If you’re looking for an adventure over spring break but can’t afford to travel too far away, gather your friends and head to Shenandoah Valley. Pack your sneakers and spend your days hiking, horseback riding and spelunking in the western Virginia national park. With plenty of winding roads and trails to explore, Shenandoah might be the outdoorsy, relaxing escape you need from the bustle of life in the city, just a short road trip away.
Shenandoah Valley is most easily accessible by car. Destinations in the valley are anywhere from one and a half to three hours away from the District. Avis offers car rentals starting at $185 for a week, but consider investing in a Zipcar if you’re underage.
Stay at the Joshua Wilton House Inn (412 South Main St.) in Harrisonburg, Va. for a quiet and charming escape from the hectic D.C. lifestyle. This Victorian home is located in Old Town Harrisonburg, a mile away from the James Madison University campus. Rooms start at $145 per night for a two-person room and include a gourmet breakfast.
Travel the scenic Skyline Drive, a 105-mile serpentine byway that takes you along the Blue Ridge Mountains. The entrance fee is $15 per vehicle and covers one week. Cruising down Skyline Drive from beginning to end will take three hours, but you will probably want to pull over and take a hike on the Appalachian Trail. The Lewis Spring Falls trail is a 3.3 mile loop that offers breathtaking views, waterfalls and access to the cliffs at Blackrock. The trail is located near the towns of Harrisonburg and Shenandoah, and parking is available at Skyline Drive milepost 51.
Stay at the Joshua Wilton house and treat yourself to a classy dinner at the inn’s restaurant. Southern Living Magazine has called it “one of the best restaurants in Virginia.” The dinner menu features delicacies such as grilled quail ($12), Bosc pear salad ($9) and filet mignon ($32). Don’t skip dessert – options include the chocolate hazelnut tart ($8) and chocolate butterscotch pot de crème ($8), made daily on premise.
If you’re looking for something a little more modern and trendy to counter your outdoor adventures, try Clementine, less than a mile from the Joshua Wilton House Inn (153 South Main St.). Their menu options put a spin on traditional American fare, and all entrees are under $20. Clementine regularly schedules live performances and posts the schedule on its website. Most tickets are a few dollars cheaper if purchased in advance.
For something a little less traditional, try Blue Nile Ethiopian Cuisine (181 North Main St.). The restaurant has happy hour every day from 4 to 7 p.m. and also has a full bar and dance floor, with live music throughout the week. Most dishes are vegetarian, and the only meals that exceed $10 are the meat dishes and combination platters for large groups.