– For Less Than $20
By Molly Haas & Stephany Holguin | Photos by Patrick White
Broke and bored? There’s no need to sit around watching reruns. Get out of your dorm, house or apartment and take advantage of all this city has to offer.
Harrisonburg — our home for at least eight months each year, the place we learn, the place we love and sometimes the place we wish had more to do. But not to worry, the ’Burg houses a lot more than meets the eye, and we went on the hunt to find 10 places to explore for less than $20.
Just north of Harrisonburg is a hidden (and free) gem: the Route 11 Potato Chip Factory. The factory has free fry-viewing Monday through Saturday, and free samples of their 10 delicious flavors after the tour. It only takes eight minutes for chips to go from start to finish, with warm chips ready to be tasted.
Maybe it was having them hot off of the machines or the full explanation of the Route 11 story, but the sour cream and chives flavor has our hearts. Our guide said it’s best to call ahead to make sure that the chips are hot, but they welcome visitors anytime.
2. Westover Diving Pool
UREC too crowded? Located seven minutes west of Harrisonburg is the Westover diving pool that is 25 yards long, open all year round. During wintertime, the pool is covered by a “bubble” that keeps atmosphere at a warm 88 degrees and is only $3 to swim. When the weather gets hot Westover takes down the ”bubble” and gets its second pool ready, the Olympic pool. This pool has three thrilling slides and sun beds to get a great tan.
The prices during the summer time are $2 and food prices are not too high.
The Recreational Center next door is only $3 to play Ping-Pong, billiards, foosball and bumper pool. Also, on Monday and Wednesday nights you can play volleyball with locals and other college students around the area. Tuesdays and Thursdays are basketball nights, so expect to see many locals get tough — all in the name of loving the game.
With the spring weather comes a craving for some sunshine; and what better way to catch some rays then going on a hike through the Rocktown Trails. Just off of South Avenue in Hillandale Park, the Rocktown trails are waiting. The paths are open to cyclists, walkers and runners alike. With names like the “Take it Easy” trail and the “Step it Up” trail, the 10 paths are easily navigated and open to the public.
4. Shenandoah Caverns
The next stop is Shenandoah Caverns. While a tour of the caverns costs a little more than our 20-dollar limit, their newest attraction, The Yellow Barn, is perfect for quirky photo-ops and fun.
The Yellow Barn houses a 35-foot treehouse and a family of 5-foot squirrels. There is also a country gift shop and microbrewery inside. A live animal mini-farm and hummingbird garden will soon be finished behind the barn making it an attraction that is free and definitely out of the ordinary.
If you only have $5.50 and want to play miniature golf, Mulligan’s Golf Center might be what you are looking for. The golf center is just located 10 minutes south of Harrisonburg. It has 18 holes offering a challenging course with various lengths and obstacles. If you show your JACard you will receive a $1 discount.
This course also offers a driving range that is about 350 yards. The prices vary according to the size of the bucket you choose. The small bucket is $5 and jumbo is $12.
6. Valley Lanes
Bored on a Friday night? How about Cosmic Bowling? Valley Lanes is located about 15 minutes south of campus. For $10 you get a game and a pair of shoes. Bowling starts at 10 p.m. and can last as late as 1 a.m. If you are not into the disco lights and want to spend less money, perhaps $4, regular bowling includes shoes and a game. Valley Lanes concession stand prices are not too high either— drinks vary from soda to beer and the burgers are $2.25.
Just eight minutes from campus, Little Grill Collective has a series of events that will make you a regular visitor. For starters, Wednesday night is bingo night. Bingo starts at 7:30 p.m., and it’s free. If you are a lucky winner you will receive either one of their delicious desserts or a Little Grill shirt. Thursday nights are open mic nights. Many go to Little Grill to perform songs and poetry, which it is also free to watch, and it starts at 8:30 p.m. On Fridays, the Collective has shows that start at 8 p.m. Local bands perform music that ranges from country and folk, to light rock and heavy metal. At Little Grill you’ll be sure to find something to suit you on any given night of the week.
8. Funky’s Skate Center
If you are short on cash, looking for a good workout and feeling a little funky, then Funky’s Skate Center might be the place for you. Funky’s is just one mile south of JMU. On Friday, Funky’s offers a college night which is only $3 with a college ID and includes skates. Regular skates are $1 while inline or speed skating skates are $3. Also on Friday, many college students dress up in ’80s gear and ’80s music is played, with disco lights lighting up the rink. If Friday does not work with your schedule then Wednesday’s “Cheap Skate Night” is for you. $2 gets you admission and skates. After skating up an appetite, hit the snack bar where the food is very cheap. Cheeseburgers are $2.50, nachos are $1.50 and drinks are $1.
Salsa anyone? The Artful Dodger offers salsa night on Thursday for only $5 but you have to be at least 21 to enter. On Friday nights you can walk in and hear DJs and local bands perform for only $3, but again, you have to 21. On Tuesday nights, the JMU Jazz Band Ensemble performs for an hour and a half. On any given night don’t expect to spend more than $16. The Dodger nightlife is open from 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
10. You Made It!
If you have a crafty personality, then You Made It! might be the right place for you. You Made It! is located in downtown Harrisonburg and is only 10 minutes away from campus if you plan on walking. This crafty building has many ceramics you can decorate and even give as gifts. Stylish? You can also decorate jewelry. The prices range from $10 for pendants to $18 for a cereal bowl. These prices contain the decorations that will help set your imagination wild. If you are feeling even craftier, you are welcome to come in and receive free classes on how to make fused glass and pottery.