Luray, Virginia – A Hidden Gem of the Old Dominion State

Only 75 minutes outside of the D.C. metro area, Washingtonians often forget they have access to the striking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the natural beauty of Shenandoah National Park, and the warming feeling of affordable down home country food. Ladies and gentlemen – I give you the town of Luray, Virginia!

The drive to get to this destination is even picturesque. Rolling hills turn into massive peaks. When you finally get closer to town, you will pass small cottages sitting on expansive pieces of land, local butcheries with titles that will make you giggle (i.e. Two Fat Butchers), and more custard joints than you’d ever visit in a lifetime.

Known for it’s camping sites and smorgasbord of available B&B’s to stay at, Luray is ideal for a weekend getaway from city life. Whether it’s relaxing on a rocking chair on the front of a property, or dining in upscale restaurants with crystal chandeliers while listening to a local pianist – Luray has all the options a weekend road tripper could want.

More specifically, check out The Mimsley Inn. Once an old plantation manner home, now converted into a luxurious B&B, houses both a gorgeous restaurant dubbed Circa 31 and a casual speakeasy in the basement that has delectable food (and even a separate whiskey-infused menu), a beautiful gazebo in the backyard behind the pool and hot tub, and an in-house spa.

P.S. the short ribs at the speakeasy restaurant are literally mouth watering.

When you’re visiting Luray, make sure to stop by the Copper Fox distillery in Sperryville – who sports a very distinguishing fact about their spirits: they are the only distillery in the country who makes gin that is entirely barley based. Fun little fact! The distillery smells of apples and fermented alcohol – an odd sounding combination, but oddly pleasing to the nose. The minute you walk in, it looks like a cross between a rustic distillery and a mad science lab.

Tours given at the distillery show the massive storage rooms housing barrels upon barrels of aging whiskey that are watched over by a picture of the Angel’s Share (referring to the percentage of whiskey that evaporates during the aging process). Don’t forget to say hello to the dog and cat, owned by the staff, who will greet you at the door when you arrive. They’re very friendly!

If you’re of the athletic sort, there are many local companies that’ll give you access to outdoor activities galore. Whether it’s horseback riding, ATVing, kayaking, or canoeing – there’s an activity for any taste. Unlike other states that may be plagued with flatness, all of these activities will give you stunning views of the mountains in Virginia that go as high as 3,000 ft. It’s an activity + a show kids!

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Make sure that you take a ride on Skyline Drive as it’ll give you several hours of solid panoramic views of the mountains and valleys that surround Luray, VA. Situated with plenty of overlook stops, you can get in plenty of time to get those amazing frame-worthy shots, and even go for a few short hikes off the beaten path for some exercise (some of which even intersect with the Appalachian Trail itself). Make sure to go on the day when the sky is crystal blue and the sun is beating down. Listening to Nickel Creek during your drive would be the tunes I’d recommend.

Happy road tripping!

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Melissa Doman

Passionate writer, expat twice over (South Korea & Australia), international traveler, burgeoning health & wellness blogger, and salsa dancer extraordinaire! Born and raised in the D.C. metro area with formal training in psychology & a background in both marketing communications and health/wellness. Also the in-house blogger for the In Her Shoes Foundation, prior blogger for Abroad101.com, and guest blogger for The Trip Tribe. More of Melissa's articles/photos are available on her blog at: melissadoman.squarespace.com

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