Why the Shenandoah Valley Should be on Your Bucket List... And Why Your Pup Should Tag Along

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!

Exploring the cute downtown areas throughout the Shenandoah Valley were definitely Sally approved!


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!

Family photo in front of Woodrow Wilson’s home

A working blacksmith at the Frontier Culture Museum

We loved exploring the Frontier Culture Museum

Amazing talent at the American Shakespeare Center


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!

Family photo on Skyland drive!

Our view from the Skyland Resort!

The Luray Caverns were mind-blowing


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! ;)

Sally doesn’t want wine… just the snacks.


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!

Delicious lunch at Stable Craft - and tasty beer of course

They had Clydesdale horses at Hermitage Hill Farm!


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.)

Love the bar at Zynodoa

Date night without Sally :)

INSANE Grilled Cheese at Yelping Dog Wine

Yummy brunch at Moonshadows!

Waiting for our table at Table 44

Sally got her own meal at “Doggio”

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?

Sally was so sad to leave the Shenandoah Valley :(

We’ll be back soon!


Being the “Traveling Newlyweds”, we look for destinations that inspire adventure, that inspire discovery, that most importantly, inspire romance. Places that are off-the-beaten path - but easily accessible, places where we could escape for the week - or visit for an epic weekend getaway, places that we’ve heard about before - but never knew just how special they really are….

Places where our love story can further be told. Places like Virginia.

That’s right, Virginia. Their slogan “Virginia is for Lovers” was created 50 years ago, and it’s as true today as it was in 1969. From the rolling green hills to the quaint, family-run wineries... I guess you can say that we’ve fallen in love with this enchanting state. It’s approachable and down to earth, but at the same time Virginia is one of the most romantic and enchanting places we’ve been. It’s the perfect spot for a honeymoon or anniversary. And when their slogan is “Virginia is for lovers”, can you expect anything else?


We’re the kind of people that will take any excuse for a photo opportunity. Whether it’s a funny sign or a pretty mural, you better believe we’ll stop and strike a pose (or two). When we found out that Virginia has more than 150 LOVE artworks across the state, we immediately went into planning mode, hoping to see as many as possible.

While we didn’t get to see ALL 150 Loveworks signs (that’s a goal for next time), we did visit quite a few. This map was a super helpful tool for finding the Loveworks signs on our itinerary (which you can learn more about and gain inspiration for other LOVE trips here)!


The hotels we stayed at in Virginia were something out of a postcard. They were quaint, and classy, and all of them had a story to tell.

Hotel Laurance is an inviting and historic boutique hotel in Luray, that dates back to the 1800’s. All 12 rooms have a full kitchen, luxurious amenities, and perfectly fluffy beds. It’s located right on the Main Street of Luray, and they’re incredibly dog friendly. It’s not very often that we get a hotel room with a full kitchen, so being able to have a freezer for ice cream and make our morning smoothies was a game changer. Not to mention the whole staff at Hotel Laurance were all incredibly friendly and welcoming… We could’ve easily stayed for a week!

The Stonewall Jackson Hotel, located in Staunton, is another Shenandoah Valley hotel that’s rich in history and charm. Dating back to 1924, this Colonial Revivalist style hotel is still as enchanting and grand as it was when it first opened. The Stonewall Jackson Hotel is steps away from Staunton’s main street, Woodrow Wilson’s Presidential Library, the American Shakespeare Center, and so much more. Plus, they have a beautiful indoor pool, hot tub, and spacious work out room!

Located in the Shenandoah National Park, the Skyland Resort is an oasis for nature lovers. With sweeping mountain views, snug cabins and spacious suites, it’s a destination that will leave you breathless. Our jaws dropped the moment we stepped out onto our balcony, and it became our go-to spot to watch the sunrise and sunset. The rustling of the leaves, the birds chirping, the crisp, mountain air… The Skyland Resort is truly a calming and tranquil escape. Even our pup, Sally, was obsessed!

The biggest fan of the Stonewall Jackson Hotel

Hotel Laurance was so cute!

More cozy Hotel Laurance vibes

Views from our room at the Skyland Resort!


Being “big city” California kids, we’ve always just assumed that quaint main streets exist only in the movies. Little did we know that almost every city and town in Virginia has a bustling main street that belongs in the next big romcom. Lined with locally run boutiques, cafes, wine bars, ice cream shops… these main streets are typically the hub of the town! (And they’re typically adorable.)

Luray, Virginia is a small town in the Shenandoah Valley that has a darling main street that dates back to the 1800’s. It has everything from family-owned antique shops, cute restaurants like Moonshadows and Gathering Grounds, and a stylish (and popular) wine bar, The Valley Cork. It’s easily walkable, fun for the whole family, and the perfect spot for an afternoon of exploring. (And the ice cream at Stephan’s Sugar Shack is not to be missed!)

Staunton, Virginia (also in the Shenandoah Valley), has one of the most iconic Main Streets in the USA! Architectural Digest, USA Today, Fodor’s, Huffington Post, and the Reader’s Digest have all featured Staunton’s Main Street in countless awards and publications. And in the name of love, Expedia even recently named Staunton one of the “Best Places to Propose in the US”! (We agree!) With its striking brick buildings, lush green trees, and quaint shops and cafes, Staunton’s Main Street gave us “heart eyes” nearly immediately!

Exploring beautiful Luray!

Keeping our day low-calorie by starting with a yummy treat from Gathering Grounds :)

Love the stunning Staunton Main Street!

Family photo in Staunton!


We were instantly amazed (and inspired) by Virginia’s respect and commitment to their local economy. From the restaurants that we frequented to the boutiques where we shopped for souvenirs, these places celebrate and support their local farmers, entrepreneurs, and businesses. Most everything we purchased was indeed “Made in Virginia” - and we LOVE that.

Reunion Bakery (Staunton) serves melt-in-your mouth pastries (their croissants are to die for), freshly baked quiches, and bold, strong coffee. Inspired by the high-quality bakeries in France, Reunion Bakery’s owner and head baker, Bryan Hollar, has worked hard to perfect his baked goods… and it shows.

The Yelping Dog (Staunton) is a family-run wine, cheese, and gourmet shop that has just about everything we love in life. Delicious wine, mouth-watering charcuterie boards, fancy grilled cheeses, and a love for dogs. The owner, Nancy, is as warm and friendly as they come - you instantly feel like family!

CrossKeys Vineyards (Mt Crawford) is a family owned and operated winery set on 125 stunning acres in the Shenandoah Valley. Chances are that when you come for a tasting, you’ll be greeted by one of the Bakhtiar family members, who will graciously welcome and invite you to try some of their 12 delicious varietals. And what’s more romantic than a day of wine tasting?

Reunion Bakery became a daily routine. So good!

Yes, we loved the wine. But oh my goodness, the grilled cheeses at Yelping Dog are INCREDIBLE!

Nice little afternoon of wine tasting at CrossKeys

Vineyard views at CrossKeys


The Shenandoah National Park is one of the most naturally beautiful, picturesque National Park’s we’ve seen in awhile. Not only that, but it’s a mecca for hiking enthusiasts, with over 500 miles of gorgeous trails! We could talk about its beauty for days, but we’ll let these pictures do the talking instead..

If you haven’t heard of the Luray Caverns before, are you living under a rock? (Pun intended!) They’re the largest and most popular caverns in the eastern United States, dating back over 4,000,000 years! This U.S. Natural Landmark is quite the adventure for you and your lover - and if that’s not enough, you can even get married in the cave!

Stunning views all over Shenandoah National Park

The drive through Shenandoah National Park (and view points) is worth the trip!

Those views!

Touring the caverns

Luray Cavern reflections are INSANE!

Our Dog-Friendly Guide to Williamsburg, Virginia

The following post is from a sponsored trip with Visit Williamsburg

We travel with our pup as much as we can. We love it. We joke that’s preparing us for traveling with a kid someday. Frequent stops, naps, park time, potty breaks… good golly,  there’s some truth to that!

Our Bernedoodle Sally has been to more states than most of our friends. 25? To be exact! And if we’ve learned anything about dog-friendly travel, many destinations claim to be “puppy-approved”, but that’s really not always the case. Many have very limited options when it comes to dog-friendly hotels, eating out, activities, etc… but that’s not the case in Greater Williamsburg, Virginia! We’ll even go out on a limb and say that Williamsburg is JUST as much fun for pups as it is for humans (if Sally could talk she’d agree)!

If you’re heading to Williamsburg with your pup in tow, here’s where you should go (we rhyme!):


You may not be able to venture inside the buildings and museums, but you are free to stroll with your dog all around Colonial Williamsburg (on leash, of course)! If you’re lucky, you might even spot Liberty, their own doggy mascot!

While we didn’t make it to Busch Gardens on this trip, we found out that they have doggie daycare - so we could have! We’ll be sure to take advantage of this next time we’re in town with Sally!

Sally loved exploring Colonial Williamsburg!

Sally found some 4 legged friends :)


While your pup might not actually understand the significance, we still think it’s pretty cool that they’re allowed to visit the first permanent English settlement in America! Pets aren’t allowed in the buildings, but leashed animals are allowed anywhere on the grounds!

*While you’re in the area, we highly recommend going kayaking at the James City County Marina! (Just be sure you bring a doggy life jacket!)

Stunning grounds at Historic Jamestowne!

Kayaking with your pup is quite the experience! Ha!


AROMAS WORLD SPECIALTY COFFEE: This quickly became our go-to breakfast spot - not just because we loved the food (and the coffee!), but because they welcome dogs on their front patio!

MOBJACK BAY COFFEE ROASTERS: While dogs aren’t allowed inside the building, grab a cup of coffee to go and explore Historic Yorktown with your pup! Leashed dogs are welcome at the Yorktown Battlefield, too!

CASA PEARL: We fell in love with Casa Pearl’s creative Latin-inspired southern seafood focused menu, but we fell even harder when we found out their summer patio is dog-friendly. If you’re heading to Williamsburg this summer, this is the spot to be!

THE TRELLIS BAR & GRILL:  Located in Colonial Williamsburg, The Trellis Bar & Grill serves sophisticated (and local) American bar fare - and they have ten pet-friendly outdoor tables! We always appreciate it when restaurants go out of their way to accommodate their four-legged guests… and they definitely do here!


ALEWERKS BREWING COMPANY: Not only does Alewerks Brewing Company brew tasty craft beers and homemade pretzels, but they have a pet-friendly picnic area, too!

VIRGINIA BEER CO: We’re sure glad that they allow well-behaved (and leashed) dogs in Virginia Beer Co’s on-site beer garden, because it’s one of our favorite spots to sit when the weather is warm!

BRASS CANNON BREWING: We love the small-batch beers and the laid-back, community atmosphere at Brass Cannon Brewing (often referred to as “The Cannon”) and their outdoor area is as pet-friendly as it gets!

BILLSBURG BREWERY: Located at the James City County Marina, you can’t beat the views (and the friendly service) at Billsburg Brewery! They welcome dogs on their outdoor patio, and if you’re luck you might even catch some live music! (Take a look at the schedule here.)


Brass Cannon Brewery had some amazing beers!

Such beautiful views at Billsburg!


We stayed at the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel and Suites, and loved the convenient location and the lush grounds for Sally to play in and explore. Plus, they only charge an added pet fee of $25/day! Other pet-friendly options nearby are the Williamsburg Inn and the La Quinta Inn & Suites (which doesn’t charge an added pet fee - always a plus in our books!)

Sally LOVES hotel beds. The Woodlands was no exception :)

Sally LOVES hotel beds. The Woodlands was no exception :)

The Woodlands is right by the shuttle that will take you into Colonial Williamsburg. And dogs are welcome!

A Long Weekend in Greater Williamsburg, VA

The following post is from a sponsored trip with Visit Williamsburg

Williamsburg, Virginia.

There’s over four centuries of history in this celebrated part of America. If you grew up on the East Coast, chances are you ventured to the Greater Williamsburg (including Jamestown and Yorktown areas) in grade school. You probably explored historic Jamestowne and Yorktown, and watched history come to life in Colonial Williamsburg.  But have you thought about returning?

Travel + Leisure named Greater Williamsburg as one of the top cities in the United States “to stay, travel, and more.” There’s everything from picturesque bike trails, to thrilling amusement parks, iconic golf courses, a Tasting Trail packed with breweries, wineries, and distilleries, and so much more in Greater Williamsburg. While you could pack a lot into a 24-hour trip, we highly suggest adding at least one more day (we’re sure your boss won’t mind) - there’s just too much to see!

Here’s what we think you should do:



Breakfast at Aromas Cafe: We can’t think of a better place to kick off your time in Greater Williamsburg than with breakfast at the cozy Aromas Cafe! You can’t go wrong with their Bacon & Eggs platter, and their French Press is top-notch. Sit outside and enjoy the sights and sounds of Williamsburg.

Explore Colonial Williamsburg: Just a five-minute walk from Aromas Cafe is Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest living history museum. Watch as history literally comes to life as you venture through

Can we eat at Aromas every day?

We loved exploring Colonial Williamsburg


Lunch at The Trellis Bar and Grill: Located in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg, The Trellis Bar and Grill has a fantastic seasonal menu and a welcoming patio that’s perfect for a warm, sunny day. Try the fish tacos!

Beer at Virginia Beer Co: Spend the rest of the afternoon at Virginia Beer Co, part of the Williamsburg Tasting Trail - it’s a brewery, tap room, and beer garden all in one! At 4pm on Fridays a new cask ale is tapped, and from 6-9 they have local singers, songwriters, and musicians playing in the beer garden. You’ll be tempted to stay all night! (They have rotating food trucks in case you stay for dinner!)

Yummy lunch at The Trellis Bar and Grill!


Dinner at Amber Ox Kitchen & Brewery: If you’re hungry and looking for a change of scenery, we highly suggest Amber Ox Kitchen & Brewery, another Williamsburg Tasting Trail brewery. From Fried Pimento Cheese, to Chicken & Waffles, to the popular AO Burger, it’s modern pub faire with a nod to local ingredients.

Stay at Woodlands Hotel & Suites: Comfy, conveniently located, and affordable. The perfect starting point to your Williamsburg adventure, the Williamsburg Woodlands is centrally located right next to Colonial Williamsburg. Their shuttle makes the trip stress-free and convenient! And Sally loved it!



Coffee at Mobjack Bay Petite Café and Coffee Roastery: You won’t find a more charming spot for coffee than Mobjack Bay Petite Café and Coffee Roastery, located in the Historic Cole Digges House on Main Street in Yorktown Village. This quaint coffee and tea house specializes in freshly roasted coffee (roasted on-site!) and mouth-watering pastries. Enjoy them in their pretty courtyard, or take them to go and explore the historic sites of Yorktown!

Sailing with Yorktown Sailing Charters: See a different side of Yorktown, from the water! Yorktown Sailing Charters offers daily 2-hour sightseeing cruises that take you along the banks of the picturesque York River, past Yorktown Battlefield, Victory Monument, naval warships, and more! It’s an awesome way to learn more about the area’s history, and you’ll even get the chance to help sail!


Lunch at Carrot Tree Kitchens: Steps from the Riverwalk Landing Pier is Carrot Tree Kitchens, a delectable little cafe that prides themselves on their baked goods and healthy (and hearty) sandwiches and wraps. Our favorite? “The York Town Onion”, a wrap filled with hummus, greek olives, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and of course, carrots. It’s healthy, filling, and super delicious!

Segway Tour through Historic Yorktown: Right next door to Carrot Tree Kitchens is Patriot Tours and Provisions, an adventure company that offers daily Segway tours through Historic Yorktown! We suggest the one-hour “Breeze” tour, which gives you a quick, condensed look into Historic Yorktown, and is a great intro into riding a Segway if it’s your first time. They’re a blast!


Beer at Brass Cannon Brewing: If you haven’t already noticed, we’re big fans of the craft brewing scene in Williamsburg, and Brass Cannon Brewing (also referred to as “The Cannon”) is another brewery that shouldn’t be missed. It’s veteran owned and a favorite among locals, snag a seat at the bar and you’ll be making new friends in no time!

Dinner at Casa Pearl: Oysters and tacos may sound like an odd pairing, but this locally-sourced, latin-inspired, southern seafood joint sure pulls it off well! Casa Pearl is what we like to call “relaxed elevated”, serving fancy cocktails and small plates in a modern and surprisingly casual environment. We know you’ll love it just as much as we do!



Duck Donuts:  In our opinion, nothing says “Sunday Funday” more than donuts for breakfast! So before making the drive to Historic Jamestowne, take a detour to the famed Duck Donuts, that serves delicious made-to-order donuts that melt in your mouth. You’re welcome in advance.

Historic Jamestowne:  Walk in the steps of Pocahontas and John Smith! Historic Jamestowne is the original site of the first permanent English settlement in America. Seeing this up close is incredible, considering it’s over 400 years old! Taking it a step further, you can visit the Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum that brings it all to life. Fascinating!

Exploring Historic Jamestowne with Sally

Alli with Pocahontas


Beer &  Lunch at Billsburg Brewery:  You can’t beat the views of the James City County Marina at Billsburg Brewery, and the beer is especially tasty on a warm afternoon! They have daily rotating food trucks serving local grub, and occasional live music! See what they’re serving (and who might be playing) here!

Kayak James City County Marina:  If you’re feeling up for an adventure, rent a couple of kayaks (or a tandem), and take them around the historic Powhatan Creek and Jamestown Island! You can even bring your pup along for the ride (but they must have a life vest)!


Wine tasting Williamsburg Winery:  Situated on the 300-acre Wessex Hundred Farm, Williamsburg Winery is a quite the destination, and their tasting room is a stunning spot to sample some of Virginia’s best (and award-winning) wines!

Dinner at Cafe Provencal:  After you’ve sampled Williamsburg Winery’s many famous varietals, head to their on-site restaurant Cafe Provencal, where they take farm-to-farm dining to a whole new level. Showcasing the bounty of Virginia farms, their culinary team creates mesmerizing Provence-inspired dishes that are as pretty to look at as they are to eat!

It’s a perfect place to end your long weekend in Williamsburg… and we suggest planning your next trip back over one of Cafe Provencal’s tantalizing desserts! ;) Happy travels!