Local Atmosphere

Harrisonburg, VA
Tuition (in-state)
$17,932 ($4,642)
Admission Difficulty
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3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: It really is mostly a college town I haven't really had too much interaction with locals. The scenery is beautiful though and I love looking at the mountains everyday.

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: The surrounding city can come off as pretty boring. It is definitely a town centered around the college. But it is possible to find things to do outside of campus and direct school related activities. There are also plenty of hotels and restaurants which is nice when families come to visit.

3 College Freshman

Local Atmosphere: Not much super exciting stuff to do in Harrisonburg, but it is quaint and there are always cute events going on if you're willing to look for them.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: I love the atmosphere in Harrisonburg. Everyone at JMU is so friendly and I feel that the city/town is very safe to be around at night. Compared with other bigger cities, Harrisonburg is dead on the weekends and could use a better mall

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Junior

Local Atmosphere: not that much to do


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Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Sandra Jolles
Great Falls Virginia
Media Arts and Design
Grad Year
View all previous student authors

Harrisonburg locals are no doubt an eclectic sort nd Harrisonburg is by no stretch a popular "city school." Students sometimes complain that nothing seems to be within walking distance of JMU. However, if you are charmed with a four-wheel vehicle, you can use it for a large assortment of activties. Even though JMU lacks a definitive city with huge strip malls and museums, you find can something up your alley, whether it's hiking Reddish Knob or skiing at the Massanutten resort. There may not be the typical college activities of the nightclub sort, but Harrisonburg does carry some appeal. In fact, the tiny city almost makes it more quaint and personalized within such a large school. JMU students seem to flood most of the local establishments around Harrisonburg but still have room to interact with the neighboring colleges, such as Blue Ridge Community College and Eastern Mennonite University.

With Harrisonburg's proximity to Washington, D.C., and Roanoke, students can easily take a two-hour road trip for the weekend. Harrisonburg also carries the staple WalMart, Kohl's, Michael's, and Ross, which undeniably serve any JMU student well. Harrisonburg is also characterized as a poorer city, and coed fraternities and religious-affiliated JMU clubs occassionally interact with the townies at the Christian Campus Ministry house that also doubles as a soup kitchen and homeless shelter.

Facts & Statistics

Fun Local Trivia
  1. Don't be surprised if your jaunt around Harrisonburg is accompanied by an odor oddly reminiscent of dog food. Why? Harrisonburg is famous for its poultry production. The poultry's feed, a mix of molasses, corn, and other organic materials, produces a dog food smell that is especially strong in wet weather.
  2. The fountain adorning Newman Lake runs 365 days a year—rain, snow, or shine.
  3. Harrisonburg residents' smiling faces and warm handshakes match the city's nickname—the Friendly City.
  4. JMU is one of the only campuses in America to boast of having a stream, lake, bridge, tunnel, traffic light, railroad, and an interstate highway running through campus.
  5. Prior to 1916, Harrisonburg's roads were unpaved and were only traversed by horses, buggies, and human feet. In those pre-taxi days, $2 would buy a ride home from a local stable and save you a dusty walk home.
  6. Tourists from China, Japan, and elsewhere have trekked to Harrisonburg to gaze upon one thing—chestnut trees. Three of the last, largest chestnut trees in North America are located on JMU's Quad, right outside of Jackson.
Notable Natives
  • Akeem Jordan – NFL player
  • Gus Niarhos – MLB catcher
  • Old Crow Medicine Show – folk band
  • Maggie Stiefvater – author
Local Slang
  • The 'Burg: Nickname for the city of Harrisonburg
  • Joke on: Another way to say "make fun of"
  • Soda: Not pop or soda pop in Virginia
  • The Valley: It's really the Shenandoah Valley, but the Shenandoah gets dropped.
  • Y'all: Virginia residents' version of "you all " or "you guys"
Points of Interest
  • Appalachian Trail Conservatory
  • Blue Hole – Rawley Springs
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Civil War Battlefields
  • Court Square Theater
  • Edith J Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
  • Endless Caverns
  • Funky's Skate Center
  • George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
  • Hardesty-Higgins House
  • Harrisonburg Fire Museum
  • Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society (Heritage Center)
  • Hillandale Bike Trail
  • Massanutten Resort
  • OASIS Gallery
  • Reddish Knob
  • Rockingham County Fair
  • Shenandoah National Park
  • Skyline Drive
  • Virginia Bicycle Trails
  • Virginia Quilt Museum
  • You Made It Pottery (Design Your Own Pottery)
Shopping Centers
Simon Valley Mall
Movie Theaters
Court Square Theatre
61 Graham St.
(540) 433-9189
Movie Theaters
Regal Harrisonburg Stadium 14
381 University Blvd.
(540) 434-7661
Major Sports Teams
  • Baltimore Orioles: MLB
  • Washington Capitols: NHL
  • Washington Nationals: MLB
  • Washington Redskins: NFL
  • Washington Wizards: NBA
Distances to Nearest Major Cities
Washington, D.C.: : 2 hours, 20 minutes

Student Polls

Rate the local atmosphere on the following topics    Based on 94 responses

Very poor
  • Cost of living
  • Dining
  • Friendliness of locals toward students
  • Museums/cultural attractions
  • Nightlife
  • Parking
  • Parks and recreation
  • Professional sports
  • Safety
  • Scenery
  • Shopping
  • Transportation

What is the local atmosphere like at your school?    Based on 95 responses

  • 9% Painfully remote.
  • 11% In or near a big city, but there's not much to do off campus.
  • 36% Small town with plenty of charm.
  • 43% Vibrant college town. There's no big city, but there are plenty of things to do off campus.
  • 1% City living at its finest. There's always something fun and interesting going on.

What is the proximity to other universities? Is there much interaction?    Based on 95 responses

  • 9% There aren't any nearby schools.
  • 44% There are nearby schools, but students do NOT interact much.
  • 46% There are nearby schools that students often interact with.

Can you see yourself living here after graduation?    Based on 94 responses

  • 44% No way.
  • 52% Maybe, if I could find a good job.
  • 4% Totally.



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