December and Wintertime in Luray is such a special season. Although it’s not prime fall colors or beautiful summer days, there’s something unique about this time of year that sets it apart. Maybe it’s the quietness of town, maybe it’s the flakes that fall on skyline drive, or maybe it’s just the stillness in the air. Either way, it’s worth a visit during this sleepy, slow season.
Matt and I took a similar trip to Shenandoah National Park before we had gotten the Hillside House, and it made us fall in love with these end-of-year visits. We were the only ones on hiking trails, we sipped mulled wine by a fire at a winery, and we took a little break for ourselves during the busy holiday time. It was a perfect reset, and now we hope our guests get the same type of much-needed quiet time.
So if you’re wondering what on earth there is to do in Luray and Shenandoah National Park during the winter, here are some of our tips and recommendations.
Be sure to keep an eye on the weather as well as Shenandoah National Park’s website or social media for updates on Skyline Drive. Because the road is so much higher than the road and two lanes, they are incredibly cautious with it and will close down sections if road conditions aren’t ideal
Dressing for Shenandoah
Of course you want to be mindful of the weather, but a special point to note is that Shenandoah National Park is typically 10 degrees cooler than the low-lying areas nearby. If temperatures at Hillside House say 40, it will most likely be 30 once you’re up on the mountain, and different weather (wind/snow) may happen up there as well.
In general Luray weather can be pretty mild, but each season we expect a few snow showers to hit the area. For the whole season, Luray gets about 10” or so of snow, so pretty minor, but when it does fall it can be stunning! Good news is, if it falls, it usually melts relatively quickly, and they’re good about plowing roads as needed.
Hiking quiet trails in Shenandoah National Park can be hard to come by, but such a blessing when it happens! Some trails you should check out if making the trek in December would definitely be Miller’s Head Trail, Hazel Falls, and Overall Fall Run. See our full list of recommendations here.
Luray Holiday Events
The Town of Luray always hosts so many fun events throughout the year, and the holidays is no exception. Head downtown for their Chamber of Commerce Holiday Festival, City parade, and plenty more activities for the whole family. Check the city’s website for dates and information
Skiing at Massanutten Resort
About 45 minutes away, Massanutten Resort is a huge ski that’s perfect for a day on the slopes! Day trip down to the resort for skiing, tubing, or their indoor waterpark, then head back to Luray to getaway from the crazy madness and relax!
Nothing beats sitting cozy drinking a mulled glass of red wine on a chilly day! Shenandoah Vineyards has a cozy indoor tasting room to check out, and Glen Manor Vineyards has a fantastic view when sitting inside or out!
Dinner & a movie downtown
This has become one of our favorite date nights when we’re in Luray. We love checking out some local Virginia wine at The Valley Cork, then walking down the block to the Pink Page County Movie Theater, where they have 11 screens showing new blockbusters and sometimes classics as well!
No visit is complete to the area without a trip to the caverns! The temperature in the caverns is always the same temperature as well, so a perfect activity if the weather isn’t the best! Read our guide to the caverns here!