Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Harrisonburg, VA

  • Published 2022/05/22

There’s something about quaint Virginian cities that attracts all tourists.

Harrisonburg is one such city.

Offering many adventurous activities that will get your adrenaline pumping, there is more to the city than meets the eye.

Those who visit can enjoy everything from exploring natural wonders to basking in Harrisonburg’s buzzing nightlife.

Plus, with kid-friendly attractions, it’s a perfect travel destination for the whole family.

Here are the best things to do in Harrisonburg, Virginia:

Have Wine and Lavender Ice Cream at White Oak Lavender Farm & The Purple WOLF Vineyard

Swing at White Oak Lavender Farm & The Purple WOLF Vineyard

EVargas /

White Oak Lavender & The Purple WOLF Vineyard is one of Harrisonburg’s top attractions.

Memorial Weekend and Labor Day are the best times to visit, as this is when the authorities provide many guided tours.

There are a lot of wine tastings that go on at the vineyards.

You can explore the vineyards, then head to the tasting room and sip on some delicate wines.

When you’re done with wine tasting, make sure to try their lavender-flavored ice cream.

It’s not a flavor you’ll get to have often, and it tastes incredible.

Christmas and Thanksgiving are particularly special here.

Go Camping in the Shenandoah Valley

Vibrant sunrise at Shenandoah Valley

Jon Bilous /

A small portion of the Great Appalachian Valley, the Shenandoah Valley is the pretty aspect of Harrisonburg.

Stretching across almost 200 miles, it’s home to different ecosystems.

Waterfall in Shenandoah Valley

Yury593 /

Not only are there scenic mountains in the background, but you can also find parks with lots of hiking trails.

The place is enormous, and you need to explore every bit of it to enjoy it to your fullest.

Gorgeous scenic nature trail at Shenandoah Valley

Shishka4 /

That said, camping is recommended for those who want to maximize their visit to the Shenandoah Valley.

There are several glassy lakes where you can go fishing.

Have a Staycation at the Old Joshua Wilton House

Beautiful architecture of Joshua Wilton House

Strawser, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Joshua Wilton House is a sight to see in Harrisonburg.

If you are someone who takes a particular interest in old and restored buildings, Joshua Wilton House might stand out to you.

It’s an inn, so you can even book your stay here.

The Joshua Wilton House is located downtown, so you will not be far away from all the restaurants and the shopping places.

It reeks of ancient glamor and is one of the best places you could choose to spend a night or two.

Serving some of the best dishes, the restaurant inside is also heavenly.

Relax Amid Nature at the Magnificent Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is located inside the famous James Madison University campus.

You can go around and take a tour of the Oak Hickory Forest.

The forests are decorated in different shades of green, and every corner is picture-perfect.

Feel the wind against your face as you walk through the gardens of daffodils.

The university’s science department sometimes uses the arboretum for educational purposes, and they bring the students in to teach them more about the ecosystem.

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is open to the public, so you can drop by, relax, and enjoy some great views of the greens.

Sample the Region’s Best Beers on the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail

In Harrisonburg, the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail takes guests through 14 different breweries.

The trail is not just limited to breweries in Harrisonburg, though.

It takes a lot of twists and turns and eventually concludes in Lexington.

Each brewery has its own interesting story.

The Beer Trail weaves through three of the most beautiful counties, making it a lovable one.

Most tourists enjoy venturing on this trail to taste each county’s best flavors.

Shop for Handicrafts at the Shenandoah Heritage Market

Get a taste of the local culture at the Shenandoah Heritage Market.

There are no other markets in the Shenandoah Valley as big as this one.

This marketplace is filled with shops selling a wide variety of items.

The local handmade goods on offer are the market’s main attractions.

They’re sold at affordable rates and make for great souvenirs.

You can also shop for candies and baked goods at the market.

Visit the Mineral Museum

There are a lot of hidden gems on the James Madison University campus—the Mineral Museum, home to literal gems, is one of them.

It houses over 600 variants of different gemstones procured from all over the world.

Are you interested in the different rocks and the precious value each one holds?

The Mineral Museum allows public tours.

The tour guides will tell you everything about each gem: its backstory, how the crystallization took place, the different components, its market value, and more.

Geeks fall in love with this place.

Go Fruit Picking at Showalter’s Orchard

Showalter’s Orchard is one of the finest places in Harrisonburg.

It has everything inside its greenhouse—flowers, peaches, and over 25 variants of apples.

The greenhouse looks heavenly with all the fruit trees and the flower bushes decorated around.

The entire room is colorful and gives off positive vibes.

You can also find foreign fruits or veggies here, too.

Learn about the Native Colonies at the Valley Turnpike Museum

Are you well-versed in American history?

Then you might even know about the famous Turnpike Era.

If not, this museum will tell you all about it.

In the 1800s, the Shenandoah Valley was all about colonization.

Different natives came in contact with the foreigners who set up their colonies here.

This point in time is known as the Turnpike Era.

Because of its resulting mix of cultures, this era holds significance in the history of the Shenandoah Valley.

The Valley Turnpike Company constructed a road stretching from Staunton to Winchester, and it played one of the most significant roles in shaping the valley region’s development.

Learn more about these at the museum.

The Valley Turnpike Museum preserves stories of these times and tells tourists about the old days here.

Explore the Virginia Quilt Museum

There is another unique museum located in Harrisonburg.

The fascinating Virginia Quilt Museum attracts tourists from all over the world.

Virginia’s textile industry flourished once upon a time, and this museum is a testament to that.

The world of stitching has changed a lot over the years; what is used today was not used 100 years ago.

You’ll find a detailed guide of how such techniques have changed over time at this museum.

Be ready to see a variety of materials from the sewing world, including machines and quilts.

Comprising three floors, the museum is filled with wonderful ancient quilts.

Shop for Fresh Produce at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market

Fresh tomatoes at Farmer's Market

jammmick, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the Harrisonburg Farmers Market, you’ll find some of the freshest produce in the city.

Their fruits and vegetables are always of top quality and are grown organically by local farmers.

Freshly harvested carrots, raddish and beetroots at Harrisonburg Farmers Market

jammmick, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

On top of that, the Farmers Market also sells freshly baked goods that you have to try.

Customers love shopping for local crafts here, too!

Cucumbers at Harrisonburg Farmers Market

jammmick, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Break at Heritage Bakery & Cafe

If you want a short food break amid all the sightseeing, head to Heritage Bakery & Cafe.

Since it is located in the downtown area, you don’t even have to travel far from Harrisonburg’s main hotspots.

Drop by to fill your tummy with some delicious food.

Are you into tea parties?

At Heritage Bakery & Cafe, every day feels like a tea party.

The setting almost gives off royal vibes, and their baked goods are freshly prepared every day.

Pair coffee with some delectable pastries and vibe along!

Bring Your Kids to Explore More Discovery Museum

How about you plan a morning out for your kids?

Explore More Discovery Museum is all about fun, engagement, and learning.

This is an interactive museum where kids get to know the best of everything.

Many summer camps are organized here, and your kids are welcome to join if you happen to visit during this season.

Have Coffee and Beer at Shenandoah Joe

This coffee shop is nothing like the others.

Have you ever heard of a shop specializing in coffee and beer?

At Shenandoah Joe, the beans are hand-roasted and the craft beers are not like anything you get at bars.

Come here at least once and taste what they have to offer.

It’s a quirky experience you shouldn’t miss out on.

Go Back in Time at the Heritage Museum

The Shenandoah Valley has a massive history rolled under its sleeves.

To ensure that the region’s stories live on for generations, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society put up the Heritage Museum.

There are displays dedicated to the Shenandoah Valley, as well as an exhibit that talks about the roles the region played during the Civil War.

At the Heritage Museum, you can also find many storytellers who will vividly describe the wars fought in America.

Stop by Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center

Street view of Hardesty-Higgins House Visitor Center

Strawser, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Hardesty-Higgins House was built in 1848 by Harrisonburg physician Henry Higgins and was home to Harrisonburg’s first mayor, Isaac Hardesty.

The city of Harrisonburg bought the home in May 2001 and plans to renovate it.

The goal was to build a structure that could function as a community center and a museum, restoring the house’s historical relevance to Harrisonburg.

Harrisonburg Tourism and Visitor Services now manage the building.

When it’s rainy or freezing, and you’re searching for something to do inside, a trip to a museum is a great option.

Enjoy a leisurely tour around this museum, which is entirely free to visit.

At the Valley Turnpike Museum, you’ll discover the Civil War Orientation Exhibit and the Virginia Craftsman Showroom.

Enjoy with the Whole Family at Back Home on the Farm

Since the late 1950s, the Hess family has owned the Back Home on the Farm. In 2004, a corn maze and other family-friendly features were installed.

This allowed Gary and Lynne Hess to run both enterprises from a single site in 2014 when they demolished the retail greenhouse and moved it to their farm.

You could be surrounded by the most gorgeous colors and scents you’ve ever encountered for some of the most unforgettable moments of your life.

If you’re looking for a good time, bring your friends.

Are you ready to experience some of Harrisonburg’s best attractions? What are you waiting for?

Check out the many perennials, annuals, vegetables, and hanging baskets at your local nursery or garden center.

See what you can learn about container gardening and fairy gardens from these experts.

This Farm offers families a wide range of resources, including animals, plants, and even kid-friendly activities.

Explore the Region’s Flavors at Shenandoah Spirits Trail

There are many small businesses in the Shenandoah Valley’s cities, downtowns, and rural areas, and the Shenandoah Spirits Trail is designed to help them thrive.

This trail started in September 2016 and has helped small enterprises ever since.

You’ll be surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, historic landmarks, exquisite dining, historic downtown districts, and lots of places to shop and participate in outdoor recreational activities throughout the path.

It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

Travel through various breweries and distilleries while hopping from one intriguing location to the next.

The trail’s sites are all within a one-hour drive of one another, and shuttle services are available in certain areas.

You’ll be welcomed by the breathtaking landscape as you go to each location, so you’ll want to snap a few photos.

Go Antique-Hunting at Rolling Hills Antique Mall

In 2001, Rolling Hills was acquired by its new owner from Norman Kreider.

Jess Bradfield, the shop’s owner, has retained the diverse but not flea market clutter concept.

Look through our inventory of antiques if you’re trying to broaden your collection of unique objects.

Check out some unique antiques that are seldom seen in shops or stores these days as you go around the store.

It’s enthralling, and you may grab a few souvenirs.

Final Thoughts

Attractions like local cuisine and drink, cutting-edge art and cultural pursuits, and historical ties to the Shenandoah Valley environment are all found in Harrisburg, Virginia, which boasts a vibrant atmosphere.

Allow yourself to indulge in all that this city offers.

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