Story and photos by Summer Stanley
When I was growing up, there was a regular segment on the local news station about where you could go on a tank of gas. There was something so appealing about this, an easy way to get that vacation fix, even if it was in the form of a long Sunday drive. Now with summer activities drawing to a close and fall weather on the horizon, you might not be ready to shake the travel bug just yet.
Have you made your Labor Day weekend plans? About an hour’s drive from Middleburg will put you in the mountain town of Luray, Virginia. Best known for its caverns and hiking, this picturesque escape in the Shenandoah Valley provides no shortage of ways to explore the great outdoors with your family, or relax and connect with good friends. With plenty of cabin rentals and B&Bs to choose from, Luray shows off yet another splendid view of our commonwealth for your next getaway.
Spotlight on The Apple House
www.theapplehouse.net | @theapplehouse
On the way to Luray, your first stop is just off I-66 in Linden, Virginia, where a visit to a roadside landmark will cure those fall food cravings. The Apple House, a family-owned business and community staple since 1963, is famous for its mouth-watering warm apple butter cinnamon donuts. Both a restaurant and gift shop, The Apple House serves up not only their delectable donuts and pork BBQ platters (their food truck, Fork’d, can even bring these eats to your next event), but also provides a place for travelers to grab unique Virginia souvenirs or southern inspired clothing and gifts. My family has been stopping here for years, as it’s a much anticipated part of any road trip. It’s always apple season at The Apple House, and trust me when I say the donuts alone are worth the stop!
Spotlight on Yogi Bear’s Jellystone
Don’t let the name fool you. With campgrounds nationwide, this kid-friendly vacation destination works well for both young families, as well as adults traveling without little ones. Not ready to pitch a tent or hook up the RV? Jellystone Park Luray comes very highly rated, with both rustic and luxury cabin rentals of all sizes for families or “glamping” with girlfriends. The screened-in porches were made for drinking coffee on early fall mornings, and fire pits are appropriately situated between cabins for those late night s’mores and glow parties, filling the air with that unmistakable scent of crackling firewood.
It’s the long list of amenities that keeps guests coming back. Three large swimming pools with new cabana rentals, brand new thrilling water slides, and a water zone for the young campers are all popular during the prime season. All ages can enjoy the outdoor movie theater, 18-hole mini-golf, paddle boats, giant jumping pillows and wagon rides. The weekly calendars are themed with various kids’ activities and crafts, even activities and games for the adults. The holiday-centered events entertain the troops so you don’t have to leave, and while the scenic campground is all very walkable, golf carts are available to rent for added ease in getting around.
Sara Harrell, visiting from Richmond, Virginia, brought her family camping for the first time this summer. “I found the 2 ½-hour drive to Luray well worth it. The cabins were lovely and exceeded my expectations,” said Harrell. “Jellystone was a great place to meet up with other families. We especially enjoyed our time at the pools and the fishing pond.”
Parents, just when you feel cabin fever setting in, and you’d rather buy a meal than make it yourself (it is vacation after all), go right around the corner from the campground to Brookside Family Restaurant. This down-home buffet is like a hug of comfort food from your grandma’s kitchen, with options to satisfy even the pickiest appetites.
Ladies, if the simple life finds you and your friends in need of a little pampering, book spa treatments at the beautiful historic property of The Mimslyn Inn. Then, catch a nightcap at their Speakeasy Restaurant and Bar with Prohibition-themed drinks and live music.
Spotlight on Hawksbill Trading Company
Downtown Luray boasts a pleasant mix of eateries and shopping, but it’s Hawksbill Trading Company that brings the feel-good shopping experience as a local cooperative for more than 30 developing small businesses. They’re passionate about supporting the community by nurturing emerging businesses, even young entrepreneurs, and helping them grow. With a year-round, indoor farmer’s market, HTC is committed to sourcing organic local produce and even wool. Put farm-to-table in action by purchasing fresh baked goods, meats, eggs and locally grown vegetables that you can take back to your cabin or grab on the drive home. Arts and crafts, home goods and antiques also showcase the creativity of the HTC merchants. Handmade soaps, farmhouse style flour sack pillows and up-cycled grain bag totes are just a few of the many affordable and quality offerings you’ll find when you shop small in Luray.
Glamping ideas to elevate your camping style…
Forget the disposable dinnerware. Reusing a few pretty melamine plates, mason jar mugs or hobnail tumblers is not only the eco-friendly way to go, but they make your meals feel extra special.
Find your gypsy soul, and grab a favorite quilt or patterned toss pillows to make your space both comfortable and colorful.
Adding fairy lights or any cafe bulb string lights will provide the same wonderment as a field of fireflies on a summer night.
Don’t forget the magazines and books. The simple pleasures of life are enjoyed even more with Mother Nature. ML
66th Page Valley Agricultural & Industrial Fair, August 20-25, 2018, www.pagevalleyfair.org
Appaloosa – D.C.’s Roots Music Festival in Front Royal, Virginia, August 31-September 2, 2018, www.appaloosafestival.com
19th Annual Apple Butter Celebration, September 15, 2018, Skyland (mile 41.7 and 42.5 on Skyline Drive)
First appeared in the August 2018 Issue