29 July, 2021
WanderLove: A road trip to Waynesboro through Shenandoah National Park

WanderLove: A road trip to Waynesboro through Shenandoah National Park

Would you like to leave the hustle and bustle of NOVA and spend a romantic weekend with your sweetheart exploring picturesque streets, hiking trails and a cozy city center? If you love to hike with your love, we have just the right road trip for you. Plan a drive through Shenandoah National Park along Skyline Drive and have your grand finale weekend in Waynesboro before heading home.

Route section 1: Skyline Drive

Magnificent Skyline Drive stretches 105 miles from Front Royal to Waynesboro along the Blue Ridge Mountains through Shenandoah National Park. Download the park’s app for maps of trails, campsites, stops, and locations from 70+ overlooks for views of the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia Piedmont.

Where shall we eat

There’s no better place to enjoy a romantic picnic than on top of the world, and there are roadside stops every 25 miles for snacks, groceries and take-away meals. If you’re looking for seating, try Skyland’s Pollock Dining Room and Mountain Taproom for traditional and seasonal local specialties made from locally sourced ingredients. Big Meadows Lodge also offers guests the opportunity to try southern specialties as well as lighter dishes.

Photo by user deity.dreams, caption reads personal pizzas and cocktails with a view of @shenandoahnps .. # bigmeadows #skylinedrive #shenandoahnationalpark #ohshenandoah #bigmeadowslodge #pizza #views #dateday

Image: @ deity.dreams – July 1, 2020

Personal pizzas and cocktails with a view of @shenandoahnps. . #bigmeadows #skylinedrive #shenandoahnationalpark #ohshenandoah #bigmeadowslodge # pizza…

Where to sleep

The most stylish accommodation in SNP is the Skyland Lodge. At the highest point on Skyline Drive, choose from rooms, suites, and cabins, including pet-friendly accommodations. If you’d rather sleep with a view of the stars, Big Meadows Lodge or Campground is your ticket.

Photo by user barbdelollis, caption reads Home Sweet Home for the Weekend!  #Shenandoahnationalpark #skyland #worthgettingreallylost #

Image: @barbdelollis – June 26, 2020

Home, sweet home for the weekend! #Shenandoahnationalpark #skyland #worthgettingreallylost

Must-see sights

Get a map from the Thornton Gap Visitor Center or download one to your phone. With over 70 vantage points, you’ll find it hard to find the best view! Look out for:

Mary’s Rock Tunnel (Milepost 32.4) In 1932, it took civilian Conservation Corps workers three months to blast 670 feet through the granite.

Milam Gap (Milepost 52.8) Hike two miles to visit Rapidan Camp. Visitors can make reservations for ranger-led tours of President Hover’s 1929 fishing camp.

Kalbberg (Milepost 98.9). Just a few miles before exiting SNP, stop at Calf Mountain Overlook for one last spectacular view of the Shenandoah Valley from above.

Photo by user tegethoff, caption reads Layers on Layers ⛰

Image: @tegethoff – July 31, 2020

Layers upon layers ⛰

Outdoor options

Shenandoah National Park offers more than 500 miles of some of the best hiking trails in the country, and many hiking trails can be accessed from Skyline Drive. Bikers are welcome to tour Skyline Drive and other paved areas of the park. Check the fishing regulations if you want to tie over a hook.

Photo by user ljoneswilkins, caption reads AHHHH, there is so much love in these hills!  After traveling far and wide, it's always amazing to come home and remember that these caves are home to some of the best things!

Image: @ljoneswilkins – August 10, 2020

AHHHH there is so much love in these hills! After traveling far and wide, it is always amazing to come home and remember that in these caves some …

Section # 2: Waynesboro

Waynesboro is referred to as the gateway to Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just four miles from the entrances, it’s an ideal place to rest and refill after a long day of driving. Waynesboro has a lot to offer the roadtripper, including a charming and vibrant downtown full of shopping, dining, and culture, as well as a range of outdoor experiences overlooking the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Photo by user alphaema, caption reads #rainbow #visitwaynesboro #blueridgemountains #blueridgemoments #loveva #sharewhatyoulove

Image: @alphaema – 2nd July 2020

#rainbow #visitwaynesboro #blueridgemountains #blueridgemoments #loveva #sharewhatyoulove

Where shall we eat

The first thing to do is have a drink to freshen up and plan the next leg of your adventure. For a unique experience, visit Blue Ridge Bucha, which serves its kombucha (naturally carbonated, fermented tea) in a variety of flavors. Nearby Basic City Beer Co. has a taproom or outdoor seating for sipping craft beer and earning a stamp on your Shenandoah Beerwerks Passport. If wine is more your style, make your way to Barren Ridge Vineyards, where you can sip wine on the patio and admire one of the most beautiful sunsets in the area.

Photo by user azulacres, caption reads @chefcoles cooking some BBQ hillbilly tacos!  Come to us!

Image: @azulacres – July 11, 2020

@chefcoles cooks some BBQ hillbilly tacos! Come to us!

Whet your appetite at Heritage on Main with one of the 31 cocktails and a treat like crab cakes, steamed prawns or French fries. Choose a homemade main course like Pennsylvania Lamb with Cider Gastrique, Cajun Shrimp Polenta, or even a burger or sandwich.

If burgers are your jam, you can indulge yourself at Waynesboro’s newest restaurant, The River Burger Bar. This stylish eatery serves both classic and sophisticated Angus beef burgers (think fried green tomatoes and goat cheese with red onions, flavorful aioli, and arugula) and high-end pub entrees, as well as wine, beer, and cocktails.

Where to sleep

Make reservations to relax at the Iris Inn, where guests can enjoy incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley, personalized service and quality amenities. The 19 acre property features newly renovated suites with king beds and deck access in the main inn. You can also choose from private cottages or couples-only cabins that sit on the edge of the mountain with window walls, screened porches, and hot tubs. Upon check-in, you will be greeted with wine and cheese. The inn serves a three-course gourmet breakfast each morning. You can even increase the romance factor by adding a special anniversary package of wine and goodies.

Photo by user jeffbicer, caption reads Love the way the last minute of sunlight hits our @kingfamilyvineyards Roseland.  Wineries are closed but we still enjoy the wine.  #vawine #vawinecountry # happy

jeffbicer – April 11, 2020

Love the way the last minute sunlight hits our @kingfamilyvineyards Roseland. Wineries are closed but we still enjoy the wine. #vawine # vawinecountry …

Must-see sights

Downtown Waynesboro is home to many independent stores and businesses. Take something special home with you to decorate your love nest from Initial Inspiration or Alpha & Omega Antique Mall. Find your new favorite artist in the gallery (and gift shop) at the Shenandoah Valley Art Center.

If you’re interested in a mutual love of history, check out the Waynesboro Heritage Museum, which tells the story of Waynesboro through multiple galleries with exhibits on railroads, business and industry, schools and education, and more.

Schedule a Saturday morning to hold hands and stroll the Waynesboro Farmer’s Market in Constitution Park. Here you will find fruit, vegetables, herbs, baked goods, handicrafts and much more from local cultivation. Better still, you can chat with the farmers and producers.

Photo by user wildaltarfarmstead, caption is @wildaltarfarmstead is excited to be set up at Waynesboro Market for the first personal market of the year.  We have fresh produce and mushrooms, as well as Virginia grown and ground grains from @woodsonsmill.  We're also excited to accept both Snap and Wic!

wildaltarfarmstead – June 20, 2020

@wildaltarfarmstead is excited to launch in the Waynesboro Market for the first personal market of the year. We have fresh products and mushrooms …

Outdoor options

Take a leisurely stroll (or bike ride) on the South River Greenway, which stretches 1.2 miles along the South River. You’ll enjoy views of the city, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the water that is home to fish, birds, and human paddlers. Stop and pose for photos by the river LOVEworks sign. Another way to enjoy this section of Waynesboro is to rent a kayak from Rockfish Gap Outfitters and swim the 4-mile section of the South River that forms the Waynesboro Water Trail.

Photo by user caithoge7454, caption reads I get emotional when I think about how happy our son is to have you as his father.  Take every ounce of these little adventures with you before we begin our craziest adventure in less than 3 months!  ⭐🛶🌈👶🏼💕

caithoge7454 – June 6, 2020

I get emotional when I think about how happy our son is to have you as his father. Take every ounce of these little adventures with you before we start …

You need a little bit of the countryside to visit Star B Stables, but if you want to add an off-road component to your road trip, there’s nothing like a gentle horse and peaceful hike through the valley.

If you want to stretch your legs on a serious (but short) hike, head up Afton Mountain to the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. Tour the interpretive farm, which is a hilltop settlement from the 1890s, then climb the steep mile to the rocks for breathtaking views of the Shenandoah and Rockfish Valleys.

What next?

Waynesboro is beautiful any time of the year. Make sure you plan your next road trip when the leaves are full of fall colors. For more road trips to Virginia, visit Virginia.org/WanderLove.

WanderLove: A Road Trip to Waynesboro through Shenandoah National Park first appeared on Virginia’s travel blog.

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