Fall Bucket List: 10 Things To Do in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley

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A round up of October travel tips and festivals from the Shenandoah Valley Travel Association

Shenandoah Valley

Whether you have a day or a week, a fall vacation to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley will create a lifetime of memories. - Donielle Rininger, Executive Director, Shenandoah Valley Travel Association

For many, fall is the best travel time of the year. Cooler temperatures, fall harvest festivals, the satisfying crunch of leaves underfoot, and pumpkin-flavored everything are the hallmarks of the season.

While leaf-peeping excursions and wine-country vacations will always be popular options in the Valley, why not take the road less traveled and cruise to lesser known favorites for some authentic and affordable fall fun?

Here are 10 ideas for your fall getaway:

1.    Tap into the craft-brewing scene. The Shenandoah Valley is brewing up some amazing craft beer. Don’t miss stops on your brew-thru of the Valley include Brothers Craft Brewing and Pale Fire Brewing Company in Harrisonburg, Devils Backbone Brewery Outpost near Lexington, Redbeard Brewing in Staunton, and Escutcheon Brewing Company in Winchester. For a taste of artisan hard cider, stop by for a sip of Old Hill Cider in Timberville.

2.    Experience high-flying zip line thrills. If heart-pumping adrenaline is your idea of fall fun, then make sure to visit Virginia Canopy Tours in Bentonville or the Mega Zip Line and the Canopy Tour at Massanutten Resort.

3.    Descend underground. With its unusual karst topography, the Valley is home to a series of underground natural wonders with towering stone columns, stalactites, stalagmites, crystal-clear pools and many other formations. Luray Caverns, Shenandoah Caverns, and Grand Caverns offer some of Virginia’s most well known caving experiences.

4.    Cycle country roads. The Valley's scenic landscapes and charming historic communities provide an ideal backdrop for bicyclists. Bicycling in the region is growing rapidly in popularity, due in large part to the huge success of events like the Fall Foliage Bike Festival, held near Staunton the weekend of October 16-18.

5.    Get lost in the corn. All ages, even the littlest ones, are fascinated by corn mazes. Our favorites include Back Home on the Farm in Harrisonburg, which has a seven-acre pumpkin patch, a five-acre corn maze, a lavender maze, and a cat’s cradle maze. Also try The Corn Maze at Showalter’s Farm in Mount Solon, and the Maize Quest at Bridgemont Farms in Quicksburg. For those who like a bit of a scare with their corn, try Skeeters Corn Maze at Twizted Creationz in Waynesboro.

6.    Take a hike. America’s legendary Appalachian Trail runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and presents numerous spur hikes with wonderful views over the Shenandoah Valley. Popular short hikes that lead to incredible summit views include Stony Man, Black Rock, and Bearfence Mountain.

7.    Go to a museum. Learn more about the region’s history at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester, and while you are there, step into a special costume exhibition called “CUT! Costume and Cinema” which features 43 period costumes worn by such famous film stars as Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean), Anjelica Huston (Ever After), Colin Farrell (The New World), Kate Winslet (Sense and Sensibility), and Keira Knightley (The Duchess).

8.    Fling a golf ball in the mountains. Have you heard about FlingGolf, the new sport that combines lacrosse and golf? It’s played on a golf course, with a golf ball, and scored the same way as golf! Massanutten Resort, near Harrisonburg, is one of the nation’s most successful destinations for FlingGolf enthusiasts,

9.    Stomp some grapes. On Saturday October 3rd, you’ll have two opportunities! Rockbridge Vineyard’s Annual Harvest Festival in Raphine and Veramar Vineyard’s Rock The Grapes Festival in Berryville.

10.    Take a scenic drive. When the afternoon sun shines onto the burgundy hues of the maple, hickory and beech trees, it’s sublime. If you are planning a fall foliage road trip, it’s hard to find one better than Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway that follows the ridgeline of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Don’t get too distracted by the view - deer, black bear, wild turkey, and a host of other wildlife often make an appearance!

Where to Stay
Charming historic downtowns throughout the Shenandoah Valley offer a wide variety of accommodations. Some of the area’s more unique lodging options include:

Historic Hotels

  •     Col Alto (Lexington)
  •     George Washington Hotel (Winchester)
  •     Mimslyn Inn (Luray)
  •     Stonewall Jackson Hotel (Staunton)


  •     By The Side of the Road Bed & Breakfast (Harrisonburg)
  •     Inn at Old Virginia (Staunton)
  •     Iris Inn (Waynesboro)


  •     Massanutten Resort (near Harrisonburg)
  •     Peaks of Otter Lodge (near Bedford)
  •     Skyland Resort (Shenandoah National Park)

For more information on lodging options including cabins and campgrounds - or to explore by geographic area - check out the offerings at the Shenandoah Valley Travel Association online at visitShenandoah.org.


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Kathy Moore
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