Make your first stop Back Home on the Farm, an ideal autumn attraction for kids and adults alike. Between the pumpkin patch, corn maze, farm animals, hayride, butterfly exhibit, greenhouses, and carousel, this family-owned farm has enough interactive activities to keep you busy for hours.
Make reservations for dinner at Local Chop & Grill House; you won’t regret it. Chef Ryan Zale’s menu is notorious for changing with the seasons, so you’ll be sure to get a taste of some of the best locally-sourced autumn produce in anything you order. A fine seasonal menu is also offered at Joshua Wilton House as well as Clementine Cafe.
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 weekend activities. For a cozier and more romantic feel, try out By the Side of the Road Bed & Breakfast. Or, for a stay with history and charm, land your bags at the Stonewall Jackson Inn B&B.
Rise early and head to the Harrisonburg Farmers Market at Turner Pavilion, 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 and jellies, pies, sauces, breads, and more 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 over to the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum & Botanical Gardens. With picnic in tow, find a comfortable spot to sit in the gardens and enjoy your locally-sourced lunch surrounded by an enchanting 125 acres of colorful flora and fauna. Also, make sure to check the arboretum’s schedule, because you may be able to catch a workshop or artist display. Other great places to enjoy your picnic and a leisurely walk with a view of the beautiful autumn setting include Purcell Park or Hillandale Park.
Score a few tickets to see the James Madison University Dukes play at the newly-expanded and renovated 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. Of course, the renowned wings at Billy Jacks Wing & Draft Shack or Tex-Mex flavors at Rick's Cantina will do the same.
Soak in the morning with fresh coffee and complimentary breakfast at your lodging destination of choice; 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, allowing you to soak in the fall foliage. Call ahead to schedule your tour; there are several different types available depending on your experience level.
If you'd rather end your trip on a more lax level, take a leisurely stroll down Main Street for shopping, museum-visiting, and gallery-hopping amidst the crisp autumn air. On your way out of town, make a stop at Showalter’s Orchard & Greenhouse, where you can pick from over 20 varieties of apples to take home with you and grab a few other local gifts at the gift shop. While you’re there, sneak into the Old Hill Cider tasting room, where you can taste freshly pressed sweet cider.