When deciding on where to stay during our recent rip to Shenandoah National park, we did consider staying at either the top or bottom of the Skyline Drive, allowing for easy access. However, after consideration we decided to stay in Harrisonburg which is located towards the bottom-middle of the drive, but only 20 miles form one of the four entrances to the Skyline at Swift Run Gap.
It turned out that this was an excellent choice as Harrisonburg is a very nice city to stay in and offered all the amenities we needed during our stay. The city has lots of hotels to choose from and many restaurants. The city is located right off the I81, so is easy to access.
The downtown area offers lots of quaint little shops including clothing, gifts, art and antiques. It also has museums and nice coffee shops. Apparently during the summer and fall months live music is available for all at Court Square. We did not experience this so cannot comment.
There are several parks you can visit and the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum located in the grounds of the university is beautiful and a great place to see birds.
If shopping is your thing then again Harrisonburg has it. Other than the downtown area you will also find the modern Valley Mall, which has stores such as Belk, Books a Million, Dick’s, Eddie Bauer, Express, Hollister, JC penny, Old Navy, Target and Victoria’s Secret to name but a few. Just along the road from the mall you will find stores like Kohl’s. Other shopping areas in the city include stores such as Walmart, Best Buy, K-Mart, Lowes etc.
We found navigating the city very easy and traffic and parking was never an issue. If like us you are using it as a base to visit Skyline Drive then it is perfect. Just 20 miles to the entrance makes it an easy drive (one road straight there). Also by entering the Skyline near the middle, you can chose to travel north or south without having to retrace your steps.
We would definitely recommend Harrisonburg and look forward to visiting again in the future.