Embarking on a weekend getaway to Staunton, Virginia, promises not just a break from the routine but a journey through time and culture. Teaming up with Visit Staunton, we set out to explore this gem of a city, nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes and rich history of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Join me on this enchanting adventure as we delve into Staunton’s historical treasures, savor culinary delights, and experience the arts in a way that only this charming city can offer.
Checking In: The Blackburn Inn
Our home base for the weekend was the historic Blackburn Inn, a property steeped in history. The charming ambiance and architectural splendor set the perfect tone for our Staunton sojourn. Nestled in the heart of Staunton, Virginia, the Blackburn Inn stands as a testament to timeless elegance and historical charm. Originally constructed as the Western State Lunatic Asylum in the mid-1800s, this meticulously restored architectural gem seamlessly blends its storied past with contemporary luxury. Serving a dual role as both a psychiatric hospital and later as a prison, the building experienced periods of abandonment before finding its modern renaissance. In 2006, Robin Miller and Associates of Richmond recognized the innate potential of this historic structure and embarked on a comprehensive renovation, transforming it into the Blackburn Inn we see today. Boasting a prime location on the edge of the Shenandoah Valley, the inn invites guests to immerse themselves in a weekend retreat like no other. The Blackburn Inn’s rich history unfolds from the moment you step through its doors, providing a backdrop for a memorable and enchanting stay. Whether exploring the surrounding historic district, indulging in spa treatments, or simply savoring the serene ambiance of the manicured grounds, a weekend at the Blackburn Inn promises an immersive experience that transcends time.
Staunton, VA Weekend Itinerary
Our weekend retreat began checking in at the Blackburn Inn. In the afternoon, we stepped back in time at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum. The guided tour of the house where Wilson was born transported us to an era long gone, while the self-guided exploration of the museum unveiled the intricate layers of the 28th President’s legacy.
As the sun painted the sky in hues of pink and orange, we found ourselves strolling through the historic Staunton area downtown. The charming storefronts and historic streets seemed to tell tales of eras gone by, inviting us to explore the city’s soul and enjoy the iconic Beverley Street.
Dinner found us at Zynodoa, where the fusion of Southern flavors and modern culinary artistry left our taste buds in awe. Post-dinner, a delightful treat awaited us at The Split Banana, where the artisanal gelato became the sweet note that concluded our evening.
The dawn of Saturday greeted us with the enticing aroma of freshly brewed coffee from Reunion Bakery, signaling the start of a day filled with exploration. The Staunton Farmers Market, a local haven of farm-fresh produce and handmade crafts, became our first stop—a treasure trove of local delights.
The Historic Staunton Foundation Walking Tour, starting from the lobby of the R.R. Smith Center for History & Art, unraveled the city’s architectural wonders and untold stories. Chicano Boy Tacos provided a savory interlude, fueling us for an afternoon at the iconic Blackfriars Playhouse. The pre-show acoustic music set the stage for an enchanting performance of Hamlet, making Shakespeare’s legacy come alive in the heart of Staunton.
After the show, we continued our exploration, delving into the heart of downtown Staunton. The small town streets led us to a delightful shopping spree, where local boutiques beckoned with unique finds. One gem we stumbled upon was Redwood + Co, a charming local candle store. I left with an armful of candles, each promising to bring a touch of Staunton’s magic into my home.
As the day transitioned into night, we found ourselves at Byers Street Bistro enjoying a delicious dinner.
Wearing comfortable shoes, we embarked on a guided tour that transported us to the daily lives of the region’s earliest settlers. Nestled on the outskirts of Staunton, the Frontier Culture Museum is a living tapestry of American history, inviting visitors to step back in time and witness the evolution of culture through the lens of authentically reconstructed homes. This immersive museum seamlessly weaves together the stories of the region’s earliest settlers, offering a vivid snapshot of life during different historical periods.
Spread across expansive grounds, the museum features a diverse collection of homesteads, each meticulously recreated to transport visitors to a specific era. As you wander through the open-air exhibits, you’ll encounter homes from the 1600s, representing the English and Irish roots of early settlers.
Continuing the journey through time, the museum transitions to the 1700s with homes representing the West African and German traditions. The contrast in architectural styles and cultural practices reflects the melting pot that defined early American settlements. The intricately carved details of the German farmstead and the vibrant colors of the West African dwelling showcase the diversity that shaped the American frontier.
Moving forward, the 1800s come to life with a focus on the Irish and American farmsteads. The transition from traditional thatched roofs to more standardized architectural styles mirrors the changing landscape of the American frontier. The Irish Forge and American Farm exhibit the evolving agricultural practices and craftsmanship that paved the way for a burgeoning nation.
The culmination of this historical journey rests in the early 1900s, represented by a 19th-century American farm. The Victorian-era farmhouse and outbuildings highlight the technological advancements and societal shifts that defined the turn of the century, marking the end of the frontier era.
What sets the Frontier Culture Museum apart is its commitment to authenticity. Each home is not just a static display but a living, breathing testament to the daily lives of those who shaped the American frontier. Costumed interpreters provide insights into the customs, traditions, and challenges faced by the inhabitants of each time period, offering a truly immersive experience. The Frontier Culture Museum is a captivating journey through time, providing a nuanced understanding of the diverse cultural threads that contributed to the rich tapestry of American history.
As we bid adieu to Blackburn Inn, we couldn’t resist one final indulgence—an escape into relaxation at the Blackburn Inn Spa. The pumpkin facial, expertly administered by the knowledgeable esthetician Brooke, left me with a radiant glow, a fitting farewell to a weekend filled with history, culture, and the warm embrace of Staunton.