Skyline Drive is a must-do for your vacation itinerary. Wind your way through Shenandoah National Park’s stunning landscape against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the way, scenic overlooks and visitor centers give you and your family plenty of opportunities to stop and explore.
2. Luray Caverns
Explore the largest caverns in the eastern U.S. Luray Caverns is a natural wonder of towering stalagmites, stone columns, and limestone chambers with ceilings 10-stories high. Immerse yourself in a labyrinth of rock giants and stalactites that feels like another world. Listen to the world’s largest instrument, the Stalacpipe Organ. Above ground, you can enjoy three additional attractions — the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Shenandoah Heritage Village, and Toy Town Junction, included with admission.
3. Shenandoah National Park
With over 500 miles of trails, you can choose your own hiking adventure in Shenandoah National Park. Check out the National Park Service’s recommended day hikes for a list of short hikes, long hikes, family-friendly hikes, waterfall hikes, birdwatching hikes, and even hikes to avoid crowds. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, savor regional fare and breathtaking views at historic Big Meadows Lodge, with dinner on the terrace.
4. Downtown Staunton
No trip to Shenandoah Valley is complete without a visit to the vibrant city of Staunton. Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Staunton has all the charm of a historic small town, packed with the arts, museums, and cuisine of a cultural hub. Historic Main Street is lined with plenty of things to do, including shops, galleries, and restaurants. There’s also a thriving performing arts scene, including the American Shakespeare Center and Blackfriars Playhouse and open-air historical exhibits and reenactments at the Frontier Culture Museum.
5. Natural Bridge
This 215-foot tall natural limestone arch is an iconic Shenandoah Valley monument and a National Historic Landmark. The Natural Bridge is a magnificent display of nature and one of America’s oldest tourist attractions. Natural Bridge State Park is your gateway to outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, and other things to do. You can explore deep below ground at Natural Bridge Caverns or play high above the trees at Twisted Trails aerial ropes course and zip rail adventures.
6. Halcyon Days Cider Co.
Enjoy a peaceful retreat and cider tasting at Halcyon Days Cider Co. Nestled in the rolling hills of Shenandoah Valley, this hidden gem is a locally owned and family-operated small farm and cidery. Tour their whimsical apple orchard labyrinth, take in panoramic views of the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountain ranges, and, of course, sample cider flights in their restored 1860s tasting room.
7. Shenandoah Spirits Trail
Sip your way through Shenandoah Valley on the Shenandoah Spirits Trail. Follow the trail on a self-guided tour through the valley. The Spirits Trail map provides the ultimate guide to Shenandoah’s local wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries.
8. White Oak Lavender Farm
Experience the beauty of White Oak Lavender Farm. This family-owned farm and vineyard grows their own lavender and infuses it into their products. From ice cream and wine to essential oils and soaps, you can shop for an array of delightful treats and gifts. The farm is also home to The Purple WOLF Vineyard and tasting room, as well as a lavender distillery and petting farm.
9. Route 11 Potato Chips
A favorite among locals and visitors, Route 11 Potato Chips is a Shenandoah Valley staple. Route 11 prides itself in crafting exceptional chips using small batch “unhurunhurried potatoes.” Their factory also implements sustainable practices like donating potato peelings to feed local cattle. Choose from a variety of delicious chips — from classic flavors like Salt N Vinegar and Sour Cream N Chive to creative delights like Chesapeake Crab and Mama Zuma’s Revenge.
10. Eat Local
Experience a taste of Shenandoah with every meal. Skip the chain restaurants and treat yourself to fresh, local flavors. Cinnamon Bear Bakery and Deli and family-owned L’Dees Pancake House serves breakfast all day. For lunch, check out locally sourced American cuisine at Pure Eats or rustic artisanal fare at Blue Wing Frog. At The Apple House you can enjoy barbecue and famous Apple Butter Donuts with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For upscale dining and handcrafted cocktails, make a reservation at the Local Chop & Grill House, located in historic downtown Harrisonburg.