Take the roads "less traveled" to get to Harrisonburg; routes like the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive are some of the most beautiful in the U.S. for leaf peeping, and both have easy connections into the city. Stop first at Back Home on the Farm, an ideal autumn attraction for kids and adults alike featuring a pumpkin patch, corn maze, butterfly exhibit, and greenhouse.
Grab dinner at Local Chop & Grill House, where Chef Ryan Zale's menu is notorious for changing with the seasons. Cozy up at the Fairfield Inn & Suites at night's end. This spacious hotel is conveniently located in town, with easy access to I-81 and Route 33, and just minutes from many of your three-day activities.
Rise early and head to the Harrisonburg Farmers Market, where you'll be surrounded with your pick of the fall crop. In addition to farm-fresh produce, cheeses, and meats, you can also pick up homemade jams, jellies, and pies from the Valley's best growers, artisans and producers. Make sure to grab enough goods to make a picnic for your next stop.
Next, take the short drive to the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. With picnic in tow, enjoy your locally-sourced lunch surrounded by an enchanting 125 acres of colorful flora and fauna.
Score a few tickets to see the James Madison University Dukes play at the newly-expanded Bridgeforth Stadium (a favorite fall activity for the locals and diehard JMU fans), or to see a live performance at the Forbes Center for the Performing Arts. Before you head to one of these events, grab dinner at Taste of Thai, where authentic Thai soup and spicy entrees will warm you up.
Soak in the morning with fresh coffee and complimentary breakfast at the Fairfield Inn; you'll need the energy for the next part of your trip. Often called one of the best guided trips in the South, a mountain biking excursion with Shenandoah Mountain Touring is a must. The endless trails in and around Harrisonburg provide breathtaking views of the surrounding foliage. Call ahead to schedule your tour and mention your experience level.
On your way out of town, make a stop at Showalter's Orchard & Greenhouse, where you can pick from over 20 varieties of apples, peruse the gift shop, and drop in the tasting room for freshly pressed sweet cider.