7. LURAY, Va.
The town known for its caverns has more above ground. The caverns are impressive and a stroll through them is a must. The stalagmites (rising from the floor) and stalactites (hanging from the ceiling) are impressive, and pondering the ages it took to create them is mind-boggling.
Your trip should include a tour of the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum, which exhibits authentically restored cars, carriages, coaches and costumes dating from 1725 to 1941. The collection includes an 1892 Benz (before Benz and Mercedes hooked up), one of the oldest cars in the country still running. Also, the Luray Fudge Company still makes its fudge from an 1830s recipe.
The golf at Caverns Country Club is some of the most scenic in the Shenandoah Valley, and that’s saying quite a lot. Distant views of the mountains are impressive. The course is solid, if not flashy. It begins with some very narrow tee shots then opens up a bit. The town of Luray thrives on what is below: the East Coast’s largest cavern. Last year, visitors from all 50 states and from 51 foreign countries strolled the 1.25 miles of subterranean walkways. With just 4,000 residents, this is a real taste of small-town America. From Luray, you can launch into the Shenandoah National Park or take a drive down Skyline Drive.
8. SNOW HILL, Md.
In 1686, the ideal spot for a settlement was along the banks of a navigable river, so when Snow Hill began to spring up along the Pocomoke, it wasn’t like it is today - in the middle of nowhere. With the river allowing them to import and export materials, craftsmen built remarkable homes and sold them to merchants, bankers and sea captains. Gracious living was found in Snow Hill. With steamboats running up and down the river, Snow Hill was an active port. Trade drove the economy, and life was good until the railroad moved commerce inland. Your trip should include a drive through Snow Hill’s streets, where you can view fine examples of Greek Revival, Victorian Second Empire, Queen Anne, Gothic Revival and Federal styles of architecture in its homes, churches and buildings.
Nassawango Country Club is a hidden gem. Holes are cut through the cypress trees of the Pocomoke Forest, and since Snow Hill is a little off the beaten path, although still hard by the Pocomoke River, the course has been one of the best-kept golfing secrets in the region since 1970. The town of Snow Hill has a rich heritage that anyone can help uncover. The Furnace Town Living Heritage Museum holds several archaeological digs each year that the public can take part in. This year the excavation takes place on the site of an early 19th-century bake shop.
9. BUENA VISTA, Va.
The sign that hangs in downtown Buena (pronounced BUN-nah) Vista and proclaims this is a town of “6002 Happy Citizens and 3 Old Grouches” dates back to political dissension in 1971. J.H. Dickinson Jr.’s sense of humor and desire to stir up conversation led him to include the phrase on a billboard advertisement for his business in response to bickering in the city at the time. The phrase stuck, and the spirit of the sign with those words on it has hung in Buena Vista’s historic downtown since. Now the city has given the “three old grouches” a golf course to play on. The Vista Links, built by designer Rick Jacobson in 2004, is also open to the 6,002 happy citizens, and anyone who wants fairways and greens with great vistas.
Your trip should include a visit to Buena Vista’s downtown district, where you can pick up everything from fine wine at Uncorked to an unforgettable hot dog at a sidewalk cafe named Franks for the Memories.
It took nearly five years to clear all the planning hurdles to build Vista Links. Jacobson produced a visually exciting, big- league layout that seamlessly integrated into the city’s Glen Maury Park. Drama is the word used to describe the course, from the moment you drive onto the property until the last putt is holed. The course is characterized by its undulating topography between two mountain ranges.
The city of Buena Vista was born out of the vision of one man to be an industrious town in a breathtaking setting. Benjamin C. Moomaw in the late 1800s had founded a town named Green Forest, a small town with only a tannery and unable to attract other businesses. After the railroads came through in 1880, Moomaw envisioned a city larger than anything else in this part of the Shenandoah Valley. By the end of 1888, the Buena Vista Company was organized and began selling stock. Within 30 days, all of the stock was sold for a total of $400,000, the town was laid out on 13,140 acres and Moomaw began recruiting people and industries. Today, a bustling city sits between the Maury River and the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. Buena Vista has grown to become a center of business with a diversity that has weathered all challenges, but the magnificent setting hasn’t changed a bit.
By James A. Lyons
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