Our College Town
Harrisonburg, Virginia is one of the best college towns in the southeast. That’s what others are saying, and we get it! We love our town.
Harrisonburg was selected among the 10 Most Livable College Towns in America in 2022. The list was compiled by Strategistico, an independent online research organization that provides data-driven insights about living in the US.
In 2014, Flipkey, owned by TripAdvisor, named Harrisonburg one of 5 college towns that offer way more than education, and in 2013 Travel and Leisure magazine readers voted Harrisonburg into the top five “Best College Towns in America.”
And Harrisonburg’s home to more than our school – we’re neighbors with James Madison University and Bridgewater College. The close proximity of colleges to one another contributes to our town’s upbeat, creative atmosphere and lively downtown.
‘Best Biking Community’
Love biking? Harrisonburg is the unofficial biking capital of the Shenandoah Valley, according to Blue Ridge Outdoors. The city of Harrisonburg was picked as one of “America’s Top Mountain Biking Towns,” by USA Today, and was named a 2012 bronze-level ride center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and top bike-friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. The League also conferred a bronze award on EMU, making EMU the third university in Virginia to be recognized as a “bicycle friendly university.”
Friendly and Hip Downtown
Harrisonburg enjoys a vibrant downtown community with locally owned restaurants, coffee shops, bars and boutiques. It’s funky, in a good way! Some popular restaurants that are frequented by EMU students are The Little Grill Collective and Klines Ice Cream.
On Tuesdays and Saturdays from April-Thanksgiving, don’t miss the Harrisonburg Farmers Market where students can hear bluegrass music and buy fresh fruits, vegetables, locally made pastries, and crafts.
Locally owned Court Square Theater offers movies and shows of dance, theater, and live music, including a fall 2014 performance by EMU alum and rising Americana star Trent Wagler.
Want an adventure without leaving town? Consider checking out one of Harrisonburg’s many international restaurants and markets.
Safe and Friendly Campus
What’s the number one thing high schoolers say about campus when they visit? Everyone is so friendly! It’s also safe. The deep emphasis on community and service to others is not lost on students and families who come to visit. You are more than just a number. That’s evident from the rousing “Shenandoah Welcome” we give to first-year students and other newcomers after fall convocation, to the smiles and greetings from all on your walk across campus.
What College Students Do in Harrisonburg
Harrisonburg, which is nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, is a popular mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and skiing destination for outdoor enthusiasts. On weekends students may play Ultimate Frisbee on the turf field, go for a walk in EMU Park Woods or at the JMU Arboretum, go salsa dancing at the Artful Dodger downtown or join a group bike ride through the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition or EMU bike club. There’s always something to do.
~Downtown Harrisonburg was one of Virginia’s first Arts and Cultural Districts
~Designated a Tree City USA community by the Arbor Day Foundation
~Designated a bronze level award by the League of American Bicyclists
Other Awards and Recognitions
- 2014 #1 Fastest Growing City in Virginia by NerdWallet
- 2014 “Great American Main Street Award Semi-finalists” National Main Street Center
- 2014 RMH is one “100 Great Community Hospitals” in United States Becker’s Hospital Review
- 2014 One of Flipkey’s (owned by Trip Advisor) “5 college towns that offer way more than education”
- 2013 #9 “Safest City to Live in America” by CQ Press
- 2013 One of the “10 most exciting places in Virginia” Movoto
- 2013 One of the “100 smartest cities in America” Venture Beat
- 2013 One of the “Best Small Places for Business and Careers” Forbes
- 2013 Number five in “America’s Best College Towns” from Travel and Leisure magazine
- 2012 Virginia Living 2nd place “Best Farmer’s Market”
- 2012 Virginia Living 2nd place “Best downtown”
- 2009 Designated as a “Preserve America Community”
- 2013 One of “America’s top mountain biking towns” USA Today
- 2013 Editor’s pick “Best Biking Community” Blue Ridge Outdoors
- 2013 Named among 20 best fishing spots in the country Peter Greenberg Worldwide
- 2011 Designated as an “Appalachian Trail Community” by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
- 2009 One of the “Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid” Backpacker Magazine
Check out the full list of Harrisonburg’s recognitions and awards. There are lots more!