We love Harrisonburg downtown

Recently Harrisonburg has been getting national press for what we already know about our community: it’s an amazing place to live, work, and play. We love Harrisonburg, we absolutely love Harrisonburg downtown, and we know that you will too. As hype for ESPN College Game Day at JMU covers the town this weekend due to an undefeated JMU Dukes football team (we are also celebrating JMU’s #24 in the country basketball team), we are seeing so much hype for our friendly city. Recently, Southern Living Magazine wrote a love letter about the place where author Tara Massouleh McCay says “she could live.”
Duke dog holding gaines group t-shirt.
JMU football stadium.
The beauty of our city is that we know each other and want to see each other do well, thrive, have fun. We are the Friendly City in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, surrounded by nature’s beauty and close enough to the bigger cities that we have access to what we don’t have in just a short drive (and still the ability to come back home the same day). If you have not visited our city, whether you are here for football, hiking, food, or just fun – here are some of the places and things you should know about that the national magazines and out of towner reports have not told you.
Visit the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning, ask David Sutton with Port Farm about his plants, cutting boards, and rolling pins. Mention that you would love to hear more about his Dad and the Chesapeake Western Depot. Go see Nico at Mill Song Bakery and get a lunchbox loaf (maybe get two because it will not last long once you taste it). If you want the bread to disappear even faster, stop by to see Mike at Hott Apiary for some local honey. Pick up some flowers from Mary Jo’s Flowers and give them to someone you love – they will love them.
Love Sculpture.
We have the best Children’s museum, Explore More Discovery Museum, for young innovators, creators, and investigators. You can be a news reporter, car mechanic, doctor, dentist, scientist, actor. veterinarian, farmer, or builder. There is a maker space, airplane, ambulance, and stock market all inside the building. There are scheduled activities, classes, and even a Lego league available. The work that Lisa, Melanie, Marcia, Caroline, Kelly and their team do to make this the best museum possible is inspiring. Visit and see this amazing facility when you are downtown – shop in their store to help support them or just make a donation online to allow them to continue to grow this amazing community resource.
A must visit is to go see Mira at Rocktown Kitchen for lunch. Get the Fried Chicken sandwich (or the wedge salmon salad, or the burger, or the BBQ – everything that Chef Kristo creates is amazing). If you decide that you must return for dinner, you will probably need to reserve a seat while you are there for lunch. Word is out about how good it is to eat there. If Rocktown is too busy or not on your way, stop at Texas Inn for a Cheesy and say hi to Angie or pop across the street to one of Aaron’s places and get some fried mac and cheese at Billy Jack’s or Jack Brown’s for an Elvis (one of the best burgers you will ever experience).
You don’t want to miss Ten Thousand Villages for their amazing creations from around the world and stop in Agora Market to see what Heartworn Vintage has found that will have your vintage heart thumping.
Love Sculpture in front of Court Square
If you have someone that likes stickers, keychains, wall hangings, pens, candles, or jewelry, you have to stop by The Lady Jane to see what Sara has stocked for the holidays. The store is FULL of amazing finds. I always stuff the stockings at Christmas with the awesome things she has procured for the shop. This is also the shop where I find Ros O’Brien’s natured inspired ceramics. Her creations are beautiful and always a popular gift from Christmas ornaments to coffee cups.
As you continue up main street, drop in Oasis Fine Art and Craft to talk with Barbara and the other artists about their creations. You will want to see what Delaney has painted and let your young artists make something in the Kid’s Corner.
Old Harrisonburg building.
Now that you have made it to the historic Court Square you will want to take some time to enjoy the architecture of our courthouse, read about Charlotte Harris’s fate in 1878 on one of our local historic markers, and find out more about the springhouse.
Go visit Glen’s Fair Price Store – Harrisonburg’s most Unusual Store – to find rare and not rare toys, games, costumes, pranks and other fun things you did not know you needed.
That is a full day of fun and I did not even mention The Golden Pony pizza, Clementine’s Concerts, Kline’s ice cream, the shows at Court Square Theater, the games at Horizon gifts, the Massanutten Regional Library, The Lo (get the small) at Lola’s Deli, the murals throughout, the duck scavenger hunt, the buenos dias at Cuban burger, salmon at Beyond, the records you can find at Wonder Skate shop, or stopping in to talk to Mike at Water Street Vintage.
Then there is north downtown and all the shops and restaurants you should visit, the amazing team at HDR that works on programs and events for downtown, and of course my favorite place in all of downtown – The Depot. Come visit, see our art gallery, explore our historic artifacts, or get a building designed.

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