The Best of the Shenandoah Valley — Harrisonburg

02/21/2012  | 

Some towns nestled in the scenic Shenandoah Valley are quaint and sleepy: not Harrisonburg. Trendy, locally-owned restaurants, museums, and art galleries connect historic downtown to James Madison University, creating one of Virginia’s first designated Arts & Cultural Districts. This 10-block walk passes the Virginia Quilt Museum, Explore More Discovery Museum, Harrisonburg Farmers’ Market, Oasis Art Gallery, Valley Turnpike Museum, and parts of two National Historic Districts. Harrisonburg is recognized as a Bronze Biking Friendly Community (BFC), a designated Tree City by the Arbor Day Foundation, as well as Main Street Community.

Get Outdoors

The true value of the Shenandoah Valley lies in the great outdoors! Harrisonburg was ranked nationally by Backpacker Magazine as a top spot for families to “beat nature deficit disorder.” As a certified Friendly Biking Community (FBC), the City suggests biking the Rocktown Trails and getting locals involved in community rides and events. 

Shallows have been provided in a majority of the area. If golf is your game, play one of four golf courses. To slow down, stroll through the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Join anglers from across the Mid-Atlantic and let the experts at Mossy Creek Fly Fishing help plan your fishing trip.  Hunt and fish in the George Washington/Jefferson National Forest, or enjoy camping and horseback riding in Shenandoah National Park, both within an hour’s drive of the city core. Take your exploration underground at Grand Caverns. Just minutes from Harrisonburg you’ll find Massanutten Four Season Resort, a sprawling 6,000-acre resort featuring two recreation centers, an indoor/outdoor water park, golf courses, snow sports, new spa, horseback riding, fishing, and more.

Local Flare

Downtown is the historic heart of the City. Paved in brick and surrounded by 19th and 20th century architecture, it showcases an urban flare with charming treasures. Court Square Theater hosts shows and foreign films while boutiques and lounges flow over with travelers and college students. Harrisonburg is known as the dining destination of the Shenandoah Valley and for good reason! International restaurants adorn every corner including Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Greek, Caribbean, and Cuban. Local wine is made at CrossKeys Vineyard and sampling is made easy in their beautiful tasting room. Patrons may purchase Virginia made wine in countless stores downtown that pride themselves on unique product. Lodging in Harrisonburg gives variety a new meaning. There are countless hotels, historic homes turned into contemporary B&Bs, and Inns such as The Joshua Wilton House where Richard Dreyfuss honeymooned in 2006. Mountain Valley Retreat sits in the mountain woodlands and numerous other options are boasted by Harrisonburg. While exploring, visitors always leave time for local favorites such as Silver Lake Mill and the Shoppes at Dayton, or visit the modern campus of Eastern Mennonite University, offering a Bach music festival each June. For a deeper look into Harrisonburg history, visit The Heritage Museum, Crossroads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, or plan to come in August during the Rockingham County Fair, named Virginia’s finest agricultural fair 12 years running!

Sesquicentennial Commemoration

The Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Sesquicentennial Committee is paving the way for Civil War Enthusiasts to delve into their passion. 30 Civil War Trails line the City and County. A trail brochure and driving tour map are available at the Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center downtown. The visitor center also houses the Civil War Orientation Center which includes a 15 minute video to help kick-start the war follower’s trip. The region including Harrisonburg and Rockingham County was known as the “The breadbasket of the Confederacy” resulting in a prime location for the struggle between Union and Confederate forces. The Valley also set the stage for two important campaigns during the American Civil War; Confederate Gen. Thomas J.”Stonewall” Jackson’s famous 1862 Valley Campaign, which earned him a permanent place in military history, and in 1864 when Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan ordered “The Burning” of the Valley. Do to the area’s significance in Civil War; Harrisonburg will be bringing the best in commemorations starting with a full month of events in June 2012.

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