Whether you are a visitor just passing through the Shenandoah Valley or you have called the Valley your home for decades, exploring the region’s caverns is an educational and beautiful activity for all age groups. A cavern is a large cave, typically underground. Touring caverns is ideal no matter the weather since they all boast an average temperature of 55 degrees fahrenheit. Below are several caverns within a 60 mile radius of Harrisonburg, VA. Please note that the prices given are subject to change but reflect the regular ticket price at the time this blog post was written.
Address: 1800 Endless Caverns Rd, New Market VA 22844
Distance from Harrisonburg: 15 miles away
Price: $20.00 adult / $9.00 child
Overview: This mile long, 75 minute tour will explain how the cavern was first discovered in 1879 and explore the beauty of the caverns.
What makes it stand out: This six mile long cave at the foot of the Massanutten Mountain range features seemingly “endless” tunnels and chambers and many areas of the cave have yet to be explored.
Additional Attractions: RV camping on the property that includes a pool, catch and release pond, recreation hall, game room, playground and nature trails.
Address: 5 Grand Caverns Drive, Grottoes VA 24441
Distance from Harrisonburg: 19 miles away
Price: $20.00 adult/ $11.00 child
Overview: 70 minute walking tour offered daily. The cavern tour consists of approximately one mile of walking at a leisurely pace.
What makes it stand out: Originally called Weyers Cave, Grand Caverns opened for tours in 1806, making it the oldest continually operating show cave in the U.S. There are over 200 verified civil war signatures in the cave.
Additional Attractions: Fountain Cave Adventure Tours and Shelter Rentals. The park at Grand Caverns is complete with a pool, mini-golf, trails and a playground.
Address: 101 Cave Hill Road, Luray VA 22835
Distance from Harrisonburg: 31 miles away
Price: $30.00 adult/ $15.00 child
Overview: The well-lighted, all-paved walkways on the tour are 1.25 miles in length and lead visitors through cathedral-sized rooms with ceilings 10-stories high.
What makes it stand out: Luray Caverns is the largest and most popular caverns in Eastern America. It is home to the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the world’s largest musical instrument.
Additional Attractions: The Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Shenandoah Heritage Village, and Toy Town Junction are included with every Luray Caverns ticket.
Address: 6639 N Valley Pike, Harrisonburg VA 22802
Distance from Harrisonburg: 7 miles away
Price: 45 minute private tour for four people for $60- additional guests are $15.00 adult/ $10.00 child
Overview: A 50 minute guided historical tour of the Caverns features both large and small chambers, a variety of formations, reflecting pools and historic carvings made by Native Americans and Union soldiers who camped there during the Civil War. The floor in the Caverns is leveled and there are no steps required to enter the lodge or take the tour.
What makes it stand out: Wedding venue complete with event center, The Lodge, and accomodations at the Harrison Moore Farmhouse.
Additional Attractions: Melrose Cavern Guest Station.
Address: 261 Caverns Road, Quicksburg VA 22847
Distance from Harrisonburg: 23 miles away
Price: $28.00 adult/ $14.00 child
Overview: The personally guided caverns tour consists of a one mile, one hour walk through around 17 spectacular rooms and passageways.
What makes it stand out: The famous "Breakfast Bacon" formations which were featured in National Geographic Magazine
Additional Attractions: Also home to Main Street of Yesteryear (a collection of antique department store window displays), American Celebration on Parade attraction (parade floats), Gemstone Sluice and Earl’s Place (a 7 bedroom Airbnb).
Address:10344 Stonewall Jackson Hwy, Front Royal VA 22630
Distance from Harrisonburg: 54 miles away
Price: $22.00 adult/ $11.00 child
Overview: The one-hour guided tour is complete with an award winning lighting system and three underground streams plus a 37-foot Rainbow Waterfall.
What makes it stand out: “Skyline Caverns is one of the few places in the world which hosts anthodite formations. These unique crystals spread in all directions, actually defying gravity.”
Additional Attractions: Skyline Arrow Miniature Train and the Enchanted Dragon Mirror Maze.
Summer has officially started and downtown Harrisonburg is once again open for business, following some temporary closures due to COVID-19. An exciting new addition to the downtown Harrisonburg scene is the second location of a local coffee shop currently gaining a national reputation for high quality, ethically sourced coffees.
Merge Coffee Company was founded in 2017 by two different families who came together through a shared love of coffee. Cousins Darryl and Charles Mathews and sisters Emily and Larisa Martin started out getting together as friends who stayed up late drinking coffee. They were all impervious to the effects of caffeine, enabling them to drink coffee until midnight, and then go soundly to sleep. They began to source coffee from all over the country to sample different types. That led to the purchase of a 1 pound coffee roaster and a hobby of roasting “terrible” coffee. Gradually, the group got better at coffee roasting and their friends started to enjoy their efforts. From there, the hobby became a business.
Merge started their business as a coffee roaster that sold to established coffee shops, then expanded into a retail location in Park View at 821 A Mt. Clinton Pike, next to A Bowl of Good. Co-owner Darryl Mathews explains how direct trade sourcing is a key aspect of the business. “For us, sourcing well is very important, most of our coffee is direct trade, purchased directly from the farmers. Coffee is the third largest commodity in the world. Because of this there are a lot of middle men typically involved in the coffee supply chain, which ultimately doesn’t help on the farm end for their profits and being able to invest in infrastructure. So we eliminate those middle men, so that the farmers get a better profit margin, but also reinvest in infrastructure”.
Merge’s primary supplier is a multigenerational complex of over 10 farms, started three generations ago by a pair of brothers in Honduras. All the farms are still run by members of the Santiago family, and among the various farms grow a wide variety of different coffees. “They can serve everybody as far as their coffee tastes go, within these farms,” says Darryl. The Santiago farms produce several coffee varieties that are certified fair trade organic, but the certifications, which the farmers must pay for, apply only to certain lots on the farm. For Merge, it is more important that they and their customers know they are sourcing responsibly whether or not there is an official government certification. Darryl explains, “Fair trade organic is not as good for the farmer as it sounds, because the cost of getting and keeping that certification up could go towards other things.” Currently Merge carries seven different types of coffees from different parts of the world. Some are certified organic, and most are bought directly from the farmers.
Although a young company, Merge has already won two awards for coffees they roast from the Specialty Coffee Association. The SCA hosts an annual, national coffee roasting competition, with about 20 different categories into which coffee roasters can enter their various coffees. Merge entered two African coffees, one from Ethiopia and one from Burundi. Darryl described both coffees as being “very fruit forward”, with the Ethiopian roast having berry notes and the Burundian roast having a stone fruit flavor. Out of 1200 coffees, these two were included in the top 150 coffees chosen, winning Merge two bronze medals.
In addition to their commitment to direct trade relationships and an excellent quality product, Merge is also passionate about community building and heroic hospitality.
“We love the fact that coffee shops are a springboard for communities to flower,” says co-owner Darryl. We enjoy being the canvas for people to come in and work on that podcast, work on that book, get to know friends, debate, reflect. We love to be that canvas for neighborhoods to dream, to explore, and to grow.” After putting down roots in Park View, Merge has recently opened its second location in downtown Harrisonburg, at 425 North Main Street. The light-filled, airy interior has clean lines punctuated by vibrant green plants. Darryl describes the company’s aesthetic as fresh and modern, but still comfortable and inviting. The atmosphere feels warm and open, reflecting Merge’s vision of a coffee shop as a space for community building. Service is another important aspect of Merge’s business. “We want to serve people well with excellence, and have a great experience, we want the experience to always be consistent,” Darryl explains.
Both Merge locations are now open Monday through Saturday from 7 am until 4pm.
In addition to their coffees and classic espresso drinks, Merge is featuring some signature summer beverages. Darryl shared some highlights from the summer menu. “One thing that’s really popular right now is our coconut macaroon latte. That’s an iced latte with coconut, a little caramel and toasted coconut garnish. And for the non-coffee drinker we’ve got a rose gold lemon soda.” The soda is made in house from fresh, hand-squeezed lemons. “It’s a sparkling drink with a mineral-based glitter that goes in it as well. So it has bit of a shimmer to it.”
Merge’s new location is a welcomed addition to a vibrant, and growing downtown Harrisonburg scene. It is sure to become a hotspot for excellent quality, ethically sourced coffee and a neighborhood hangout. For more information about Merge, please visit https://www.mergecoffeeco.com/.
The Stonewall Jackson Inn of Harrisonburg is currently undergoing a revitalization. Located downtown at 547 East Market Street, the historic establishment is under new ownership as of August, 2019. A former dietician and a businessman, Becca and Joel Graham are breathing energetic new life into one of Harrisonburg’s hidden gems.
Last Thursday, November 14th, the Harrisonburg Homes team had the opportunity to attend a lovely open house at the Stonewall Jackson Inn, featuring wines by Brix and Columns Vineyard, hors d’oeuvres by Sub Rosa’s Kirsten Moore, and home goods by Lineage Goods. Visitors had the opportunity to tour the house and chat with Becca and Joel.
Built in 1885 as a single family mansion, the home was first turned into a bed and breakfast in the 1990s. Featuring 10 bedrooms of different sizes and configurations, the house is cozy and intimate. Each room is named for a different historical figure and is uniquely decorated, for a boutique feel. Rooms combine antique furniture and decor with modern conveniences, including a thermostat in each room and free wifi. For a hint of luxury, beds are appointed with 600 thread count sheets and each room has a naturally scented Lineage Goods candle. Rooms range from $149 to $189 per night for two people and include a gourmet breakfast. Rooms can sleep from 1 to 4 guests and bed sizes range from king to twin depending on the room.
With a passion for entrepreneurship and a thirst for something different from the 9 to 5, Becca and Joel Graham were looking for a business they could develop together. They discovered The Stonewall Jackson Inn after renting an apartment from the former owner and decided to buy the establishment from him. They set about giving the place a light makeover, purchasing some new furniture and clearing out some of the clutter to refresh the home’s ambiance. The makeover includes a new breakfast menu with recipes developed by Becca. The Grahams put an emphasis on making the Inn a community endeavor by partnering with local businesses. For example, the sausage served at breakfast is locally sourced. The Inn also features a small gift shop where guests can purchase locally produced goods, including the Lineage Goods local, hand-made soy candles found in each room. Mossy Creek Fly Fishing, just down the street, also has a special relationship with the Stonewall Jackson Inn, referring all their clients to stay at the Inn while they are in town for fly fishing tours. Joel, a fly fisherman himself, speaks enthusiastically about this partnership and his desire to cultivate more relationships with local businesses. The Grahams are always looking to meet new people and make new connections within the community.
Harrisonburg community members are welcome to stop by and check out the Inn during between 10am and 5pm, provided they call in advance. Recommending the Stonewall Jackson Inn to out of town guests is a great way to get involved and support a local business. The Inn is also available for gatherings and events of all kinds, including parties, retreats, and business meetings. Local clubs and groups looking for a space they can meet in are also welcome to look into the Inn. For more information about booking rooms and event space, call 540-433-8233. Guest rooms can also be booked online. Guests of the Inn can invite local friends and relatives to join them for a memorable breakfast at the Inn. To learn more about the Stonewall Jackson Inn, visit https://www.stonewalljacksoninn.com/.
What’s the antidote to buying cheap, plastic goods produced in countries with questionable human rights records that you know will end up in a landfill someday? Buy locally sourced, sustainably produced and durable products that can last for generations. Where do you find such mythical-sounding items? Check out the Alexander Brothers’ wares.
The Alexander Brothers are a company of four brothers working out of Timberville, providing Harrisonburgers and other Virginians with affordable, beautifully handcrafted, durable and sustainable goods. Trained in traditional craftsman’s trades, including blacksmithing, woodworking, and leather crafting, from a young age, the Alexander Brothers spent years honing their skills, which they view as art forms. One brother apprenticed at the Frontier Culture Museum as a blacksmith.
Items available for sale on their website, Facebook, and Instagram include kitchen ware, such as knives, cutting boards, bottle openers, and pizza cutters and leather goods such as journals, wallets, and tote bags. One of their newest items is the 8 inch chef’s knife. The knives’’ wooden handles are hand crafted from wood collected from trees during the brothers’ backpacking trips in West Virginia and Virginia. The wood used is specifically chosen for the presence of burls, which are abscesses or growths on a tree that produce a striking circular pattern in the wood’s grain. The wood is kiln dried, stabilized with an epoxy resin and slabs are created from it. The blades of the knives are forged from 15N20 steel. The knives are so popular that they’re almost sold out. The brothers are planning to produce a new trout and game knife hopefully in time for Christmas.
This blog’s authors were gifted by brother Shea Alexander with their award winning bottle opener. The bottle opener is produced with either walnut or maple wood and hand-forged iron. It’s small enough to fit on a keychain but has the heft of something substantial. Beautiful and rugged, the iron is subtly faceted and contains the company’s boldly classic logo. In Virginia Living’s forthcoming November issue, the bottle opener is receiving a Best in Virginia award.
In addition to their online venues, Alexander Brothers products can be found locally at Lineage in Downtown Harrisonburg and Randy’s Hardware, which has locations in Bridgewater, Timberville, and Mt. Jackson. Their products can also be found at Lost River Trading Post in West Virginia. More local opportunities to shop Alexander Brothers wares can be had this Saturday at Shenandoah Autumn Fest, at Spring Creek Roller Mills, Showalter’s Harvest Fest, and the Timberville Christmas Village. Supplies are limited, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to purchase some very special holiday gifts!
“Mashita” is Korean for “delicious” and the restaurant’s food lives up to its name. Slated to open at 105 North Liberty Street in downtown Harrisonburg the first week of October, Mashita will serve a wide range of Korean-inspired dishes as well as beer, wine, sake, and non-alcoholic beverages. Diners can take different approaches to the menu, whether they want a tapas-style experience with many small plates or a traditional meal. Mashita offers low prices in comparison to competitors, with many options priced at $10 or less. The space is clean and modern, but also colorful, with a bold mural and local art pieces as well as traditional Korean art and artifacts.
Owner and chef Mikey Reisenberg started the restaurant as a food truck, which is still in operation at 105 North Liberty St., six years ago. Mashita gained a local following for its Shenandoah Valley brand of cultural fusion. Take Korean comfort food as your starting point, apply French cooking methods to locally sourced ingredients, add a Valley spin, and the result is Mashita. Mikey describes his cuisine as a mashup, equal parts traditional Korean, urban American, and classic southern. It may come as a pleasant surprise to diners new to Mashita that Korea and the American South share some favorite comfort foods, including melt-in-your-mouth brisket and crispy fried chicken.
Mikey credits his Korean heritage, his adoptive American family’s competitive cooking, and his French culinary training at The Joshua Wilton House as sources of inspiration for Mashita’s food.
His journey started with his family’s foodie culture, where he first learned how to identify good food. With seven aunts and great aunts who cooked, he describes family reunions as a competition to see who could make the best food. Although he’s worked in independent restaurants since high school, cooking at The Joshua Wilton House was a formative experience for him. Current executive chef Tom French and former chef and owner Mark Newsom critiqued his food and introduced him to Korean American chefs, like David Chang, who were innovative in adapting Korean comfort food to American palates.
To those who have not yet experienced this relatively new fusion, Mikey describes Korean flavors as savory, acidic, and “funky”. The funkiness he refers to comes from pickled and fermented food like kimchi, or fermented vegetables. In addition to a brisket sandwich and chicken katsu, or Korean style battered fried chicken, house-made soft steamed buns stuffed with juicy meats are staples of the restaurant. This author was delighted by the flavor and texture combinations of the food. Mashita’s dishes satisfy Korean and American cravings, and their menu items cater to vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free diners as well.
Mashita’s Shenandoah Valley identity is embodied not only by locally sourced and house-made food, but by the decor of the restaurant and a mission to give back to the community. Mikey made the tables himself with rocks, live edge walnut, and food grade epoxy resin. The wood was sourced from Black Forest Saw Mill. Mike Arellano painted the restaurant’s striking mural, and Craig Snodgrass designed the logo. Even the succulents lining the windows are from David Sutton at the Harrisonburg Farmer's Market. Once the restaurant is in full swing, Mikey and the Mashita crew want to pay it forward by allowing diners to purchase five dollar tokens to give to those in need. The tokens can be redeemed for Mashita food, which Mikey points out is a very nutritious meal. Mashita has already found a home in Harrisonburg and in the Valley, now it's here to stay with a new location in downtown Harrisonburg that is sure to please regulars and newcomers alike.
A less exotic, but equally enjoyable activity that Massanutten Resort offers is golf. Massanutten Resort is home to two conventional golf courses: Woodstone Meadows Golf Course, and Mountain Greens Golf Course. Woodstone Meadows is an 18-hole course with 5,065 yards of golf, and a par of 65. Woodstone Meadows has generous fairways allowing for golfers of all capabilities. The Mountain Greens course is more challenging, and is generally recommended for intermediate to advanced golfers. It is an 18-hole course with a par of 72/73. A variety of different tees are available with the longest tees equating to 6,443 yards of true, mountain style, golfing. Apart from the two conventional courses, Massanutten also offers FlingGolf, a relatively new sport that essentially combines elements of golf and lacrosse. Instead of swinging a golf club, players use a FlingStick to fling or whip the ball down the fairway. Massanutten also has a driving range, lessons, and leagues available for those that are interested.
Official Page for Massanutten Golf
This blog is part of a Massanutten Blog Series
Massanutten’s Family Adventure Park is one of its most daring attractions. The adventure park is a one stop shop for climbing, tubing, ziplining, rappelling, and more. The largest of these features is the Mega Zip. The Mega Zip is an 800’ zipline fully capable of reaching speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Another ziplining option is the Canopy Tour. The Canopy Tour incorporates four different ziplines in addition to a variety of other obstacles that takes up to an hour and a half to complete. The Ridge Rappel and Climbing Excursion is yet another great option for any daredevils. An enjoyable chair lift ride leads to a quick hike where participants are eventually able to rappel down two cliffs with the experience and guidance of a trained safety instructor. The largest of these two cliffs is an exhilarating 58 feet tall. After the cliffs, participants are guided through a rock climbing experience, based on physical ability and comfort level. If these options sound a bit intense, don’t fear. Massanutten also features a Kids’ Adventure Course targeted for ages 12 and below that still sparks fun and excitement, but in a well-controlled environment. Other great activities at the Family Adventure Park include a 16-30’ climbing wall, the QuickJump (a 30’ free fall sensation), summer tubing, and Kids Playland (play area complete with inflatable bounce houses and gem mining).
Official Page for Massanutten Adventure Park
This blog is part of a Massanutten Blog Series
Massanutten resort is a phenomenal option for interested mountain bikers. Whether you are a veteran biker, or a total novice, Massanutten has great trails for you! The Massanutten Bike Park is home to 7 different runs, with a descent of 1,100 feet. These 7 different runs host a pleasant mix of beginner to expert trails. The simplicity of two summer lifts makes the mountain very easy to operate. The convenience of having and using lifts also saves your legs from turning to jelly. Lessons, rentals, and affordable packages are all available for interested bikers.
The best thing about Massanutten mountain biking is the fact that the trails don’t end at the Massanutten Bike Park. Massanutten also has their Western Slope. The Western Slope has a total of 30 miles of cross country trail riding. While you do not get to use the convenience of the chair lift, the Western Slope provides a massive amount of trail riding for those interested. Plus, with the addition of Electric Assist Mountain Bikes to Massanutten’s rental fleet, you can take all the work out of climbing the mountain!
It should be noted that the Western Slope is recommended only for intermediate to advanced riders. 100 percent of proceeds resulting from the Western Slope are given to the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition for further improvements to the trails.
Western Slope Map
Massanutten Official Mountain Biking Page
This blog is part of a Massanutten Blog Series
The Massanutten WaterPark is one of the best water park options in the east. It was voted the #2 indoor WaterPark in the United States by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice in 2018. The indoor WaterPark has a variety of different attractions including but not limited to: a giant water-powered playhouse, adventure river, tube and body slides, a triple-jet FlowRider and surf simulator , hot tubs, and many other family friendly options. While the indoor WaterPark is truly amazing, the Outdoor WaterPark is also a great option for those hot Virginia days. The Rockingham Racer is a great thrill seeker. The Racer is a waterslide sitting at 40’ tall, with a length of 296’. The Outdoor WaterPark also has the White Caps Wave Pool, an area with three-foot waves to keep you cool all day long. And finally, Splash-A-Nutten, a great outdoor pool area with obstacle courses, basketball hoops, and other recreational activities to enjoy. So, whether it’s the middle of winter and you want to warm up in the large, indoor/outdoor hot tub, or a scorching sunny day where you need to cool off, be sure to take advantage of the fantastic Massanutten WaterPark!
This blog is part of a Massanutten Blog Series
Massanutten WaterPark Official Page
Massanutten resort is probably best known for being a ski resort. While resorts like Snowshoe and Wintergreen may get more snowfall, the convenience of Massanutten is unparalleled for Harrisonburg and surrounding residents. The ski resort boasts an impressive elevation of 2,922 ft. It has 7 lifts and 14 runs, including two terrain parks. The resort also has outdoor lights installed, making night skiing an enjoyable possibility. If you’ve never tried skiing or snowboarding, but are up for the challenge, you’ll be happy to hear that Massanutten is now a Terrain Based Learning (TBL) resort! By shaping snow features to naturally control speed and body position, it’s easier than ever to get out there and conquer the slopes!
If winter tubing is more your speed, Massanutten also has an impressive snow tubing hill. The tubing hill has up to 16 lanes, each 900’ in length with a drop of 120 feet. It is a great option for all ages. There are two conveyor belts ensuring short lines. So next winter, be sure to hit the slopes!
This blog is part of a Massanutten Blog Series.
Massanutten Official Snow Sports Page