Ralph’s Choice – Classic Itinerary
This itinerary is designed specifically for our guests. We regularly personally evaluate and update the following recommendations. We hike the trails, eat at the recommended locations, visit the shops, drink the wine… and strive to surpass your high standards of expectation during your stay SME.
For 2 night reservations consider specifically picking activities from Day 2 and Day 3 to best personalize your itinerary – always factor your drive times along the many country roads and the 35MPH max Skyline Drive in the National Park.
Consider adjusting your plans in accordance with the seasons and weather. We are happy to assist you in selecting activities during your stay to ensure you get the most out of your leisure time. Hot Tip: when planning hikes in the Shenandoah National Park, as a general rule: If the visibility is limited or the weather is too hot or wet, stay in the forest and hike under the tree canopy and along streams; if the sky is clear, go to the peaks and seek the views.
Day 1 (evening arrival)
- Make yourself at home! Take short stroll on SME nature trail with your favorite beverage or a nice glass of wine (in wine cooler at the lodge foyer if you like)… wind down from your travels.
- Either cook up a favorite on our provided grills or order out for a New York Style Anthony’s Pizza delivered directly to your door.
- After dinner, spend the remainder of your evening taking in the sounds and sights of nature from your deck or relaxing in your timber frame cabin with your favorite beverage (see our select VA wines for your convenience).
- Get a good night sleep in your comfortable timber frame bedroom to prepare for your day ahead.
- Fix a hardy bacon and eggs breakfast in your timber frame cabin (all except Lady Bug cabin) or get a hot breakfast at the Gathering Grounds (or your eatery of choice) in the old town of Luray. Hot Tip: if you are here on Saturday, go to our local small family run Fairview Grocery for their wonderful warm homemade donuts (arrive before 10:00AM or the donuts will be gone)
- Pack a lunch or nice snacks (remember to bring water) and take a hike in the Shenandoah National Park. Drive 5 Mins up the mountain to hike to Mary’s Rock (Moderate – about 2 hours hike total) and take your camera for spectacular views once on top. For more ambitious folks, consider the longer drive/hike time and hike Little Devil’s Stairs or Old Rag Trail (Advanced – about 4 + hours total hike time). For less ambitious folks, hike to Stony Man Peak next to Skyland (Comfortable – about 1.5 hours total) for wonderful views. Hot Tip: consider hiking our favorite ridge line trail from the Jewell Hollow Overlook Pinnacles parking area along the Appalachian Trail to Mary’s Rock and back (about 3.5 hrs total)… ask Ralph for more hiking ideas and details.
- After your hike, be sure to take a slow scenic drive on the Skyline Drive and, if you’re hungry, grab a snack at either the Skyland or Big Meadows Lodge. Hot Tip: order the Blackberry Ice Cream Pie… a must. We really like the fried chicken there too. (Please note – Skyland and Big Meadows are now closed for the season – opening again in March!)
- Exit the Shenandoah National Park in the afternoon at Thornton’s Gap (at route 211) and go down the east side of the mountain towards Sperryville. Select from Gadino Cellars Winery, Copper Fox Whisky Distillery, and/or Hopkins Ordinary Ale Works and relax and enjoy before dinner!
- Reserve a seat at the casual, but exceptional, Thornton River Grille in Sperryville and order anything off the grill (seriously consider their special selections). Thornton River Grille is only closed on Monday – on Monday consider switching Day 3 dinner with Day 2… or, eat in the town of Luray at the Mimslyn Inn or have a nice meal at Ranch Viejo… a quality and enjoyable Mexican restaurant. Most of the major fast food establishments can be found in Luray. Hot Tip: Hopkins Ordinary Ale works is a small quality and charming craft brewery located directly across the street from Thornton River Grille which is only open routinely after 4:00PM on Wed, Fri, and Sat… on those days, arrive at the Ale Works an hour or two before your dinner reservation at Thornton River Grille so that you can have the generous craft beer tasting prior to walking across the road for dinner.
- After dinner come back over the mountain to your timber frame cabin at Shadow Mountain Escape. Enjoy a hard earned glass of wine and relax.
- Breakfast in your cabin or enjoy a hardy Hawksbill Diner country breakfast with the locals (20 min country road drive from SME).
- After breakfast, tour the Luray Caverns. Hot Tip: included in the ticket price is entry to the old car museum and the adjacent Luray Valley Museum… they are very interesting and will not take too much of your time.
- Take a delightful stroll along the Hawksbill creek at Luray’s Greenway Park and then visit the old town Luray shops and have lunch at the Gathering Grounds or at West Main Market Deli. Hot tip: Appalachian Outdoors Adventures is a nice little quality apparel and equipment shop where you can find whatever you need for hiking.
- Return to SME in the afternoon to freshen’ up and then depart over the mountain to visit Rappahannock Vineyards and Desert Rose Winery near Flint Hill. After Wine Tasting, return to Flint Hill and have dinner at Griffin Tavern or the Public House. Hot tip: give yourselves 25 – 30 mins to get to Flint Hill – pay close attention to the speed limit whenever on route 211.
- Return to your timber frame cabin at Shadow Mountain Escape to close out the evening.
Day 4 (check-out)
- After check-out, consider another hike in the Shenandoah National Park prior to departing home; or take in other wineries along the Blue Ridge Whisky Wine Loop. If you are heading south towards Charlottesville, take the Wine Loop’s southern excursion and visit the beautiful Sharp Rock and Ducard Vineyard. If you are going north towards I-66, and you haven’t yet visited Flint Hill and Rappahannock Vineyard, consider taking 522 North along the Wine Loop to see the wineries there and Flint Hill is a good country old town location for lunch.
- Travel safe!