Step aside Disney World, there’s a new happiest place on earth and it’s Harrisonburg

We asked several Harrisonburg residents what they loved about the friendly city

Harrisonburg, known as “the friendly city,” is nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. But what is it about this town that makes it friendly? Why do so many JMU students want to stay here after graduation and why do they dread leaving? We asked residents what they loved about this beautiful city to get a better idea of what’s so special about it.

Chrissee Bee, 24

“The best thing about living in Harrisonburg is having such a great variety of places to see and things to do right in your own backyard. You can stroll the beautiful scenery at the Arboretum, stop at the Dodger for a drink with friends, or check out the local shops in Court Square. And the best part is my dog, Memphis, can come along for most of the ride. Our favorite locally owned downtown gem is a little shop called Blue Ridge Dog. They have the best homemade treats.”

Tabby Sawyer, 19

“The thing I love most about Harrisonburg is the peace. I’m from a more urban part of Virginia Beach, where there are sirens at all hours of the night, and you don’t let your kids out of the house after sunset. At home, it’s old hat to wake up to your neighbors fighting and screaming at three in the morning. In Harrisonburg, though, it’s quiet. Even when you live in the JMU dorms and you’re surrounded by loud, drunk freshmen, the town on the whole is quiet. You go off campus and you hear the quiet swoosh of cars, but you can lay down and see the stars and kind of forget everything else. It’s a sleepy college town. It moves at it’s own relaxed pace. I love that.”

Mike Dolzer, 22

“I love just the feeling of being in Harrisonburg, it’s got such a good small town vibe but isn’t so small that it’s boring.”

Marilyn Rodriguez, 18

“I love Harrisonburg because at the heart of the diverse college town you find the most southern hospitality you could ever encounter, beauty in the unique scenery, and the kindness of the smiling faces you pass walking down the street. I love how a friendly face can become a friend shortly after meeting and how simple it is to find a good restaurant that will keep you coming back for more. From every point of view, Harrisonburg truly embodies that southern hospitality everyone looks for in a town and every smiling face proves that.”

Amanda Perez, 23

“I love that Harrisonburg is a community. I love the breweries and the downtown scene. I love that a short drive away is a hike in the mountains. I love the farmer’s market on a Saturday morning. The hustle and bustle and the baked goods! I love the diversity in this little city in the valley. I love that when I did a practicum in waterman elementary school they told me there were something like 52 countries and 72 languages represented in their school. I love Kline’s in the summer. I love the lavender farm. I love the sunrises and sunsets. I will always cherish the memories I have from my four-and-a-half years at JMU and living in this town full of honest, hardworking, friendly people.”

Harrisonburg, VA is known as “the friendly city” for a reason. Not only is this town friendly to its residents, it’s welcoming to all its visitors coming from near and far. It is the welcoming home of immigrants from Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Korea, the list goes on and on. What makes Harrisonburg unique, despite its ability to have both a small-town feel and city activity, is the friendliness.
In addition to being warm and welcoming to all newcomers, Harrisonburg quickly becomes home to many JMU students who come here for school. It is so much more than just a college town and the community’s energy is irresistible. Harrisonburg is truly a place where everyone can feel like they matter.
James Madison University