What started out as an accident, turned into destiny. A few years ago, Kyle and I were traveling the country in our little travel trailer with our dog, Marietta. A change of plans brought us camping in Afton, Virginia for about a month.
To say the Shenandoah Valley wooed us that October is an understatement. It romanced us, hard, like a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie. With the changing leaves, friendly people, Appalachian Trail, and Nelson 151, to leave was devastating.
For years, we kept trekking back to the area. With each trip came familiarity, a sense of belonging, of knowing. It wasn’t long before we started to envision life here. A business. A house. A future.
Late on a Saturday afternoon, we saw the For Sale sign on the corner of 151 and Blundell Hollow. Early Sunday morning, we walked it with a realtor. By the following Friday, we put an offer in. We hadn’t intended to buy at the time, but as God would have it — a few weeks later — we were signing the paperwork at the attorney’s office.
We slept in our tent in the pasture that night. We watched the sunrise the following morning. We snuck a hike in, and then, almost as quickly as we arrived, we left. Of course, it was different this time. There was one more reason pulling us back.
Five Reasons to Love the Shenandoah Valley
Featured by the Travel Channel, Southern Living, and Food and Wine (to name a few), the wine scene outside of Charlottesville, Virginia is incredible. I have had a lot of bad regional wine in this country (I am looking at you, South Carolina), but with a budding reputation of the “Napa of the East”, you will find a few places that deserve another glass.
Virginia is in the top five fastest-growing craft beer states. With hundreds of breweries, the ones near the Blue Ridge Mountains are near and dear to our hearts. Many are pet-friendly and offer events, live music, full food menus, and the occasional creek or fire pit to help you unwind.
I still struggle to believe I am fortunate enough to live 15 minutes from both the Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trails at both are diverse, well-rounded, and provide hours of great hiking. When I need a swift kick in the pants, it’s Humpback Rocks. If I have a half-day to spend, I’m exploring the lower trails with waterfalls in the park. If I want something a little quieter, then the local paths at Wintergreen or in Nelson County provide plenty to keep me occupied.
It’s almost mid-June and I was wearing a sweatshirt last night while I sat by the fire pit. It snowed in March when I was moving in. The humidity doesn’t seem to kick in until July and August. Fall looks like a catalog.
You never run out of things to see when you dare to explore the area. We are less than 30 minutes from downtown Charlottesville, which is a fun and charming college town. Driving the rural roads to get from brewery to cidery, from Afton to Staunton- there is tons to see. The thriving small business community helps you grab a bouquet from Four Goodness Farm’s honor stand, pop over to a few farmers’ markets, or listen to the shopkeeper’s neighbor play the banjo over in Batesville. Each town, restaurant, coffee shop, and pizza place is the epitome of local. To support and take part in this community is a privilege.
Now, I am not saying that you too need to sell all your belongings, travel the country, see where you want to settle down, and then hold tight to that dream until your knuckles turn white. (Although, if you do, bring a beer and a chair over and tell me all about it.)
Instead, you can borrow a piece of ours and get spoiled by the splendor of the valley as we did. Leave a comment below and let us know your favorite reason to visit Afton, Virginia.
Until next time,