Opulent Estate with Old-Fashioned Dining in Shenandoah Wine Country
In the late 19th century, sailors on the Missouri River often chanted "Oh Shenandoah," a wistful tune that ended up becoming an immensely popular folk song. For many, it brings to mind the beautiful rolling forests and river bends of the Shenandoah Valley, which is nestled between the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains. The Mimslyn Inn, a grand Virginian estate, is situated on a high knoll overlooking these distant peaks. The inn was built in 1931, and, after a multimillion-dollar restoration, its old-fashioned elegance blends in nicely with the surrounding landscape.
The inn often looks more like a capitol building than a hotel: its circular driveway is situated beneath a monumental portico, which is supported by multi-story Doric columns. In the lobby, you'll find crown moldings, a mantled fireplace, and a winding staircase with wrought-iron railings. Historic rooms feature with two-poster beds, and Blue Ridge suites add wingback armchairs and pullout sofas. Both rooms overlook the 14-acre grounds, which boast formal gardens and a gazebo.
Crystal chandeliers and Chippendale-style chairs with ornate woodwork make up the décor of the inn's southern restaurant, Circa '31, one of the prettiest places on the property (open limited hours). Downstairs, the Speakeasy Tavern evokes the Prohibition era with art-deco décor, period cocktails, and meat pies shaped like Al Capone's hat; Frommer's calls it "Luray's favorite pub."
Luray, Virginia: Limestone Caves in Shenandoah Wine Country
The town of Luray was once the site of army encampments and skirmishes during the Civil War, but it's been quiet since then. Today, the Luray Caverns are the area's biggest draw. This National Natural Landmark site is popular for its giant pillars, curtain-like stalactite walls, and the Stalacpipe Organ, a musical instrument in which rubber mallets strike stalactites to play classical melodies. Alternatively, head to the Caverns Country Club, where rolling greens and fairways overlook riverbanks and farmlands.
The valley's scenic farms produce sweet corn, goat cheese, and pasture-raised beef, all of which make their way to the Saturday-morning farmers' market down the street from the inn. Farther afield, dozens of wineries dot the hillsides. You can sample local pinot noirs and chardonnays on the Whiskey Wine Loop and Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail.