Shenandoah County, just 90 miles west of Washington, DC combines many of the Shenandoah Valley’s most attractive elements: natural beauty, historic battlefields, awe-inspiring caverns, classic small towns, endless outdoor recreation options—and we are approaching the very best time to see them.
“The Fall is a spectacular time to visit Shenandoah County. Visitors can enjoy a canvas of remarkable colors blazing in shades of red, yellow and orange against the soothing sounds of the Shenandoah River,” said Brenda Black, Tourism and Economic Development Coordinator with Visit Shenandoah County. “There are activities for all ages, 178 miles of trails, mountain biking, a corn maze, pumpkin picking—plus you can view the locally created “halloween pumpkin heads” scattered throughout the Town of Woodstock. Visit our farms, breweries, wineries, and the unique places to stay that make Shenandoah County your perfect fall travel destination!”
Below we highlight just a few attractions and upcoming events to make your trip to Shenandoah County memorable.
Shenandoah Caverns, about five miles north of New Market, is the closest major Virginia cave to I-81, and it’s got an elevator to reach its awe-inspiring depths. Your children will also be thrilled to visit the accompanying attraction called American Celebration on Parade, a display of massive parade floats and props from national events like the Rose Parade and presidential inaugurations.
Endless Caverns, (540-896-2283) about five miles south of New Market at the foot of Massanutten Mountain, indeed still has some sections that are unexplored. But a guided, 75-minute tour of this multi-room geologic wonder will give you all the underground scenery you can handle.
Want an active, multi-faceted vacation? Visit Bryce Resort and you will find all the enjoyment you need. The postcard setting allows golf, water sports in Lake Laura, a fantastic bike park, ziplining and rock climbing, plus a full slate of skiing, snowboarding and tubing in season. Of course lessons are offered. A busy slate of special events, summer camps, Euro-bungee, and disc golf, make up just some of the other action. Excellent dining at the Copper Kettle Restaurant. Bryce’s website lists many hotels convenient to the resort.
Fort Valley Ranch
Fort Valley Ranch offers guided horseback trips, with their mounts or yours, on the pristine trails of George Washington National Forest or on the Ranch itself. In addition to riding, multi-day Ranch Packages in their bunkhouse cabins are available.
Owner Bill Schumacher told us, “Early fall is a great time to explore the Massanutten area of the National Forest by horseback with cooler temperatures and smaller crowds. Fort Valley Ranch offers hourly rides as well as half and full day mountain horseback rides into the National Forest. Add a stay in one of the bunkhouse cabins or campsites to make your visit a full ranch getaway.”
Meems Bottom Bridge
One of Virginia’s most-loved structures is the 204-foot Meem’s Bottom Covered Bridge in Mount Jackson. Built in 1892-93 from materials cut and quarried nearby, this long span over the North Fork of the Shenandoah River carried traffic for more than 80 years before being burned by vandals on Halloween 1976. After salvaging the original timbers, the bridge was reconstructed and reopened to traffic in 1979. From Mt. Jackson, take Rt. 11 South about two miles, then turn right on State Rt. 720 for half a mile.
Food, Drink and Dining
Route 11 Potato Chip Factory
Discriminating potato chip gourmets have known and loved Route 11 Potato Chips for years. In Mt. Jackson, just a bit north of New Market, you can watch much of the production process through large windows in their retail store. Families and small groups are welcome anytime.
The chefs at Edinburg Mill specialize in local, farm to table, freshly prepared products daily. They have a wide variety of menu items including fresh seafood, hand cut steaks, vegetarian and vegan options. The restaurant is located on Main Street in Edinburg in an old Mill building designated a Virginia Historical Landmark since 1848. A patio allows great outdoor seating this time of year.
Known for their fried chicken, peanut soup, and homemade pies, Southern Kitchen will show you what Southern hospitality really means. Located on Rt. 11 in New Market, they are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Specials offered every day.
Eating in small towns can sometimes be a spotty affair, but the food at Woodstock Café rivals anything you’ve had in high-end, big city restaurants, (where the two owners paid their dues for years). Very affordable and a friendly atmosphere.
Shenandoah Spirits Trail
Extending well beyond Shenandoah County, this trail now includes nearly 50 vineyards, wineries, craft breweries, cideries and distilleries. As if the wine tastings won’t be enough, the trail takes you through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Valley. Call 888-367-3965 or visit the website.
Go now because the Museum closes for the season October 31st!
The Strasburg Museum opened to the public as a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Items on display feature authentic pieces from the local area spanning the Colonial era through the mid twentieth century. These exhibits include:
A genuine red caboose that can be toured
A large collection of original Strasburg pottery
A working model railroad depicting Strasburg and the Southern Railway in the 1930s
An old country store display
Civil War artifacts
Colonial and Victorian style rooms
Historic local photographs
Native American artifacts
Virginia Museum of the Civil War/New Market Battlefield
The Battle of New Market is re-enacted each year in mid-May on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of the Civil War & New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. The museum concentrates on the Civil War in Virginia and displays artifacts from the battle itself plus photos, period firearms, and even a moving film, “The Field of Lost Shoes.” Take a contemplative, self-guided tour of the 300- acre battlefield site and you will almost hear the gunfire.
Two unconventional but exciting ways to see Shenandoah County are with Skydive Shenandoah in New Market (540-740-9312, and with Valley Ballooning in Woodstock (540-975-0192). If you think the scenery is compelling from the ground, wait’ll you see the aerial view.
Sept. 6: Crossroads Music Fest
Sept. 13: 2019 Harness Racing Season
Sept. 14: Strasburg Museum Children’s Day
Sept. 20-22: Edinburg Ol Time Festival
Oct. 5: Shenandoah Autumfest
Oct. 19: Bryce Conquer the Mountain 50-mile Mountain Bike Ride
Nov. 9: Shenandoah Uncorked
While their performance schedule is complete for this year, the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival typically presents eight to 10 concerts during the summer months, featuring some of the best artists in country, bluegrass, pop/rock, folk, Americana and classical music. A few of the 2019 artists included the Beach Boys, the Oak Ridge Boys and Judy Collins.
Learn more about Shenandoah County at: Visit Shenandoah County, 600 North Main Street, Suite 101, Woodstock, VA 22664. Call 888-367-3965 or click here.
Banner photo of Meems Bottom Bridge courtesy Visit Shenandoah County