WINCHESTER — The Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center will soon be able to let guests experience some of the region’s top attractions without ever leaving the facility at 1400 S. Pleasant Valley Road.

Justin Kerns, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said three Shenandoah University (SU) students recently completed a project that will allow people to have a seat in the Visitors Center, slip on a pair of virtual-reality (VR) goggles and enjoy a 360-degree view of popular tourist attractions including Old Town Winchester, Belle Grove Plantation, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Sherando Park and more. The university even donated the VR goggles needed to become fully immersed in the presentations.

The three students — Sean Lamb, Wesley LaBombard and Zachary Begnaud, under the guidance of SU assistant professor of virtual and augmented reality Mohammad Obeid — created a total of eight VR videos, each about a minute long, so guests at the Visitors Center can get a sneak peek of local destinations before visiting them in person.

“We’re not trying to replace the experience; we’re trying to tease the experience,” Kerns said on Thursday.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau already owns a camera capable of recording 360-degree perspectives, so Kerns said he plans to produce more VR videos over time, possibly as a way to highlight seasonal attractions like Christmas tree farms.

Renee Bayliss, visitor and community relations specialist for the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she had an opportunity to view the eight VR videos produced by the SU students and gave them rave reviews.

“You’re in the bamboo forest, which is really cool,” Bayliss said of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley video that was recorded in its Glen Burnie Gardens on Amherst Street. “The whole thing is completely around you. It’s really amazing.”

Anyone who wants to try out the virtual-reality presentations will have to wait, though. Kerns said Lamb, LaBombard and Begnaud have gone home for summer break and he wants to wait for them to return for SU’s fall semester so they can be part of the display’s official launch in late August or early September.

Bayliss said it will be worth the wait.

“I did not expect it to be so much fun,” she said.

For more information about the Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center, including its hours of operation, go to

— Contact Brian Brehm at

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