As the final remnants of summer are replaced by the first signs of fall, the wonders of autumn transform Luray and Page County each October and early November. From pumpkin patches and corn mazes to haunted houses and long autumn drives, the season in Luray and Page County offers a bounty of fall fun and fresh-air adventures ideal for a weekend getaway.
LEAF-PEEP IN TOWN PARKS
With peak season reaching the mountains first, signs of the season from the Valley below against a backdrop of reds, oranges and golds above presents a panoramic show each autumn. Home to three small towns — Luray, Stanley and Shenandoah — Page County offers an abundance of parks to leaf-peep.
TOWN OF LURAY
The Town of Luray’s Lake Arrowhead showcases the splendor of the season each fall. In the evenings, fall colors are often reflected in the water and seen from vantage points along a 1- mile trail that circles the lake. Open from sunrise to sunset, the park includes six picnic shelters available for rent, horseshoe pits, a ball field and playground equipment.
Head to Luray’s Ralph H. Dean Recreation Park — named in remembrance of the town’s longest-serving mayor — for mountain views and fall colors. The park features a large Imagination Station Playground, skate park, 20-station fitness trail, frisbee golf course and picnic shelters available to rent. The park is also home to more than a half-dozen athletic fields, and often hosts youth football and soccer events on autumn weekends.
Take a stroll along the Luray-Hawksbill Greenway and see signs of the season along a 3.3- mile walking trail that runs through Downtown Luray. Located along the Hawksbill Creek — a perfect spot for angling or watching ducks and other wildlife — the walking trail includes dozens of benches, picnic tables and is within viewing distance of 30 murals and public art that are part of the Appalachian Mural Trail.
TOWN OF STANLEY
A short drive from Luray to Stanley leads to the Ed Good Memorial Park, where visitors can enjoy a walking trail, playground and picnic shelter against a backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The park is also home to a first responder memorial featuring a steel beam from the World Trade Center and a Chimney Monument by the Blue Ridge Heritage Project that honors the sacrifices made by 135 Page County families who were displaced during the creation of Shenandoah National Park.
TOWN OF SHENANDOAH
Continue from Stanley to the Town of Shenandoah, where parks offer more southern views of the Valley in autumn. Take in fall sights along the water at Shenandoah’s River Park and Landing at several riverside picnic spots, including picnic tables and grills for cookouts. A gazebo on site is available to rent. The park additionally features swings, a paved trail and wildlife. Or head to Shenandoah’s Big Gem Park, a 68-acre park with hiking trails, swings, playground equipment, picnic tables and shelters, benches, a gazebo and pond fishing.
TASTE THE SEASON AT LOCAL EATERIES
Food lovers can spend the day dining indoors, outdoors or on the go at several restaurants and eateries in Downtown Luray, from coffee and quiche at Gathering Grounds to freshly baked goods at vintage-inspired Baby Moons and to fine and locally sourced dining at Moonshadows Restaurant, all of which offer seasonal, open-air seating. The Hawksbill Brewing Co. features farm-to-keg craft beers and outdoor tables while the Valley Cork offers wine by the glass inside or by the bottle to go.
For a full rundown of fall flavors, see our online listings, or call our office at (540) 743-3915 for more information or suggestions.
SPEND A NIGHT OF FRIGHTS AT LURAY’S PREMIER HAUNTED HOUSE
Each Halloween season, the paranormals are at their peak at a haunted manor in Downtown Luray. The acclaimed DarkWood Manor is known not only for its macabre makeup and costumes, but its overall production. Every October the haunted house features a new storyline with original characters and elaborate sets. Haunted house-goers can also explore “Doctor Brain’s” demented mind in a 3D-maze.
DarkWood Manor is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in October, with the final night of frights generally slated for the first weekend in November.
SHOP AN ARRAY OF AUTUMN GIFTS AND UNIQUE FINDS
From fall-time scents and florals to Thanksgiving centerpieces and Halloween decor, Downtown Luray’s 75-year-old Virginia Gift Shop offers an array of special finds. Known for its unique seasonal gifts and accessories — particularly in autumn and at Halloween (the owner’s favorite holiday) — the Main Street shop carries a wide variety of Virginia-made products and “Virginia is for Lovers” keepsakes.
A short walk from Main Street or the Luray-Page County Visitors Center in Downtown Luray leads to the Hawksbill Trading Co., a small-business incubator of more than 40 vendors. The trading company offers arts and crafts, produce and baked goods, home decor, antiques and accessories — many crafted, grown, created or restored by local residents. Throughout October Hawksbill Trading Co. offers fall finds, including pumpkins and arrangements, decorative gourds and corn and Halloween- and Thanksgiving-themed decor and gifts. Seasonal offerings are highlighted throughout the week on Hawksbill’s Trading Co.’s Facebook page.
Pumpkins and mums abound at Massanutten Country Corner in the fall. Situated between the Blue Ridge and Massanutten mountains, the country shop features handcrafted goods and gifts from Shenandoah Valley artisans. The store on Route 211 also offers Cork to Barrel products made from recycled wine barrels, bottles and corks, while a farmers market highlights the tastes of the Valley with seasonal goods including produce, honey, cider, jams and jellies. And a garden shop offers decor, supplies and tools. The store also regularly updates its Facebook page with its latest selection and tips.
CELEBRATE FALL WITH FESTIVITIES AT FAIRVIEW FUN FARM
Open each weekend in October and the first weekend in November, Fairview Fun Farm in Luray offers a full slate of autumn activities. The farm on Fairview Road includes a pumpkin patch, catch-and-release pond fishing, a hay mountain, a corn maze and lots of playground activities.
After picking out a pumpkin, farm-goers can opt to paint it on site or take it home to carve. Hayrides through the property help viewers take in the sights of the Valley. Also available are games, goats, barrel train rides and slides.
Pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks and straw are available to take home for additional costs. Visit the farm’s Facebook page for regular updates.
The best time to visit Shenandoah National Park for fall colors is October, with leaves generally transitioning from green to gold at the highest elevations during the first week of October. Shades of red, orange and yellow continue through the final three weeks of the month when fall foliage reaches its peak at mid and low elevations.
Entrance passes are available for purchase online before coming to the park. To help with wait times, special lanes are available at entrance stations for those with pre-purchased passes.
Those looking for lodging can call the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center at (540) 743-3915 or for more information about the array of cabin, campground, hotel and B&B options in Luray and Page County.
The Virginia Department of Forestry additionally posts foliage updates and predictions each week by region. Fall foliage reports are also available by phone by calling 1-800-424- LOVE (5683).