Hello again! I hope you enjoyed my recap of the first day of our Shenandoah Valley adventure. Today, I’m bringing you a recap of the second day.
We woke up early, had breakfast at our hotel, then set off for Shenandoah National Park. Since we were staying in Harrisonburg, we entered the park at its Swift Run Gap Entrance Station and drove North towards the Thornton Gap Entrance Station. We stopped at many of the overlooks to take some pictures, and just take in the beauty of the valley. It truly is a beautiful part of the country. We made sure to stop in at the Harry F, Byrd Sr. Visitor Center to get a stamp on our National Parks Passport and a magnet for our fridge. We didn’t plan on spending the whole day in the park, so we didn’t hike or anything, but we’re already planning our next trip back to do some hiking and more exploring of the area.
Joe and I highly recommend getting an annual pass to the U.S. National Parks if you plan on going to at least 2 each year. It covers the entire family, and it is well worth the price of $80. Many of the parks we went to on our cross-country trip last year were around $30-$40 for entry, so it’s definitely worth springing for the annual pass. It saves money and I love knowing I can go to any national park in the U.S. without having to plan much.
After exiting the park, we stopped at Hawksbill Brewing Co. for a beer flight before heading to Luray Caverns. I really loved all of the beers we tried, but the shandy (on the right) was by far my favorite. I’m a sucker for a good shandy beer any day.
After Hawksbill, we grabbed some pizza at a local takeout place, then headed over to Luray Caverns. It was a hot day, so it was incredibly busy at the caverns. We waited about half an hour to get inside, which wasn’t terrible, and then we were led down a long staircase to the caverns far below the earth’s surface.
The tour group they put us into was huge, about 40+ people, which annoyed us because the tour guide gradually got more and more frustrated as the hour-long tour went on. Many people weren’t listening to his explanations, or were walking ahead of him, so he started getting snippy at the end. Joe and I tried our best to stay positive and just enjoy the caverns, but our trip was kind of ruined because of the amount of inconsiderate people in our group. Hopefully they take this into consideration and reduce the group size for future tours, or simply have tour guides posted throughout the caverns to help answer any questions. Also, at $30 per adult, I didn’t really think the ticket price matched the experience.
I will say, though, that the caverns were very beautiful and it’s incredible to think about how long they were undiscovered to man. Many of the chambers reminded me of some images we’ve seen on Planet Earth before, so that was really cool to see them in person.
After Luray, we headed back to the hotel for a little bit then went back into Harrisonburg to check out some more breweries and have dinner. We started at Three Notch’d Brewing Company (above), and, unfortunately, I didn’t really like any of their beers. They all were extremely hop-forward, almost to the point that you couldn’t taste anything else but the hops. Definitely not one of my favorite places.
We then headed down the street to the Friendly Fermenter, which someone had recommended at the winery the day prior. I really loved this place. The beer I had was light and slightly fruity, and Joe’s beer, a pilsner I think, was exactly what he had been hoping for. It’s very small inside, they only have a 10-person bar and a couple tables, but I enjoyed the vibe of the people and the bar.
We chatted with a couple of the guys who worked there and they gave us some more food recommendations, but we ultimately went back to Jimmy Madison’s again for dinner. I know, I know, it should be a sin to go to the same restaurant twice in one trip, but we really loved it the first time, and we wanted to check out their rooftop.
I mean look at that rooftop, it’s amazing! The weather was perfect that night for hanging outside, and with the little café lights on, it was super charming and cozy feeling.
We shared another burger, and some more drinks, before heading over to Bella Gelato for a cool treat. I got a small scoop of both the sea salt caramel and pistachio gelatos, and Joe got a small scoop of both the butter pecan and raspberry gelatos. All I can say is they were all amazing and if you’re looking for some gelato in Harrisonburg, you definitely need to check them out.
After our dessert, we headed back to the hotel to recharge for another full day ahead of us. Stay tuned for the recap of our third, and final, day in the Shenandoah Valley.
Bye for now!