Take Skyline Drive or the Blue Ridge Parkway to tour the scenic region known as the "Big Valley"
The Shenandoah Valley stretches 200 miles across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. It's been nicknamed "The Big Valley" and immortalized in song, dance, film and television.
The history and heritage of the region includes many sites devoted to the pioneers who traveled westward, settled and established farms, including the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton and Cyrus McCormick's Farm in Raphine. During the Civil War, this region was nicknamed the "Breadbasket of the Confederacy."
In Lexington, visit Virginia Military Institute and Washington & Lee University, where General Robert E. Lee served as president after the war and where the Lee Chapel & Museum is located. See battlefields, including New Market Battlefield State Park and Fisher's Hill Battlefield.
Other historical sites of the region include the birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson, and theater at Lime Kiln in Lexington.
The Shenandoah Valley features picture-perfect postcard farms and inns along country roads and the popular Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. One of the natural wonders of this world is the Natural Bridge.
If you're interested in the great outdoors, you'll love the hiking trails, paddle sports and horseback riding in the Blue Ridge Mountains, too. And don't forget beautiful Shenandoah National Park with its portion of the Appalachian Trail. You'll be singing "Oh, Shenandoah!" when you arrive and experience this magnificent "Big Valley" for yourself.
Skyline Drive, the 105-mile ridge-top parkway through Shenandoah National Park, is a road trip full of Blue Ridge vistas and craftsman-like stone arches. Motorcycle clubs thrive on the roller-coaster climbs and bends (be sure to obey the 35 mph speed limit). The park has some 500 miles of trails, with many trailheads just steps from scenic pull-offs. Guided outdoor adventure programs take groups into the wilderness. And just off Skyline Drive are Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and Luray Caverns.
Shenandoah National Park is a beautiful, historic national treasure that covers the crest of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains for more than 75 miles. The Appalachian Trail roughly parallels Skyline Drive and about 101 miles of this trail run through the park.
The park varies in width from less than one mile to about 13 miles, so that views from peaks and overlooks include not only the Blue Ridge itself, but also the patchwork of woods, farmlands and orchards on either side.
Wildlife includes the white-tailed deer, black bear, raccoons, opossum, skunk, birds, red and gray fox, beaver, river otter, mink, weasel, woodchuck, rabbit, squirrel and chipmunks. With as many as 200 species of local and migratory birds, viewing opportunities at Shenandoah are good to excellent.
There are more than 500 miles of hiking trails. Park ranger programs are offered. Full-service restaurants are located at Skyland and Big Meadows, plus there are "waysides" with lighter food.
Nearby attractions in Luray feature Luray Caverns, the largest and most popular caverns in the eastern United States, with the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum right next door. Experience the history of America in an exhibit featuring over 140 items relating to transportation including cars, carriages, coaches and costumes dating from 1725.
This fascinating story of roadway travel begins with simple wagons and coaches to the elaborate and luxurious automobiles of the 1940s. Meticulously restored to their original splendor, these "antiques on wheels" are all in running condition and beautifully displayed among period artifacts.
Experience a slice of life from another time when a new top-of-the-line Cadillac Double Tulip touring car would set you back $950 (in 1906). Mother-in-law seals came in handy when touring in a 1912 Metz Roadster. Milk was 5 cents a quart, as found on the original paint of the 1914 Ford Model T milk wagon.
Fascinating to all is the elegant and extremely rare 1932 Rolls Royce Shooting Brake, a recent addition to the collection. Rudolph Valentino's 1925 Silver Ghost town car, another Rolls, captures the spirit of the posh silent screen era. See a Stanley Steamer, a Baker Electric and the oldest auto in operating condition on display in America, the 1892 Benz Vis-a-vis. Other highlights include a Conestoga wagon, a 1908 Baker Electric and a 1913 Stanley Steamer.
Shenandoah Caverns are the only caverns with elevators to take you underground. A tour through the 17 soaring rooms takes approximately one hour and is 80% accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. Visit the seasonal authentic 1950s soda fountain for a nostalgic trip back in time. Your combination ticket includes a stroll down Main Street of Yesteryear for animated window displays, American Celebration on Parade to see spectacular parade floats, and The Yellow Barn with restored antique farm wagons.
Devoid of commercial traffic, the graceful Blue Ridge Parkway carries motorists along a history-rich mountain chain. Journey to the roots of bluegrass at the Blue Ridge Music Center, revisit pioneering lifestyles at Virginia's Explore Park.
Carved into mountainsides, the parkway travels between summits and gaps that once sheltered homesteaders for 470 miles, from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina.
Scenic pull-offs are windows onto long vistas of the Shenandoah Valley and give access to more than 100 miles of hiking trails, ranging from half-mile leg-stretchers to the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail.
The Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop provides vacationers and regional residents a convenient and intriguing travel plan through the Northern Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The loop includes recommended visits to numerous remote treasures, including Virginia Wineries, a whiskey distillery, eateries and other interesting featured locations along the way. Visitors to Virginia and Virginia's northern bordering states, as well as Washington, D.C., will likely find the Whiskey Wine Loop helpful.
The Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop offers two different starting points—the Luray Visitor Center and the Front Royal Visitor Center.
The Antiquer's Treasure Trail provides a convenient guide for locating antique shops along Virginia's beautiful Blue Ridge Whiskey Wine Loop. The trail leads visitors to a variety of both small and large antique shops, including antique consignment shops and antique warehouses offering a wide collection of treasures.
For More Information:
Shenandoah Valley Inc.
Virginia Tourism Corporation