Laura Rennie

guide to Harrisonburg: where to play

Laura R.Comment

the Shenandoah Valley is too pretty to miss, so come to Harrisonburg ready to get outdoors!


where to play...

BEST IF YOU'RE ON A BUDGETWildwood park + Sandy Bottom in Bridgewater, and the arboretum in Harrisonburg


the dam at Wildwood park - if you look closely you can see
the suspension bridge in the background 
for a casual afternoon w/ the family, pick up an ice cream cone at Harveys in Bridgewater and then head to Wildwood park, which boasts a fun suspension bridge and a playground. It's right off the North River, so you'll get great views. this is a great spot for family photos!

Casey loves going to Sandy Bottoms (I always make it plural b/c I think it sounds better)
or, if you want to impress your man, pack a picnic and your golf gear for some friendly competition at Sandy Bottom park. Sandy Bottom has a free par-3 nine hole golf course maintained by the city parks and rec department. I love bringing Casey here to swim - this park is also on the North River. When she's tired we collapse on the ground together and I read while she knaws on sticks. 

gorgeous photo taken at the arboretum by Christine Anderson Photography

...if you're going to be all "this is a guide to Harrisonbug not Bridgewater," check out the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and bring some quarters to buy food for the ducks! Even though it's right across from campus and is practically next door to Costco, you'll feel as if you're miles away from civilization. Bring your kids or pets, but make sure they keep out of the pond - it's icky.

BEST FOR FANNY-PACK WEARING, CAMERA-TOTING TOURISTS - James Madison University
(joking about the fanny pack)
aerial photo of the quad during the centennial celebration

I <3 JMU. see that round building in the center of the photo?
that's the home of grilled cheese Thursdays.
know what's better than grilled cheese Thursdays?
Stick-a-hamburger-patty-inside-the-grilled-cheese Thursday.

The tour guides at JMU are fantastic - they are experts at walking backwards. You don't need a tour guide to appreciate the beauty of the quad and feel the burn from the hilly campus, though. :) Check out the quad, the new addition to the football stadium, the campus bookstore and of course, our amazing rec center. Eat on campus while you're at it - JMU's dining is one of the highest rated in the country. I recommend the paninis at Top Dog Cafe or the gyros at Festival (hopefully they're still there). Check out this incredibly corny video about the newest dining facility at JMU. (New as in it wasn't there when I attended.) I hear the dessert bar is to die for.

BEST FOR DATE NIGHT - The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts



The Forbes Center is a MUST VISIT. (I wouldn't really know b/c I haven't had the pleasure of going yet, but I've heard amazing things.) I'm hoping to see HolidayFest and the Contemporary Dance Ensemble.

BEST FOR GIGGLES - Funky's Skate Center


because who doesn't love holding hands w/ their best friend (or lovah) and skating to cheesy music?

additional play suggestions:
check out Court Square Theater downtown - I'm so happy that we have a theater that plays documentaries and foreign films.
H'burg boasts tons of outdoor activities like boating, fishing, clay shooting, mountain biking, hiking... and we're only a short drive from Massanutten Resort. there are also several pumpkin patches and corn mazes open this time of year.
**if you're in town on a Friday during the summer/early fall, you MUST check out First Fridays.
**check the events calendar to see what's going on when you visit - you wouldn't want to miss one of our local festivals. 

next up - where to shop
and if you haven't already, check out where to stay