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A quaint place like Luray, nestled in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, might surprise visitors who are looking for small town charm. Besides the splendid geographical masterpieces like Luray Caverns and Shenandoah, you can also discover friendly people, unique shops,restaurants, local artists, and musicians here. We interview Katie Long, from Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce, to find out how to live the Luray lifestyle and the best places to head to in the town.
Describe your town in three words:
Four Season Destination
Where should culture lovers go to in Luray?
If it’s arts and culture you’re looking for, definitely check out the Performing Arts of Luray and Trackside Theater, both bring in a wide variety of plays and musicians for the entertainment of both locals and tourists. Also, if you’re visiting in the spring or summer, check out the ‘Evenings on Main’ concert series that the Town of Luray puts on at Ruffner Plaza on the Hawksbill Greenway.
If by culture you mean experiencing the culture of Luray, you need to head to The Mimslyn Inn’s Speakeasy on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night to enjoy live music from local artists. Or, head to Uncle Buck’s restaurant for some down-home cooking and a chance to mingle with locals at the bar.
Where are the must-visit places in your town?
Our first choice is the obvious one; after all, how can you visit Luray and not stop off at the Luray Caverns! Next, swing by the Carillon to see the beauty of the historic bell tower as you make your way to the Shenandoah National Park.
If shopping’s what you’re into, spend an afternoon walking up and down Main Street and popping in all the little shops along the way! Start where Main and Route 340 intersect at one of the three stoplights in town at Appalachian Outdoors Adventures and head east down Main Street. Hit the little antique shops to scrounge through their selections for a unique find and make sure to stop at Virginia Gift Shop for a memorable gift. Next, hit Gathering Grounds for some tea or coffee to help you through the last couple of shops and then head a block or two off Main Street to look through some more antiques at Hunt and Peck.
If you’re ready to stop for food, Main Street has a wide selection of options from Southern cooking at Uncle Buck’s to burritos and bowls at 55 East Main Brew House & Grill or artisanal sandwiches at West Main Market. If you have time one evening, swing by Flotzie’s Soft Serve for their weekly flavor or take a walk along the town-maintained path called the Hawksbill Greenway! If fresh, local food is of an interest to you, catch the Luray-Page Farmers Market on Saturday mornings when it’s in season, or head to Willow Grove Farm for anything you need to cook up the perfect meal.
Why do you think your town has made the top ten places to visit in Shenandoah Valley?
There’s so much to see and do in Luray that it’s incredible. People come into town and see a small quaint place and think there can’t be anything to do, but if you look at it like a local, there’s always something. We have seasonal fairs and festivals and plenty of parades and events downtown for crafters and local artisans. In between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Massanutten Mountain, we have a perfect view from every angle, and that’s something that really appeals to our visitors. Additionally, we have over 300 cabins within the county, so we can provide visitors with the scenic, homey feeling that locals have on a daily basis. Or, if a cabin isn’t right for them, visitors can try one of our picturesque bed & breakfasts or stay right in the midst of things at one of our hotels.
Tell us about the typical local cuisine in your town? Where’s the go-to place to find this authentic local cuisine?
The typical cuisine is casual dining. From the Southern comfort cooking of Uncle Buck’s to the soup, salad, and sandwich options of Gathering Grounds and West Main Market, the food here is so good you don’t need to dress up! Everything about Luray, down to the food itself, is laid-back and relaxed. Sit down with some friends for a long lunch of good food and conversation. Enough said.
What makes your town unique? Is it the people, the sights, the food scene, or something else entirely?
The atmosphere is what truly makes Luray unique! People come for the sights, like Luray Caverns and Shenandoah National Park, and stay for the way the town provides a sense of escape and relaxation from their everyday lives. With our close proximity to D.C., Northern Virginia, and cities like Baltimore, MD, we have lots of visitors who come to simply get away from the fast-paced and hectic lifestyles they’re used to.
What brings tourists to Luray?
As I said, Luray Caverns and Shenandoah National Park are the biggest tourist draws for the town/county. Outside of that, being the Cabin Capital of Virginia lends us to being the number one choice for people who want to leave their city lives behind for an overnight trip, two-day furlough, or long weekend.
Luray is one of the winners of The Culture Trip’s Virginia Local Favorite 2015 Award. The Local Favorite badge is awarded to our favorite local towns, restaurants, artists, galleries, and everything in between. We are passionate about showcasing popular local talents on a global scale, so we have cultivated a carefully selected, but growing community.
Interview by Isabelle Pitman