Some towns all but shut down after the summer travel season, but Harrisonburg definitely isn’t one of them. Whether you plan your visit to Shenandoah National Park for the heat of summer or a winter getaway, there are plenty of things to do and see not too far from the Swift Run Gap Entrance to the park.
Today we’ll journey into the park for some of the can’t miss sights and hikes, and we’ll explore some of the other exciting things to do in and around nearby Harrisonburg, VA. Whether you prefer pinball and live music or a few minutes of quiet meditation beside a waterfall, there’s plenty in store for you!
We’ve done the legwork for you, so all you have to do is sit back and pick which of these attractions near Shenandoah National Park you’re headed to next. We’ve summarized what there is to do at each of these spots, plus included an address and link for more info. We’ve even identified all of the attractions that are currently accepting convenient GiftYa gift cards.
Never heard of GiftYa? No problem – it’s a pretty simple idea, but it’s got some big benefits.
GiftYa is a digital gift card that can be sent within seconds right from your phone. These gift cards can be used at a variety of locations but are particularly popular for restaurants and attractions like zoos, waterparks, and arcades.
If you or someone you know is out traveling, you can keep GiftYa gift cards right on your phone instead of carrying cash or cards everywhere you go. Plus, if you have trouble keeping track of the balance on your physical gift cards – let’s face it, those marker notes on the back can get confusing and even smudge off completely – GiftYa has you covered. You don’t have to worry about keeping track of the balances anymore, or the physical gift cards themselves, because your phone does all of that for you. There really isn’t a more convenient option when it comes to buying gift cards and gifts for your loved ones in Harrisonburg, VA and all over the country!
But that’s enough about that. Now that we’re all on the same page, it’s time to get to the good stuff– our list of the top attractions near Shenandoah National Park in Harrisonburg!
Shenandoah National Park | nps.gov
Skyline Drive is the only public road through Shenandoah National Park, which is why it takes the top spot on our list. The 105 mile stretch of highway runs between the crest of the scenic Blue Ridge Mountains, which will take roughly 3 hours to traverse on a nice day. The Swift Run Gap Entrance near Harrisonburg, VA will put you on Skyline Drive at mile 65.5.
So if you plan on exploring the park, you’ll end up on Skyline Drive at one point or another. But why have we listed it as an attraction? Skyline Drive will get you to some of Shenandoah’s most beautiful hikes and attractions, but you can see plenty on the drive as well. Plenty of wildlife – including black bear, deer, turkey, and more – can often be seen from the comfort of the car window.
“I drove skyline Drive through the Shenandoah National Park from one into the other. Was well worth my day. It's a very curvy, curvy road with lots of pull offs, nothing scary. Go during the time the leaves are changing middle to end of October, and you will never forget the scenery.” - Yelp Review
Skyline Dr. | nps.gov
Just off of Skyline Drive, you can find a number of popular hikes perfect for a variety of ages and skill levels. Dark Hollow Trail is a fan favorite – the short 1.4 mile out-and-back trek is popular with locals and visitors alike. However with several scenic viewpoints dotted along the journey, there are plenty of places to stop and rest or wait for crowds to thin out.
Considered moderate difficulty by most casual hikers, Dark Hollow Trail is short enough that most people, including little ones, should be able to make the trek. Keep in mind that there are some steep sections, which can be challenging for some hikers, particularly during seasons that leave the trail muddy or icy.
If you’re planning to visit, you can expect to spend about 1 and 15 minutes on the hike.
“This trail was beautiful. I did it in sneakers but highly recommend sturdier hiking shoes. It was fun going all the way down, going back up on that incline was another story. It was starting to pick up as we were heading out so go early. Enjoy!” - Yelp Review
Harrisonburg | nps.gov
The Appalachian Trail is over 2,000 miles long and stretches from Georgia all the way up to Maine. We’re not talking about the whole thing here – that’s more hiking than we can fit in this post! But there is a smaller 115.5 mile section of the trail that passes right through Shenandoah National Park.
To walk the entire point-to-point trail is an endeavor reserved for more experienced hikers as the terrain can be challenging and completing the trek takes multiple days to complete. That being said, there are plenty of access points where you can get a smaller taste of hiking the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah Park – and then enjoy a quick lunch before heading back to your lodgings for the night.
If you can, plan your hike to include the stretch of the trail that leads to High Top Mountain, the tallest peak in the south district of Shenandoah National Park.
“There are many benefits of living in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The views are spectacular in places. You never know what you are going to run across. Wildlife is abundant and the various landscapes please the eye.” - Yelp Review
1200 Adventure Dr | McGaheysville | massresort.com
Don’t let winter weather rain on your parade – err, trip to the waterpark. No matter what time of year you plan your visit to Shenandoah National Park, Massanutten Indoor/Outdoor Waterpark is a must-see attraction during your visit. With plenty of thrills and adventures to keep little ones entertained and relaxing amenities perfect for adults trying to squeeze a little relaxation into their vacation, it’s no wonder that Massanutten was voted #2 on USA Today’s Readers Choice list of best waterparks in America 2 years in a row.
Inside, you’ll find a wide variety of things to do. From inflatable adventures and water fortresses for little ones to a lazy river and hot tubs for adults, there is something for everyone. If your trip happens to be between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there’s even more to do during the summer months when the outdoor portion of the park is open as well. Get ready for thrills with several huge waterslides, and stay cool with the park’s wave pool.
No matter when you visit, patrons agree you’re in for a great day.
“Our family of four had a blast! I loved their little pool that was perfect for our 1 and 3 year old. The lazy river was also a hit! I wiped out hard on "the Flow Rider" but had a blast doing it. Not the hugest water park but a great option that is fun for all ages!” - Yelp Review
228 S Liberty St | Downtown | harrisonburgfarmersmarket.com
To understand the history of the Harrisonburg Farmers Market, we have to go all the way to the 1950s. Local organic producer Clarence Dellinger brought his wares to the Harrisonburg Police Station to sell. The downtown Market as we know it today got its start in 1979, and has been serving the community – locals and visitors alike – ever since.
Here you’ll find fresh chocolate, jewelry artisans, candlemakers, photographers, a rainbow of fresh produce and flowers, locally grown CBD, baked goods, crab cakes, and much, much more. Visit Valentin Prince of The Prince Gallery to check out vintage paper ephemera, or swing by Julie Haushalter’s table for heavenly bath and body products created by White Oak Lavender Farm & Purple Wolf Vineyard. There’s truly something for everyone at the Harrisonburg Downtown Market.
“I'm used to a fairly large NYC farmer's market, and this southern gem showed me who's boss. The size was perfect for an hour of perusing or 10 minutes for my husband. There were at least 20 vendors selling goods, foods, coffee, etc.” - Yelp Review
Grab a Golden Pony gift card by following the link!
181 N Main St | Downtown | goldenponyva.com
A favorite among locals, The Golden Pony is located at the venue formerly known as The Blue Nile. When TBN closed its doors in 2014, bar manager Paul Somers set to work getting the spot back in business as The Golden Pony.
The Golden Pony is now Harrisonburg’s go-to place for a good time. With two full bars, plenty of tasty food offerings, pinball machines, local art, and live music on a professional soundstage Sunday-Thursday (there’s a DJ on the weekends) – you’re sure to find a good time.
Plus, The Golden Pony truly makes its patrons a priority. With menu options tailored to different dietary needs – the vegan and veggie options are always popular – and accessible entrances and restrooms, the folks at The Golden Pony really go the extra mile to make sure everyone is able to enjoy the fun.
“My favorite place in town to hang out and catch some music! They're also a great spot for food any time of day - their brunch, lunch, dinner, and late night menus are all excellent and have a variety of delicious vegan/veggie options too… Their upstairs patio is a great place to enjoy a drink and hang out with other people's dogs!” - Yelp Review
Whether you visit Harrisonburg to get outdoors or stay in – whether it’s the heat of a southern summer or a cold, snowy winter trip – we hope this list has given you plenty of ideas on how you can spend a day.
And remember, if you or someone you love is out in Harrisonburg, we marked off which of these attractions accept convenient GiftYa digital gift cards. You can use them at any of the locations we indicated on this list.
Be sure to stop back and visit us soon – we’re always adding new local and national brands to the GiftYa catalog, and we’re hard at work putting together more guides for the blog, too. Hope to see you soon!