Shops, Restaurants and Attractions to Visit in the City of ‘Big Time Culture and Small Town Cool’

Story by Jane Gregorski, Sean Byrne

The SnugBug Mercantile

34 E. Beverley St.; 540-414-8704

Shoppers with an eye for rustic furniture and quaint trinkets can score big deals at this small-town shop. Compact yet charming, the SnugBug sells timeless knickknacks, from vintage floral dinnerware and chic velvet couches to tealight holders made from classic Ball mason jars. Many locals don’t come just for the products, but also to visit Peppermint, the owners’ basset hound and unofficial store mascot, whose image is stamped on every manila price tag. Storeowners Patty and Jeff Deuns are leading experts in vintage decor, offering customers advice on the best ways to incorporate antiques into modern homes.

The By & By Cafe and Beer Garden

140 E. Beverley St.; 540-887-0041

Known to locals as the go-to coffee hub, this gourmet cafe serves more than just fancy espresso drinks. Handwritten, neon-colored chalkboard menus display a selection of inexpensive bagels with a side of savory ranch cream cheese, grilled paninis, homemade pastries, Italian cream sodas, craft beer and local wines. Decorated with dark, wooden tables and framed photographs of Staunton’s early days, the By & By offers a quiet atmosphere for those wishing to read while munching on lunch. Like many of Staunton’s shops, the cafe doubles as a venue for aspiring local artists and musicians, showcasing their work several times a month.

Camera Heritage Museum

1 W. Beverley St.; 540-886-8535

Although this museum is best known for its impressive collection of 2,500 historical and modern cameras, photographers and history fanatics can find several other hidden gems. Tucked away in the Camera and Palette, Inc. building off West Beverley Street, the shop displays items such as Civil War-era cameras, the first made projector and camera gear used by spies.

The nonprofit also showcases famous movie props, such as the original prototype of the “Star Wars” lightsaber and rare, oneof-a-kind photographs of legends, such as Walt Disney. The museum’s collection of cameras, photographs and accessories is still growing, obtained solely through donations. A guided tour is recommended, because the host has been collecting for decades and shares the tales behind each piece of equipment in the museum.

Sunspots Studios

202 S. Lewis St.; 540-885-0678

Deemed by Staunton locals as the place to be, Sunspot Studios is home to the glass blowing artisans of the Valley. While walking through the door of the large clay brick building, a gallery of glistening glass surrounds every step. Dozens of round, spotted ornaments hang from the ceiling while colorful vases and glass-blown flowers rest on the shelves.

Toward the back of the store is a door leading to the workshop where the studio’s glass blowers give live demonstrations daily. They welcome guests to watch as they twirl pieces of 930 degree glass in the air from a steel blowpipe while thoroughly explaining the process behind glass blowing. For those feeling a bit adventurous, the artists allow customers to blow their own ornament for $45.

Black Swan Books and Music

1 E. Beverley St.; 540-712-0123

For those craving the sweet smell of old leather-bound books, Black Swan Books and Music can surely give you a fix. The upscale bookshop houses timeless bestsellers in neatly stacked, white hardwood bookcases glistening in gentle, soft light. A variety of genres are available for sale, including mystery series like Sherlock Holmes, eclectic cookbooks and literature by grand novelists William Shakespeare, Upton Sinclair and Edgar Allen Poe. A few steps above the ground floor sits the children’s nook, holding a full collection of nostalgic pieces such as the Hardy Boys, Dr. Seuss and Nancy Drew. Most books are priced between $5 and $10. Vinyl records and hand-sketched prints of Staunton are also found scattered around the store.