Before our trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia last month, I took the time to research restaurants and things to do while visiting. We weren’t really interested in keeping overly busy, so I searched for low-key things to do. On our list were a sushi restaurant and a visit to the Edith J. Carrier Arboretum and Botanical Gardens at James Madison University.
So, the day after our elopement, we got ready and headed out for the afternoon. The sushi restaurant we selected was Beyond, an Asian-fusion type restaurant, in downtown Harrisonburg. We arrived with just enough time to still order from the lunch menu, which of course is cheaper than the dinner menu. Yipper! It was the perfect temperature out, so we chose to sit in the beautiful outdoor section all by our lonesome. If I’m being honest, the sushi was good, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. The calamari, on the other hand, was superb. It wasn’t your typical calamari—this was large pieces (not just the rounds) fried to perfection and served with sriracha aioli. Out of this world! You’re probably wondering where the pictures are…well, leave it to me not to take any. Epic fail, I know.
After lunch, we were off to the arboretum. Once we finally found the entrance (darn GPS!), it was like entering an oasis. The short driveway was completely lined with trees—like a road straight through a forest. Let me tell you, this place was gorgeous and the fall colors were phenomenal. There were very few people around, so it was incredibly peaceful and relaxing. This was definitely our kind of outing.
Before we go on, I must confess that, until now, I wasn’t even quite sure what arboretum or botanical garden really referred to. So, I turned to Google—where else? Did you know that an arboretum is “a botanical garden devoted to trees”, and a botanical garden is “a place where plants are grown for display to the public and often for scientific study”? The scientific study part makes sense considering this place is part of James Madison University. You learn something new every day! And, now you can’t say I never taught you anything.
Anyway, we walked up to this small bridge and stood there for a few minutes to take in all the beauty and to snap some pictures. All you could hear was nature; birds chirping and squirrels and chipmunks rusting in the bushes. We saw the tiniest little chipmunk and he was super cute and quick as can be. There was also a little boy and his dad standing nearby feeding the ducks, which was sweet. Across the pond was this gigantic weeping willow that was just gorgeous. I don’t know what it is about weeping willows, but I just love them. I’m pretty certain I need one in my backyard one day.
We walked all around the arboretum and took TONS of pictures, as you can tell. There were big fish in the pond that kept coming to the surface, which was pretty neat to see. Then there were all the different colored leaves sprinkled all on the ground that I just couldn’t help but take pictures of. Of course, I found this beautiful red leaf that I refused to put down. I even snapped this gorgeous picture of our wedding bands on top of the leaf. And, you’d better believe I brought the leaf home, dried it out, and set it out on display in our living room. It’s the small things in life.
I think we may have definitely missed a bit of the arboretum though, because we kept seeing college kids walk down some path into the woods, which could only mean they were heading to class somewhere in there. We also kept seeing runners pass us by, so clearly there was a bit more to see. However, I was just waiting for a little black bear to sneak out of the woods and attack me. Dramatic much? I may or may not have been on the lookout—just a bit.
If you’re ever in Harrisonburg, or somewhere nearby, the arboretum is definitely worth checking out. There is also the JMU Planetarium that you should check out. You can make it a two-for-one deal. Both are free! We wanted to go to the planetarium, but it’s only open to the public on Saturdays and we didn’t leave enough time to make it there on the day we headed down to Virginia. We’ll definitely have to give it a go next time, though. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, according to Google, a planetarium is “a building in which images of stars, planets, and constellations, are projected on the inner surface of a dome for public entertainment or education”. Fascinating for sure! Would love to see it.
780 University Blvd.
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
91 East Grace Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Located in Miller Hall, Room 1103