a traveling Wife: Shenandoah Valley Travel Log [Rawley Springs, Harrisonburg, Bridgewater, Grottoes]

Shenandoah Valley Travel Log [Rawley Springs, Harrisonburg, Bridgewater, Grottoes]

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Shenandoah Valley is bound by the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, the Potomac River, and the James River of Virginia and West Virginia. Come explore the rolling hills with me from my recent cabin getaway to Shenandoah Valley.

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One thing I love doing every once in a while is to take a digitial detox. You know, just turn off electronics and enjoy nature. But there is no one that needed a digital detox more than A. In his line of work, the holidays are the busiest season because everyone else gets the time off - meaning it's his time to work. So we booked ourselves a little cabin getaway in Rawley Springs, VA where cell service is nonexistent.


A and I really enjoy using Airbnb when we travel and this time was no different. The cabin claimed to be rustic and bordered the George Washington National Forest. We were ready for the adventure! But then, snow fell hard in Virginia and even harder in the Baltimore area. We had about four days until our cabin getaway and spent those four days digging ourselves out.

We had slight concerns that we would not be able to access the cabin since the desciption expressed a private road situation. We contacted the hosts and they reassured us that our 4x4 Jeep would make it without a problem.

A and I loaded up the car and got the pup situated in the backseat and headed on our way. Rawley Springs is just over 3 hours from our house and knew we could make it in one shot. The drive went off without a hitch, expect for the snow still on the expressway near DC. Once we arrived, we met with our host and she apologized that the cabin we rented had frozen pipes, but we could stay in a different rental. After driving all that way, we really didn't want to turn back so we obliged.
Click to tweet:Shenandoah Valley Travel Log [visit Rawley Springs, Harrisonburg, Bridgewater, Grottoes]
The new cabin wasn't as high on the mountain so we had no problem navigating the single lane roads. It was still as rustic as the other with two bedrooms and a clawfoot/shower combo bathroom. The kitchen was fully stocked with utensils needed for cooking. This is one of the main reasons we like to rent an entire home or apartment because we can cook all the food we want without having to spend all our money dining out. Plus, homecooked food just tastes better!

This particular cabin had a beautiful trout creek running along the back. With two screened in porches - the options were endless to enjoy some fresh air. Also, the snow and cold didn't bother Roxi one bit as she still wanted to be outside taking in all the wildlife scents.


Even though A and I brought a ton of food with us, we still wanted to venture out a bit. You never know when an area might be well known for a particular type of food. Like in Baltimore you have blue crabs and pit beef. We didn't find anything unique to the area but did enjoy exploring Harrisonburg, the home of James Madison University.

Being only 20 minutes from our cabin and knowing it's a little college town, we were on the hunt for some college grub. We stumbled upon Billy Jack's and devoured some sticky nuggs and a few beers. Not going to lie, we enjoyed the place so much that we went back the next day for happy hour. I'd highly recommend the sweet chili sticky nuggs!!


We were only in the Valley for 3 days, but we didn't want to miss out on some of the wineries and breweries Virginia has to offer. We first stopped into Bluestone Vineyard in Bridgewater. They offered 5-6 tastings for $5. You could choose a flight of White, Red, Sweet, or Reserve. A opted for the Red and I chose the Reserve. There were only three parties tasting wine in the winery which made for a very relaxed atmosphere. Oh and they are dog friendly - woof!

Moving onto the beer. There are four breweries in Harrisonburg, but surprisingly most of them don't open until 4pm. We never made it a point to be near the area when they were open so we only had a chance to try one - Three Notch'd. We were told they are an experimental brewer and that we would find some unique brews. I didn't really find that to be the case but we still enjoyed a flight of 6 tasters for $13. While we sipped on our brews we played a few games of Connect Four. Let's not even talk about how terrible I am at that game.

Not in the Shenandoah Valley but on our route home, we stopped at another winery - Barrel Oak Winery. It was a perfect excuse to get out and stretch our legs, including the pup because this winery is dog friendly! They only offered one flight for sampling but it was delicious ($8 per person). There was another couple in the winery tasting as well and they offered us a free tasting coupon for two. That clearly was a sign that we needed to stay to enjoy a full glass after our tasting!

What To Do

Our main goal for the cabin getaway was to detox from the digital world and to get a quick change of scenery. This didn't mean that we wanted to sit inside the cabin all day long staring at each other. I was really hopeful to get out and hike some trails in the Appalachian Mountains, then all the snow came. We didn't prepare any snow gear because after 4 continuous days of shoveling, we really didn't want to trek through too much more snow.

Although, there was a beautiful trail walking distance from our cabin into George Washington National Forest. We were on our way to the entrance with Roxi and one of the neighbors stopped us. He kindly asked that we not share the trail on social media because he had been exploring that trail since he was a kid and would hate to have it overpopulated. So sharing I am not but if you are visiting this area and would like more information, send me an email.

The Shenandoah Valley houses quite a few caverns and neither of us have ever been to one. After doing a bit of research finding a cavern that was close by and one that seemed enjoyable, we headed to Grottoes to explore Grand Caverns. At $18 per person, we bought our tickets and headed up a hill towards the entrance of the Cavern. Due to January being a quiet month, we had our own private tour.

Our tour guide, Daniel, was amazing and very knowledgable. He gave us so much history that our brains nearly exploded half way through. Grand Caverns is the Nation's oldest 'show' cavern. It was found in 1804 and opened for tours in 1806. When the Cavern first opened publicly, it was typical to denature the cave. People were able to touch practically anything they wanted and they were also able to leave their signature. Due to the nature of the cave, all of this has been preserved and you can still legibly read signatures from the 1800s.

Click to tweet: Hidden trails, caverns, wineries, and brews - just a few things to do in Shenandoah Valley.
Have you ever visited the Shenandoah Valley? Did we miss anything on our trip?
Have you ever explored a cavern?
Are you a wine lover or beer lover, or both?