With the cool October air and anticipation of midterm exams comes the age-old JMU tradition of Family Weekend. For freshmen and upperclassmen alike, Family Weekend provides students with the perfect chance to flaunt Harrisonburg and show their visiting loved ones how Dukes really roll.
However, with such limited time, it can be hard to know where to take your family to give them the authentic “H’burg” experience. Here are six essential JMU and Harrisonburg tour stops that’ll pack a punch and make any Duke’s family love JMU just as much as they do.
The Quad is a requisite for any JMU tour. Known for being a lush, spacious area for student socialization, the Quad is the campus’ crown jewel. When walking the Quad, you can give your family a peek into what JMU’s student culture is like: students studying, throwing frisbees, walking their pets or simply taking time to soak up some sun. You’re bound to see at least one person you know, making it the perfect location to introduce family to college friends.
Students and their families can also make a brief detour past the Quad into the Bluestone area to show their family their daily academic routine. Escorting your family through your class schedule can let them experience the true collegiate lifestyle and day-to-day regimen.
With an abundance of quirky and independently owned restaurants and businesses, traveling into downtown Harrisonburg is the perfect day trip for visiting family.
Start by shopping at places like the eclectic Agora Downtown Market, where small businesses offer everything from coffee and vintage clothing to ethically sourced yarn. After that, blow off some steam by throwing darts and bowling at Ruby’s Arcade, where guests can play any game after purchasing a $5 wristband. Then, grab food at family-friendly downtown restaurants like Clementine Cafe — a homey, cafe-style restaurant that offers a plethora of tasty vegan and gluten-free food.
Bridgeforth Stadium is a magnet for JMU pride, hosting approximately 25,000 people for JMU’s football games. During Family Weekend, the stadium’s offering multiple events for visiting loved ones. The first is Friday Night Flights — held Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. — where JMU parents and students can treat themselves to beer and wine tasting. Live music and “heavy hors d’oeuvres” are also offered, along with discounted tickets for underage Dukes and designated drivers.
The annual Family Weekend football game kicks off at 2 p.m on Oct. 9 with JMU facing Villanova. Students should be sure to show their school spirit by encouraging their visiting family members to “start wearing purple” and teaching them the JMU fight song.
Mr. J’s Bagels and Deli
Ideal for a midday snack, Mr. J’s Bagels and Deli is an indispensable JMU food staple. With three separate locations spread around the JMU area, Mr. J’s is the one-stop shop for anything breakfast food. The menu includes unorthodox flavors, including everything from cotton candy-flavored bagels to Asiago Old Bay bagels. Seasonally, they’re also known to make pumpkin, french toast and apple cinnamon sugar bagels. They also bake the perfect game-day grub — JMU-themed purple and gold bagels.
When taking your family, you should be aware that Mr. J’s is usually crowded. However, the restaurant now accepts online orders, so make sure to order ahead of time during Family Weekend.
Kline’s Dairy Bar
Another JMU staple, Kline’s Dairy Bar, is a homemade, traditional ice cream shop. The shop initially opened downtown in 1943 before expanding to another location on Main Street. Primarily known for two main flavors — chocolate and vanilla — Kline’s also offers a third rotating flavor that changes week to week. During Family Weekend, families can grab the “weekly special” flavors of Brownie Batter and Salted Caramel Crunch.
With their instantly recognizable old-fashioned neon sign — perfect for a Family Weekend photoshoot — Kline’s offers customers a timeless experience they won’t forget.
Dorms and apartments
Showing your family your dorm or apartment may seem redundant because many families help their respective students move in. Nonetheless, it can be an insightful experience for both parties involved.
In college, your life and surroundings change rapidly. Spending quality time in your new residence can show your family how much you've grown in a short amount of time and the transformative nature of the college experience. You should take the time to show your parents the various changes you’ve made since moving in, as well as the new relationships you may have built with your fellow residents.
Contact Jake Dodohara at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.