8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail. Eagle Rock Trail

8 Great Things To Do In Shenandoah Valley Virginia

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Shenandoah Valley, Virginia is an area of astounding natural beauty and amazing history.

The Shenandoah Valley nestles snugly between two mountain ranges—Blue Ridge to the east and Allegheny (Appalachian) mountains to the west—and stretches 200 miles from the Potomac River in the north to the James River in the south.

Only in Shenandoah Valley can you visit Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. You can also walk for days (or an hour) on the most famous hike in the US (Appalachian Trail), visit several caverns, and explore endless gorgeous small, scenic, country roads.

George Washington had his first job, won his first election, and had his earliest military encounters in Shenandoah Valley. Shenandoah Valley is also the birthplace of the most educated US President (Woodrow Wilson) and a country music legend (Patsy Cline), along with the final resting place of Lord Fairfax—the original owner of 5.5 million acres of pre-Colonial Virginia—Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson.

It is estimated that more than 43 million US residents can trace their family history and heritage to ancestors who lived or migrated through Shenandoah Valley. I can!

Oh, and I do not even include any things to do in Shenandoah Valley dealing with one of USA’s most famous rivers.

Using Visit Virginia current regions, Shenandoah Valley stretches 150 miles from the Virginia border (north of Winchester) to just south of Natural Bridge, and includes Augusta, Clarke, Frederick, Page, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Warren counties. Historically, Shenandoah Valley stretches south to Roanoke but I am adhering to the current Visit Virginia designation.

Thank you to various tourism departments for inviting my wife and I to experience Shenandoah Valley. I was not otherwise compensated and this content represents my independent thoughts about the area and its attractions.

Here are 8 great things to do in Shenandoah Valley, as you travel from north to south.

Tuscarora Trail. While the AT—Appalachian Trail that is—is still the king of hikes, the Tuscarora Trail is a worthy substitute throughout Shenandoah Valley. In fact, the Tuscarora Trail has been in development for many years and is now a complete AT bypass, covering 220 miles from Shenandoah National Park to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail. Eagle Rock Trail

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail (Eagle Rock)

As Visit Winchester says, “The Tuscarora Trail is truly a hidden gem, but may not remain so once people realize there’s alternative for Old Rag to get beautiful valley vistas.” We recently hiked to Eagle Rock, from a nondescript parking lot on the VA/WV border and had the trail and beautiful valley vistas to ourselves. In October. As local legend Patsy Cline crooned, CRAZY. Tuscarora Trail is managed by Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail (Eagle Rock)

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Tuscarora Trail (Eagle Rock)

Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park. Shenandoah National Park is one of the most accessible US National Parks, located only 75 miles from Washington, DC. Skyline Drive runs 105 miles, along the entire length of Shenandoah National Park. There are dozens of majestic scenic stops with access to hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Skyline Drive

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Skyline Drive

Many have called Skyline Drive the greatest scenic drive in America, especially in fall when the colors are changing. At the southern end of Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park, continue your glorious long road trip on Blue Ridge Parkway for another 469 miles. During many Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway road trips, we have seen bicyclists, motorcyclists, classic cars, and vehicles of all types. If you drive all 574 miles of Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway, congratulations, you have covered about 25% of the Appalachian Trail—which parallels and meanders along both scenic roads. Oh, we have also seen black bears bumbling across the road and trails.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Skyline Drive

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Skyline Drive

Shenandoah Spirits Trail / BeerWerks Trail: Sticking with the trail theme, after some Tuscarora Trail hiking and Skyline Drive driving, Shenandoah Valley has dozens of places to quench your thirst. While some places have been operating for many years, the newly launched Shenandoah Spirits Trail and Shenandoah BeerWerks Trail links them together for a better tourist experience.

The Shenandoah Spirits Trail offers something for every adult. The trail includes 27 wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries between Winchester and Harrisonburg. Most also offer food (local Route 11 potato chips, if nothing else) along with non-alcoholic beverages (like craft root beer or ginger beer). Check their website before visiting because new places are opening every week.

Shenandoah Vineyards, in Edinburg, is the second oldest winery in Virginia. Not only is the wine really good but the views are magnificent.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Shenandoah Vineyards

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Shenandoah Vineyards

Also on the Shenandoah Spirits trail is Pale Fire Brewing in Harrisonburg. Pale Fire has a classic music theme, so their brews have cool names like Lucille Oatmeal Stout and Major Tom IPA.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Pale Fire Brewing (Shenandoah Spirits Trail)

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Pale Fire Brewing (Shenandoah Spirits Trail)

The Shenandoah BeerWerks Trail includes only breweries and the list grows every week. We visited Basic City Beer last week, which only opened eight days prior. It is in Waynesboro, which, co-owner Bart Lanham told us, recently won the title of cleanest water in Virginia. No wonder Miller Coors (definitely NOT a craft brewer) opened a plant nearby.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Basic City Brewing

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Basic City Brewing

Also in Waynesboro, Stable Craft Brewing is owned and operated by an award-winning chef so the food might even be better than the beer (shhh, do not tell Chris, the brewmaster). The restaurant/draftroom are located in a magnificent repurposed stable and the grounds are gorgeous.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Stable Craft Brewing

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Stable Craft Brewing

Smaller Roads. Shenandoah Valley can be driven through in a couple of hours on I-81, which many people consider the most scenic interstate highway in the United States. But, it is still just a highway, with belching trucks, lumbering snowbird RVs, and dazed-eyed drivers in a hurry to get nowhere. US Route 11 parallels I-81 through Shenandoah Valley, is a more fun alternative to the super highway, goes through most of the Shenandoah Valley commercial centers (mostly small towns), and even has a couple of drive-in theaters along it. Just off Route 11 in Mount Jackson, drive through the covered bridge on the way to the Route 11 Potato Chip factory.

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Smaller Roads

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Smaller Roads

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Smaller Roads

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Smaller Roads

During my recent nine days in Shenandoah Valley, we continually found ourselves on incredibly gorgeous small roads with hardly any other vehicles. Dozens of roads numbered in the 600s and 700s were super fun in my loaner Mazda Miata MX-5 (one week test drive) and later in our own McCool vehicle. Fun bonus is that many wineries, farm stands, orchards, hiking trails, and attractions must be accessed from smaller roads.

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Smaller Roads

8 Great Things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Smaller Roads

Shakespeare in Shenandoah. The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Virginia, gives audiences some of the pleasures that Elizabethan playgoers would have enjoyed during Shakespeare’s era. Its Blackfriar’s Playhouse is the world’s only re-creation of William Shakespeare’s indoor theatre. It is a special treat to attend a performance. TIP: try to buy a seat right on the stage and be part of the show. To visit or not to visit? VISIT! 

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Shakespeare at Blackfriar's Playhouse

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Shakespeare at Blackfriar’s Playhouse

Edinburg Mill Museum. Being on the road, seeing museums nearly every day, I become jaded toward them. I was really impressed with the Edinburg Mill Museum. The historic mill was saved when most buildings were destroyed during the Civil War. Museum exhibits focus on the culture and history of the Shenandoah Valley, including transportation, agriculture, education, home life, military, and more.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Edinburg Mill Museum

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Edinburg Mill Museum

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Edinburg Mill Museum

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Edinburg Mill Museum

I loved the collection of old American Red Cross posters.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Edinburg Mill Museum

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Edinburg Mill Museum

Lee Chapel and Stonewall Jackson House. Sure, these two attractions in Lexington, Virginia focus on the most famous Southern generals of the US Civil War but I list them because of the unexpected storylines they weave.

*** Spoiler alert. If you do not want to know those surprising storylines, skip the next paragraph and proceed to the next photo.

Lee Chapel is on the campus of Washington & Lee University. General Robert E. Lee is buried in the lower level, along with most of his family. The Lee Chapel museum focuses on the connection between Lee and George Washington, which surprises many people. Visit and learn more. The Stonewall Jackson House is the only place that focuses on the life of General Thomas J. Jackson prior to the Civil War. This was the only house Stonewall Jackson ever owned and the tour focuses on his work, civil, and family life up until the Civil War.

*** Spoiler alert complete!

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Lee Chapel, Lexington, Virginia

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Lee Chapel, Lexington

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Stonewall Jackson House, Lexington, Virginia

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Stonewall Jackson House, Lexington

Natural Bridge. Allegedly explored by George Washington as part of his surveying work for Lord Fairfax, Natural Bridge was later owned by Thomas Jefferson and officially became a Virginia state park less than one month ago. The natural stone arch is 215 feet high and supports US Route 11 which goes right across it.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Natural Bridge

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Natural Bridge

Allow extra time to walk to the waterfall and visit the Monacan Indian Village.

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Natural Bridge waterfall

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Natural Bridge waterfall

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Natural Bridge Monacan Indian Village

Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley: Natural Bridge Monacan Indian Village

Also allow an extra hour to visit nearby Natural Bridge Caverns. Bring a sweatshirt because it is always 52 degrees underground; even when it is 95 degrees outside. TIP: buy a combo ticket for both attractions and save $8.

things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Natural Bridge Caverns

things to do in Shenandoah Valley: Natural Bridge Caverns


Thank you for reading 8 Great Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley Virginia.

Have you visited Shenandoah Valley? What other things to do in Shenandoah Valley do you recommend?

Please also see:

Northern Shenandoah Valley Road Trip: Winchester to Harrisonburg Virginia

Southern Shenandoah Valley Virginia Road Trip: Staunton to Lexington

8 More Wonderful Overnight Getaways Near Northern Virginia

Here are 8 great things to do in Shenandoah Valley. Shenandoah Valley, Virginia is an area of astounding natural beauty and amazing history.


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22 Responses to “8 Great Things To Do In Shenandoah Valley Virginia”

  1. Chloe Liying Lin November 22, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

    What a gorgeous view! And look at your car, so fancy and beautiful. I’ll love to have a drive along this beautiful road!

  2. Reginia Cordell November 21, 2016 at 3:04 am #

    I’m pretty familiar with the area, I use to live in MD for quite some time. The students I use to teach would go near there on field trips and such.

  3. Doreen Pendgracs November 9, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    I’ve never been to Virginia, Charles. Your post makes me want to explore the Shenandoah Valley.

    • McCool Travel November 16, 2016 at 8:19 pm #

      You should, Doreen. I might even be publishing more enticing material in the near future.

  4. suereddel November 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm #

    Didn’t realize there was so much to do in the Shenandoah Valley. Love the beer trails that breakfast at Stable Craft Brewing looks delicious!

    • McCool Travel November 8, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

      Oh, Sue, I have barely scratched the surface. When you visit Shenandoah Valley, let me know. I will meet you there and we can explore together!

  5. Julie @ FuninFairfaxVA November 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm #

    Love a pretty country road with fun surprises along the way!

  6. Carole Terwilliger Meyers November 7, 2016 at 7:52 pm #

    Looks like the Shenandoah Valley is loading with interesting things to do. Your posting here has put it on my radar for the future.

    • McCool Travel November 7, 2016 at 9:50 pm #

      Excellent. My job is done. Let me know when you do visit.

  7. knycx November 7, 2016 at 4:51 am #

    Thanks for introducing Shenandoah Valley in Virginia which I didn’t know about it! I hope it doesn’t get too cold in the winer… :S @ knycx.journeying

    • McCool Travel November 7, 2016 at 9:51 pm #

      Hmmmm, some parts do get cold. There are some ski areas in Shenandoah Valley, also.

  8. RoarLoud November 6, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    I’d love to visit that area to do some hiking! Seeing view people on trail is definitely unusual and lucky!

    • McCool Travel November 6, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

      If you do, let us know. Would love to hike with you. Or meet you at the ice cream shop after, at least!

  9. Lewi Blake November 5, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    that brewing sounds really great. Nothing better than a freshly brewed beer followed by some fine food from a proper chef!

  10. Bon-Bon November 5, 2016 at 11:02 am #

    Thanks for sharing… Planning to go back nxt year:)

  11. The Great Wide Somewhere November 5, 2016 at 12:33 am #

    It’s funny that you mentioned the comment about so many Americans being able to trace their ancestors back to the Shenandoah valley region, because that’s the first thing that popped into my head when I read this! I do genealogy as a hobby, and I see that part of the country pop up constantly! I have never been to this region sadly, but it reminds me so much of rural Kentucky (where I’m from)- especially the covered bridges and beautiful fall colors!

    • McCool Travel November 5, 2016 at 10:30 am #

      If your ancestors lived or migrated through Shenandoah Valley, you should visit. The library in Winchester is amazing. I was able to pinpoint the location of an obscure referenced “McCool Spring” from a land plat from the 1750s. Fun stuff.

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