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Harrisonburg is the perfect place to think of when planning weekend getaways in Virginia! Wondering what to do in Harrisonburg VA? From breweries and wineries to outdoor activities of all kinds to shopping and historic destinations, there’s so much to do here! Located only two hours from Washington, DC and Richmond, Harrisonburg is a perfect point to start exploring the Shenandoah Valley. But besides the prime location minutes away from the Shenandoah National park, George Washington National Forest, and Blue Ridge Parkway, Harrisonburg also offers a variety of arts and cultural attractions. Several museums, galleries, shops, and portions of two National Historic Districts are all in a walk-able 10-block stretch of downtown Harrisonburg VA attractions. For the full list of activities, events, and other things to do in Harrisonburg, we recommend downloading our free Vacation Guide. Our top 18 favorite attractions in Harrisonburg include:
Harrisonburg, VA is located in the beautifully scenic Shenandoah Valley which is home to the Shenandoah National Skyline Drive. Cruise the 105 mile drive, winding around the mountain top along the spine of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains taking in the natural beauty of Shenandoah. There are 75 scenic overlooks that offer stunning views as well as ample opportunities to witness wildlife in their natural habitats. For those looking for a more active way to see the park, take to any of the 500 miles of trails located within the park and get an up close look at Shenandoah’s splendor.
Located at James Madison University, the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts is the perfect place for those who enjoy live plays and performances. Forbes puts on a wide range of performances from dance, to music and theatre acts. Check their calendar for a schedule and find the perfect show to attend.
Virginia is home to a number of Harrisonburg breweries, cideries, and Shenandoah Valley wineries, most of which offer tours and tastings. Enjoy local spirits and learn more about the history and process that goes into creating Virginia’s delicious wines, beers, and ciders.
Yet another experience that is bound to be breathtaking is exploring the Shenandoah River. Snaking through the Shenandoah Valley, take some time to hike along its shores, or even rent a canoe or kayak and get on the water. Seeing the countryside along the river will be such a treat, as well as witnessing the fauna of the forest scurrying along the riverside.
The Grand Caverns are among the closest caverns near Harrisonburg VA. Guided by experienced personnel, the tour takes about 70 minutes and consists of about a mile of walking at a leisurely pace. For the more adventurous among you, the Fountain Cave is a sister cave to the Grand, and visitors can plan on touring it during the summer months. This a more strenuous tour involving difficult physical activity, and is perfect for anyone with an interest in caving. Grand Caverns is open year-round and is home to multiple exhibits through which visitors can learn about its history.
As our ideal Virginia destination continues to grow, so does the opportunity for shopping in Harrisonburg VA. Don’t miss the opportunity to check out some of its quaint stores selling everything from boutique clothing styles to rare books. When heading to town after a day of exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the rolling countryside of the Valley, some time in town perusing the shops in downtown Harrisonburg is a wonderful way to unwind.
The White Oak Lavender Farm offers beautiful views, relaxation, and “U-Pick” during the summer and fall bloom seasons. Visit the farm and enjoy the quiet of Shenandoah Valley with beautiful mountain views and the sweet smell of lavender. Pick your very own lavender as well and get a chance to try their signature Lavender Blueberry ice cream at one best things to do near Harrisonburg VA!
For those looking to enjoy a satisfying hike or to bike some of Virginia’s most scenic trails visit the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum. Located on the James Madison University campus, this urban garden aims to promote the preservation of native plant species and to provide a space for research and botanical education. Take in the variety of wonderful plant and flower species located in the Arboretum while hiking the many trails or relax in the shade while taking in the natural beauty of this great attraction.
Open from 8:00am to 1:00pm Tuesdays and Saturdays, the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market is the perfect place to find fresh local products, local artesian jewelry and art, and more. Visit the market and experience some of the best that downtown Harrisonburg has to offer.
Shenandoah National Park has a whopping 500 miles of trails, about 30 percent of which are in designated wilderness areas. About 100 miles of the trails are actually part of the Appalachian Trail, as well. It’s easy to head to the Shenandoah National Park Hiking trails from Harrisonburg. The closest entrance to the park, Swift Run Gap, is an easy 20-mile drive from the inn. Be sure to fuel up with a delicious breakfast before you head out on your adventure!
This annual event is a favorite among locals and people from all over the east coast. Suited for a wide range of cyclists from the experienced competitors to families with small children, the well marked Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival courses will take you through some of the best places to witness the Shenandoah fall foliage. Take rides at your leisure, stop to take in the views, and enjoy many events when you’re not in the saddle.
The vast majority of the battlegrounds of the Civil War are all in the south. The Shenandoah Valley Civil War grounds have been preserved to tell the story of the war that raged through its midst, nearly dividing our beloved country in two, as confederate corps tried to lay siege on Washington DC and other northern cities through this protected valley. When you visit the area, you’ll be hard pressed not to rub up against the Shenandoah Valley Civil War history scattered across these beautiful hills.
For many more Harrisonburg, Virginia attractions, activities, events, restaurants, and more, be sure to download our Vacation Guide!
Photo credit: AppalachianViews/Thinkstock