The Shenandoah Valley is a section of Virginia that is filled with history, the good old Blue Ridge Mountains, and a lot of opportunity for adventure. Harrisonburg, Virginia is a city that lies between George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and Shenandoah National Park. The city has several colleges and universities within the area, the largest being James Madison University.
Harrisonburg is filled with a sense of constant opportunity for adventure, art, and exploration. We’ve done our best to compile a list of what you should do when you choose to visit this awesome location.
Harrisonburg Day One
Start your trip with a cozy cottage rental or a room at the By the Side of the Road Inn. This bed and breakfast is just on the outskirts of downtown Harrisonburg and is near both Shenandoah National Park and JMU. The Inn offers breakfast each day and also has inclusive packages available, such as a getaway for beer lovers or a weekend of fly fishing.
For those tired of sunlight and ready to try out crawling underground, check out Wild Guyde Adventures, based in Harrisonburg. The guides here are prepared to take you and your friends or family into the depths of a wild cave just 20 minutes outside the city. Tours can be personally crafted to fit the needs of all on the trip, with a beginner caving option and intermediate caving option. Be prepared to learn about the geological history of the area and get muddy!
Pump It Up
Keep the stoke alive and check out the Hillandale Park pump track and mountain biking trails. The Rocktown Trails system was created with the help of local volunteers and the support of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. There are 13 trails and one pump track within the park with options for all skill levels. The two entrances to the park are at the Hillandale Park Kiosk and the South Avenue Kiosk, helmets are required for all riders under the age of 14, and safety conditions and hazards will change according to the weather. Group riding is a big hit here, so be sure to keep up with the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition to find local shredders.
Grab some dinner over at Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint to fill you up. The restaurant began with an idea between two best friends. The “what if” became a reality of owning their own burger joint and now has expanded with locations in Virginia, Tennessee, and Alabama. With over 100 craft beers offered and countless burger combinations, this will be a hearty meal to cap off your day of adventure.
Rockin’ and Rollin’
Interested in some nightlife? The Clementine Café frequently hosts events filled with live music, art, films, and a sense of community. The eclectic variety draws in crowds of locals, students, and visitors alike. Check out upcoming events here to ensure you don’t miss out on the fun during your visit.
Fresh and local food is always the best way to go, so check out the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market to get your goodies. The summer market (April – Thanksgiving) operates every Tuesday and Saturday from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. and the winter market (December – March) operates Saturdays only from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The market began in the 1950’s and is now thriving with food and other sundry items offered from a variety of vendors.
Harrisonburg Day Two
Take a short drive out to the Natural Chimneys Campground for a gorgeous site. Just 30 minutes outside the city, this campground is shadowed by several 120-foot tall rock structures, carved out by the ocean that receded centuries ago. There are 145 campsites on the campground, some primitive and others equipped with water and electrical hook-ups.
Take Me to the River
For some quality time on a section of the Shenandoah River, head over to the Massanutten Resort. The resort offers canoeing, kayaking, rafting, and tubing options primarily on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The river ends with some class II action, providing some waves to cap off the trip.
The Mountaintop Ranch offers beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as you ride horseback along trails. The area is almost completely surrounded by Shenandoah National Park and you’ll be guided by the locals. Several different tour options are offered, including a ride during the sunset, providing some of the most spectacular views of the mountains.Gone Fishing
If you need a little more river time, check out Mossy Creek Fly Fishing to book a trip. Guides will instruct clients the proper technique for fly fishing while showing off the beauty of the area. Classes and float trips are available upon reservation, and access to the company’s 9 sections of trout water will allow privacy and fun for everyone on the trip.
Seek Out the Food Truck
Grab food at the #1 “restaurant” in Harrisonburg, according to local beta. Grilled Cheese Mania is the food truck everyone is raving about. Known as “The Grilled Cheese Lady” by Harrisonburg locals, Kathleen Mania-Casey mixes in southern hospitality, witty banter, and, of course, really great grilled cheese to drive her food truck to success. Every day there is a different special that accompanies the standard menu. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available as well. The truck is open Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and is located at 1476 So. Main Street in Harrisonburg.
EDITOR’S UPDATE: In August 2017 Grilled Cheese Mania moved out of the truck on South High and into their new home at 1476 South Main Street, Harrisonburg. They now offer indoor seating, along with their outdoor patio!
If your travels bring you to Harrisonburg in the winter, be sure to hit the slopes at either Massanutten Resort or Wintergreen Resort, where skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing are the way to play on a snow day.
In April, the Rocktown Beer & Music Festival is an event you can’t miss. Breweries, music, and food collide in the city for a weekend of 3,000 people celebrating a great community. Tickets often sell out in advance, so start planning now!
This city has much more packed into it then what is listed above. For more information, visit the official site to stay up to date on events, activities, and festivals you won’t want to miss.