Scenic road Shenandoah Valley north

Northern Shenandoah Valley Road Trip: Winchester to Harrisonburg Virginia

A Northern Shenandoah Valley road trip offers incredible scenery, delicious local food and drink, rich history, unique places to stay, and a chance to unwind, not far from Washington DC. Allow three to five days to explore the scenic area from Winchester to Harrisonburg, Virginia, avoiding the busy highway and enjoying beautiful country roads.

Scenic road Shenandoah Valley north

Scenic road Shenandoah Valley north

 

Explore and Escape in Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia

Begin your Northern Shenandoah Valley road trip in the historic downtown of Winchester. The Old Town Winchester Walking Mall is a lovely pedestrian area lined with unique stores, restaurants, museums, a nanobrewery, a theater, and historic buildings, including a tavern that George Washington frequented.

Winchester Walking Mall Virginia

Winchester Walking Mall Virginia

 

When you’re ready to explore further, take a slow drive along the country roads of Frederick County, stopping at local farms and wineries, or enjoying a hike along the West Virginia border. In summer, you can catch a flick at the Family Drive-in Theater, an old-school drive-in with car-mounted speakers. In fall, farms offer apple-picking, pumpkin patches, and other family-friendly fun.

Here are 15 fun things to do in and near Winchester Virginia:

15 Fun Things to Do on a Winchester Virginia Getaway or Day Trip

For more information about things to do in Winchester and Frederick County, visit:
Winchester Frederick County Tourism | Facebook | Twitter

Back Road Fun in Shenandoah County, Virginia

Heading south along Route 11 or smaller country roads, the next area to explore on a Northern Shenandoah Valley road trip is Shenandoah County, Virginia. Beautiful scenic roads, excellent hiking along the West Virginia border, local wine and beer on the Shenandoah Spirits Trail, small towns, and interesting museums give visitors plenty to do. We recommend at least two nights in the area if time allows.

Exploring fun things to do in Shenandoah County Virginia

Exploring fun things to do in Shenandoah County Virginia

 

Here are our 10 fun places to explore, eat, and drink in Shenandoah County:

10 Fun Things to Do in Shenandoah County Virginia

For more information about things to do in Shenandoah County, visit:
Visit Shenandoah County Tourism | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Town and Country in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Virginia

Our final stop in Northern Shenandoah County is Harrisonburg, home of James Madison University (JMU) and the county seat of Rockingham County.

Things to Do in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Start your visit at the Hargesty Higgins House Visitor Center, which has an excellent orientation center, a small museum about the historic Valley Turnpike (route 11), a gift shop, and a small cafe. Pick up a map and explore the historic downtown on foot. Harrisonburg was the Great American Main Street Award Winner in 2015.

Visitor Center Harrisonburg VA

Visitor Center Harrisonburg VA

 

Be sure to get a picture at the Harrisonburg LOVEwork, behind the Virginia Quilt Museum. The LOVEwork highlights four cultural themes of diversity, agriculture, recreation, and arts.

LOVEwork Harrisonburg Virginia

LOVEwork Harrisonburg Virginia

 

Harrisonburg is a popular biking area, and one of the local bike shops in town—Shenandoah Bicycle CompanyRocktown BicyclesBluestone Bike & Run—can offer advice and gear for your own bike outing.

If you prefer a hike, ask the Visitor Center for advice and trail maps. We drove west  to the Hone Quarry area of the George Washington National Forest for a short but fairly steep half-mile hike to a spectacular viewpoint.

Trail Hone Quarry overlook Rockingham County VA

Hone Quarry overlook trail Rockingham County VA

Hone Quarry Overlook Rockingham County VA

Hone Quarry Overlook Rockingham County VA

 

For a short walk through nature in town, visit JMU’s Edith J Carrier Arboretum. The network of paths, with benches for relaxing, is a nice place for a break.

Arboretum Harrisonburg VA

Arboretum Harrisonburg VA

 

Drink and Eat Local in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County

Bella Luna serves delicious wood-fired pizzas using fresh, local ingredients in the historic Livery Building downtown. They also offer a nice selection of fresh salads and sandwiches, and the vibe is warm and relaxed. If you’re in the mood for a treat, head across the street for some of Bella’s tasty gelato, made with milk from a local dairy.

Bella Luna pizza Harrisonburg VA

Bella Luna pizza Harrisonburg VA

Bella gelato Harrisonburg Virginia

Bella gelato Harrisonburg Virginia

 

Another option for dinner in town, Clementine’s Cafe brings food, music, and art together. The outdoor downstairs patio was quiet during our dinner, but trivia nights and live entertainment bring a crowd on weekends. Closer to JMU, we like Corgans Publick House for Irish specials, good burgers, and a pint.

Downtown Harrisonburg is home to four of the craft breweries on the Shenandoah Spirits Trail and the BeerWerks TrailPale Fire Brewing CompanyBrothers Craft BreweryThree Notch’d Brewing Company, and Wolfe Street Brewery. Pale Fire Brewing opened in 2015 in the renovated Ice House, a cool industrial building, and has a nice open tasting room and patio. We tasted 5 of the 11 brews on tap, and particularly liked the Red Molly and the Lucille Irish Stout.

Pale Fire Brewing Harrisonburg VA

Pale Fire Brewing Harrisonburg VA

 

Where to Stay in Harrisonburg Virginia

The comfortable Fairfield Inn and Suites is a good option for a stay in Harrisonburg. It’s located near James Madison University and the Arboretum, just a short drive from downtown.

Fairfield Inn and Suites Harrisonburg VA

Fairfield Inn and Suites Harrisonburg VA

 

Northern Shenandoah Valley Road Trip Tips

Country road Frederick County VA Shenandoah Valley

Country road Frederick County VA Shenandoah Valley

 

Many people, like us, have traveled through the Shenandoah Valley on busy highway 81 without ever enjoying all that the region has to offer. To make the most of your visit:

  • Get off the highway. Route 11 is the obvious alternate to route 81, since it parallels the highway, but there are plenty of smaller, beautiful country roads that take you into the heart of the valley. Make time to explore a road less traveled
  • Take it slow. The beauty of a road trip through Northern Shenandoah Valley is the change to see and experience something new. Enjoy the country roads; stop at a farm stand; visit a winery; poke around a small town.
  • Extend the fun. If you allow extra time you can extend your road trip into Southern Shenandoah Valley or east onto Skyline Drive.

Have you explored the Northern Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia? We’d love to hear your tips on favorite stops for our next visit.

For more information about things to do on a road trip through the Shenandoah Valley, visit:
Visit Shenandoah Valley | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

For more Shenandoah Valley tips and things to do, check out these related articles:

Follow Fun in Fairfax VA on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram for more fun places to visit and things to do in Northern Virginia and surrounding areas.

Portions of our Northern Shenandoah Valley road trip were hosted by Winchester Frederick CountyVisit Shenandoah County, and Harrisonburg Tourism. All opinions, text, and photos are our own.

A Northern Shenandoah Valley Virginia road trip offers scenery, hiking, local food and drink, history, unique stops, and time to unwind, not far from DC.

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28 Responses to “Northern Shenandoah Valley Road Trip: Winchester to Harrisonburg Virginia”

  1. Susanna November 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    Great article! However the Library in Winchester us the Handley Library not Hanley. 😀

    • Fun in Fairfax VA November 15, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

      Thanks so much for catching that typo (now fixed)! Thanks for the positive feedback too, Susanna. 🙂

  2. Doreen Pendgracs November 15, 2016 at 7:30 pm #

    I have never been to Virginia, but would love to visit. Your post makes everything look SO scrumptious! I’m sure I would gain 10 pounds.

  3. suzannestavert November 15, 2016 at 8:24 pm #

    This is not an area I am familiar with! Thank you for such a thorough tour! I saved it to Pinterest for future reference.

    • Fun in Fairfax VA November 15, 2016 at 10:00 pm #

      Thanks for the positive feedback Suzanne. It really is a beautiful area.

  4. Ed November 15, 2016 at 9:55 pm #

    Great article showing what we have to offer in our valley. Thanks 3rh hill [email protected] DeMello vineyards

    • Fun in Fairfax VA November 15, 2016 at 10:02 pm #

      Thanks Ed. We loved our visit to 3rd Hill Winery at DeMello Vineyards. That’s quite a tasting barn you built! The Shenandoah Valley is lovely.

  5. Polly November 17, 2016 at 8:05 am #

    Lovely! I’m originally from Berryville, so this is making me so homesick! Can’t wait to come back and visit.

    • Fun in Fairfax VA November 17, 2016 at 8:36 am #

      Thank you Polly. I can understand being homesick for such a beautiful and fun area. Hope you get back to visit soon.

  6. McCool Travel November 17, 2016 at 4:06 pm #

    Shenandoah Valley is road trip heaven. Scenic roads that are hilly and curvy, leading to all kinds of local food and beverage experiences. I may go back sooner than expected.

  7. Liz @ I Heart Vegetables November 18, 2016 at 11:44 am #

    Wow it looks absolutely gorgeous! I’m ready for a road trip!

  8. emma November 18, 2016 at 4:26 pm #

    If I’d had it my way, I would have moved out here instead of Fredericksburg 🙂 These photos are amazing!

    • Fun in Fairfax VA November 20, 2016 at 9:21 am #

      Thanks Emma! Fortunately, it’s close enough for a day trip (though we suggest an overnight or more). Happy exploring!. 🙂

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