Things to Do in Harrisonburg, VA
When trying to decide where to go on weekend getaways to Virginia, you should consider Harrisonburg! This quaint town nestled in the stunning Shenandoah Valley offers a nearly endless list of activities and attractions year-round. From trying the many breweries and wineries to outdoor activities like hiking or exploring histories sites, there are plenty of things to do in Harrisonburg, VA.
Located just two hours from Washington, DC, and Richmond, VA, Harrisonburg is the perfect place to start exploring the Shenandoah Valley. The town boasts proximity to the Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest, and Blue Ridge Parkway to name a few popular outdoor attractions. 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 walkable 10-block stretch of downtown Harrisonburg, VA.
While in the area, you can check out the surrounding towns of Charlottesville and Winchester. Or, find out more about things to do in Staunton, VA. For a full list of activities, events, and other things to do in Harrisonburg, be sure to request a complimentary copy of our Harrisonburg Vacation Guide. If you’re planning to take a couple’s getaway, we also recommend requesting a custom Romantic Itinerary.
The Best Things to Do in Harrisonburg, VA
Outdoor Activities in Harrisonburg
Harrisonburg, VA is located in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, which is home to the Shenandoah National Skyline Drive. Cruise this 105-mile road, winding around the mountaintop along the spine of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to take in the natural beauty of the region. There are 75 scenic overlooks offering stunning views and ample opportunities to witness wildlife in their natural habitats. Those looking for a more active way to see the park should hike any of the 500 miles of trails within the park and get an up-close look at Shenandoah’s splendor.
A visit to the Shenandoah River is one of the best things to do in Harrisonburg, VA. Hike through the many trails along the river’s shores or explore the area by water and rent a canoe or kayak. From this vantage point, you’ll witness more breathtaking scenery and abundant flora and fauna growing along the banks. Anglers will also love to spend a day fishing on the Shenandoah River.
Hiking in the Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park has a whopping 500 miles of trails, about 30 percent of which are in designated wilderness areas. Interestingly enough, roughly 100 miles of these trails are 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 just a 20-mile drive from the inn. Be sure to fuel up with a delicious breakfast before you head out on your adventure!
Farms and Gardens
White Oak Lavender Farm
The White Oak Lavender Farm offers beautiful views, relaxation, and a “U-Pick” option during the summer and fall seasons. Visit the farm to enjoy the quiet of Shenandoah Valley with beautiful mountain views and the sweet smell of lavender. Pick your own lavender when the plants are in bloom, and try the signature Lavender Blueberry ice cream!
Those looking to embark on an interesting hike or bike along of Virginia’s most scenic trails should 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 wonderful plant and flower species located in the Arboretum while hiking the many trails. Or, you can relax in the shade while soaking in the natural beauty of this top attraction. The gardens of this location are also known as one of the best locations for Shenandoah Valley weddings.
Museums, Theaters, and Attractions in Harrisonburg
Forbes Center for the Performing Arts
Located at James Madison University, the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts is the perfect place for those who enjoy live performances. Forbes hosts a wide range of acts from dance to music and theater productions. Check the calendar of events for a schedule and find the perfect show to attend.
Virginia is home to a number of Harrisonburg breweries 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.
Learn about a lesser-known aspect of the state’s history at the Virginia Quilt Museum. From the beautiful heirloom quilts to the contemporary quilts, this museum is home to unique exhibits.
The Explore More Discovery Museum is the perfect place to bring the whole family on your day out exploring Harrisonburg, VA. From the great outdoors to a mock TV studio, there’s so much to see here!
The Grand Caverns are among the closest caverns near Harrisonburg, VA. Guided by experienced instructors, the tour takes about 70 minutes and cover one mile. More adventurous travelers can tour the Fountain Cave, a sister cave to the Grand Caverns, during the summer months. This expedition is more strenuous and involves difficult physical activity. Anyone interested in caving should consider signing up for the tour.
When visitors stay in this area of the Shenandoah Valley, they often debate between visiting Skyline Caverns vs. Luray Caverns. These two underground attractions are also close things to do near Harrisonburg, VA. While many people decide to visit just one if you have extra time you could try to see both spectacular sights.
The vast majority of Civil War battles took place in the south, leaving behind hundreds of significant historical sites. The Shenandoah Valley Civil War grounds have been preserved to tell the story of the war that raged through the region, nearly dividing our beloved country in two. During the battle, 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.
Shopping & Spas in Harrisonburg, VA
As our beautiful Virginia town continues to grow, so does the opportunity for shopping in Harrisonburg VA. Don’t forget to check out the quaint stores ranging from boutique clothing shops to rare bookstores. When heading back to town after a day of exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains, spend some time in town perusing the shops in downtown Harrisonburg is a wonderful way to unwind.
When you’re on vacation, don’t you deserve to relax? While Harrisonburg is full of great activities and events, treat yourself to some peaceful “me time” at one of our many relaxing spas in Harrisonburg, VA.
Open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays, the Harrisonburg Farmers Market is the perfect place to find fresh local products, local artisan jewelry and art, and more. Visit the market and experience some of the best that downtown Harrisonburg has to offer.
Events & Seasonal Activities
Fall Foliage Bike Festival
This annual event is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. 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 Virginia fall foliage. Ride at your leisure, stop to take in the views, and enjoy plenty of festival events.
Whether you are an avid golfer with professional dreams, or you just like to have fun on the course, there are a plethora of excellent golf courses in Harrisonburg, VA, and surrounding cities.
Skiing and Snowboarding
In the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains lies a gorgeous mountain resort with fun for the whole family. The Massanutten Ski Resort offers thrilling runs with fresh powder for everyone from novice to veteran.
6 More Things to Do in Harrisonburg, Virginia
The number of great things to do in Harrisonburg, VA, is almost limitless! For even more suggestions, explore our blog articles that other guests have found useful:
- Visiting the Shenandoah Heritage Market
- 6 Can’t-Miss Shenandoah Hiking Trails
- 6 Reasons to Get Excited about the Shenandoah AutumnFest!
- A Guide to Great Horseback Riding in Harrisonburg
- Attend the Rocktown Beer Festival
- Learn about the
Try some of the
We hope this information is helpful in planning your upcoming visit to Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley! Let us be your host at our Shenandoah Valley bed and breakfast with outstanding accommodations and a daily gourmet breakfast. By the Side of the Road Inn & Cottages is a peaceful and luxurious alternative to local Harrisonburg and Shenandoah National Park lodging. We’re conveniently located near all of the best things to do in Harrisonburg, VA.
For many more attractions, activities, events, restaurants, and more, be sure to download our Harrisonburg, Virginia, Vacation Guide! And, don’t forget to request a personalized Romantic Itinerary.