Worth a Trip: Shenandoah County Artisan Trail
The terms Shenandoah and self-sufficiency have long been synonymous, a legacy of the isolation faced by early settlers in this wilderness area. The long tradition of artisanship here is a direct result – settlers spun yarn, wove baskets, turned wood, threw pots, distilled spirits, grew fruit and vegetables and raised stock, and there are plenty of locals doing the same today. The Shenandoah County Artisan Trail (www.artisantrailnetwork.org/index.php/trail/shenandoah-county-artisan-trail) showcases the modern iterations of this tradition, focusing on handmade and locally grown products from the area around Woodstock, east of Front Royal and Luray. Traveling from the north, follow highways 66 and 81 south towards Harrisonburg.
Worth a Trip: Shenandoah Spirits and Beer Trails
Running parallel to Skyline Dr, west of the Shenandoah National Park, I-81 is the access point for a huge artisanal network of wineries, craft breweries, cideries and breweries. The stretch between Winchester and Harrisonburg is particularly rich in this regard, and more than 40 local outfits have banded together to form the Shenandoah Spirits Trail (www.shenandoahspiritstrail.com) to highlight their businesses. To visit these modern-day moonshiners and brewers, devise an itinerary using the interactive map on the trail's website.
Travelling south, the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail (http://beerwerkstrail.com/trail-map) wends its way from Harrisonville to just past Lexington and incorporates 14 breweries. An eccentric lot (business names include The Friendly Fermenter, Devils Backbone and Bedlam Brewing), most of these places have taprooms, a few will allow you to brew your own beer, some host hipster-ish eateries or food trucks, and all offer good cheer.