Taylor-JMU

A Virginia Road Trip or Weekend Bucket List

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Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley on the western side of Virginia state and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia is one of the most beautiful areas in the United States. Between the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains, beautiful nature, stunning rolling green hills and farmland, natural caverns, historic sites and fun small cities, you definitely cannot miss out on this area if you are doing a road trip along the East Coast.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Even though Interstate 95 is the more popular route to drive along the East Coast of the United States because it goes through some of the country’s largest cities, I highly recommend taking the scenic Interstate 81 that goes through rural New York State and Pennsylvania, a small historical part of Maryland and West Virginia and into the mountainous Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. (If you continue south, you will drive into the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.)

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

For those of you who do not know, I attended college at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia from 2009 to 2013. Although I admittedly got comfortable being within the “JMU bubble”, I was lucky enough to make lifelong friends from the surrounding areas who exposed me to the beautiful and fun hidden gems within the heart of the Shenandoah Valley or as locals call it, “The Valley”.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
Photo Taken by Stephany Holguin Photography

In this blog post, I am so thrilled to go through the top 10 things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


Visit James Madison University:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
Photo Taken by Stephany Holguin Photography

Obviously, my first suggestion on a road trip through the Shenandoah Valley is to visit James Madison University – Go Dukes! I love my alma mater and there are more than a number of reasons why I chose to go to JMU. One of the main reasons was because of the University’s picturesque campus and amazing spirit. Interstate 81 splits JMU‘s campus in half between East Campus and West Campus, making it hard to miss. East Campus is more modern, but offers breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley and gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains and West Campus is known for its stunning and historical Bluestone buildings. Here is a list of things to do at JMU:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
Photo Taken by Stephany Holguin Photography
  • Attend a football game in the fall or any sporting event. The Dukes are great in sports and football games plus tailgating are such a blast! Click here to check out JMU’s athletic schedules.
  • Grab Chick-Fil-A (a popular Southern fast food chain that is known for their original chicken sandwiches) and relax on The Quad.
  • Stroll around campus and admire the views of the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains, stunning Bluestone architecture (Bluestone buildings are iconic throughout the Shenandoah Valley) and beautiful gardens and landscape.
  • Eat at the dining hall! JMU is one of the top rated U.S. colleges for campus food according to the Princeton Review. From vegan to gluten-free food and Italian to Asian cuisine, eating at one of JMU’s dining halls will definitely not disappoint! My personal favorites are E-Hall, D-Hall, Festival and Market One!
  • Wander through the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum. This woodland sanctuary at JMU is a public urban garden that preserves native plant species and provides opportunities for botanical research. It is absolutely beautiful and what is awesome is that JMU will provide romantic horse and carriage rides there around the holidays.
  • Workout at UREC! JMU’s University Recreation Center offers something for everyone. Whether you want to get a workout in or have a spa day, UREC is the perfect place to stay active and also wind down. Click here to discover all the amazing activities UREC offers.
  • Stay at Hotel Madison! JMU’s first-ever hotel and home to the Shenandoah Valley Conference Center is located right off the JMU Quad on South Main Street that leads into Downtown Harrisonburg. It is the perfect hotel that is located right in the center of it all. The rooms at this new space are absolutely beautiful and you get great views of The Valley, JMU campus and Downtown Harrisonburg when you stay at Hotel Madison. (There are also a variety of hotels in Harrisonburg along with Airbnbs and HomeAway options.)
Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Stroll through Downtown Harrisonburg:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Harrisonburg, Virginia offers a vibrant community with a renowned food scene and rich arts and cultural life. Historic Downtown Harrisonburg is both walkable and bikeable and it features many amazing restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, historic centers, antique stores, bookshops and more. Downtown Harrisonburg is a short walk away from JMU‘s campus. Below is what you must do in Downtown Harrisonburg.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Sip Wine at Shenandoah Valley Vineyards:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley is one of the country’s best wine producing regions. There are several amazing vineyards along The Valley’s wine trail, but my two favorites that were in close proximity to JMU were Crosskeys Vineyards and Bluestone Vineyard. Just imagine sipping local wines while gazing at the beautiful mountains and countryside that Western Virginia offers; you are guaranteed to be amazed!

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

In addition to amazing wineries, there are numerous breweries located throughout the Shenandoah Valley as well. You could also find a beautiful wine region in Charlottesville that is located an hour from the heart of the Harrisonburg area. Charlottesville also features a lot of great breweries in addition to other wonderful activities. I recommend making your way to there and discover the best of Cville.

Enjoy the Mountains at Massanutten Resort

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

If you are visiting the Shenandoah Valley in the winter months, make sure to check out the slopes by skiing, snowboarding or snow tubing at Massanutten Resort. When visiting the resort in the summer months, you can enjoy swimming at the indoor waterpark, go karting, golfing or having fun doing adventurous activities such as horseback riding or biking through the woods! This great resort is perfect to stay at as well and it is located just short of 20 minutes east from JMU in McGaheysville.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

There are a few other great ski resorts that aren’t too far from the Shenandoah Valley area. I recommend also checking out Wintergreen Resort in Nellysford, Virginia, Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, West Virginia and Whitetail Mountain Resort in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.

Hike Virginia’s Highest Mountain Peaks:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Believe it or not, I honestly did not start getting into hiking or the great outdoors until I got to college. My family were always beach and city people, so we never went hiking locally, camping, etc. The Shenandoah Valley offers so many amazing and scenic trails to enjoy if you are a hiker. A lot of these trails range from easy to expert levels and there is always something for everyone. Below is a list of great places to go hiking in the Shenandoah Valley.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
  • Massanutten Mountain
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
  • Skyline Drive
  • Appalachian Trail (Begins in either Maine or Georgia and goes through North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.) This trail is similar to the Camino de Santiago where you could walk the entire trail or bits and pieces of it.
Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

If you aren’t up for a hike, but want to take in great views, I highly recommend making your way to Reddish Knob. It offers breathtaking views that overlook mountain peaks in both Virginia and West Virginia.

Explore Downtown Staunton:

Only 20 minutes south of JMU is the historic downtown area of Staunton. Just like Downtown Harrisonburg, Staunton offers great restaurants, bars, shops, breweries and so much more. Click here for things to do in Staunton. You could even go back to the Renaissance period at the American Shakespeare Center! They offer numerous shows at various times.

Savor the Beauty of the Shenandoah Caverns:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

One of the most thrilling geological adventures in the Shenandoah Valley is visiting the Shenandoah Caverns or the Luray Caverns. Learn about the history and folklore of the caves and get to see majestic hotspots within the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Take in the Nature at Blue Hole:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

One of JMU students’ most popular nature spots to enjoy in the warmer months is Blue Hole located 12 miles from the university on Route 33 West in Rawley Springs, Virginia. In and around Blue Hole, you could hike, swim, have a picnic, enjoy outdoor activities and make memories in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Say Hello to the Animals at Virginia’s Safari Park:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

An exciting adventure in the Shenandoah Valley is the 180-acre drive-thru Safari Park that features 1,000 free-roaming animals. This is the perfect place to visit if you have kids as well! In addition to the drive-thru where animals such as llamas, bison and zebra could come up to your car window, you could also walk through the Tiger Territory, Giraffe Feeding Station, petting area, Kangaroo Walk-About, reptile house and more! The Virginia Safari Park is located in Natural Bridge, Virginia.

Run through the Shenandoah Lavender Fields:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Yes, my friends; you don’t have to go to Provence, France to see beautiful lavender. You could also see them in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia! White Oak Lavender Farm is situated at The Purple Wolf Vineyard in the countryside of Harrisonburg. This family-owned farm has lavender plants and offer “U-Pick” for the flowers during the blooming season, which is usually from June to August. (I honestly wish I knew about this amazing place when I was in college!)

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

White Oak Lavender Farm makes homemade soaps, lotions, creams and aromatherapy products for purchase. While you’re there, enjoy the lovely scents with the beautiful views of the Shenandoah Valley!


Photo Taken by Stephany Holguin Photography

I hope you all enjoyed discovering the best activities to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you have any questions about the Shenandoah Valley in the state of Virginia, please send me an email at [email protected].

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Basic Facts of the United States:

Currency: United States Dollar, Capital: Washington D.C., VA State Capital: Richmond

Click here to join my private blog sharing Facebook group.

*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

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4 Comments

  1. Bliss on September 17, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    I want to visit that lavender farm!!

    • Taylor Deer on September 17, 2019 at 5:49 pm

      I wish I knew about it when I was in college!

  2. Brittany on September 18, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Awww I loved reading this! I’m from the Blue Ridge Mountains but NC-side. Aren’t they gorgeous!

    • Taylor Deer on September 18, 2019 at 10:59 am

      Thank you Bri and it really is gorgeous there. I didn’t know you were originally from North Carolina! So cool! 🙂

Leave a Comment





Taylor-JMU

A Virginia Road Trip or Weekend Bucket List

Pin the Below Image to Keep Handy

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley on the western side of Virginia state and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia is one of the most beautiful areas in the United States. Between the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains, beautiful nature, stunning rolling green hills and farmland, natural caverns, historic sites and fun small cities, you definitely cannot miss out on this area if you are doing a road trip along the East Coast.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Even though Interstate 95 is the more popular route to drive along the East Coast of the United States because it goes through some of the country’s largest cities, I highly recommend taking the scenic Interstate 81 that goes through rural New York State and Pennsylvania, a small historical part of Maryland and West Virginia and into the mountainous Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. (If you continue south, you will drive into the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.)

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

For those of you who do not know, I attended college at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia from 2009 to 2013. Although I admittedly got comfortable being within the “JMU bubble”, I was lucky enough to make lifelong friends from the surrounding areas who exposed me to the beautiful and fun hidden gems within the heart of the Shenandoah Valley or as locals call it, “The Valley”.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
Photo Taken by Stephany Holguin Photography

In this blog post, I am so thrilled to go through the top 10 things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like.


Visit James Madison University:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
Photo Taken by Stephany Holguin Photography

Obviously, my first suggestion on a road trip through the Shenandoah Valley is to visit James Madison University – Go Dukes! I love my alma mater and there are more than a number of reasons why I chose to go to JMU. One of the main reasons was because of the University’s picturesque campus and amazing spirit. Interstate 81 splits JMU‘s campus in half between East Campus and West Campus, making it hard to miss. East Campus is more modern, but offers breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley and gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains and West Campus is known for its stunning and historical Bluestone buildings. Here is a list of things to do at JMU:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
Photo Taken by Stephany Holguin Photography
  • Attend a football game in the fall or any sporting event. The Dukes are great in sports and football games plus tailgating are such a blast! Click here to check out JMU’s athletic schedules.
  • Grab Chick-Fil-A (a popular Southern fast food chain that is known for their original chicken sandwiches) and relax on The Quad.
  • Stroll around campus and admire the views of the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains, stunning Bluestone architecture (Bluestone buildings are iconic throughout the Shenandoah Valley) and beautiful gardens and landscape.
  • Eat at the dining hall! JMU is one of the top rated U.S. colleges for campus food according to the Princeton Review. From vegan to gluten-free food and Italian to Asian cuisine, eating at one of JMU’s dining halls will definitely not disappoint! My personal favorites are E-Hall, D-Hall, Festival and Market One!
  • Wander through the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum. This woodland sanctuary at JMU is a public urban garden that preserves native plant species and provides opportunities for botanical research. It is absolutely beautiful and what is awesome is that JMU will provide romantic horse and carriage rides there around the holidays.
  • Workout at UREC! JMU’s University Recreation Center offers something for everyone. Whether you want to get a workout in or have a spa day, UREC is the perfect place to stay active and also wind down. Click here to discover all the amazing activities UREC offers.
  • Stay at Hotel Madison! JMU’s first-ever hotel and home to the Shenandoah Valley Conference Center is located right off the JMU Quad on South Main Street that leads into Downtown Harrisonburg. It is the perfect hotel that is located right in the center of it all. The rooms at this new space are absolutely beautiful and you get great views of The Valley, JMU campus and Downtown Harrisonburg when you stay at Hotel Madison. (There are also a variety of hotels in Harrisonburg along with Airbnbs and HomeAway options.)
Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Stroll through Downtown Harrisonburg:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Harrisonburg, Virginia offers a vibrant community with a renowned food scene and rich arts and cultural life. Historic Downtown Harrisonburg is both walkable and bikeable and it features many amazing restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, historic centers, antique stores, bookshops and more. Downtown Harrisonburg is a short walk away from JMU‘s campus. Below is what you must do in Downtown Harrisonburg.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Sip Wine at Shenandoah Valley Vineyards:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

The Shenandoah Valley is one of the country’s best wine producing regions. There are several amazing vineyards along The Valley’s wine trail, but my two favorites that were in close proximity to JMU were Crosskeys Vineyards and Bluestone Vineyard. Just imagine sipping local wines while gazing at the beautiful mountains and countryside that Western Virginia offers; you are guaranteed to be amazed!

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

In addition to amazing wineries, there are numerous breweries located throughout the Shenandoah Valley as well. You could also find a beautiful wine region in Charlottesville that is located an hour from the heart of the Harrisonburg area. Charlottesville also features a lot of great breweries in addition to other wonderful activities. I recommend making your way to there and discover the best of Cville.

Enjoy the Mountains at Massanutten Resort

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

If you are visiting the Shenandoah Valley in the winter months, make sure to check out the slopes by skiing, snowboarding or snow tubing at Massanutten Resort. When visiting the resort in the summer months, you can enjoy swimming at the indoor waterpark, go karting, golfing or having fun doing adventurous activities such as horseback riding or biking through the woods! This great resort is perfect to stay at as well and it is located just short of 20 minutes east from JMU in McGaheysville.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

There are a few other great ski resorts that aren’t too far from the Shenandoah Valley area. I recommend also checking out Wintergreen Resort in Nellysford, Virginia, Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, West Virginia and Whitetail Mountain Resort in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.

Hike Virginia’s Highest Mountain Peaks:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Believe it or not, I honestly did not start getting into hiking or the great outdoors until I got to college. My family were always beach and city people, so we never went hiking locally, camping, etc. The Shenandoah Valley offers so many amazing and scenic trails to enjoy if you are a hiker. A lot of these trails range from easy to expert levels and there is always something for everyone. Below is a list of great places to go hiking in the Shenandoah Valley.

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
  • Massanutten Mountain
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
  • Skyline Drive
  • Appalachian Trail (Begins in either Maine or Georgia and goes through North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire.) This trail is similar to the Camino de Santiago where you could walk the entire trail or bits and pieces of it.
Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

If you aren’t up for a hike, but want to take in great views, I highly recommend making your way to Reddish Knob. It offers breathtaking views that overlook mountain peaks in both Virginia and West Virginia.

Explore Downtown Staunton:

Only 20 minutes south of JMU is the historic downtown area of Staunton. Just like Downtown Harrisonburg, Staunton offers great restaurants, bars, shops, breweries and so much more. Click here for things to do in Staunton. You could even go back to the Renaissance period at the American Shakespeare Center! They offer numerous shows at various times.

Savor the Beauty of the Shenandoah Caverns:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

One of the most thrilling geological adventures in the Shenandoah Valley is visiting the Shenandoah Caverns or the Luray Caverns. Learn about the history and folklore of the caves and get to see majestic hotspots within the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Take in the Nature at Blue Hole:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

One of JMU students’ most popular nature spots to enjoy in the warmer months is Blue Hole located 12 miles from the university on Route 33 West in Rawley Springs, Virginia. In and around Blue Hole, you could hike, swim, have a picnic, enjoy outdoor activities and make memories in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

Say Hello to the Animals at Virginia’s Safari Park:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

An exciting adventure in the Shenandoah Valley is the 180-acre drive-thru Safari Park that features 1,000 free-roaming animals. This is the perfect place to visit if you have kids as well! In addition to the drive-thru where animals such as llamas, bison and zebra could come up to your car window, you could also walk through the Tiger Territory, Giraffe Feeding Station, petting area, Kangaroo Walk-About, reptile house and more! The Virginia Safari Park is located in Natural Bridge, Virginia.

Run through the Shenandoah Lavender Fields:

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Yes, my friends; you don’t have to go to Provence, France to see beautiful lavender. You could also see them in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia! White Oak Lavender Farm is situated at The Purple Wolf Vineyard in the countryside of Harrisonburg. This family-owned farm has lavender plants and offer “U-Pick” for the flowers during the blooming season, which is usually from June to August. (I honestly wish I knew about this amazing place when I was in college!)

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

White Oak Lavender Farm makes homemade soaps, lotions, creams and aromatherapy products for purchase. While you’re there, enjoy the lovely scents with the beautiful views of the Shenandoah Valley!


Photo Taken by Stephany Holguin Photography

I hope you all enjoyed discovering the best activities to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. If you have any questions about the Shenandoah Valley in the state of Virginia, please send me an email at [email protected].

Top 10 Things to do in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

Basic Facts of the United States:

Currency: United States Dollar, Capital: Washington D.C., VA State Capital: Richmond

Click here to join my private blog sharing Facebook group.

*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

4 Comments

  1. Bliss on September 17, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    I want to visit that lavender farm!!

    • Taylor Deer on September 17, 2019 at 5:49 pm

      I wish I knew about it when I was in college!

  2. Brittany on September 18, 2019 at 10:31 am

    Awww I loved reading this! I’m from the Blue Ridge Mountains but NC-side. Aren’t they gorgeous!

    • Taylor Deer on September 18, 2019 at 10:59 am

      Thank you Bri and it really is gorgeous there. I didn’t know you were originally from North Carolina! So cool! 🙂

Leave a Comment





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