Does your family love food? Then what about a fun 72 hour trip to explore Shenandoah Valley’s Culinary Trip. This summer we had a family of four explore Harrisonburg, Virginia and test out our family food trip. This plan is designed for children from 3 – 17 years old. Share this plan with your friends!
Our trip for Carrie Robinson from Frugal Foodie Mama began on Friday evening. Carrie, her husband, seventeen year old son and three year old daughter visited us in June as a guest blogger for Trekaroo’s Shenandoah Valley campaign. Please adapt this trip so it works for your family.
Depending on your arrival time, you can get get settled at your lodging choice and then head out to downtown Harrisonburg if it is the First Friday of the month for an evening of fun entertainment around Court Square. For Carrie, the lodging choice was Massanutten Resort. If you need to arrive later, then just stop for food maybe at Hank’s BBQ and then check in and get settled. Massanutten is nestled in the mountains. There is always activities happening like swimming, mini golf, or waterpark. There is also karaoke for families in the Hideaway Lounge.
Saturday morning plan to have breakfast at the Bowl of Good buffet where emphasis is on local resourcing and then off to the Harrisonburg Farmer’s Market. One of the largest farmers markets in the valley, you can pick up local foods and also quality handcrafts. The vendors are mainly Rockingham County locales. “Farmer markets are a great way I can get a feel for the local food scene in the area before we settle into our stay,” said Robinson. The live music provides a background of good blue grass and there is also an area just for kids activities.
Time for Lunch – Harrisonburg is unique because of it’s large selection of food trucks. There is now even a food truck park at Rock ‘N Wolf food Truck Park at 120 West Wolfe Street. Presently there are 3 different permanent food trucks, lots of seating and a corn hole (a family game of bean bag toss). The food truck park is one for business from 11 to 7 Monday thru Saturday. Food Trucks are prevalent in Harrisonburg because of Jame Madison University. The trucks alternate visiting college dormitories giving the students a different flavor of food possibilities.
You can take your lunch to A Dream Come True Playground or visit the Edith J Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. At the playground there is even a wheelchair accessible swing called “Liberty Swing.” The playground has separate equipment for 2 – 5 and 5 – 12 year olds.
In the afternoon, Carrie was off to Explore More Discovery Museum. “ I can tell you that my grandchildren love this museum,” said GoBRT owner, Nancy Craun. “They will beg to go back as we are leaving.” One of the popular areas is the drama theatre where you can be on stage with costumes and backdrops or you can be running the spotlight from the lighting booth. There is also a cash register to purchase tickets and of course popcorn….. all fake of course. Another hot spot is the ‘real’ life size ambulance. “My kids used me as the patient. While the youngest was upfront driving the ambulance like a maniac, the oldest told me I had two choice – ‘Nana, either take the medicine or it is surgery for you.’ A child’s imagination blooms here at the museum. The only problem one faces at this museum is what is an adult to do since the kids totally are off in their world the minute they hit the door,” said Craun.
Dragging the kids from the museum literally, the family is off to cow milking at Mt Crawford Creamery. They start milking each day at 4:00 pm. The kids can go outside and pet the calves. Make sure you try some milk, drinkable yogurt and fresh butter.
Then it is back to Massanutten Resort. Tonight Mom and Dad may want to kick it up a notch with a more formal dinner at Fareways Restaurant. Their cocktails are amazing, pulling in local herbs and making a traditional Gin and Tonic or a Mint Julep the Virginia way.
A relaxing night at Massanutten can be a game together in your condo or karaoke with the family at the Hideaway Lounge located at the Water Park.
Sunday begins with breakfast at the Thunderbird Restaurant just across from the entrance to Massanutten. Known for the best grits in Harrisonburg, the chocolate pancakes or the pancake tacos are a treat for the kids. However, Mom and Dad are not left out with menu choices from locally made sausage to the infamous Route 33 Omelet and a Bacon Bloody Mary. “I love the omelet with Pork BBQ – a fresh taste to a traditional favorite,” said Craun.
When one is looking at the food chain, we know that it begins on the farm. Sunday finds Carrie visiting Back Home on the Farm. With lots of activities for the kids including a greenhouse during the summer to explore the life of the butterfly and a green house for Mom to look at plants, Back Home on the Farm keeps the food chain simple. You can feed the animals, do a duck race with the old hand pumps of yesteryear. Try a maze in a Lavender Herb garden. There is a stage for the kids to create their own shows and a gourd musical event. Back Home has a 1942 carousel where children can learn about the history of Virginia with each horse associated with a famous person. Their basil jelly is excellent.
A new crop one sees in Virginia is hops and Three Brothers Craft Brewery is a must. Virginia is known for its excellent wines but it is the beer breweries and distilleries that are now on the ‘must see and taste; list of visitors. Carrie stopped in for a little bit before heading to a delicious wood-fired pizza dinner (more about that below) and ordered a flight of some of their tap offerings that day. “$8 bought my husband and I a generous tasting of five of their brews. The Elementary Porter and Slide Scotch Ale were definitely our two faves,” said Carrie.
Appeasing the kids, is a stop at Kline’s Dairy Bar for ice cream which was right next door.
Go Blue Ridge Travel set up a special treat for Carrie’s family at Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza. “It was nice having the kids make me dinner for once. ;),” said Robinson. Now the pizza making is not something that every Bella Luna customer gets to experience, but they do have an open kitchen so everyone can watch the chefs and the wood-fired pizza oven in action from their tables. Using only oak for their pizza oven, their thin-crusted pizzas bake up quickly! Which was a good thing because we were pretty hungry from our day’s adventures.
Finally, after a full day, it was back to Massanutten for their WaterPark. Wow, so much fun. From the lazy river to the huge water slides inside and out, this is a must experience. It lets the kids chill and relax with Mom and Dad either participating or watching. There are activities for all ages.
Thanks to Carrie Robinson of Frugal Foodie Mama and to Trekaroo for connecting us.