Farms, barns, city life, too: Hwy. 11 Knoxville to Staunton — Road Trip 2020

Gettysburg home and farmland

Welcome to our first installment of Road Trip 2020, a two-week trip from Knoxville to Gettysburg to the Eastern Shore and back! Unable to stay home and indoors for months at a time, we decided to break out and try road tripping — just the two of us navigating the backroads, old roads, and places off the beaten path trying to see America while staying healthy in the time of coronavirus.

Our route took us out of Knoxville on I-40 up to Bristol, Virginia, where we left the interstate behind to follow Highway 11. This historic highway, extending 1,645 miles from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Rouses Point, New York, served as a conduit past farmlands, through small towns formed along old stage coach routes and some of the prettiest scenic land in the eastern part of the U. S. — the Shenandoah Valley.

Maybe not my best shot — aimed through a car window with an iPhone — but representative of what we love: barns, farms, and beautiful animals!

We took few pictures, concentrating mainly on the freedom of traveling by car and the calming presence of farm animals, vast fields of corn, and old, somewhat modest homes still serving small-town populations. When we needed a break, state-operated rest stops welcomed us to their rest rooms. (Be aware: Most had closed off their lobbies and ceased distribution of travel brochures and maps.)

Old homes, small towns — could these be aligned along old stage coach routes?
Photo credit: Virginia Creeper Trail from Visit Abingdon

If you’ve never driven this route but you love antiques, quaint homes, and little shops, we can recommend stops in Abingdon to check out the Barter Theatre (check first to see if they’ve re-opened), ride your bikes along the Virginia Creeper Trail, and stay at the Martha Washington Inn & Spa. Other favorite small Virginia towns we love to visit are Wytheville, Radford, Roanoke, and Hollins where pretty, old homes and small colleges await.

One regret we have about our road trip on Hwy. 11 was not booking a night at The Georges in Lexington, Virginia, home of Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute. But after an unplanned stop at the Lexington Visitor Center (highly recommend) where the volunteer told us about its new honor — being named by Travel and Leisure as the No. 2 small hotel in the U. S., we decided another trip just may be in the works.

Photo credit: website for The Georges, Lexington, Virginia

After a quick drive through a town we’d visited years ago — Brownsburg, Virginia — to visit Old South Antiques (regrettably now closed) — we headed to our destination: Staunton, Virginia. We agree with their website: Staunton is a perfect base for visiting the area. But be sure to check out the Travel Advisory for what’s open, what’s not.

Lovely old building in Staunton, now the home of Beverly Cigar Store. Did you find the umbrella?

Staunton is a town of delightful old buildings and tight city streets flanked by shops, churches and restaurants. Blu Point Seafood served up my first (but not my last) crab cake of the trip, and Frederick House, where we stayed for two nights, dazzled us with breakfast served by the innkeepers. The menu, printed on the mug, offered almost too many choices, but we forced ourselves to eat every bite of something really good: Granola with Yogurt and Fruit for me; Homemade Waffle for Bert.

Both pretty and tasty: breakfast at Frederick House, Staunton, VA

That good breakfast helped us walk through Mary Baldwin University, up and down steps to check out the lovely campus of painted yellow buildings and stately architecture.

Lovely Old South residence at the top of the hill on the Mary Baldwin University campus

It was the owner of Frederick House who gave us two valuable suggestions for what to see next (Can you tell we’re serendipitous travelers at heart?): Pebble Hall, a wildflower farm in nearby Weyers Cave, and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Our next two posts will feature these great places to see!

Pebble Hall Wildflowers in Weyers Cave, VA

Hope you’ll join us as we wend our way up Hwy. 11 for more sights to see. And if you’ve traveled this area, let us know your favorite memories of life in the Shenandoah Valley.

Traveling the old routes,

Rusha & Bert

19 thoughts on “Farms, barns, city life, too: Hwy. 11 Knoxville to Staunton — Road Trip 2020

  1. The Wandering RVer

    A lovely start to your roadtrip. To me any time you can get off the interstate and soak up the countryside, your off to a good start. If it weren’t for our husbands driving, we’d never get anywhere with all of our camera stops!

  2. WanderingCanadians

    After going on a couple of road trips this summer I’ve tried to master the art of being able to take a picture of something from the side of the road while inside the car. Most pictures don’t turn out well, but some of them surprisingly do. Sounds like you were off to a good start on your two week road trip!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      My husband is very patient with me because, if I had it my way, we’d be pulling over, risking being hit, etc. just so I could get a shot. Sometimes it’s all I can ask for him to slow down so I can hang the camera out the window or just take the picture inside. We do what we can, right?

      1. CompassAndCamera

        Soon to be revealed on the blog, but we’re camping around Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion, Bryce, Deer Valley and Jackson Hole. I big loop for a big birthday! 🙂 The most exotic thing we could throw together in this time of covid and no flying!

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