The Best Things to Do in Harrisonburg, VA

Schmy Around Downtown 

The charming boutiques, inviting coffee shops, and art galleries located in storied buildings going back to the 18th-century line the red-brick walkways that greet you as soon as you enter downtown Harrisonburg. Explore the bright vitality of the pedestrian-friendly streets that buzz with life. Visit Hugo Kohl’s store to see the artistry of making beautiful jewelry, or stop by the Agora Downtown Market for handcrafted goods. Be sure to check out the neighborhood restaurants Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza for mouthwatering handcrafted pies and Clementine Café for unique cuisine made with fresh ingredients from the farm. Downtown Harrisonburg is a cultural oasis just waiting to be explored, with walls covered with street art and a bustling vibe.

Visit the Museum of Virginia Quilts. 

Inspiring guests to immerse themselves in the rich history of quilting, the Virginia Quilt Museum is housed in a tastefully renovated historic home. A remarkable collection of quilts, some of which date back to the early 19th century, is on display at the museum. Each quilt is a work of superb workmanship and narrative art. Admire the array of patterns, stitches, and motifs that capture the cultural legacy and historical narratives of Virginia. Find out about quilting techniques and the history of this age-old art form by participating in interactive displays. A fascinating journey through the artistry and cultural significance of quilts in American history is offered by this museum, which has changing exhibits and educational events.

Enjoy the Outdoors in Shenandoah National Park

The magnificent Shenandoah National Park, a vast wilderness of verdant woods, flowing waterfalls, and panoramic panoramas along the Skyline Drive, is reachable from Harrisonburg by a picturesque drive. Put on hiking boots and head out on routes such as the well-known Old Rag Mountain climb, which is demanding but worthwhile and provides amazing views from rocky vantage points. The Stony Man Trail is a great option for a more leisurely stroll as it winds through lush vegetation and ends with an overlook that highlights the park’s splendor. Be on the lookout for a variety of animals, including black bears and deer, as you journey through this beautiful natural landscape.

Explore the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum 

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum’s 125 acres of natural beauty attract visitors to James Madison University. Explore themed gardens with a wide variety of plants, including both exotic and native ones. Walk pathways that lead to lovely meadows and ponds, ideal for quiet reflection or birdwatching. Browse the informative displays that zero in on plant conservation and the role different species play in the environment. Spring brings a kaleidoscope of colors, while fall brings a symphony of autumnal hues. The arboretum offers a peaceful retreat for those looking for quiet or an educational opportunity among the beautiful scenes of nature.

Move Your Body at Hillandale Park’s Rocktown Trails

Adventure seekers and outdoor enthusiasts find a haven at Rocktown Trails in Hillandale Park. These meticulously maintained trails offer a playground for hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers of all skill levels. Choose from a network of paths that wind through forests, rocky terrain, and rolling hills, providing exhilarating challenges and scenic vistas at every turn. Beginners can tackle the easier loops, while experienced riders can test their skills on technical sections and thrilling descents. With its diverse landscapes and well-marked trails, Rocktown caters to those seeking an adrenaline rush or a peaceful stroll immersed in nature’s wonders.

Grab a Pint at a Craft Brewery

Harrisonburg’s craft beer scene thrives with distinctive flavors and creative brews. Brothers Craft Brewing, housed in a former soda bottling plant, invites visitors to enjoy small-batch beers like the Hoptimization IPA or the Great Outdoors Gose, all crafted with locally sourced ingredients. At Pale Fire Brewing Co., the industrial-chic taproom offers an ambiance to sample their flagship Red Molly Irish Ale or the complex Salad Days American Saison. Engage with passionate brewers who often share insights into the brewing process, enhancing your tasting experience. Whether enjoying a flight of ales, stouts, or seasonal specials, these breweries embody the spirit of community and craftsmanship in every sip.

Visit the Explore More Discovery Museum 

Families and curious individuals will find an interactive wonderland at the Explore More Discovery Museum. Hands-on exhibits engage visitors in scientific exploration, from tinkering in the maker space to discovering the wonders of nature in the outdoor learning area. Kids can experiment with water dynamics at the Water Gallery or unleash their creativity in the Art Smart Studio. With rotating exhibits focusing on STEM disciplines and engaging workshops, this museum fosters a love for learning through play, catering to inquisitive minds of all ages.

Dine at Local Restaurants 

The food scene in Harrisonburg offers a diverse array of international cuisines. At Cuban Burger, taste delicious treats like the plantain chips and the Cuban-inspired burger, which combine American classics with Cuban tastes. Food.Bar.Food offers a sophisticated dining experience with globally inspired small plates, such as the Korean BBQ pork belly or the Thai coconut curry. Diners are in for something special at Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint, where creative burgers like the Elvis and Greg Brady go hand in hand with an extensive beer list. Each restaurant celebrates the city’s distinct cuisine and fresh flavors.

Take a Winery Tour 

Embark on a delightful journey through Harrisonburg’s vineyards and breweries. Discover CrossKeys Vineyards, where sprawling vineyards set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains offer a picturesque setting for wine tastings. Explore Bluestone Vineyard, a family-owned estate known for its award-winning wines and charming tasting room ambiance. Dive into the intricacies of winemaking, from vine to bottle, while savoring a variety of reds, whites, and rosés.

Cultural Experiences at James Madison University

James Madison University (JMU) serves as a cultural hub, offering a myriad of events, art exhibits, and performances throughout the year. From student showcases to renowned guest speakers, the campus buzzes with intellectual and artistic energy. Attend captivating theatrical productions at the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts or explore thought-provoking exhibitions at the Duke Hall Gallery of Fine Art. With a calendar brimming with cultural events open to the public, JMU enriches the community with its diverse array of artistic expressions and academic engagements.

Attend the Harrisonburg International Festival (if timing aligns)

Celebrate diversity and global cultures at the Harrisonburg International Festival, a vibrant showcase of music, dance, food, and traditions from around the world. Experience the rhythms of international performances, sample delectable dishes from various cuisines, and immerse yourself in cultural displays that highlight the city’s rich tapestry of diversity. Engage in hands-on activities, learn traditional dances, and interact with artisans showcasing crafts from different corners of the globe. The festival fosters a sense of unity and appreciation for the global community within the heart of Harrisonburg.

Exploe Underground at Grand Caverns 

Step into an underground wonderland at Grand Caverns, America’s oldest continually operated show cave. Descend into a subterranean realm adorned with spectacular formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone, formed over millions of years. Guided tours lead visitors through illuminated pathways, unveiling the cavern’s natural beauty and geological wonders. Marvel at formations like the Cathedral Room, boasting soaring ceilings and intricate calcite formations. Learn about the cave’s history, from its discovery in the late 18th century to its role during the Civil War. With its ethereal beauty and historical significance, Grand Caverns offers a mesmerizing journey through the Earth’s ancient past.

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