Cozy Bear Cottage - Luray's Hidden Gems

Wonderguide by

Mellanie Chavers

Cozy Bear Cottage - Luray's Hidden Gems

I will share with you my personal recommendations, good & bad experiences, and the key to enjoying small town living in Luray and the Shenandoah Valley!

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Good Eats

The best restaurants around

Image - West Main Market
West Main Market
Mellanie:Personally, I haven't been here, but my husband swears by it. They also offer some Gluten-Free options.
Image - Ciro's Pizza
Ciro's Pizza
Mellanie:Good Italian food and they have Gluten-Free choices as well.
Image - Brookside Restaurant
Brookside Restaurant
Mellanie:Great for breakfast/brunch!
Image - Moonshadows Restaurant
Moonshadows Restaurant
Mellanie:Moonshadows is a nice upscale restaurant to have dinner with someone special. They specialize in international seafood cuisine. However, they also have Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Vegan options for those with dietary restrictions.
Image - Gathering Grounds Patisserie & Cafe
Gathering Grounds Patisserie & Cafe
Mellanie:This place used to make the best Gluten-Free cookies! Unfortunately, they stopped making them and now only have GF coconut pie. I will pass on the pie, but they do have a nice assortment of good menu items and are very aware of food allergies as well. They have a back patio for those of us with 4-legged friends but don't make the mistake of trying to walk through the restaurant as I was rudely scolded for doing so. I know restaurants have to abide by the strict standards of food handling laws, but I am a person and you don't need to yell. Other than that one fellow, I have nothing but good reviews for all of the staff at Gathering Grounds. A word to the wise... show up early with time to spare. This place gets PACKED by 9 am Saturday morning.
Image - Triple Crown BBQ
Triple Crown BBQ
Mellanie:Great BBQ! And yes, that's right, they operate out of a trolley on the side of the road (across from the Walmart Shopping Center). I bought food for my husband who was arriving later that evening. I stored it in the refrigerator and heated it back up on the stove when he got there. It was still amazing! And they have a sauce for EVERY BBQ fanatic. If you opt to go check them out, I recommend late lunch (2-4 pm), otherwise, the line is way too long for me.
Image - Gennaro's Italian Restaurant
Gennaro's Italian Restaurant
Mellanie:It's not the best Italian but it will do in a pinch. Also, they deliver to the cabin very late into the night. My husband swears by the House Soup!
Image - The Speakeasy Bar & Restaurant
The Speakeasy Bar & Restaurant
Mellanie:Good food hidden away in this place located behind the Mimslyn Inn.
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Washington & Jefferson Nat'l Forest

Strongly recommend you use AllTrails app for all hiking trips!

Image - Kennedy Peak Trailhead
Kennedy Peak Trailhead
Mellanie:I wouldn't do the whole loop as it's a little too much for me. Start at the entrance to the trail and meander your way to Kennedy Peak for a beautiful vantage point of the whole valley. This is a Moderate rated trail that gets more difficult near the end. This loop is 8.5 miles.
Image - Gap Creek Trailhead
Gap Creek Trailhead
Mellanie:Another beautiful trail not too trod down by the sneakers of the masses. Features the beautiful creek established right on the Massanutten Mountain itself.
Image - Strickler Knob Vista
Strickler Knob Vista
Mellanie:Beautiful view off the peak of the largest ridge of Massanutten Mountain.
Image - Massanutten Storybook Trail Overlook
Massanutten Storybook Trail Overlook
Mellanie:Fun, easy trail for kids with lotsa rocks to climb on, and ends with a beautiful vista of the Shenandoah Valley.

Shen Park Tradit'l Trails

If you really must do Shenandoah National Park, then these trails are the best

Image - Thornton Gap Entrance Station
Thornton Gap Entrance Station
Mellanie:Thornton Gap is the closest entrance into Shenandoah National Park. There is an abundance of Parking and the lots fill up quickly in the morning but people come and go throughout the day. The Gap entrance offers various trails to hike, but it also serves as the entrance to the legendary Skyline Drive. Fees for entrance are as follows and I have also listed FREE days for 2020: Shenandoah Park Entrance Fee – Single Vehicle – $30.00 This fee covers unlimited entry for one vehicle and passengers for seven consecutive days, beginning on the day of purchase. Vehicles must be private, noncommercial, and with a seating capacity of 15 or less. 2020 Fee-Free Days January 2: MLK Jr. Day April 18: Nat'l Park Wk/Nat'l Jr Ranger Day June 20: Park Neighbor Day (Shenandoah National Park only) August 25: NPS Anniversary September 26: National Public Lands Day November 11: Veterans Day
Image - Stony Man
Stony Man
Mellanie:Use AllTrails app and check out Stony Man via Appalachian Trail. It's an Easy rated hike for those with children. View is tremendous.

Rainy Day Destinations

Mostly indoors because weather in the mountains isn't always sunny

Image - Luray Caverns
Luray Caverns
Mellanie:Luray Caverns are really the best caverns to visit in the beautiful state of Virginia and the largest caverns on the East coast. Temperatures in the caverns are typically in the lower 50s all year long so bring a jacket and wear pants. They also have their own hedge labyrinth and elevated ropes course for those age 5 and up. However, don't forget to bring your hand sanitizer as you will be touching things everyone else has touched at least a dozen times or more.
Image - Luray Zoo A Rescue Zoo
Luray Zoo A Rescue Zoo
Mellanie:Great place to visit while in Luray! The owner is a local of Alexandria, Virginia and he collects and cares for animals that need rescued. Beautiful animals (male peacock, bobcat, owls, eagle) and dangerous wildlife (female tiger, full-grown alligators, many venomous snakes) are cared for here at the Luray Rescue Zoo! My twin grandchildren (age 5) LOVE IT!
Image - Escape 211 - Team Building Escape Room Attraction
Escape 211 - Team Building Escape Room Attraction
Mellanie:Escape 211 is a great team-building experience for family or friends located in the Food Lion Shopping Center in Luray. The owners are friendly and I just cannot resist the mystery and perplexity of it all. Plus they sometimes stay open into the later hours which is a big win for me since the town basically shuts down at 6 pm.
Image - Cooter's Luray
Cooter's Luray
Mellanie:Great restaurant and museum! Only open for lunch, but they have free concerts every Saturday from 1-3 pm! It is only 2.5 miles down the road from the cabin, so why not stop in and check it out?
Image - Warehouse Art Gallery
Warehouse Art Gallery
Mellanie:Beautiful local art gallery

Outdoor Adventures

There is more to do in Luray than just hiking. Check out these outdoor treasures!

Image - Fort Valley Ranch
Fort Valley Ranch
Mellanie:Guided horseback tours on sure-footed horses through mountain terrain of the George Washington National Forest. Great for families or a romantic trail ride in the Appalachian mountains.
Image - The Hawksbill Greenway Foundation
The Hawksbill Greenway Foundation
Mellanie:Beautiful park and it's never crowded
Image - The Rope Adventure Park at Luray Caverns
The Rope Adventure Park at Luray Caverns
Mellanie:I have not been to the Ropes Course, but it looks very exciting for adventurers of all ages! Buy tickets online in advance to be sure they have time to squeeze you in. My son would have loved this!
Image - Dinosaur Land
Dinosaur Land
Mellanie:I haven't been here yet, but planning a trip with the twins next month. Basically, it's a dino-themed park. Unfortunately, it's about an hour drive North from the cabin, but it's only a 20-minute drive North from Front Royal. If you're traveling from the DC area it's a quick detour off the regular route to A Cozy Bear Cottage.
Image - Bear Mountain Ziplines
Bear Mountain Ziplines
Mellanie:A wonderful adventure for the young and young at heart. Visit their site to check out pricing, safety requirements, and appointment availability.


Wineries, Distilleries, etc.

Image - Castle Vineyards
Castle Vineyards
Mellanie:The people here are very nice and willing to tell you all about the area. Drink a glass or buy a tasting for a fair price while enjoying the beautiful panoramic view of the mountains. The front porch is so stinkin' adorable I can hardly stand it and the wooden pavilion is so lovely with the bench swing and many other seats underneath it. Shoot, keep passing me the wine and I might never leave. Unfortunately, you will have to bring your own snacks if you have any dietary issues.
Image - Hawksbill Brewing Company
Hawksbill Brewing Company
Mellanie:This place is just fantastic! Nice to stop in and try a glass of premium beer. There are picnic tables outside for those who like the great outdoors or those with furry friends that cannot behave even though they try so very hard.
Image - Fox Meadow Winery LLC
Fox Meadow Winery LLC
Mellanie:On the way out to Luray, stop in Linden and you won't regret it! Located off Interstate 66 at exit 13. At the Exxon, turn Left (towards the winery) instead of Right (towards the cabin). Great award-winning wines and beautiful scenery! Never had a visit when they were too busy or over-crowded. I really love the spot where they are located! Absolutely breath-taking! I often take my mother or sisters here when they are in town.
Image - Chester Gap Cellars
Chester Gap Cellars
Mellanie:Also great on the way out to A Cozy Bear Cottage! Located in Front Royal right off Interstate 66.
Image - Wisteria Farm and Vineyard
Wisteria Farm and Vineyard
Mellanie:We absolutely love this place. Located in Stanley, it's just a short 20 minute drive away. The porches are just so cute with wisteria vines and rustic decor... we even had a chicken come greet us while we were enjoying our wine. You can walk through the vineyard and greet the farm animals, even bring your own picnic if you want.
Image - Third Hill Winery
Third Hill Winery
Mellanie:Great wine, need I say more?
Image - Desert Rose Ranch & Winery
Desert Rose Ranch & Winery
Mellanie:Great winery, but it's pretty far from the cabin. But definitely hit this place if you go out to Sperryville; it's located in Hume, VA.

Shopping & Browsing...

A collection of the places we like to window shop when we have a little extra time

Image - Massanutten Country Corner
Massanutten Country Corner
Mellanie:My husband and I love this place! They always have the freshest local produce and eggs. They also carry seasonal items like pumpkins or flowers. And they now have several little goats and two piglets in the back yard... adorable!
Image - Food Lion
Food Lion
Image - Endless Deals
Endless Deals
Image - Hunt and Peck Thrift Store
Hunt and Peck Thrift Store
Mellanie:You can find some great buys at this second-hand store (no clothes). Strictly home goods, furniture, decor, and collectibles. Stained glass windows, art, tools, furniture... Stop in and see if they have that special something you have been looking for.

Rollin on a River

Recommendations for Local River Outfitters for Fun on the Shenandoah River

Image - Shenandoah River Outfitters
Shenandoah River Outfitters
Mellanie:Best place for renting canoes, kayaks, tubes, and rafts. Also great for planning your river day-trip for the family or your group of friends.
Image - Shenandoah River Adventures L.L.C.
Shenandoah River Adventures L.L.C.
Mellanie:Shen River Adventures is a little further away and they don't have as many options as Shen River Outfitters, but they are still a good, quality company and offer tubing trips every hour until 3 pm.
Image - Front Royal Outdoors
Front Royal Outdoors
Mellanie:Day trips


Golf on the rolling greens in Luray

Wonderguide map

  1. West Main Market
  2. Ciro's Pizza
  3. Brookside Restaurant
  4. Moonshadows Restaurant
  5. Gathering Grounds Patisserie & Cafe
  6. Triple Crown BBQ
  7. Gennaro's Italian Restaurant
  8. The Speakeasy Bar & Restaurant
  9. Kennedy Peak Trailhead
  10. Gap Creek Trailhead
  11. Strickler Knob Vista
  12. Massanutten Storybook Trail Overlook
  13. Thornton Gap Entrance Station
  14. Hazel Mountain Overlook
  15. Dark Hollow Falls
  16. Stony Man
  17. South River Falls
  18. Old Rag Mountain
  19. Thornton Hollow Overlook
  20. Jewell Hollow Overlook
  21. Luray Caverns
  22. Luray Zoo A Rescue Zoo
  23. Escape 211 - Team Building Escape Room Attraction
  24. Cooter's Luray
  25. Warehouse Art Gallery
  26. Fort Valley Ranch
  27. The Hawksbill Greenway Foundation
  28. Jordan Hollow Stables
  29. The Rope Adventure Park at Luray Caverns
  30. Dinosaur Land
  31. Virginia Canopy Tours
  32. Hawksbill Recreation Park
  33. Bear Mountain Ziplines
  34. Castle Vineyards
  35. Hawksbill Brewing Company
  36. Fox Meadow Winery LLC
  37. Chester Gap Cellars
  38. Wisteria Farm and Vineyard
  39. Shenandoah Vineyards
  40. Cave Ridge Vineyard
  41. Third Hill Winery
  42. Wolf Gap Vineyard and Winery
  43. Desert Rose Ranch & Winery
  44. Massanutten Country Corner
  45. Food Lion
  46. Page Co-Op Farm Bureau Inc
  47. Endless Deals
  48. Hunt and Peck Thrift Store
  49. Shenandoah River Outfitters
  50. Shenandoah River Adventures L.L.C.
  51. Front Royal Outdoors
  52. Caverns Country Club Resort
  53. Shenvalee Golf Resort
  54. Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
  55. Schoolhouse Nine Golf Course

Like these tips?
High Five Mellanie