Before moving here, my family and I knew very little of Harrisonburg, Virginia. City-dwellers at heart, my husband and I knew only bigger east coast cities, spending sizeable chunks of our lives in Richmond, New York, and Washington, DC. So when my husband was offered a job in the ‘burg, we were curious to learn more about this little city in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, but none of us were looking forward to giving up our city-life in DC. Our kids least of all.
Friends and relatives encouraged us, none more than the JMU alumni we knew who spoke glowingly of the beautiful scenery, gorgeous campus, friendly people. But no one mentioned city-life or an urban core, and that had me scared. Box stores have their purpose, but I am a city girl at heart and prefer a downtown mall to a shopping mall. We wanted to give the city a trial run, so on a snowy February weekend we strapped the kids in the car and took the quick drive down. After a lovely lunch at Clementine and a good long visit to the Children’s Museum, the decision was made and our fate was sealed. Even under two feet of snow we could see a charming downtown with many local shops selling both necessities and frivolities – both equally vital to a healthy downtown.
Compared to our former cities, Harrisonburg seemed so small. Small, but promising. And it has not disappointed. Since we’ve moved to town, we’ve loved discovering all that this little city has to offer. And we especially love the downtown. We head there as often as possible for any excuse like needing a loaf of bread from Shank’s Bakery (salt-risen is our house’s favorite) or refreshing our reading material at the Massanutten Regional Library. We linger, as we run our errands, to gaze into Blacks Run to spy schools of fish and the elusive family of ducks (more on Blacks Run in a future post). Very soon we’ll move even closer to downtown and we look forward to a more walkable and bike-able life, attending class at Dance & Co., shopping at the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market, and eating burgers at Jack Brown’s (fantastic beer selection).
We are thrilled that we didn’t need to give up city-life in order to get the benefits of the beautiful scenery of the Shenandoah Valley, the gorgeous campus and cultural events of JMU, and the exceptionally friendly and gracious people of Harrisonburg City. We’re all very happy with our decision to move. Even the kids.
Kristen Fulton joined the HDR Promotions Committee in 2010 and is thrilled to live in a city that has representation in Congress (and will never take it for granted again).