Harrisonburg and Staunton, Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

shenandoah valley

The Shenandoah Valley encompasses the slight stretch of land between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, providing scenic mountain view from nearly every location. Two excellent places to visit are the slightly larger towns of Harrisonburg and Staunton, only about 30 minutes apart.

If you’re a fan of Shakespeare, head to the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton. It boasts a beautiful recreation of the famous bard’s Blackfriars Playhouse - purportedly the only one in the world. The inside is gorgeous - everything is made of beautiful polished wood and candelabras float in the air above the stage, providing an air of Renaissance splendor. You can see Shakespeare’s plays as intended, or catch a remake of an old favorite. Visit the Sunspots Studios & Glassblowing shop on Lewis Street to buy original souvenirs and gifts like garden globes, wine goblets and vases. Or, be brave and create your own glass blown ornament with help from one of the experts.

The Shenandoah Valley is also an excellent locale for a lovely walk through nature. From Staunton, head north to James Madison University in Harrisonburg to check out the beautiful Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, where you can see various flowers and plant life, take a slow stroll and feed the very friendly ducks.

When you’re looking for a cozy and classy place to stay, one great option is the Steeles Tavern Manor Bed and Breakfast. It’s located in the tiny town of Steeles Tavern, just south of Staunton off of Highway 11. This manor house was built in 1916 and sits in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Stay in one of the gorgeous and spacious modern rooms, take a stroll near the weeping-willow surrounded ponds or sit by the pool, knowing nothing can bother you on this 50-acre retreat.

Hermann, Missouri Wine Country

When most people envision Missouri, they might think of the St. Louis arch or flat farmlands, but it’s not likely that they picture rolling hills with vineyards. The small town of Hermann and its surrounding areas, right on the banks of the Missouri River, are replete with wineries and excellent bed and breakfasts - perfect for a relaxing stay in the rural Midwest. Also, Hermann is a historic town first settled by German immigrants that still boasts a very strong German identity. You can enjoy Oktoberfest with a wine tour and German music, food and dancing every October, or Maifest, held one weekend in the middle of May for Maypole dancing, beer, brats and, of course, wine.

Take a trolley between different wineries in and around Hermann, a scenic bike ride on Katy Trail at the local state park, a tour of some of the 150 historic buildings in the area - many of them incredibly well-preserved and simply gorgeous - or do some shopping on centrally located Market Street. If you want a little adventure, head up Route 19 across the Missouri River to New Florence for a fun Eco Zipline Tour through the trees.

When you’re ready to find a relaxing home away from home, the Inn at Hermannhof is a luxurious and romantic bed and breakfast located in a stone cottage on the hillside. It’s definitely made for couples who want a relaxing escape - there are high-end touches like steam showers, whirlpool tubs, fireplaces and extra-large, tastefully appointed rooms. The Inn at Hermannhof is located on East 1st Street, only a short walk from the Hermannhof Winery, which has been around since 1852 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

By Nicole Martinez