Let’s take a sweet summer reprieve and adventure through the scenic Shenandoah Valley. The Blue Ridge Mountains rise east and Alleghenies west as rolling fields and backroads lead to gems tucked into hidden, quiet places. Fields of wildflowers dance on the warm breeze, streams and rivers leave a soothing sound, and wildlife nap in the midday shade. Soak it all in as we explore all the history, art, nature, and culture this region has to offer.
There will be winding back roads that steer towards historic mills, lush gardens in which to wander, natural wonders of waterfalls and rock formations, handmade artistry, and meandering trails leading to glorious views. We’ll delve into history at every turn, sometimes making a delicious detour, see beautiful vistas of purple, go on safari, and hear hauntingly fun tales.
There’s so much to see and do, don’t miss all the fun!
This will be one of our intimate Van Adventures!
Day One: PA Dutch Market
Everyone loves a good Pennsylvania Dutch Market filled with Amish and Mennonite goodies, so let’s stop along the way as we head down south.
Stretch your legs and find a tasty lunch on your own…
Route 11 Chips:
But save room because another delicious salty treat awaits at the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory.
Take a peek through the big windows to watch the production as you grab all your favorite flavors and try samples with new interesting ones.
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum:
Now we better do some walking, so let’s take a stroll along the trails at the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, a wooded sanctuary on the James Madison University campus.
Walk as much or as little as you like through this wooded, flowery treasure.
Hotel 24 South:
We’re getting closer to our charming small-town destination of Staunton, a vibrant cultural scene, where we’ll check into the historic but modern Hotel 24 South.
Wander the red brick sidewalks past locally owned downtown boutiques in search of a delicious dinner on your own at one of the many great restaurants close by.
Day Two: Virginia Quilt Museum
This morning we travel to Harrisonburg, a small town nestled between the majestic Blue Ridge mountains with art, culture, and historical roots from its time as Rocktown to its modern-day lively atmosphere.
Quilts have been part of American culture since the 17th century and are cherished as beautiful reminders of art and culture. The Virginia Quilt Museum houses some of the most intricate quilts found throughout American history and we’ll get to view them all.
We’ll wander through the exquisite 1856 Warren-Sipe House as we view quilt exhibits throughout three floors of galley space, then visit the conservation lab where a special collection of quilts is arranged for close examination as we learn how this fantastic collection is cared for and preserved.
After, spend time in the walkable Harrisonburg downtown to browse shops and find lunch on your own.
To continue our cultural quest, you’ll have the option to visit the Brethren & Mennonite Heritage Center where there will be an informative tour on these two faith traditions of the Shenandoah Valley that emphasizes peace, spiritual over material values, voluntary service, and stewardship of the land.
Guides will share their stories of tradition as you explore historic buildings from the 18th, 19th, and 20th century backdropped by a stunning panorama of the valley.
Hone Quarry Cliff Trail:
The other option takes you out into nature on a path through the George Washington National Forest to a picturesque rock ledge overlook.
The Hone Quarry Cliff Trail is short and sweet but steep in places that will be worth it for the spectacular views.
Now back to Staunton for one more fabulous night with anywhere you choose for dinner on your own.
Day Three: Wade's Mill
As we make our way further south towards Lexington, there’s still so much to see!
Our first stop is Wade’s Mill, the oldest, continuously operating commercial grist mill surviving in the Shenandoah Valley. Spend some time “milling around” as you explore three floors of historic milling equipment with displays teaching the history and process of grist milling.
The historic water wheel should be operating today to set the mood and don’t miss the freshly ground goodies in the Mill shop.
For those quilting fanatics, you’ll be thrilled at our next stop in an 1820s log cabin with an addition that was once the Fairfield General Store, that now houses The Quiltery.
Take your time to browse all things quilts, but we do have to leave sometime!
Tantivy Lavender Farm:
We certainly don’t want to miss the tranquil Tantivy Lavender Farm where we can relax and refresh in the stillness of lavender as we take in the scents and vistas of our beautiful mountainous surroundings.
Enjoy an included picnic lunch, stroll though the fields and woods to a peaceful waterfall, visit the boutique lavender gift shop and pet the sweet furry farm friends.
Last stop is a place more relaxing than your five o’clock gin and tonic, The Gin Hotel in the heart of historic downtown Lexington.
Filled with art deco vibes straight from 1926, The Gin has been modernized in a way that kept many historic touches yet is bright, new, and comfortable.
Day Four: Historic Carriage Ride
Sit back and relax on our horse-drawn carriage tour as we explore the rich history of this 19th century college town slowed to the pace and rhythm of hoof beats.
Now explore the red brick sidewalks lined with inviting galleries and boutiques at your own pace and find a delicious lunch on your own.
This afternoon will be spent strolling through the five ecosystems of the Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden.
There aren’t many signs and the map may be difficult to follow, so wander to discover all the hidden gems of this local nature preserve.
Tonight ends with a special eerie ghost walk through the streets of Lexington as we hear haunting tales like the window that cannot be closed and the house of 8 ghosts where you may re-examine what you believe to be reality.
Day Five: Natural Bridge
Today we will take in the natural wonders of the Natural Bridge, 215 feet of solid rock carved by the fingers of nature, Cedar Creek. George Washington surveyed the rock bridge and Thomas Jefferson liked it so much, he purchased it!
We will elevate our senses as we walk the beautifully serene Cedar Creek Trail traversing underneath the spectacular bridge to the Monacan Indian Nation Village and ending at the captivating Lace Falls cascade
Natty B Cafe:
A tasty Southern lunch awaits at the Natty B Café & General Store. Get ready for a downhome country treat!
Next is an African safari, well almost! Off to the Virginia Safari Park where we’ll take a drive through the 180-acre property where animals are free to roam. Hold tight to those food buckets!
If you’re up for further exploration, stroll through the village walk thru where you can feed a giraffe on his level, observe Bengal Tigers and feed and pet pygmy goats.
Once back in Lexington, enjoy your last night at your leisure.
Day Six: Belle Grove Plantation
As we make our way home, let’s take explore the mansion and grounds where a president was born.
In the lovely Belle Grove Plantation, we’ll follow our tour of the Madison’s home feeling the history beneath each step.
We can’t leave Virginia before having the best BBQ around, so savor your included lunch at Bonnie Blue Southern Kitchen.
Pricing & Departures:
Departs South Plainfield High School at the end of Lane Ave at 7:00 AM and returns at approximately 8:15 PM
Departs Madison’s Kings Road Parking Lot, 62 Kings Rd. at 7:45 AM and returns at approximately 7:45 PM
Departs Ridgewood’s Graydon Pool South lot (across Linwood Ave) at 8:30 AM and returns at approximately 7:00 PM
Price per person is $1,595 Twin & $1,995 Single. No reservations accepted without a deposit of $350 per person. Make checks payable to Group Tours & Travel and mail to the above address. Final payment is due May 16, 2023. Deposits are fully refundable if cancellation occurs on or before May 16, 2023. There are no refunds if cancellation occurs after May 16, 2023. Travel protection/cancellation coverage is available and highly recommended (cost is approximately 10% of the total cost of the tour) but not included. One piece of luggage per person and one small carry-on is permitted. Group Tours is not responsible for any delays, cancellations, injuries or circumstances beyond its control and reserves the right to change this itinerary. All trip components are subject to change in accordance with Government, State and Local guidelines and/or mandates. This tour will run rain or shine.
The Educated Wanderer
Group Tours & Travel
PO Box 632 Berwyn, PA 19312