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Friendly by Nature in Harrisonburg, Virginia

by JonPharr

It’s not the great food, quint shops, or vibrant atmosphere.. it’s the friendly community that makes Harrisonburg truly remarkable. Nestled in the picturesque Shenandoah Valley, this friendly city has welcomed people from all over the world for centuries.

Harrisonburg’s culinary landscape, boasts over 80 locally-owned restaurants and a commitment to farm-to-table fare that tantalizes the taste buds with international flavors. Beyond the culinary delights, there is a vibrant arts scene with one-of-a-kind shops, filled with hidden treasures curated by local artisans and business owners. It’s no wonder Harrisonburg proudly holds the title of Virginia’s First Culinary District and a Virginia Arts & Cultural District.

Harrisonburg offers the perfect weekend getaway. From the minute you arrive on a Friday afternoon you will feel the warm and inviting atmosphere. For a charming and relaxing stay just minutes from downtown, check into By The Side of the Road Inn & Cottages. As Harrisonburg’s first bed and breakfast, this family-owned property is steeped in history. Now operating as an inn, guests can choose to stay in the historic main building with private rooms or one of the cozy cottages scattered throughout the property.

After settling in, head downtown to Pale Fire Brewing Company. Sip on a flight of locally brewed beers, including their award-winning cream ale, Taking Water—a delightful blend with Pilsner malt and Liberty hops. Indulge in Detroit-style pizza, mouthwatering sandwiches, or crisp salads. Nestle by the fireplace with a book from their community library or groove to local live music, setting the perfect tone for the weekend.

Start your Saturday at Heritage Bakery for freshly baked pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and artisanal coffee. This charming, family-owned bakery takes pride in crafting their delectable pastries in-house daily, skillfully incorporating locally sourced lavender for an authentic touch. With a commitment to quality, their menu offerings change daily, promising an exciting array of flavors to savor each time you visit.

With the morning fuel, set your sights on the nearby Shenandoah National Park, a mere 30-minute drive from downtown. Grab a sandwich from Lola’s Delicatessen to embark on a picnic, surrounded by breathtaking views. If you’re looking to be more adventurous, plan out a hike on one of the trails. The South River Falls Trail takes you to the base of an 83′ waterfall, where you’ll cross a section of the Appalachian Trail. For an adrenaline-pumping scenic hike, conquer the Bearfence Rock Scramble—an exhilarating rock scramble that leads to a magnificent 360-degree view of the Virginia Piedmont and Shenandoah Valley.


The Joshua Wilton House, award winning cuisine.

As the day winds down, head back into town for an elegant dinner at The Joshua Wilton House, an award-winning Victorian fine dining restaurant with refined Virginia cuisine. Executive Chef Tom French brings culinary expertise from rare experiences including an internship at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. His remarkable talent for enhancing any ingredient promises a unique and delightful farm-to-table dining experience. Cap off the night at The Golden Pony with their exceptional, seasonal cocktails. Meticulously crafted in-house, each libation is a testament to the team’s dedication to innovative and high-quality mixology.

For a delightful Sunday brunch, head to Magpie Diner, located in a transformed 1950s tire service station. Their ever-changing menu brings a distinctive seasonal flare worth the anticipated wait. As you wait, check out the Liberty Street Mercantile just across the street, housing eight local businesses each showcasing unique, hidden gems. After brunch, splurge on a one-of-a-kind downtown shopping experience at The Shops @ Agora and The Yellow Button. “Before leaving Harrisonburg, grab some fresh gourmet popcorn at Shirley’s Popcorn for the perfect drive-home snack.

In just one weekend, Harrisonburg offers a perfect blend of culinary delights, outdoor adventures, and local shopping experiences. With its warm atmosphere and welcoming community, this town is sure to leave you with cherished memories and a desire to return for more.

Plan your trip today at VisitHarrisonburgVA.com

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