To see the rest of our Explore the Shenandoah package, including scenic drives, cool caverns, and fun museums, click here.
Our Favorite Places to Stay in the Valley
A beautiful setting—amid emerald fields ringed by the Blue Ridge Mountains—makes Cave Hill a standout. The circa-1830 mansion has six antique-filled rooms. Bonus: A pre–Civil War museum is on the property. Rates begin at $119. 9875 Cave Hill Rd., McGaheysville; 540-289-7441.
The 12 rooms in this boutique hotel, which dates to the 1800s, sport subway tiles, hardwood plank floors, distressed furniture, and designer details such as busts and golden sconces that hark back to its origins. Bonus: Most rooms have full kitchens. Rates start at $150. 2 S. Court St., Luray; 540-742-7060.
Touches such as aromatherapy showers and fireplaces lend a romantic air to this sun-splashed inn. La Table, the on-site restaurant, plucks vegetables from its gardens and fruit from its orchard for the French-inspired menu. Bonus: A bar features craft cocktails made with herbs grown on the property. Rates start at $199. 13630 Lord Fairfax Hwy., White Post; 540-837-1375.
Families love this sprawling 6,000-acre resort for its many activities, including a water park, a zipline course, golf, and mountain biking. Bonus: A new “escape room” has a 1920s Prohibition/gangster theme. Rates start at $100. 1822 Resort Dr., Massanutten; 540-289-9441.
This gracious antebellum mansion recently added five luxurious cottages, with charming touches including Southern-style porches, fireplaces, and wood floors. Bonus: A fire pit is an evening gathering spot for guests. Rates start at $145. 401 W. Main St., Luray; 540-743-5105.
Best Places to Stay Within Shenandoah National Park
Traveling on Skyline Drive is a natural high, with gorgeous vistas every few miles. There’s no need to come down—mentally or physically—when night falls. Located at high points on the drive are two historic lodges, Skyland (mile 41.7 and 42.5) and Big Meadows Lodge (mile 51). Both have spectacular views across the Valley from their restaurants, rooms, and cabins. Nightly family entertainment and many programs, including astronomy, are free at both. Built in 1939 of local stone and chestnut, Big Meadows borders fields and wetlands, with abundant wildlife. Meanwhile, Skyland’s stables offer horseback rides, and the park’s rock-climbing program is based there. $150 a night. 877-847-1919.
For those keen to sleep even closer to nature, secluded campgrounds are located along the spine of the Blue Ridge. Mathews Arm (mile 22.1; $15 a night), Big Meadows (mile 51.2; $20 a night), and Loft Mountain (mile 79.5; $15 a night) campgrounds have sites suitable for any rig, from tent to RV. A trail from Mathews Arm leads to the park’s tallest waterfall. Big Meadows adjoins a plant-and-wildlife viewing area. Loft Mountain’s location on Big Flat Mountain provides panoramas east and west. 877-444-6777; recreation.gov.
The lodges and campsites are open spring through fall. Winter closing dates range from late October through late November, depending on the site.
This article appears in the October 2017 issue of Washingtonian.