Things to Do in Harrisonburg VA
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 are plenty of things to do in Harrisonburg, VA! 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 walkable 10-block stretch of downtown Harrisonburg VA attractions.
Located only two hours from Washington, DC and Richmond, Harrisonburg is a perfect point to start exploring the Shenandoah Valley. It’s centrally located to the many things to do in Staunton, Charlottesville, and Winchester. During your vacation, you’ll never be lost when it comes to what to do in Harrisonburg, VA.
For the full list of activities, events, and other things to do in Harrisonburg, we recommend downloading our free Harrisonburg Vacation Guide. Our top 18 favorite attractions in Harrisonburg include:
Shenandoah National Park Skyline Drive
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.
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 plays and performances. Forbes puts on a wide range of performances from dance to music and theatre acts. Check their calendar of events for a schedule and find the perfect show to attend.
Breweries and Vineyards Near Harrisonburg VA
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.
The Shenandoah River
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
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 is 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.
The Shopping in Harrisonburg VA is Fantastic!
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, spend some time in town perusing the shops in downtown Harrisonburg is a wonderful way to unwind.
The Virginia Quilt Museum
View state history like never before at the Virginia Quilt Museum. From the beautiful heirloom quilts to the contemporary quilts, you will enjoy your time at this unique museum.
The Explore More Discovery Museum
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 explore here!
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 relaxing spas in Harrisonburg, VA.
White Oak Lavender Farm
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!
Edith J. Carrier Arboretum+
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.
Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market
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 Hiking Trails
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!
Shenandoah Fall Foliage Bike Festival
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.
Where to Go Golfing in Harrisonburg
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 and surrounding cities.
Massanuetten Ski Resort
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.
Learn More About Shenandoah Valley Civil War History
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.
6 More Things to Do in Harrisonburg, Virginia
There really are so many fun things to do in Harrisonburg, Virginia! For even more suggestions, explore some blog articles other guests have found useful:
- Visiting the Shenandoah Heritage Market
- The Best Places to See Shenandoah Fall Foliage
- Explore These 4 Caverns Near Harrisonburg VA
- 6 Can’t Miss Shenandoah Hiking Trails
- 6 Reasons to Get Excited for Shenandoah AutumnFest!
- A Guide to Great Horseback Riding in Harrisonburg
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. 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, Virginia.
For many more attractions, activities, events, restaurants, and more, be sure to download our Harrisonburg, Virginia, Vacation Guide!
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