BBOnline Member SINCE 1997

Steeles Tavern Manor and Alpine Hideaway Cottages

8400 North Lee Hwy, Steeles Tavern, Virginia 24476
Innkeeper(s): Melissa & Ray Alexander

Natural Bridge Virginia Summer Live Music Series 18 Jun 2016, 12:35 pm

Photo credit: Ic3yme at the English language Wikipedia

This National Historic Landmark is included in several lists of “Seven Wonders of the World.” Natural Bridge, formed when a cavern collapsed, has been traversed by Civil War troops and was surveyed by a young George Washington. Today, US Route 11 uses the bridge to cross the gorge formed by Cedar Creek. Native American Monacan tribal members consider the bridge a sacred site and had camps near this historic wonder.

Photo Credit:

On Saturday evenings in the summer, Natural Bridge, located in southern end of the Shenandoah Valley, comes alive with light, drama, and music. Each evening at dusk from mid-March through the end of October, the Illumination of the Bridge and “The Drama of Creation” are performed. On Saturdays, after the drama and light show is completed, make your way back to the Rockbridge Center for the Natural Bridge Live Music Series. The performances feature some of the best bands from miles around.

On June 25th, 2016, My Rag Top will be performing. This acoustic duo from Roanoke, VA plays classic and folk rock, new country, and American standards for your listen and dancing pleasure.

Moving into July, Trio Festivo will play on July 2nd. The brass & keyboard trio plays modern popular music and favorites. They play concerts throughout the year and hail from Lexington, VA. On July 9, 2016 the five gentlemen who make up Rocky Road Band from Greenville, VA will entertain everyone at Rockbridge. CS2 will be performing on July 16th and Sara McDonald Band will be on stage on July 23rd. July ends with Plank Road Express – a Bluegrass & Rockgrass group from Lexington, VA performing on July 30, 2016. Similar bands will be featured for the live music series on through September. Check the website for the performance on a particular date.

Photo credit:

Any of these live music events costs only $5 per show. You can also purchase combination tickets for the evening “Drama of Creation” and the music show for just $14. That’s a great price for a whole evening’s entertainment! Natural Bridge is just a 30-minute drive from Steeles Tavern so make your plans now to visit the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

A Walk Through 100 Years of History at Steeles Tavern Manor Bed & Breakfast 18 Jun 2016, 12:27 pm

Recently, M. Shannon Hernandez, travel writer and author, wrote a feature article about the history of our inn. This year we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Steeles Tavern Manor Bed &Breakfast. This piece has been reposted with the writer’s permission.

1916 Manor House

There’s just something charming about visiting a historic building and being able to chat with the current owners who know the history of the place. On a recent trip to Steeles Tavern Manor Bed & Breakfast in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I thought of a thousand questions I wanted to ask the innkeepers as I meandered along the path, past the spring-fed pond and babbling creek.

Walter and Irene Searson

We started first by chatting about the the initial owners of the home, Walter and Irene Searson. The Seasons built the Manor House in 1916. Walter and Irene originally opened their home to accommodate tourists with “good home cooking and modern facilities.” They welcomed guests at the Manor House until the 1940s, when ownership was then turned over to George and Pearl Butler.

The Butler family consisted of nine children–six girls and three boys. As I looked around the property, I imagined the fun these children must have had on the 100 acres of land. I envisioned children darting from behind trees during games of hide-and-seek, and endless summer nights filled with catching fireflies and stargazing. Once the boys left home for military service, the Butlers ran the home as a Tourist Home until the late 1950s.

When George and Pearl Butler passed away in the mid-80s, one of their sons, Frank, purchased the property in 1986. He resided there with his own family, until he sold the place in 1994 to Bill and Eileen Hoernlien. This is when the property was officially named Steeles Tavern Bed and Breakfast.

The name comes from David Steele, who originally settled in the area in 1718. The town he founded, Steeles Tavern, was actually named Midway in its infancy, because it was midway between Baltimore, Maryland and Knoxville, Tennessee, as well as midway between Staunton, Virginia and Lexington, Virginia. The town was an important stagecoach stop for those passing through the area.

The Hoernliens envisioned creating a romantic getaway for couples to enjoy, so they focused first and foremost on privacy. The rooms had ample space between them, and the walls were heavily insulated to help with soundproofing. Other features included private bathrooms within each room and two-person whirlpool tubs in some of the rooms.

Ray and Melissa Alexander are the fifth owners of the property. In December of 2011, the couple left their corporate banking jobs and purchased the property. The Bed & Breakfast, as well as the newest addition of the Alpine Hideaway Cottages, are situated in Virginia Wine Country at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Ray and Melissa are fortunate that they get to share the elegance and hospitality which began in the original house nearly 100 years ago.

Upon arrival, guests can expect freshly baked chocolate chip cookies as a welcome gift in their rooms. Guests will also be adorned with the best quality robes, soaps, sheets, and towels, ensuring a luxurious and comfortable stay. Each evening the innkeepers host a Social Hour, complete with local wines, microbrews, and cheeses. This gives the guests an opportunity to meet one another, and Ray and Melissa take this time to make recommendations for local attractions and restaurants, based on individual preferences.

Guests who long for a romantic, secluded, getaway are in store for a real treat! Alpine Hideaway Cottages are tucked away on the property and provide a private paradise. Each cottage is adorned with a cathedral ceiling, pine walls, a full kitchen, a gas fireplace, a private deck and hot tub, and a king-sized bed. It’s quite possible that guests won’t see another person during their entire stay, as Ray and Melissa intentionally placed only three cottages on 50 acres. Instead, guests may be charmed by the sounds of cows mooing in the open pasture, deer jumping in the distance, and wild turkeys strutting through the fields.

When dawn breaks, guests can expect a delicious breakfast sourced from local ingredients. Farm-fresh eggs are from Redbud Farms and bacon and sausage is purchased from Buffalo Creek Farms. All flour products come from Wades Mill and baked goods, made with chestnut flour, arrive from Pettijohn’s Orchard. The meal that starts the day will be both memorable and tasty–and guests will be supporting local businesses with each and every bite.

Steeles Tavern Manor Bed & Breakfast and Alpine Hideaway Cottages has received one of the highest levels of recognition in the Bed & Breakfast industry. For the past 3 years, this property has been awarded Diamond status through and is a member of Select Registry. To become a member of the prestigious Select Registry, the property passed an unannounced, rigorous, 200-point quality assurance inspection. Select Registry properties are known to provide travelers with not only exceptional quality and service, but also with an unforgettable experience.

Ray and Melissa Alexander have preserved the vision of the home and property as it was intended by the many owners who came before them. The couple continues to welcome travelers with comfortable accommodations, delicious morning meals, warm hospitality, and an experience to remember for a lifetime.


Maury River Fiddlers’ Convention June 16-18, 2016 28 May 2016, 6:03 pm

Glen Maury Park in Buena Vista, VA will be THE place to be June 16-18, 2016 if you love Bluegrass and Old-time music. The 23rd Annual Maury River Fiddlers’ Convention will be in tune and on time at a cost of only $5 per day to enter the park. It’s even better if you play a traditional acoustic or string instrument because the competition is FREE and jammin’ will be happening almost anytime.

The line-up of musical categories and instruments is amazing. The competitors will playing instruments such as autoharp, dulcimer, bass, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and dobro. The types of music will include Bluegrass, old-time band, folk songs, and flatfoot dance music. Imagine all the foot-stomping and toe-tapping that will be happening during this three day event!

There will be special performances by some top-name entertainers too. On Friday, Old-time bands The Grassifieds and The Witcher Creek Band will play. You can see Deer Creek Boys and Mark Templeton and Pocket Change will play some great Bluegrass on Saturday.

The event starts on Thursday evening at 6:00 pm with and open mic night. On Friday, June 17, 2016, The official opening is at 1:00 pm and by 1:15 PM the competition begins with individual contestants. Group competition begins at 7:00 pm with special performers interspersed with the competitions.

On Saturday, June 18, 2016, the competition starts at 11:00 am and continues until 11:00 pm when the prizes are announced and the Awards are given to the winners.

Come to the Shenandoah Valley for the 23rd Annual Maury River Fiddlers’ Convention and enjoy a foot-stomping, toe-tapping good time!

Brownsburg VA tells its story at the community museum 20 May 2016, 2:38 pm

The village of Brownsburg, VA is a short, 15-minute drive from Steeles Tavern but in some ways, it seems like light years away. Brownsburg was established in 1793 and the structures and size of the town have changed very little since late 19th century. The town prides itself on its historic heritage and authenticity. The museum is a real gem and has been called “first class” by the Lexington News-Gazette.

The town’s position on the main stagecoach route between Lexington and Staunton, caused the village to be an important center for commerce, trade, and even education. The village boasted nearly twenty homes, blacksmiths, three general stores, two mills, tailors, a saddle maker, and churches The town continued to grow and more businesses made their home there. By the mid-1800’s, there were cabinet makers, wheelwrights, a tanyard, carpenter, and a hatter added to the list of businesses in the village. There were also two Taverns in the village – Lavelle’s Tavern and Nicholas Spring’s Tavern – so weary travelers had accommodations on their long trips. It was quite the hub-bub of activity!

One of the oldest homes in the area was a log and stone structure built by Samuel Wilson in 1790. It remained in the Wilson family until sometime in the 1930’s. The house was purchased by the current owner in 1979 for 250 bales of hay! The home still has the original doors and hardware.

Brownsburg saw action in the Civil War too. The Shenandoah Valley was a supply route for General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, so Ulysses Grant ordered that the route be blocked. Union troops camped at Brownsburg on their way to Lexington.

In 1880, the “Iron Horse” track was built through the Shenandoah Valley and it bypassed Brownsburg. When US 11 and I-81 were built, they two passed by, rather than through the town. As a result, the village remains untouched by truck stops and fast food restaurants. But what remains is a quaint town with an awesome museum!

The Brownsburg Community Museum (BCM) may be small but it is packed with many irreplaceable articles that have been entrusted to the BCA. The museum plans to preserve, catalogue, and display historically significant items so that future generations can learn of the importance of this small village.

The museum has a permanent collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century regional memorabilia, and works on special exhibits from time to time.

The latest special exhibit, “Grain Into Gold”, highlights the importance and prosperity that grain farming, mills, and distilleries brought to Brownsburg. One of the street names in the village is “Still Alley”, so you can understand that stills played a role in the town’s life. Hays Creek was the water source that powered the mills for the area.

Visit the historic town of Brownsburg and the museum to get an indepth glimpse at life in the Shenandoah Valley in the 18th and 19th centuries. The museum is open every Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and on Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm from April through November. Admission is free (donations are appreciated!).



Crabtree Falls Hike near the Blue Ridge Parkway VA 28 Apr 2016, 5:57 pm

One “must do” hike in Virginia is the Crabtree Falls Trail located just a few miles off of the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 27) in the George Washington National Forest. The trail follows Crabtree Creek and provides beautiful views of the tallest (series of) waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.

There are three distinct sections of the trail and five major, beautiful cascades of falls. The overlook for the first cascade is near the bottom parking area and is an easy hike in to see the falls. This is a great stop to make when driving the Parkway and you need to stretch your legs a bit.

If you want to hike farther up the trail, you will encounter four other overlooks along the 2-mile trail to vistas of Tye River Valley. The trail climbs quickly and uses steps, wooden walkways, railings, and switchbacks to climb the steep terrain. “Be careful” is an understatement because the rocks on parts of the trail are coated with a transparent algae that makes them as slick as grease! Caution is not only advised, but encouraged on this trail!

The trail is mostly well-graded and maintained with a few rocky sections. It follows fairly closely to the Crabtree Creek but sometimes the switchbacks may lead slightly away form the water. Even when that happens, you can hear the water while you’re hiking through the woods.

At about the 2-mile mark, you will reach the top of the trail and will find the Tye River Overlook. It’s such a vertical drop that you can’t see the falls that you’ve just walked along side of! Stay within the stone walls of the overlook platform for your own safety. If you wish to continue on the trail, you will reach Crabtree Meadows which is a short hike from the Appalachian Trail.

Hiking Innkeepers!

This is a beautiful hike in all seasons and is adaptable to several levels of hiking ability. Start your day from the B&B with a hearty breakfast and return later in the day for a relaxing, rejuvenating rest.

Homemade granola recipe from Steeles Tavern Manor 18 Apr 2016, 6:08 am

Breakfast is delivered to the cabins at Steeles Tavern Manor and Alpine Hideaway Cabins. Your breakfast arrives complete with fruit and this wonderful granola – which also used in parfaits and fruit dishes in the main B&B. All the ingredients are purchased locally from The Cheese Shop in Stuarts Draft, VA. 

The Cheese Shop offers bulk foods – that’s important when you’re making lots of homemade granola for guests or if you have a large family. Spices can be found at almost half the price of those in super markets. Gluten free products, old-fashioned candies, hard-to-find baking products, and jams & jellies are all on the shelves of the store and most can be purchased online. The Cheese and deli section of the store offer Amish-made Heini’s Swiss cheese and New Holland (PA) beef jerky. Heini’s and New Holland Meats, Inc are two companies that are centered in Amish regions of their respective states and value traditional methods of production while incorporating the latest technology for improvements of the foods delivered to The Cheese Shop. The variety at the store is just amazing!

Here is the recipe for Steeles Tavern Manor B&B’s homemade granola. All the ingredients are purchased at The Cheese Shop. Please note that Melissa makes A LOT at one time because the guests love it. You may want to cut the recipe for your home use.

Ingredients from The Cheese Shop


In a large stainless bowl, mix:

  • 5 lb bag oatmeal
  • 1 ½ cups toasted wheat germ
  • 2 cups (.6 lb) sunflower seeds
  • 2 cups (.6 lb) pumpkin seeds
  • 2 cups sliced almonds
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup cinnamon
  • 1 heaping cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup honey (heated a little so easier to stir)
    • 1 cup canola oil

Mix together. Spray 4 large cookie sheet or jelly roll sheets with PAM. Divide mixture into fours and spread on baking sheets. Bake each one 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (should be brown on top). Take 2 pans at a time and pour granola back into aluminum bowl. Mix granola and then place back in baking sheets – no need to spray pans again.   (Mixing allows for even baking).

Mixing the Granola

1 large (14 oz) shredded coconut

Separate coconut into 4 parts. Take each part and sprinkle over baked granola. Bake until lightly brown, maybe another 10 minutes.

Place pan contents back into bowl and stir. Continue to add each pan of baked granola to the bowl and stir. Continue to stir every so often until cool.

Store cooled granola in gallon size ziplock bags – dividing the granola into 3 bags – store in the refrigerator.

You can add Cranraisins when serving the granola.

Enjoy this healthy recipe in parfaits, on ice cream, or as your morning cereal!


Bacchus supervises the process.

New Plein Air Festival partners with Staunton Garden Week 31 Mar 2016, 8:16 am

Photo Credit: Susie Lendermon

A new celebration of art will compliment Staunton Virginia’s Historic Garden Week. Twenty-three plein air painters from five states will be in Staunton to paint ”in the open air” April 21-23, 2016.

Beverly Street Studio School (BSSS) is sponsoring the first Plein Air art Festival where artists will paint downtown Staunton, the gardens of Staunton homes open during Garden Week, Rolling Hills Farm, and Polyface Farms.

April 22nd begins with a “Paint Staunton Quick Draw art competition”. This event is intended to get the community involved in the timed painting contest. Professional and amateur artists are invited to compete. Gena Adams, a local artist, is reaching out to local schools to get the youngest artists involved in this event. The competitors will have three hours to work on their painting. Then the piece will be brought to Sunspots Pavilion to be judged. Three cash prizes will be awarded in each category.

Later on Friday, April 22, 2016, at BSSS, Lauren Andreach will give an artist demonstration. This event is limited to 25 people so register soon.

On Saturday, April 23rd, the plein air painters will go into the Historic Gardens included on the garden tour. The works they produce will then be on display at BSSS later that evening. The display titled, “Fresh Paint”, will open with a private preview at 5:00pm then opens to the general public at 5:30pm with a reception running until 7:30pm.

More arts and culture will be featured in Staunton that weekend including the “Hot Glass Festival”, Bridge Day, the Historic Garden Tour, and the Shakespeare Block Party.

Plan your visit to the Shenandoah Valley for this special weekend in Staunton, VA.


Bike the Shenandoah Valley in Wheels for Meals 14 Mar 2016, 4:51 am

Spring in the Shenandoah Valley means lots of outdoor activity. Get out your bike, check it over, put on your helmet, and let’s go biking!

On Saturday, March 26, 2016, the “Wheels for Meals – Ride & Dine” event will benefit Meals on Wheels, and Senior Programming in the Rockbridge Community. This is a new event and promises to be great fun and as challenging as you wish.

There are three bike routes planned. The family-fun route is just 7.5 and is located mostly within the town of Buena Vista.

The second and more challenging route is 28.1 miles and runs north for about 14 miles then turns south and follows along a scenic stream, The Chalk Mine Run and then the Maury River. This route also travels just next to the George Washington National Forest, so you know it will be a beautiful ride!

The third route – for the really serious biker – is 46.6 miles. This route climbs from an elevation of 865 ft. to over 3200 ft.! About 20 miles of the route is on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It just doesn’t get any better than that! The route returns by way of South River Road – along the picturesque stream and the National Forest.

All routes start from Maury River Senior Center in Buena Vista, VA and all routes have rest areas planned for the participants.

After the ride, Southern Inn Restaurant and Urban Farm Girl Antiques will offer a unique dining experience. Devils Backbone Brewing and Rockbridge Vineyard will offer adult beverages. There will also be an auction of hand-made quilts produced by Mrs. C’s Quilting Club. Music by Late Blooming Onions (a favorite local band) will continue the festivities into the evening.

The ride packet pickup begins at noon with the longest riders starting out at 1:00pm, followed by the 30 milers at 2:30 and the family riders beginning at 3:30pm.

Dinner will be served at 5:30pm, with a “snack-e-tizer” station at 4:30pm. Dressing rooms and a shower facility will be available for bikers (bring your own towel).

Registration is open to Ride and Dine or just Ride or just Dine. Cost is $50 for a rider and $50 for the dining experience. Sign-up for both and help supply twice as many meals to seniors. This ride is a great way to start the spring biking season while supporting a worthy cause! Register now!

Virginia Military Institute Full Dress Cadet Parade 27 Feb 2016, 4:41 pm

You know that spring is on its way when the cadets at VMI renew the tradition of the Full Dress Cadet Parade on the parade grounds. Most Fridays in February and April, you can see them strut their stuff on post! Witness the drama and precision of the cadets marching in formation and to music of the VMI Regimental Band and Pipe Band.

VMI is the oldest state-supported military college in the nation. The military academy was created on the site of the Lexington arsenal in 1836. The cadets at the school may be called into action by the governor of Virginia. During the Civil War, the cadets were called to action 14 times and they still carry on a tradition of honoring their cadet brothers who fell at the Battle of New Market in 1864.

Living conditions at VMI are more austere than at the other service academies. All cadets are enrolled in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and can accept commissions in any of the US Armed services. They also may pursue civilian careers upon graduation. The school has high academic standards and includes studies in engineering, liberal arts, humanities and the sciences.

Some notable VMI alumni include George Marshall, George Patton, Frank McCarthy, Robert Q. Marston, Bobby Thomason, Jonathan Myrick Daniels, and Fred Willard. All of these distinguished alumni marched in the Full Dress Cadet Parade when they were VMI students.

Visit VMI the next time you stay at our B&B. The VMI Museum is located in Jackson Memorial Hall (named for “Stonewall” Jackson – once a professor at VMI). The Virginia Museum of the Civil War is the place to begin an exploration of the New Market battlefield where you can earn how cadets from VMI made a difference in battle. In downtown Lexington, visit the Stonewall Jackson House where the emphasis is on his influence as a church leader, professor, businessman, husband, and community leader prior to the civil war. Don’t miss the Full Dress Cadet Parade most Friday afternoons starting at 4:35PM.

Virginia Maple Festival March 12-13 & 19-20, 2016 15 Feb 2016, 3:20 pm

Virginia is for lovers and lovers enjoy the sweet maple syrup produced in Highland County, VA! During the 58th Annual Highland Maple Festival, you can taste the sweetness of maple products, watch the process involved in making maple syrup, and be entertained too.

During the second and third weekends in March 2016, seven different “maple sugar camps” will open their doors to explain and demonstrate how maple syrup is made. The participating producers are Eagle Sugar Camp, Laurel Fork Sap Suckers, Puffenbarger’s Sugar Orchard, Rexrode’s Sugar Orchard, Southernmost Maple Products, Sugar Tree Country Store and Sugar House, and Duff’s Sugar House.

Arriving from the Staunton area via US Rt. 250, the first stop would be Sugar Tree Country Store. While antique maple producing tools are on display, this operation uses a modern reverse osmosis concentrator and oil-fired evaporator. What a great contrast of the old and new operation! Foods and country store merchandise are available at the store to enjoy while enjoying the guided tour of the maple syrup production.

Turning north on Rt. 654, you will find Eagle Sugar Camp in the little village of Doe Hill. The Eagle family has been producing syrup for more than 200 years and still use open pan wood-fired evaporators. Local honey, buckwheat, cornmeal, and baked goods will be available along with locally made arts and crafts.

Heading west, you will find Puffenbarger’s and Rexrode’s Sugar Orchards. Puffenbarger’s have rebuilt their operation after a devastating fire in 2008. They employ miles of plastic tubing in the sugar water collection process. Rexrode’s Sugar Orchard feature a stand of maple trees that are over 200 years old and still producing lots of the sweet stuff! Get some real VA country ham, chili dogs, and BBQ sandwiches to give you more energy to continue the maple tour.

Southwest and up the hill, along Rt. 250, Laurel Fork Sap Suckers await you arrival. This is the highest point of any of the sugar camps in the county. They offer a ¾ mile long loop trail through the woods that includes activities for the kids. Tree taping demonstrations and guided tours are available each Saturday of the festival.

Travel south on Rt. 600 to find Duff’s Sugar House. Duff’s is a small family operation where the trees are still “opened” by hand and the sugar water is collected in buckets. This operation shows the old ways of processing maple sugar that has continued for hundreds of years.

Southernmost Maple Products funnels sugar water into the only “piggy-back” evaporator to be found in the southern states. You can see a different way of syrup production using this method of heating and evaporation. Maple pit-cooked BBQ, pork skins, and maple doughnuts can be found in the rustic country store on site.

In addition to the maple production demos, you can find a unique gift or craft item from the festival Arts & Craft Show that runs from 8:30 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and 8:30 am to 4 m on Sundays during the event. Over 150 artisans and crafters will be showing and selling their creations at seven different venues around the town of Monterey.

This part of Virginia is home to some great Bluegrass music and it will be one of the featured entertainment offerings during the festival. Don’t miss “Southern Rail Express” for some toe tapping music. Also, “Mountain Heritage Cloggers” and “Little Switzerland Cloggers” will be providing some great down-home country dance entertainment.   There is an admission fee of just $3 for parking, a tour map, entrance to the Arts & Craft Show, and to enjoy the entertainment.

Yes Virginia, there is real maple syrup made in the highlands of the Commonwealth! Come for the festival and take some VA natural sweetness home with you.