Waynesboro's Best Kept Secrets

January 26, 2024

Exploring Waynesboro's Cultural Scene: Cool Museums and Galleries Unveiled

Discovering Waynesboro, VA, is like unlocking a cultural vibe of art, history, and local charm. Whether you're an art lover, history buff, or just looking for a weekend escape, downtown Waynesboro has plenty of galleries, museums, restaurants, and cute shops to keep you busy and warm this winter.

Begin your journey at the Shenandoah Valley Art Center, a hub for local artists to showcase their talents. Stepping through the doors, you're immediately greeted by a kaleidoscope of colors and textures. From contemporary paintings to avant-garde sculptures, SVAC has two galleries downtown that offer a rich visual experience that appeals to a wide range of artistic tastes. The Wayne Avenue Gallery is also home to artists in residence where you can observe the creative process in action.

As you saunter down the charming streets of downtown Waynesboro, you’ll stumble upon P Buckley Moss Art Gallery. This downtown gallery exclusively exhibits the work of famed artist, P Buckley Moss, with much of the inspiration and imagery stemming from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, its scenery, culture, and communities. Check the website for dates of the biannual open house where you can have your artwork signed and personalized.

Your next stop is the Wayne Theatre Exhibit Gallery, where the worlds of performing arts and visual splendor collide. This dynamic space hosts a rotating collection of exhibits that complement the theater's vibrant performances. It's a testament to the Wayne’s commitment to fostering a community-wide arts experience. Be sure to check out their calendar for a complete schedule of live performances and information about the featured exhibit.

As you delve deeper into the cultural hub of Waynesboro, take a quick walk right across the street from the Wayne to The Russell Museum, for one of the largest displays of art and sculpture in Virginia by the Leonardo DaVinci of the 20th century, Walter Russell. Keep an eye out for their open houses, events, and meditation sessions.

At your penultimate stop it’s time to take in some history after looking at downtown Waynesboro’s impressive collection of art galleries. The Waynesboro Heritage Museum preserves and celebrates Waynesboro’s history through exhibitions, educational programs, and active relationships with local citizens and historical organizations. During your free, self-guided tour you will learn about the city’s founding, industries, educational institutions, and much more. Look for rotating exhibits as well.

Your final destination is The Plumb House*, the oldest frame structure in Waynesboro. It was built during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson and later found itself in the Battle of Waynesboro, the last significant Civil War battle of the Shenandoah Valley, in 1865. The historic museum currently houses Civil War and Native American artifacts as well as everyday household items from the era. Visitors can learn about the Plumb family who built and lived in the home for five generations as well as see the summer kitchen which houses the family’s impressive collection of butterfly and bird specimens.

*The Plumb House Museum is only open for tours by scheduling with the Waynesboro Heritage Museum ahead of time. Please stop in 420 W Main Street Tuesday - Saturday from 10:00 am - 5:00 pm or call 540-943-3943 to schedule a tour.

Your journey in Downtown Waynesboro doesn't end with galleries and museums – it seamlessly transitions into a delightful shopping and dining experience. The quaint streets are lined with charming boutiques and unique shops and invite you to indulge in a little retail therapy. Check out Pyramid: Appalachian Magick + Remedy for some truly unique finds from loose herbs and crystals to tarot cards and spell kits. You can hit up adorn. right next door, for a curated collection of unique, high end women’s fashions. Take a short stroll and run into some of Waynesboro’s other boutiques, Magnolia Rose, Rusticae, and Boutique in the Boro.  

If you’re absolutely famished by now, stop in The River Burger Bar for a great selection of burgers, vegan and gluten free options, and local craft beers. If you’re looking for something a little fancier head to Green Leaf Grill or Heritage on Main, or if you are absolutely ravenous Benny Stivale's has huge, quick slices of pizza and Sam’s Hot Dogs has… you guessed it, excellent, quick dogs with all the trimmings.

As you conclude your artistic and historic escapade through downtown Waynesboro, it becomes clear that this quaint city is more than just a run-of-the-mill small town. Unique art, shopping, and dining amplifies the allure of Waynesboro’s bustling downtown, offering a holistic experience for both locals and visitors. Stroll through the charming streets, indulge in the creative offerings of local shops and savor the flavors of Waynesboro's culinary scene, and it becomes evident that this small town in the Shenandoah Valley is a hidden gem, inviting all to discover the richness of its artistic soul.

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