Photo Courtesy of Front Royal
Day 1, Segment 1: Route-50, Route-638 to Front Royal (1hr 16min)
Start the day by heading west to Front Royal. We recommend using Route 50, transporting you through quaint towns, rolling fields, stone fences, and wineries into the Shenandoah Valley. We’ve mapped the route going north from Gainesville (map below) but feel free to take whatever route to 50 that works best for you from Maryland, DC, or NOVA. Route 50 will take you through picturesque towns like Middleburg and Upperville. Shortly after passing Paris, VA, head south on a beautiful stretch of State Rte 638 toward Warren County’s relaxing Front Royal.
Route from Gainesville to Front Royal via Route-15 to Route-50
Once you arrive, if you’re ready for lunch, fuel up at one of Front Royal’s most loved breweries/restaurants in the heart of downtown, Vibrissa Beer (formerly Front Royal Brewing Company). Here you can find upscale pub food and a great selection of beer all brewed in-house. Order some of their famous wings (choose from buffalo, fury hot, honey bbq, lemon pepper, naked, old bay, or thai chili), and try a pint of one of their craft IPAs, Hefeweizens or Sours.
Photo Courtesy of Vibrissa Beer
After lunch, head to Andrick’s Gifts & Collectibles, (0.7 miles) and check out their large selection of collectables, including motorcycle gear! Find unique helmets, gloves, jackets, vintage bikes, and more.
If you’re looking for a quicker stop to enjoy more time on the road, grab a sandwich, bowl of soup, or another one of their delicious premade bowls at Manor Line Market, just a few blocks away from Vibrissa Beer.
Day 1, Segment 2: Route 11, Route 42 (2hr 38min)
After leaving Fort Royal, if you like the road more to yourself, Route 42 (map below) is a great drive with places to stop along the way. Route 42 includes Shenandoah, Rockingham, Rockbridge, and Augusta Counties.
Skyline Drive (Warren County, Page County, Rockingham County, Augusta County) is a more well-known alternative, however, it can be slightly more congested during peak fall foliage season. If you want to pick up this road, head just outside of Front Royal to Skyline Drive/Route 522.
Head out VA-55 W to Shenandoah County’s Strasburg and then south to Woodstock on Route 11 to pick up Route 42. If you want to stop over in Woodstock, check out the Woodstock Cafe or Flour & Water on Main Street. Both offer an assortment of pastries, sandwiches and soup of the day. Grab a hot or cold coffee to go and take a stroll down historic main street to find one-of-a-kind gift shops, restaurants, and more. Head back on Route 42 towards Columbia Furnace and Mount Clifton to continue riding south to Staunton.
If you’re ready to call it a day once you reach Staunton, stop by Aioli for an early dinner in the historic downtown. Aioli offers Mediterranean food concentrating on the Southern European area Italian style homemade raviolis, southern France provincial cooking, and Spanish classics like seafood paella, served with grilled sea scallops, jumbo shrimp, sautéed mussels, clams, house made tomato sauce, white wine, crushed red pepper, and peas.
Paella Photo Courtesy of Aioli
If you’re staying in Staunton, check out options like the Blackburn Inn, Hotel 24, or Tru by Hilton. For a complete list go to: visitstaunton.com/stay, and don’t forget to make time to explore all that downtown Staunton has to offer.
Day 1 (Extended), Segment 3: Route 42. 39, 646, 11 (2 hrs and 25 min)
Views from Route 39 (Courtesy of Visit Lexington, VA)
If the light is right and you’re ready to ride further past Staunton, we recommend the scenic route to Lexington. After leaving Staunton, head west on Route 254 to Buffalo Gap. Then, you can get back on 42 for some of the most dramatic and beautiful views the Valley has to offer. Following Goshen, VA, in Rockbridge County, take Route 39 also known as the Appalachian Waters Scenic Byway. You’ll experience stunning views while on this serpentine road which stretches along the Maury River.
Scenic Route from Staunton to Lexington
Our recommended route winds south and returns north, back to Route 11 through Natural Bridge and then on to Lexington. Treat yourself after a long day and put your feet up at Thorn Hill, built in 1792, a retreat that sits on 17 beautiful acres outside of Lexington with panoramic views, perfect for fall. The property is home to organic farms and gardens, a yoga barn and private gym, and luxurious guest rooms which include a gourmet breakfast. If you prefer to stay in town check out Tonic Inn or view the complete list of Lexington lodging.