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Take the quickest route to Afton, Virginia, at the eastern foot of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. There you will find one of Virginia’s most enjoyable winery experiences at Veritas Vineyard and Winery. Owners Andrew and Patricia Hodson say their winery is “easy to find but hard to leave” – and they are right on both counts. Imagine yourself on their sun drenched deck with a glass of wine and plate of artisan cheeses on a beautiful afternoon after a tour of the winery and a tasting.
That’s the “hard to leave” part – but tear yourself away with a promise to return because there is much to see and do in the area. Go west over the mountains and into the fabled Shenandoah Valley to the beautiful town of Staunton – an art and culinary destination with small town charm. Stroll the historic downtown (or take the downtown trolley) and drop into one of the art galleries. Don’t miss the live glass blowing at Sunspots Studio. Dining in Staunton is an unforgettable experience totally unexpected in a small town. Zynodoa is new American cuisine at its best in an inviting urban-casual atmosphere. At the Staunton Grocery chef Ian Boden’s farm-to-table philosophy is brought to vibrant life. L’Italia offers great Italian dining with dark wood and white tablecloths. Choose one of Staunton’s romantic Bed & Breakfast inns for overnight or stay at the 1929 Stonewall Jackson Hotel.
Rise and shine for breakfast before heading out for a day along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Drive I-64 east and pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway at Exit 99. The Blue Ridge Parkway turns 75 years old in 2010 and remains one of America’s favorite scenic roads. Drive south, stopping where you wish for scenic overlooks and quick woodland hikes. Near Milepost 27 exit the Parkway and drive east on Rt. 56 to Crabtree Falls, the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. This is one of Virginia’s most beautiful places and you can enjoy it with an invigorating hike along a well-used switchback trail to the top. People of all ages and abilities can find their way to one of the falls five major cascades.
If you make it to the top of the trail you will have worked up an appetite so resume your drive eastward on Rt. 26 and northward on Rt. 151 to Wintergreen for lunch at Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company. This brewery of fine beers and ales is as serious about food as it is its suds. When the weather is right you can eat on the outdoor terrace and enjoy one of their handcrafted beers made with locally grown hops.
Return to Staunton and unwind for a bit or visit the Frontier Culture Museum. Have a good dinner downtown and then take in a classic play at the American Shakespeare Center where you can enjoy the best of the Bard in a recreation of the famous Blackfriar’s Playhouse. After the show cap off your visit to Staunton with refreshments on the roof at the Pompei Lounge.
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