Massanutten and Harrisonburg, VA

I apologize for my brief hiatus; I had our state standardized test last week with meals that weren’t quite blog-worthy, and then we went out of town for the weekend.

One of my husband’s friends owns a timeshare at Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville, Virginia, and we were invited there for a “free” owner’s referral weekend.  We deposited $100 for a 3-day/2-night stay with an obligatory tour of the resort…in hopes, of course, that we would buy a timeshare.  They promised that our deposit would be refunded and that we would be gifted a $100 Visa giftcard upon exiting the tour, whether we bought a timeshare or not.  It sounded like a decent deal for a quick getaway, and it ended up being a lovely little trip.  Besides the annoying, interview-like tour.  I literally felt like I was being interviewed about my vacation philosophy – the entire time.  I’m not sure if some car salesmen and Massanutten salesmen sell their souls to the devil, but I have suspicions. It’s a very good possibility.

We spent most of our weekend in the nearby town of Harrisonburg.  There was a small downtown area and a newer, more developed section that we explored.  Of course my favorite activity on any vacation is checking out the dining scene, so we took in a few local establishments.

I apologize in advance for the cell phone-quality photos.  We seem to always forget our DSLR when traveling, so the iPhone was all I had at my disposal.

We arrived Friday evening, so we ate dinner on the road.  This may sound “ehhhh” but when Chipotle is involved, it’s more than all right with me.  I’m not sure if Chipotle is an international chain, but if you’re not familiar with it, they operate as an assembly line, offering burritos, burrito bowls (all the fillings without the tortilla), tacos, and salads.  It’s my absolute favorite fast-food.  They use local ingredients when available, and hormone-free and antibiotic-free poutry and meats.  Their corn salsa is also delicious.

Saturday morning was quite dreary, so our planned horseback riding didn’t happen.  However, we had a nice day exploring downtown Harrisonburg.  I had done a little research on dining options, and put Earth & Tea Café on our list.  I wasn’t disappointed; we had two pots of tea and breakfast sandwiches.

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They have gorgeous tea tins on the back wall, housing some great varieties of loose leaf tea.

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Nothing fancy, but it was tasty and satisfying.

IMG_3252Our next stop was to a little pet shop.  We picked up a new collar for our boxer and a few homemade dog treats.

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IMG_3267We saw an advertisement for a gourmet store with wines and cheeses, so we popped in there for a few minutes.  Overall, we weren’t that impressed and didn’t make any purchases.

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IMG_3281The most exciting moment of the trip was when I saw a flyer for their town farmers market.  I absolutely love browsing the farm-fresh produce, homemade baked goods, and other handmade items.  Harrisonburg really has a great little market.  We enjoyed a wonderfully flaky chocolate croissant, spotted a Mennonite boy eating bits of the cinnamon rolls he was selling, sampled goat cheeses, and just took in the fantastic sensory experience.

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IMG_3276The market closed at 1PM, so after we finished there, we had plenty of time to hit some other local shops.

We had the most delicious cannolis (my very first one, ever) at Shanks Bakery.  The sweet, tangy, citrusy filling was heavenly…and the shell was perfectly crisp.  My sister had told me how amazing cannolis are – and boy, was she right!

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IMG_3287Our next stop was one of the neatest stores I’ve been to.  Ten Thousand Villages – which only sells “fair trade” items – has everything from foodstuffs to crafts and home furnishings.  There were so many interesting, handmade products in one spot.

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IMG_3282After our day of shopping, we made a stop at J’s Bagels in the more updated part of Harrisonburg.  They were out of a few of the flavors we wanted to try, but their Everything bagels were delicious.  We brought a few home, which ended up “stinking” up the car on the ride home.

We took naps before heading back out for dinner Saturday evening.  Surprisingly, I didn’t get “hangry” (hunger-induced anger) from not eating lunch.  My dinner options were narrowed down to two restaurants I previously researched, so we went to one for a brief appetizer, and then headed to the second one for dinner.

Beyond is an Asian-fusion restaurant featuring sushi and other dishes.  Here, I had my first-ever hand roll of yellowtail, avocado, and a sriracha sauce.  It was delicious, and I probably could’ve eaten two more.

IMG_3293Clementine, which had a very cool vibe similar to a restaurant we enjoy in our hometown, had a great “storefront” that I wish I had gotten a photograph of.  They had a live bluegrass-y band playing that evening but not a lot of customers.  Why?  Well, unfortunately, their food wasn’t that great.  I found it underseasoned, uninspired, and overpriced.  The best part of the meal was probably the risotto balls and baked goat cheese appetizers.  They were “good” at best, though.

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IMG_3302Our entrees really weren’t worth mentioning, but I had steak medallions that were cooked well but lacked flavor.  The other entree was a pork chili with grits that was more like pieces of pork in a chicken noodle soup base with a scoop of grits randomly thrown in.  We weren’t impressed.

Although it rained, the weekend wasn’t a wash (pun intended).  I thoroughly enjoyed the downtown shops and spending time in a new town.  We had some lovely tea and got a chance to experience some other eateries, which made for a great weekend.

The Massanutten tour was exactly as I expected – very used-car-salesmen-esque.  We declined the offer at the end and were then passed to two other people who lowered the timeshare price down to a quarter of the beginning offer.  I wonder how many people snatch up the initial offer?  Overall, the sales pitch part was extremely unpleasant.  It began with what I considered an interview of “how” we vacation and “why” and what has the most meaning in life to us.  I’m not the easily baited sort, so I knew where each question was going, and tried to head it off each time.  We were grateful for the opportunity to visit Massanutten, but definitely would not spend money on owning a timeshare there.

If you get a chance to visit Harrisonburg, while it’s not exciting or fast-paced, it is a quaint town with some interesting spots.

Have a great week!

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