20 Things To Do In Harrisonburg VA

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Founded by and named after a pioneer, Thomas Harrison, on a site known as Rocktown and Newtown from 1716 to 1916, Harrisonburg is a beautiful, natural city in Rockingham County. The 12th most populous, 14th largest and 20th oldest city in Virginia sits in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley between the Blue Ridge Mountains.

With access to Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest and Jefferson National Forests, there are waterways, trails, parks and green spaces to enjoy, making it a paradise for those who love nature and being outdoors. This city has two universities and a host of excellent restaurants, bars and breweries to enjoy. So, check out these things to do in Harrisonburg.

Harrisonburg, Virginia

20 Things To Do In Harrisonburg VA

1- See Traditional Designs At The Virginia Quilt Museum

things to do in harrisonburg Spools of thread, needle, thimble, scissors and pin cushion for patchwork on a quilt.
Visiting the quilt museum is one of the interesting things to do in Harisonburg VA.

Located right in the heart of Harrisonburg, the Virginia Quilt Museum is comfortably among the most popular attractions in the city.

It is set inside a historic three-storey former home with a different galley on every level.

You will find historic and contemporary quilts, which have been made using styles synonymous with the region.

While it may not sound like an attraction that will appeal to everyone, it is well worth checking out for anyone interested in Virginian culture.

The Virginia Quilt Museum is at 301 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

2- Embrace The Plant Life In The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum

The Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is a fabulous arboretum and botanical garden that covers more than 125 acres (51 ha) on the James Madison University campus grounds.

Its intricate trail system weaves through an oak and hickory forest filled with a vibrant range of plants, shrubs, flowers, animals and insects.

As many of the species found here are threatened, it allows you to embrace nature while getting the opportunity to see some truly unique sights.

Edith J. Carrier Arboretum is at 780 University Boulevard, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22807.

3- Enjoy The White Oak Lavender Farm

things to do in harrisonburg va this weekend Lavender bushes closeup
Visiting the White Oak Lavender Farm is a lovely thing to do in Harrisonburg va.

The White Oak Lavender Farm & The Purple Wolf Vineyard is the perfect destination for those who love both nature and the finer things in life.

At the farm, you can stroll through stunning lavender fields and test and purchase skin care products made on-site that have beautiful scents.

Then, when you are done, you can sit back and relax while sampling vintages from the vineyards and taking in the beautiful scenery.

White Oak Lavender Farm & The Purple Wolf Vineyard is at 2644 Cross Keys Road, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

4- Learn The Region’s History At The Valley Turnpike Museum

map of virginia
Check out these top things to do in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The city is not far from the border of West Virginia.

The Valley Turnpike was an Indian Trail and roadway that was essential for transport in the region from 1730 to 1918 before being incorporated into what is now known as U.S. Route 11.

The Valley Turnpike Museum is a great institution honouring the original route’s importance.

It details its evolution and educates visitors on the people who historically lived along the route and in the surrounding area.

Valley Turnpike Museum is at 212 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

5- Go Sailing On Lake Shenandoah

things to do with kids in harrisonburg va
Going sailing is one of the fun things to do in Harrisonburg va.

Lake Shenandoah is a beautiful lake in southeast Harrisonburg that sits at the north end of Congers Creek.

A popular place in Harrisonburg for boating, fishing, and swimming, it is also surrounded by trails.

You can enjoy hiking, biking, jogging, or meeting locals who walk their dogs.

Throw in the beautiful views across the water, and Lake Shenandoah is one of the best places in the area to enjoy the great outdoors without having to stray too far from the city.

6- Take A Walk In Hillandale Park

Hillandale Park is a 74-acre (30 ha) city park and garden in the heart of Harrisonburg that is one of the largest of its kind within the city limits.

It has wide open green spaces, hiking and biking trails lined with fitness equipment, picnic areas, sports fields and even a replica log cabin.

The park provides plenty of exercise and outdoor recreation options without you having to leave the city.

Hillandale Park is at 801 Hillandale Avenue, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

7- Admire The Exhibits At The Museum Of American Jewelry Design

The Museum Of American Jewelry Design & Manufacturing is a great attraction that combines a museum with a functioning factory.

With tours of both available, you can delve into the history of 19th and 20th-century jewellery design and trade before taking a tour of the workshops to see how jewellery is produced today.

You can purchase pieces made on-site to take home to help you remember your visit.

Museum Of American Jewelry Design is at 217 South Liberty Street, #103a, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

8- Explore The Melrose Caverns

Harrison Farmstead was listed on the U.S. National Register Of Historic Places in 2014.

It features a stunning Greek Revival farmhouse built in 1859, surrounded by buildings dating back as far as 1820, including agricultural outbuildings and a wooden log kitchen.

The property is so special, though, because it sits on top of an extensive network of caverns used by both the north and south during the United States Civil War.

With tours of both available, it is a great place to learn about all sides of the region’s history and culture.

The Melrose Caverns are at 6639 North Valley Pike, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22802.

9- Visit The Harrisonburg Fire Museum

The Harrisonburg Fire Museum is a beautiful little free museum where you can study artefacts and exhibits from the 18th and 19th centuries while learning about the history of firefighting in the region.

Set on the site of the current fire department, it provides the perfect opportunity to see how the industry evolved over the years and enjoy some entertainment without spending a penny.

The Harrisonburg Fire Museum is at 101 North Main Street, 3rd Floor, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22802.

10- Take The Kids To The Explore More Discovery Museum

Formerly known as the Harrisonburg Children’s Museum, the Explore More Discovery Museum first opened in 2002 and is dedicated to helping children learn in unique ways.

The museum has themed sections like an art centre, construction site, farm, farmer’s market, garage, kitchen, medical centre, science lab, theatre and a TV studio.

With interactive, hands-on exhibits, it is an attraction that is equally entertaining and educational.

Explore More Discovery Museum is at 150 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

11- View The Exhibits Of The James Madison University Mineral Museum

top 10 things to do in harrisonburg va
One of the most interesting things to do in Harrisonburg, va is to pay a visit to the James Madison University Mineral Museum.

Located on the city’s main university campus, the James Madison University Mineral Museum is all about the history and geology of crystals, gems and rocks.

With over 600 samples from around the globe, it is a must-see attraction for aspiring geologists or anyone interested in jewels.

The James Madison University Mineral Museum is at 1301 Carrier Drive, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22807.

12- Admire The Beauty Of Shenandoah National Park

things to do in harrisonburg, va autumn trees
Admiring the fall colours in Shenandoah National Park is one of the best things to do near Harrisonburg, Virginia..

Set just over 40 miles (65 km) away, Shenandoah National Park is the 19th most visited, 22nd oldest, and 33rd largest national park in the United States.

It has incredible wildlife and historic locations in the Appalachian Mountains, plus some of the most scenic views in the eastern U.S.

A stretch of the fabled Appalachian Trail, the iconic Skyline Drive, and an endless collection of truly breathtaking panoramic vistas make it equally great to explore on foot or by car.

Add in sites like Rapidan Camp, natural features such as Hawksbill Peak, and a range of wildlife that includes bears, deer, foxes, and nearly 200 types of birds, and it is a place that can be enjoyed by all.

13- Study The Turner Ashby Monument

The Turner Ashby Monument is a stone memorial erected in University Park in 1898 in memory of Confederate Colonel Turner Ashby, who died at the Battle Of Good’s Farm near this spot in 1862.

A rectangular granite monolith with a pyramidal peak, it was listed on the U.S. National Register Of Historic Places in 2017.

It is a sombre reminder of one of the darkest periods in the region’s past.

Turner Ashby Monument is at 1164 Turner Ashby Lane, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

14- Experience An Event At The Forbes Center For The Performing Arts

fun things to do in harrisonburg va at night Shot of a young woman playing the piano during a musical concert.
Attending a concert is another thing to do while in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

The Forbes Center For The Performing Arts is a truly beautiful performing arts centre.

On the outskirts of the university campus, it is a complex of five theatres that hosts dance, drama, and musical performances.

It is an excellent place for anyone wanting to support the local art scene or see performances by both established and up-and-coming performers.

Forbes Center For The Performing Arts is at 147 Warsaw Avenue, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

15- Sample The Offerings Of Brothers Craft Brewing

things to do in harrisonburg va area
Visiting a brewery is one of the fun things to do in Harrisonburg for adults.

Brothers Craft Brewing is a fabulous local brewery in a historic bottling plant.

Featuring a taproom with around a dozen beers, all brewed on-site, as well as a beer garden, beer enthusiasts can sample the best vintages the city has to offer.

They even offer drinks other than beer and regularly host events and a variety of food trucks to ensure it is a destination that everyone can enjoy.

Brothers Craft Brewing is at 800 North Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22802.

16- Step Back Into History

Harrisonburg Virginia Downtown architecture
Admiring historic architecture is another of the things to do in Harrisonburg Virginia.

The Rocktown History Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society is a museum dedicated to the city’s early days.

Located in a beautiful 19th-century farmhouse, it is filled with artefacts and exhibits to teach you about the area and its community before it was known as Harrisonburg.

The Rocktown History Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society is at 382 High Street, Dayton, Virginia, 22821.

17- Catch A Game At Bridgeforth Stadium

things to do Harrisonburg Bridgeforth Football Stadium
Watching a game at the Bridgeforth Football Stadium is one of the cool things to do in Harrisonburg va.

Bridgeforth Stadium is a 25,000-seat outdoor stadium where the James Madison University football team play their home games.

There are also various other events like concerts and field sports. 

The 12th largest stadium in the Sun Belt Conference and the largest in the city is where the biggest events in Harrisonburg occur, so it is an excellent stop for wild evening entertainment.

Bridgeforth Stadium is at 251 Bluestone Drive, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22807.

what to do Harrisonburg va James Madison University
Hanging around James Madison University is one of the things to do in Harrisonburg that will give you a real feel for the city.

The Duke Hall Gallery Of Fine Art is the official art gallery of James Madison University.

Hosting exhibits that include paintings, photos, sculptures, and various other art installations produced by the university’s students, it’s the place to go to support the city’s upcoming artists.

Duke Hall Gallery Of Fine Art is at 820 South Main Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22807.

19- Appreciate The History Of Fort Harrison

Fort Harrison is a striking stone house built in 1749 by Daniel Harrison, a prominent leader in the community and local militia.

The stone house, with its underground tunnel and stockade, was the perfect option for a fort during the French And Indian War (1756 to 1763).

Often hosting events like colonial fairs, it’s a fabulous destination for those wanting to appreciate some truly historic architecture or learn about the early days in the region after it was settled.

Fort Harrison is at 335 Main Street, Drayton, Virginia, 22821.

20- Visit The Thomas Harrison House

The Thomas Harrison House is Harrisobburg’s oldest house and was built by the city’s founder, Thomas Harrison, in 1750.

The one-and-a-half-storey limestone structure was built over a historic spring with features like a basement and a gabled roof.

Listed on the US National Register Of Historic Places in 1973, it is a must-see attraction for anyone who truly wants to get a feel for what the city was like during its early days.

Thomas Harrison House is at 30 West Bruce Street, Harrisonburg, Virginia, 22801.

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Steve Burden is an avid traveller and experienced writer. As a former pro wrestler, Steve used to travel frequently for work throughout the USA and Europe. Having spent the last decade travelling all over the world in search of new sights and experiences, he has turned his love for travel into a new career helping others decide on the best places to visit, as well as what to see when they get there.