If you’ve been following us for awhile, you’ll know that our family changed dramatically in the summer of 2016. We had know idea how a little 4 pound bernedoodle would change our home and our hearts, forever. Since then, Sally has grown into a fluffy, snuggly, 60 pound dog who loves travelling as much as we do.
For that reason, the way we travel has changed quite a bit. We are constantly on the hunt for destinations where Sally can tag along. Not that she needs to be with us 24/7 (our travels almost always involve a visit to the closest doggy daycare), but we love seeing the world through her cute little puppy eyes!
We just returned from a trip to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where we did exactly that. And whether you decide to bring your pup along or not, the Shenandoah Valley deserves to be on your bucket list. In this blog we’re going to share exactly why this place is so special, and highlight some of our favorite “Sally approved” spots along the way. Here we go!
Located across the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, the Shenandoah Valley is extensive (over 200 miles long), and brimming with history. Nicknamed “The Breadbasket of the Confederacy” during the Civil War, there’s battlefields, historical sites, plantations, museums, and more!
:: SALLY APPROVED :: The quaint town of Staunton happens to be the birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson, where you can visit his beautifully maintained Presidential Library. Leashed dogs are allowed to walk around the gardens and the gift shop, resulting in a fun, informative outing for all three of us! (Keep in mind that while dogs are allowed inside the gift shop and grounds, they are not allowed inside the library.)
A few of Staunton’s other notable attractions are the American Shakespeare Center and the Frontier Culture Museum. The American Shakespeare Center is the world’s only recreation of Shakespeare’s famous indoor theater, and their rotating, nightly performances are absolutely spellbinding. The Frontier Culture Museum is a living history museum that tells the story of thousands of people that migrated to colonial America, and the life they built for themselves. From West Africa to Ireland, it’s a trip back in time that will captivate all ages!*
*Dogs aren’t allowed at either of those attractions (which is fine - they wouldn’t understand the historical significance anyway ;), so thankfully there are several outstanding doggy daycares closeby. Rainbow Springs Kennels and Home Away From Home Dog Boarding are both great options. You can get your history fix, and your pooch can get their wiggles out - it’s a win-win!
Adventure seekers, chances are if you name a mode of outdoor recreation, the Shenandoah Valley will have it. You can go tubing in the summer and ski in the winter, and mountain bike in between! And you better believe your pup will adore all of the wide, rolling hills and picturesque parks!
:: SALLY APPROVED :: We spent some time in the breathtakingly beautiful Shenandoah National Park, where there are over 500 miles of trails to explore - with Sally, our Bernedoodle, in tow! We hiked to waterfalls, scenic vistas, and deep into the lush forest - all in one day! We highly recommend spending at least a night at the Skyland Resort, the stunning resort located in the park… Sally even had her own bed! (Leashed dogs are allowed on most trails, and the Skyland Resort has a pet fee of $25/night.)
Another must-see is the largest (and most popular) caverns in Eastern America, the Luray Caverns.* Guided tours lead guests through towering stone formations and rooms that are over ten feet high! There’s even the world’s only “Stalacpipe Organ”, which produces varying tones by tapping stalacpipes. It’s unheard of (hehe)!
*While dogs are not allowed inside the Luray Caverns, the neighboring Mystic Pet Resort & Spa will take incredible care of your pooch!
If you’re a wine-o (like us), you’ll adore the many picturesque wineries scattered throughout the Shenandoah Valley. The Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail has 22 wineries, many of which have award-winning wines and sweeping views of the mountains - AND many of them welcome dogs!
:: SALLY APPROVED :: Some of our favorite dog-friendly wineries were CrossKeys Vineyards, OxEye Vineyards, and White Oak Lavender Farm (visit in June and July for peak lavender season)! All of these charming spots welcome pups (leashed, of course) on their outdoor patios. They even have water bowls out and ready, ensuring everyone gets a drink! ;)
Maybe you’re more of a beer connoisseur? If so, you’re in luck too. The Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail has 13 fantastic breweries, all within an hour from each other! Many have on-site restaurants or rotating food trucks, and many are kid and dog friendly!
:: SALLY APPROVED :: The Shenandoah Valley Brewing is a brewery and tap house in Staunton that is popular with locals and visitors alike, and dogs are welcomed on their patio! Pop by on the weekend, and chances are you’ll even catch some live music!
Another fantastic brewery is Stable Craft Brewing, at the beautiful Hermitage Hill Farm and Stables.* Located on a working farm, guests can enjoy their ales in their modern tasting room or exploring the expansive grounds. And be sure to come hungry, their Farm Hand Burger is not to be missed!
*Since Stable Craft Brewing is situated on a working farm, it’s unfortunately not dog friendly. Luckily, Home Away from Home Dog Boarding is just minutes away - and they’re great! Our dog Sally spent an entire afternoon there, and loved every minute!
Shenandoah Valley’s culinary scene is extremely impressive. Farm to table is taken seriously here, as many of the amazing restaurants source produce and livestock from independent farms across the state of Virginia. And everything we ate was really, really good.
:: SALLY APPROVED :: If you’re looking for the ultimate dog-friendly dining experience, head to Staunton and go straight to Table 44! This friendly bakery and restaurant just opened their new dog-friendly patio, cleverly referred to as the “Doggio”! They even have a special menu just for pups - complete with dessert!
Another Sally-approved restaurant is Moonshadows Restaurant in the quaint town of Luray! We brunched on flavorus eggs benedict and fresh vegetable omelettes, and Sally basked in all of the attention she received from the hostess, our waitress, and even the chef!
If you decide to drop your pup off at the local pet boarders for a “paw-rents night out”, we highly recommend going to Zynodoa Restaurant, where they have phenomenal craft cocktails and locally-inspired small bites, then end the night with fancy artisanal grilled cheeses at Yelping Dog Wine. (Both are in Staunton.)
As far as we’re concerned, planning a trip to the Shenandoah Valley, and bringing your pup along for the adventure is a no-brainer. We’re convinced that if our Bernedoodle Sally could talk, she’d agree! From hiking the many dog-friendly trails in Shenandoah National Park, to sipping wine with Sally by our side, to exploring Woodrow Wilson’s scenic gardens, we were amazed at how often Sally could tag along!
(And as we’re sure every dog owner can relate, we also enjoyed the times where we dropped her off at doggy daycare, too. ;) Just make sure that your dog is up-to-date with their vaccinations, and to always travel with their paperwork!)
So? Have we convinced you to plan that road trip yet? And do you have room in your car for three more?