Luray, Virginia

Baltimore Sun reporter

Go here: Luray, in the Shenandoah Valley, offers beautiful scenery above and below the ground. It is home to the Luray Caverns, where you can see stalagmite and stalactite formations that resemble a fish market or fried eggs. Other notable formations include the eerie Pluto's Ghost and the world's only stalacpipe organ. Tickets are $10-$21 and include admission to a historic car museum.

Above ground, Luray is the gateway to the Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. Straddling the Blue Ridge Mountains, the park encompasses 197,389 acres. Camping, hiking and horseback riding are offered in the park as well as lodging and dining. Nearby, the South Fork of the Shenandoah River flows at the base of the Massanutten Mountain Range. Enjoy canoeing, tubing, floating, fishing, swimming and just relaxing on the river banks of the marvelous waterway.

Stay here: The Mimslyn Inn, 401 W. Main St., has been the place to stay in Luray for nearly 80 years. The inn, which recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation, features 45 rooms and suites, two restaurants, a day spa and a pool. Rates start at about $175. 800-296-5105.

Eat here: A short drive out of town is the Farmhouse Restaurant at Jordan Hollow Inn, 326 Hawksbill Park Road, Stanley, 888-418-7000. Housed in a 200-year-old Colonial house, the restaurant offers fine dining in a casual setting. Entrees start at about $24 and include fresh quail, wild Atlantic salmon and beef tenderloin.

Don't miss this: The Luray Zoo, 1087 U.S. Highway 211 West, 540-743-4113. This rescue zoo is a home for unwanted, abused and confiscated exotic animals. Its residents include king cobras, rattlesnakes, alligators, deer, goats and monkeys. Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for kids 3 to 12.

Get there: Luray is about 125 miles from Baltimore at the intersection of U.S. Routes 340 and 211. Take Interstate 70 west to Frederick, then follow U.S. 340 south.

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