As Innkeepers, Ray & I welcome visitors and tourists every day. Sometimes it’s fun for us to be tourists in our own area. Recently we went “day tripping” and enjoyed a scenic tour just across the ridge from Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and Alpine Hideaway Cottages.
We started by traveling north on US Route 11 (Lee Highway) for eight miles to VA Route 340 north. We then followed VA Route 33 east to VA Route 29 South. Here are some of the quaint towns and interesting sites we discovered along the way.
As we traveled north on US Route 11, the first town we encounter is Stuarts Draft. I visit here often because one of my favorites shops is located here. I love The Cheese Shop – an Amish-style bulk food store where I purchase all my ingredients for my homemade granola and all my spices. If you stop here, you will purchase more than you anticipated and go home with lots of good ingredients for your own homemade foods. Another wonderful place to stop while in that area is the Stuarts Draft Farm Market. The market is open April through December and is located right along US Route 340. The produce here is as fresh as it gets!
We continued north on Route 340 with great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the way to Waynesboro, VA. Be sure to turn down Main Street in Waynesboro to take in the historic district (in fact, there are seven historic districts in the town!). Stop by the Waynesboro Heritage Museum (open 9am – 5pm, Tuesday through Saturday) or tour the Plumb House. We really enjoyed our lunch at The Green Leaf Grill located at 415 West Main Street, Waynesboro. (Hint: their Shrimp-stuffed Hush Puppies are a Waynesboro favorite!)
After lunch, we traveled further north on Route 340 though the little village of Crimora. Don’t blink or you may miss the village! This town was bustling starting in 1866 when the Crimora Manganese Mine was working to help produce steel. In fact, this mine was the largest manganese mine in the US! The mine closed in 1946 and now all that is left are three man-made “lakes” where the mining occurred.
We passed through the tiny village of Harriston and then arrive in Grottoes, VA. America’s oldest continually operating show cave, Grand Caverns, is here in this village. The cavernous cave was discovered by Bernard Weyer in 1804, when he was trying to retrieve some lost hunting traps. He opened the caverns to tours in 1806 and in 1973 the caverns were declared a National Natural Landmark.
Our next stop was Port Republic home of the Port Republic Museum – called an “Absolute GEM of a museum” by one traveler who wrote a review about the museum. Port Republic was settled in the mid-1700s and became a booming industrial town and major river port in the 1800s. This town was the site of the last days of Gen, Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign where he narrowly escaped during the Federal invasion of the town. While in the area, stop by Sally Smith’s Stained Glass studio (Hint: call first 540.908.1948).
The next town located along US Route 340 was Elkton, VA. Driving directly to Elkton from Steeles Tavern takes a little over an hour but by the time we arrived in Elkton, we had stopped at a number of sites and had lunch. Now we had a decision to make: Do we continue on Rt 340 all the way to Front Royal – where we can pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway to head south – OR do we turn and start the trip back to the B&B?
We decided to begin the journey home.
We turned east on US Route 33 and found an absolutely gorgeous drive through the Shenandoah National Park. Passing one of the entrances to the Skyline Drive, we came upon a wonderful pottery gallery where you can watch pottery being made. Blue Ridge Pottery can take orders for special pieces or you purchase some of their beautiful creations at the studio.
Just 7 miles farther east and just off of US Route in the village of Stanardsville, we found Noon Whistle Pottery. This name of this shop is deceiving because it’s actually three floors of displays from 150 American Artisans – SO much more than pottery! There are hand-made candles, jewelry, wood products, and art on display (and for sale) in this unique shop.
We continued east on US 33 to US Route 29. At that intersection is another small town, Ruckersville, that has a number of great farm-to-table restaurants. Jack’s Shop Kitchen and East Gourmet are examples of great dining in a VA small town.
By this point in our Day-tripping adventure, Ray & I decide it was time to head back to the B&B to be ready to welcome new guests. We followed US 29 south and then followed I-64 west to I-81 south and arrived home “safe and sound” with the satisfaction of a great “touristy” day for us “locals”!
Make a reservation at Steeles Tavern Manor B&B and Alpine Hideaway Cottages for a great spring getaway. We can provide you with maps and information on other scenic day trips from our B&B.
From your “Day-tripping” Innkeepers, Melissa and Ray