10 Best Towns in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Best Towns to Visit in Shenandoah Valley, VA

10 Best Towns in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia

Why live in the Shenandoah Valley? The answer is simple: because it's one of the most beautiful places on earth. Nestled in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, and running alongside the Shenandoah River, the valley is a nature lover's paradise. With countless hiking trails, camping spots, and fishing holes, there's no shortage of outdoor activities to enjoy.

The Shenandoah Valley is more than just a pretty place. It's also home to some of the best towns in Virginia. If you are thinking about calling the valley home, start your home search with our top picks.

1. Lexington

Lexington is the quintessential small Shenandoah Valley town. With a population of just over 7,000, it's big enough to offer all the amenities you need but small enough to maintain that cozy, small-town feel.

The historic downtown area is lined with charming shops like indie bookstores and local art galleries. Local restaurants include craft breweries and charming coffee shops. The town's unique attractions include the still-operating Hull's Drive-In and the Lime Kiln Theater, where performances take place outside.

The Maury River runs through Lexington, and the surrounding countryside is perfect for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Nearby Natural Bridge is a local attraction once owned by Thomas Jefferson.

The historic Virginia Military Institute is in Lexington, and the nationally ranked Washington and Lee University is here. These two schools bring a vibrant college town feel to Lexington, with plenty of events and activities happening during the semesters.

In September 2022, Lexington's median listing home price was $359,000, with 90 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 9.1% year-over-year. 

2. Harrisonburg

Harrisonburg is the largest city in the Shenandoah Valley, with a population of over 53,000 people. It's a vibrant college town, home to James Madison University plus eight other colleges and universities.

The town markets itself as a hub for Shenandoah Valley's outdoor recreation options. The city's proximity to attractions like the Washington and Jefferson National Forests and Shenandoah National Park means residents have countless hiking and biking trails to explore. Plus, there are venues perfect for camping, fishing, and canoeing. In the winter, you can hit the slopes at Massanutten Resort or go cross-country skiing in the national forest.

Harrisonburg hosts events such as the Shenandoah Mountain Bike Festival and the Alpine Loop Grand Fondo each year. In fact, Harrisonburg is an IMBA Bronze Level Ride Center and is the home of some nationally recognized cyclists.

The downtown is a designated First Arts and First Culinary District of Virginia. The area is lively and eclectic, with plenty of shops, restaurants, and bars to keep you entertained. In total, residents have over 200 restaurants, five craft breweries, and an annual International Festival to delight the palate.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Harrisonburg was $319,000, with 185 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 38% year-over-year.

3. Staunton

This historic town captures the charm and nostalgia of simpler times, but don't worry. It still offers the modern amenities you need for a well-rounded lifestyle. With a population of just over 24,000, Staunton is the perfect size to support modern dining and entertainment while maintaining a small-town feel.

The downtown area is designated a National Historic Landmark District filled with beautiful Victorian and Italianate architecture. Take a tour to learn about the restored turn-of-the-century homes and buildings. It's also home to the renowned American Shakespeare Center, America's only re-creation of Shakespeare's Blackfriars Playhouse. Other famous landmarks include the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and The Shack.

Several colleges and universities are in Staunton, including Mary Baldwin University and Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind. These schools add an element of vibrancy to the town, especially during the semesters.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Staunton is surrounded by George Washington National Forest, where you can go hiking, camping, fishing, and more. In the winter, you can hit the slopes at Wintergreen Resort, which is just about thirty miles outside town.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Staunton was $297,500, with 238 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 29% year-over-year.

4. Luray

Luray is a town of about 5,000 people nestled in Page Valley at the base of Shenandoah National Park. The town is famous Luray Caverns, but you can visit Endless Caverns, Shenandoah Caverns, and Skyline Caverns. All four attractions offer tours to see incredible underground rock formations created by water seeping through limestone over millions of years.

Luray is also the gateway to the Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive, a 105-mile route with scenic views from the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

In town, visit the historic downtown's quaint shops, restaurants, and businesses. The Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce even offers a self-guided walking tour so you can explore the area's history and architecture.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Luray was $289,000, with 129 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 17% year-over-year.

5. Waynesboro

Waynesboro may be your place if you're looking for a town with a little more hustle and bustle but without college-town vibes. It's one of the fastest-growing areas in the Shenandoah Valley.

People are drawn to the town's natural beauty and small-town feel. Again, the big attraction is the outdoors. The town is ideally situated at the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Shenandoah National Park, and the Appalachian Trail. The South River winds through Waynesboro, providing accessible boating and fishing.

Art lovers will enjoy Waynesboro's art scene, including the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, P. Buckley Moss Gallery, Wayne Theatre, and artistic murals and public works.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Waynesboro was $297,000, with 207 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 24% year-over-year.

6. Winchester

Winchester is the most historic town on our list. It was settled by Quakers in 1732 and founded in 1744, making it the oldest Virginia city west of the Blue Ridge mountains.

During the Civil War, Winchester changed hands more than 70 times. Winchester's strategic location at the mouth of the valley and near the Potomac and Washington made it an essential crossing point between the Northern states and the Confederacy.

Today, you can learn all about Winchester's storied past by taking a self-guided walking tour of downtown or visiting one of the many historical sites. The Civil War Orientation Museum details the seven battles that took place in and around the town. The annual October re-enactment at the Cedar Creek Battlefield draws thousands each year.

For a more modern experience, Winchester is also home to various contemporary shops, restaurants, breweries, and cafes. And while its heyday as an apple capital has waned, apple orchards are still prevalent and part of the Winchester culture.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Winchester was $375,000, with 540 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 15% year-over-year.

7. Berryville

Berryville, a small town of just over 4,000 residents, is situated just outside Winchester. The charming main street is lined with historic buildings, which add to the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.

The picturesque rolling hills and countryside of the northern Shenandoah Valley are home to Berryville's attractions. The Holy Cross Abbey is a Cistercian monastery nestled in the foothills. The Abbey is home to a working farm, a bakery, and a cider mill, and the monks sell delicious fruitcakes, honey, and chocolate truffles. Other attractions include the Veramor Vineyard, Barns at Rose Hill, and MackIntosh Fruit Farm.

The town is also home to the Clarke County Fairgrounds, which hosts events throughout the year.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Berryville was $569,000, with 55 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 23% year-over-year.

8. Bridgewater

Bridgewater is another small valley town. The town is along the South River, offering fishing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking opportunities. Safewise ranked Bridgewater no. 2 on its list of safest Virginia cities in 2018.

Bridgewater may be a small town, but it has many businesses, including Bridgewater College, a small liberal arts college that often makes independent media top lists. The college enrolls over 1,500 students and offers a variety of programs, including business, education, and nursing.

The town is also home to the Bridgewater International Poetry Festival, which hosts 75 to 80 acclaimed poets over a four-day event.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Bridgewater was $348,000 with 18 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 19% year-over-year.

9. Salem

Salem is located in the Roanoke Region and is the county seat of Roanoke. Bordering the independent town of Roanoke, Salem has diverse businesses and industries. The Salem Red Sox, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox, plays from the local Civic Center.

The town is home to the Roanoke Valley Horse Show, one of Virginia's largest outdoor horse shows. The show featuresHunter/Jumper, Dressage, and Western disciplines.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Salem was $290,000, with 173 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 9% year-over-year.

10. Roanoke

Roanoke is the largest city in the Roanoke Region, with over 97,000 people. Sitting at the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley, the city is home to various businesses and industries, including the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, one of the top research institutes in the country. The institute's focus is on biomedical and health sciences research.

The city is also home to the Mill Mountain Zoo, which features over 150 animals from around the world, but focuses on Appalachian wildlife. The zoo provides educational programs for children and adults.

In September 2022, the median listing home price in Roanoke was $249,700, with 763 homes for sale. Prices were trending up 9% year-over-year.

Living in Shenandoah Valley

Whether you're looking for a historic downtown area, a vibrant city life, or easy access to outdoor recreation, a town in Shenandoah Valley is perfect for you. Use our list of these top ten towns to start your home search. 

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