Luray Caverns Virginia
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16 Best Things to Do in Luray, Virginia

Welcome to Luray, Virginia, located in the Picturesque Shenandoah Valley, this charming town offers fun-filled adventures and attractions. From the world-famous Luray Caverns to the breathtaking natural beauty of Shenandoah National Park, there’s something for everyone in Luray. So, let’s deep dive into the best things to do in Luray, Virginia.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the heart of Luray, unveiling a curated list of captivating activities that will leave you spellbound. From exploring the renowned Luray Caverns to indulging in outdoor adventures along the scenic Skyline Drive, there’s something for every type of traveler in this Virginia wonderland.

So, pack your bags and join us on a virtual tour of the myriad things to do in Luray, Virginia to create unforgettable memories!

About Luray, Virginia

Established in 1812 on 10 acres of land near Hawksbill Creek, the small town is welcoming people and is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. 

With the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east, the George Washington National Forest to the west, and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River winding its way north at the edge of town, there are incredible views every which way you turn. There is no doubt it serves as an access point for entering Shenandoah National Park. Being very close to Washington DC, Luray makes the perfect day trip destination.

Luray attractions

In addition to the national park, the town is best known for Luray Caverns, which is known as the largest cavern in the eastern US and most visited in the United States.

But it’s also home to an array of other attractions and activities, perfect for families! Luray Caverns in Virginia stands as an underground marvel, beckoning adventurers to delve into the mystical beauty that lies beneath the surface.

In this blog post, I’ll be covering 15 Best Things to Do in Luray VA, from museums and natural wonders to historic sites, roadside attractions, restaurants, and more! Keep reading it!

Best Things to Do in Luray Virginia: Travel Guide

Luray Caverns

Discovered by 3 local men in 1878, the 99-acre Luray Caverns is protected as a National Natural Landmark, and truly a must-see for anyone visiting Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and looking for things to do in Luray VA. 

You’ll enter the cave via a downhill Path, which is wheelchair-accessible. Once you enter the cave, awe inspired by the impressive array of reflective pools, stalactites, and stalagmites formations. Exploring Luray Caverns offers a unique opportunity to witness the earth’s hidden treasures firsthand.

Unique Features And Formations In The Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns, one of the best on the East Coast of the USA, is home to many captivating features that will leave you in awe. Let’s uncover some of the highlights:

  • Dream Lake: This expansive body of water is 18-20 inches deep and it creates a mirror-like illusion, reflecting the hanging stalactites! What you see is a perfect mirror reflection of the ceiling.
  • Saracen’s Tent: Delicate and ornate, these formations resemble a delicate curtain, transporting visitors to a realm of enchantment with their intricate patterns. NatGeo commented these are among the best in the world!
  • Titania’s Veil: This is the oldest part of the cavern, the elegance of this cascading sheet of water, resembling a bridal veil, shows us the ethereal beauty.
  • Giant Redwood and Overlook: This immense formation is the largest and oldest formation in the caverns. The redwood is 40 feet in height and 120 feet in circumference and it is estimated to be over 7 million years old.
  • Wishing Well: A captivating sight within the caverns, this 6-foot-deep pool collects donations through coins and bills. The accumulated funds are annually donated to charitable causes.
  • Giant’s Hall: Witness the awe-inspiring Double Column, towering at 47 feet. It showcases the magnificent union of stalactite and stalagmite formations, leaving visitors spellbound by its grandeur. It is Luray’s largest and deepest cavern.
  • The Cathedral and Great Stalacpipe Organ: The cathedral is home to the great Stalacpipe Organ, the largest musical instrument in the world! it was invented by Mr Leland W Sprinkle in 1954. It uses stalactites to produce tone resources. Rubber-tipped mallets are electronically signaled to gently tap the stalactites, producing musical tones similar to a child’s music box.

Exploring Luray Caverns does involve some walking, but it is suitable for visitors of various fitness levels. The walkways are paved and well-maintained. Comfortable footwear is recommended to navigate the slightly uneven terrain, ensuring a pleasant journey through the caverns.

Note: Your Luray Caverns tickets include admission to the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Toy Town Junction, Shenandoah Heritage Village, and Luray Valley Museum.

Other family-friendly attractions on the property, including a Garden Maze, Stoney man Gem mining Sluice, and Rope Adventure Park, are available for additional fees. 

The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum

Adjacent to Luray Caverns, you can explore a unique specialty museum showcasing rare antique automobiles. So, if you love antique cars or the history of transportation, you’ll love the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum.

Part of the extensive Luray Caverns complex (and free with admission to the Caverns), the museum features around 150 different cars, carriages, coaches, and other vehicles dating back to 1725. 

best things to do in Luray Virginia

The museum’s remarkable collection includes an 1897 Mercedes-Benz, one of the oldest operating cars in the country, a 1908 Baker Electric, a precursor to the Chevy Volt, and a luxurious 1925 Rolls Royce associated with silent film star Rudolph Valentino.

Car enthusiasts and history buffs alike will be captivated by the museum’s display of automotive heritage.

Luray Valley Museum & Shenandoah Heritage Village

Step back in time at the Luray Valley Museum. One of my favorite parts of the vast Luray Caverns complex is this historical museum that offers an immersive introduction to   Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley of the mid-19th century. 

Explore exhibits that showcase the region’s heritage, including artifacts, photographs, and interactive displays. You’ll gain insights into the lives of early settlers and learn about the cultural and historical significance of Luray and its surrounding areas. 

The Luray Valley Museum is housed in the main building, showcasing decorative arts, clothing, early toys, and daily life artifacts from the 1750s to the 1920s.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Shenandoah Heritage Village, a living history museum that offers a glimpse into the past. This is a meticulously recreated 19th-century village that transports visitors to a bygone era. Stroll through cobblestone streets lined with authentic structures, including log cabins, blacksmith shops, and one-room schoolhouses.

Luray Singing Tower

Located in a Park across the street from Luray Caverns, this 117-foot-tall tower is arguably the most iconic landmark in Luray VA, because you can see it from many of the local attractions. 

Officially known as the Belle Brown Northcott Memorial, the tower was erected in memory of the wife of Colonel Theodore C. Northcott- the former president of the Luray Caverns Corporation.

Landmarks to see in Luray Virginia

Built in 1937, it’s known as the Luray Singing Tower because of its impressive carillon with 47 bells. The bells range in size from a mere 12.5 pounds up to a 7,640-pound bell that measures a whopping six feet in diameter. You can enjoy the melodic tunes produced by the bells, creating a captivating symphony that fills the air.

It’s one of the largest carillons in America and regularly hosts free recitals on weekends in late spring and summer. Visiting this cultural marvel is one of the best things to do in Luray VA.

River Hill Distillery

River Hill Distillery is a local favorite and a must-visit in Luray VA. All of their ingredients are sourced from the surrounding area, making it an excellent place to buy moonshine and wine.

Opened in 2014, River Hill is widely considered one of Virginia’s best distilleries, with several award-winning spirits. Their wine selection is also impressively diverse, with unique options like apple, cherry, strawberry, and sweet potato.

Outdoor Things to Do in Luray, VA

Bear Mountain Ziplines

If you love the adventure, you’ll need to check out the Bear Mountain Ziplines in Luray, VA, where you can unleash your inner thrill-seeker.

With more than 50 acres of scenic forest area, it is one of the fun and adventurous things to do in Luray, Virginia. Embark on the Mama Bear Zipline tour, featuring 7 ziplines spanning 2700 ft, propelling you through the lush forest canopy at speeds up to 35 miles an hour. The breathtaking last stretch of 1000 ft, soaring over a picturesque meadow and landing on the tower above the impressive 3-story Bear Scramble climbing wall.

Begin your journey with a scenic ride up the mountain road aboard a rustic tractor, creating a sense of anticipation for the adventure ahead. Also, note that Participants must weigh between 70 and 250 lbs and be at least eight years old to enjoy the Mama Bear Zipline.

Hawksbill Greenway

Nestled along the banks of the Hawksbill Creek, Hawksbill Greenway stands as a verdant jewel in the heart of Luray, Virginia. This well-maintained multi-use path offers 2-miles of ADA-accessible paved trails that are perfect for hiking and biking around town.

The 10-foot-wide, paved trail winds through the heart of historic Downtown Luray, with historic homes, shops, museums, restaurants, and other attractions rarely more than a few steps away. 

One of the distinctive features of Hawksbill Greenway is the series of picturesque bridges and boardwalks that crisscross Hawksbill Creek.

The Luray-Hawksbill Greenway is divided geographically into 5 unique color sections and includes 24 trailside benches, 8 picnic tables, 6 parking areas, 4 drinking fountains, and 2 restrooms along the trail.

Ruffner Plaza, located along the greenway, is a vibrant hub for local music festivals and community events, adding to the lively atmosphere.

Bird enthusiasts will be delighted to know that the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway is part of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife Trail, offering opportunities to spot over 200 species of resident and migratory birds.

If you love quiet and peaceful times, watching the wildlife along the creek, or going on a walk or jog, visiting Hawksbill Greenway is one of the best things to do in Luray, VA.

Shenandoah National Park

Nestled along the crest of the Blue Ridge, Shenandoah National Park encompasses some 199,173 acres in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

The main road through the park, Skyline Drive, stretches 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge, with the Shenandoah River and valley to the west and the rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont to the east. 

places to visit near Luray Virginia

Downtown Luray is just 15 minutes from one of four Skyline Drive entrances, the Thornton Gap Entrance Station, located at Mile 31.5. You can drive through the beautiful Parkway for some breathtaking adventures.

There are nearly 75 overlooks in the Park. Gorgeous overlooks near Thornton Gap include Range View (Mile 17.1), Hogback Mountain (20.8), Mary’s Rock Tunnel (32), Stony Man (41.7), and Crescent Rock (44).

Whether you embark on a leisurely drive, catch a sunrise or sunset, or witness the rolling mists that often shroud the mountains, Skyline Drive promises an unforgettable journey through the heart of the park.

Shenandoah is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. White-tailed deer, black bears, red foxes, and a myriad of bird species call the park home.

Shenandoah River Activities

Another best thing to do in Luray is indulging in an array of exciting activities on the scenic Shenandoah River. The main tributary of the Potomac River, the Shenandoah River measures around 55.6 miles long. It forms just north of Front Royal VA, at the confluence of the North Fork and South Fork.

The South Fork meanders through the verdant towns of Shenandoah and Luray VA. With so much natural beauty surrounding it, the South Fork of Shenandoah is a great place for outdoor recreation like canoeing, kayaking, rafting, river tubing, and fishing. Relax, unwind, and create lasting memories amidst the tranquil beauty of the river.

From cultural experiences to outdoor thrills, Luray offers a treasure trove of excitement for visitors of all ages. 

Massanutten Storybook Trail

If you want to stretch your legs, go for the picturesque Massanutten Storybook trail, nestled in Luray, Virginia. This easy 0.4-mile interpretive trail offers a paved path(suitable for wheelchairs). It is a paradise for hikers, walkers, and nature enthusiasts to have an unforgettable experience.

As you walk the trail, look for fossils and forest wildlife. The interpretive signs along the trail discuss how this magnificent mountain range evolved from the sand on the ocean floor over 400 million years ago, shaped by time and pressure into sandstone, shale, and limestone.

At the end of the trail, enjoy the scenic overlook of the Page Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains from the observation deck. Just Marvel at the panoramic views that rival those found in Shenandoah National Park, offering a sense of grandeur and natural splendor.

Visit Luray Virginia Downtown

If you happen to visit the Luray, must stop by downtown Luray. For maps and recommendations for things to do in Downtown Luray, start at the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, which is located in the restored historic train depot at 18 Campbell St. While you’re here, take a tour of Page Valley Rail Historical Society’s Railroad Museum.

The downtown Luray is pretty charming as you’ll walk along the beautiful Hawksbill Creek. You’ll also find loads of gift shops, art galleries, and even a brewery in the town. For the best coffee in the town, head to Broad Porch Coffee. West Main Market Beer & Wine Garden serves delicious Sandwiches with live music in beautiful settings.

The best restaurants in Luray include Il Vesuvio Restaurant & Pizzeria and the swanky Circa ’31 inside the historic Mimslyn Inn.

Breweries in Luray Virginia

Hawksbill Brewing Company

Since opening its doors in Downtown Luray in 2017, Hawksbill Brewing Company is considered as one of the best new breweries in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

Hawksbill prides itself on incorporating local produce into its unique brews, creating exciting beverages such as Brown Cow Chocolate Milk Stout and The Haymaker Cream Ale.

Those who enjoy non-alcoholic beverages also have an option here: Hawksbill’s Boo Beer is a tasty root beer made with fresh local honey.

Best Things to Do in Luray with Kids

Garden Maze

Get lost in the excitement of the Garden Maze. This captivating labyrinth challenges your navigation skills as you navigate through twists and turns. Discover hidden corners, solve puzzles, and enjoy the thrill of finding your way out. It’s a delightful experience for the kids as well as the whole family.

Explore the largest hedge maze in the Mid-Atlantic states at Luray Caverns, with a one-acre ornamental garden filled with eight-foot-tall hedges.

Discover fountains, hidden tunnels, and a lookout tower along the way. Navigate over 40 diverging points on the half-mile pathway created by over 1500 evergreen hedges. Seek hidden goals and unravel the maze’s intriguing secrets.

Visit Cooter’s Place, Luray

Owned and operated by Ben Jones, who played Cooter the mechanic on the classic ’80s TV show), Cooter’s Luray is a fun roadside attraction, attracting the fans of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” a beloved American television series from the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The main draw of Cooter’s Luray is its extensive collection of memorabilia from “The Dukes of Hazzard.” You’ll find authentic props, costumes, and vehicles from the show. Outside you’ll find vehicles such as the Boss Hogg’s Cadillac, Cooter’s tow truck, and of course the Dukes’ famous General Lee (a Dodge Charger). It’s a fun opportunity to capture memories of your visit to Cooter’s Luray.

The attraction features a museum dedicated to “The Dukes of Hazzard,” where you can learn about the show’s history, production, and cultural impact. Displays include photographs, scripts, and other artifacts related to the series.

Cooter’s in the Valley also offers live music every weekend. Jones fronts Cooter’s Garage Band every Saturday from 1 PM to 3 PM and meets and greets fans after every show. 

Horseback Riding at Skyland Stables

If your visit to Luray VA includes spending time in Shenandoah National Park, Skyland Stables offers a unique way to see it.

They provide guided horseback riding tours, which typically last around an hour and give you a chance to explore the park’s natural beauty differently.

The picturesque trail leads horses and riders across Skyline Drive, past the Limberlost area, and into an old Virginia apple orchard. 

Horseback rides at Skyland Stables are offered from May through October if weather permits, and reservations should be made in advance via the Skyland Stables page.

Visit Luray Zoo

Luray Zoo is a special Rescue Zoo committed to providing a loving and nurturing home for needy animals. The animals at Luray Zoo include retired zoo animal ambassadors, animals from conservation programs, unwanted pets, confiscated animals, and, sometimes abused animals.

Luray Zoo is situated on approximately 3 acres and offers a cozy and shaded environment for visitors. One of the zoo’s highlights is the close proximity to the animals, which both children and adults appreciate.

In the zoo, there are over 80 reptile exhibits, boasting one of the largest collections of venomous snakes on the East Coast. You can explore more than 20 exhibits featuring various animals, including primates, felines, birds, and mammals.

Located just 1.2 miles west of Luray Caverns on Hwy 211, the 3-acre property is open daily from 10 AM-5 PM, with exceptions posted on their website calendar.

Where to Stay While Visiting Luray, Virginia

Luray offers a range of accommodations to suit various budgets. Some affordable options include budget motels, cozy bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds in the area.

But if you’re looking for Historic Hotels, stay at Mimslyn Inn (the oldest of the Luray hotels). The Inn’s massive size, classic Georgian Revival architecture, and lofty position high on a hill overlooking the town make it an iconic landmark on the local landscape. 

Originally opened in 1931, the Mimslyn Inn has since been completely renovated. Today they offer 45 guestrooms and suites, a Manor House, historic cottages, and a luxury cottage collection.

The Inn also features a luxury spa, the snazzy Circa 31 Restaurant, and the more casual Speakeasy Bar & Restaurant (with its Prohibition-themed drink menu).

Final Thoughts

Luray offers a wide range of attractions and activities suitable for everyone. From the beautiful underground world of Luray Caverns to the outdoor adventures in Shenandoah National Park, there is something for everyone to enjoy, making it a memorable experience for children and adults alike.

Plan a trip to Luray, discover the beauty, and experience a few of the best things to do in Luray Virginia. Whether you’re seeking natural wonders, family-friendly adventures, or a peaceful nature retreat, Luray has it all.

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