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Your guide to Shenandoah
All About Shenandoah
Mysterious caverns, mystical hot springs, and magnificent forests are only some of what make Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley a must-see. Amidst this beguiling landscape, charming small towns burst with local color, music, and flavor. Shenandoah has a rich history that looms larger than the small stature of the town itself. This tiny, rural community was first settled at the turn of the 19th century as a working class city when the railway was being built, and later the whole area became an important battlefield during the Civil War.
Today, the town of Shenandoah, which has a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, boasts a smattering of artisan and specialty shops, and local festivals year-round. But the real reason to visit is for its soul-stirring mountain vistas, which just call to be explored. Spend your time immersed in the beauty of nearby Shenandoah National Park, and discover why this town’s name translates to “daughter of the stars.”
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Shenandoah
The Shenandoah Valley is a breathtakingly beautiful region year-round, with wildflowers in spring, lush green foliage in summer, fiery colors in autumn, and blankets of snow in winter. If you’re looking for the warmest weather and the opportunity to splash around or rent a boat on the river, come between June and August. Come for the Memorial Day Festival and Parade to kick off the summer season, but be sure to book ahead, as the summer months are busy around here.
In autumn, the stunning foliage at Shenandoah National Park continues to draw crowds. September and October should still be fairly mild, while by the end of November it could already be snowy. The winter has its own charm here; spend days skiing on the nearby mountains, and evenings curled up in your Shenandoah cottage rental, watching the snow fall. By April, the snow should mostly be melted, and in May, the weather is warm and the surrounding scenery erupts with beautiful flowers.
Top things to do in Shenandoah
Shenandoah National Park has no shortage of beautiful hiking trails, but one of the most impressive is Hawksbill Mountain. Rising up into the sky at 4,050 feet tall, there is no better vantage point to see all the colors of the park sprawled out before you. It’s also a popular nesting ground for hawks; you can’t get too close, but if you’re lucky you’ll see them swooping through the peaks.
Make the short drive out of town to Luray Caverns, one of the most beautiful spots in the area. Weave through stalactites and stalagmites and listen to the hauntingly beautiful bellow of the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument, which uses the naturally occurring acoustics (and a little man-made engineering) to create its songs.
The Shenandoah river flows through the small town, providing one of the best hangout spots for locals, tourists, and wildlife alike. In the summer, rent a kayak and paddle down the scenic waterway, stroll through tree-fringed trails, or set up shop with a grill and some burgers for a riverside barbecue.