STAUNTON, Va. (WVIR) - People are ditching the cities and spending a little time in the rolling hills, as evidenced by a spike in tourism seen in the Shenandoah Valley.

“They're looking to get outdoors, come for the natural beauty that we have here in the valley, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Shenandoah National Park,” says Katie Campbell, the group sales and marketing manager for the city of Staunton. “And then they're looking to go into these small unique communities that don't have restaurant chains or big box stores - that's what we're known for.”

The Virginia Tourism website says that when it comes to tourist spending, the Shenandoah Valley outpaced the commonwealth between 2011 and 2016.

"A lot of it has to do with our location, the central location here in the commonwealth," says Damon Strickland, the general manager at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center. "Many access points, especially from our neighbors up in D.C., Richmond, being at the crossroads of two major interstates at I-81 and I-64."

The Shenandoah Valley Travel Association says travel today is all about meaningful experiences, and millennials and baby boomers are the two groups that most demonstrate this trend.

"I think what travelers are really looking for is not just a place to overnight, but they want that culinary experience, they're looking for craft beer, wineries, so the whole package," says Campbell.

The Shenandoah Valley Travel Association says the region has long been recognized as one of America's great places, and tourism officials say the area offers several experiences you simply cannot find anywhere else. One area in particular that's seeing an increase in tourism is Staunton.

"You know, I think it's wonderful for us, we've got so much agritourism that we can build off of that helps create all these wonderful farm-to-table restaurants," says Strickland.

To catch that tourism momentum, a number of marketing campaigns are going out to spotlight the valley.

"Get out here, enjoy the mountains, breathe in the fresh air, enjoy a fresh farm beer, and dine in our local restaurants," says Strickland.

According to data from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the average travel party spends roughly four nights in the area per trip, and spends $500 while in Virginia.

While Virginia ranks eighth in the nation for domestic travel spending, the Shenandoah Valley is one of the state's top 10 most visited areas with Harrisonburg, Front Royal, and Winchester leading the pack. The Charlottesville area ranked fifth on that list.