There are many advantages to traveling by car. You’re in charge of the schedule, and the entertainment. You can stop and get out whenever you find something that interests you. In a COVID-19 world, a road trip is a great option for a vacation or day trip. You’ll limit contact with strangers, and you’ll avoid the extra inconvenience of using mass-transit with additional COVID-19 regulations. And if you’re not crossing state lines, you’re unlikely to have your plans disrupted.
The Shenandoah Valley and the Front Royal area are great destinations for a road trip. If you already live in Front Royal, a Shenandoah Valley road trip is a chance to enjoy the area in a new way. If you’re in Northern Virginia, or the D.C. area, just an hour or so’s driving can put you in a different world: the scenic haven of the Shenandoah Valley.
Pack up some yummy road trip snacks, get in your car, and enjoy an adventure on the road with your family. Here are some ideas for road trips around Front Royal and the Shenandoah Valley.
Shenandoah Valley Scenic Day Trip
This road trip takes you down Fort Valley, over the Massanutten Mountain, and back up the valley on the other side to return to Front Royal. The road trip passes right by several tourist attractions and some great spots for hiking, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Plan out your stops for a day for fun for the whole family.
To take this trip, head north on 340/522 away from Front Royal and towards Riverton. Make a left onto Strasburg Road/VA 55. After about 5 miles on Strasburg Road, you’ll take a left on State Route 678/Fort Valley Rd. Fort Valley Road takes you down the “valley within a valley.” At this point, the Massanutten Mountain divides the Shenandoah Valley in two. You’ll have the Massanutten on your left, and the Alleghenies on the right.
First, you’ll pass through the George Washington National Forest. Passage Creek follows beside the road for some distance here. It’s a stocked trout stream, so purchase a fishing license ahead of time and stop here for a morning of fishing. Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area is another great spot for a stop in the forest. After passing through the forest, you’ll come out into more open valley. Enjoy driving among beautiful farms with mountains in the distance. Consider a diversion to the Woodstock Fire Tower for a memorable hike.
After about 20 miles on Fort Valley Road, make a left onto State Rte 675. This mountain road takes you over the Massanutten Mountain. At the top, you can take a break to enjoy the Kennedy Peak hike, an easy, family friendly hike that ends at a viewing platform with stunning 360° views. It’s a great spot for a picnic lunch. When you get back in the car, you’ll be heading down the other side of the mountain into the town of Luray. Luray is a great place to grab lunch if you didn’t pack a picnic. The town also boasts its own attractions. Luray Caverns are definitely worth a visit. Another option would be a stop at Lake Arrowhead in Luray.
From Luray, get on 340 north, and it’ll take you all the way back to Front Royal. When you get to Bentonville, you’ll find the Shenandoah River State Park. The park boasts a long stretch of river access, so you can cool off from your day in the car. A little further along 340, you’ll run into Skyline Caverns. End the day with a delicious dinner at one of Front Royal’s own eateries.
Civil War History Road Trip
A road trip through the Shenandoah Valley has plenty to offer Civil War enthusiasts. The Shenandoah Valley was a key strategic area during the Civil War. Today, the Valley is a treasure trove of battlefields, museums, and memorial markers that bring Civil War history to life. The Civil War sites of the Shenandoah Valley are idea road trip stops. You can follow self-guided driving tours of several of the battlefields (including Front Royal). Other battlefields offer hiking trails, allowing you to take a break from the car and stretch your legs.
If you’re starting in Front Royal, check out the Battle of Front Royal Driving Tour and the Belle Boyd Cottage Then continue to Winchester (visit Berryville on the way if you want a longer trip). In Winchester, you can join I-81 south and travel as far as Staunton and Waynesboro, finding Civil War sites of interest all the way.
The Civil War history of the Shenandoah Valley is rich. If you have time, take several days exploring the valley. For a day trip, or even a weekend, you’ll need to pick and choose where you want to visit. Look here for great information and help planning your trip.
Skyline Drive Road Trip
A post on road trips in Front Royal and the Shenandoah Valley wouldn’t be complete without mention of Skyline Drive. The central byway of the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive begins right in Front Royal.
It takes about three hours to drive the full 105 miles of Skyline Drive without stops. Of course you’ll want to stop to enjoy the views from some of the park’s 75 scenic overlooks. If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, there are plenty of spots to stop for a hike, and you’ll a range of hikes of varying difficulties. You’ll find yourself deep in nature without walking far from the road.
For a really relaxed trip, look into lodging inside the park. From cozy cabins and hotel rooms, to back country camping, there are options at all levels of ruggedness!
If you’re planning a road trip this summer, consider driving in the Shenandoah Valley. You’ll find natural beauty, fascinating history, and plenty of fun.
Rock climbing is a fun and exciting way to get into great shape while enjoying nature. It’s that feeling of elation that comes with completing a difficult move and conquering a new ledge. It’s the mental toughness that grows as you keep on going upwards when your whole body is begging for a break (or you’re scared out of your mind!). It’s the sheer fun of playing in Mother Nature’s playground. This is the stuff that keeps rock climbers coming back again and again to take on the challenge of a bare rock face.
Whether you’re already addicted to rock climbing, or simply want to try it out, the Shenandoah Valley has plenty of opportunities. Climbs of varying difficulty await you in one of the most beautiful places on earth. The town of Front Royal even boasts a convenient gym where you can practice rock climbing indoors. Here are some tips for starting out rock climbing, and our list of the best places for outdoor climbing in the Front Royal area.
If you’re looking for outdoor rock climbing classes near the Front Royal area, Shenandoah Mountain Guides are a great option. They regularly offer day-long rock climbing trips located right in Shenandoah National Park. Wild Guyde Adventures, based in Harrisonburg, also offers guided climbs in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley.
If you don’t have your own climbing gear yet, don’t worry. Both companies provide gear to get you started. A guided trip is a great way to try out rock climbing in a safe environment, without investing in expensive gear.
Indoor Rock Climbing in Front Royal
Indoor rock climbing is another great way to hone your skills, and has the advantage of being convenient and accessible all year long – no matter the weather! Downtown Front Royal’s indoor rock climbing happens at BattleGrounds Fitness. The gym offers a bouldering wall – that means a rock wall designed for a type of climbing done at low levels with a crash-pad. Bouldering does not require ropes or harnesses. It’s a great way to practice because you can do it on your own time, without needing to find a belay partner. You won’t experience the adrenaline rush of conquering a high rock face, but you’ll develop your skills, get stronger, AND enjoy the fun of rock climbing, all in a convenient and safe environment.
BattleGrounds Fitness offers both memberships and day-passes. If you want to become a regular, you can save money with a membership. But you can still access the wall if you’re visiting Front Royal, or just want to try it out without committing to a membership. If you’re looking for a fun way to introduce kids to rock climbing, consider scheduling a Fit & Fun Birthday Party at BattleGrounds Fitness.
Safety Precautions for Outdoor Rock Climbing
We already mentioned that rock climbing, particularly outdoor rock climbing, can be a dangerous sport. If you’re inexperienced, the best safety precaution is to go with a guide and follow their directions and advice. They’ll be able to help you decide when you’re ready to venture out more independently. They can also advise you on purchasing your own equipment.
Experienced climbers who are heading out without a guide should use appropriate safety gear, including helmets. It’s wise to inspect your climbing equipment before each use. It is much safer to climb with a buddy – in fact, most climbing techniques require a belay partner. Even if you’re bouldering, don’t be tempted to go on an outdoor trip by yourself. You’re much safer with a spotter to guide you onto your crash-pad when you fall. An injury while climbing alone in a remote location could lead to serious consequences.
Once you’re trained and geared up for safety, check out one of these favorite climbing spots in the Shenandoah Valley.
Outdoor Rock Climbing Spots near Front Royal
Elizabeth Furnace climbing region in the George Washington National Forest, is the home of two of the Shenandoah Valley’s most popular climbing spots. Talking Headwall is conveniently located right off Fort Valley Road. It’s an attractive option if you’re not interested in hiking before and after your climb. There are a variety of intermediate level climbs. Alternatively you can drive to the Buzzard Rock trailhead and take a two mile hike for the more secluded Buzzard Rocks climbing experience. Both locations offer mostly traditional and sport climbing routes, as well as a few top roping options.
The Shenandoah National Park is another area near Front Royal with popular opportunities for rock climbing. Old Rag Mountain is the favorite climbing spot in the park. Little Stony Man Cliffs, is another popular (and potentially less crowded) location. Consult a local guide, or check out this climbing website to find other good places to climb in the park. It’s worth noting that while in the park, you’ll need to observe the Shenandoah National Park’s rock climbing guidelines. The park has permanently closed some popular climbing areas due to the environmental impacts of climbing. Other rock climbing areas are closed seasonally due to peregrine nesting. When planning your trip, check ahead with the park for updated closure information.
The Shenandoah Valley is a great place to rock climb. Stay safe and have fun!
With the COVID-19 crisis throwing travel plans into chaos, it may be tempting to give up on the idea of a vacation this year. But the benefits of some time off are well-documented. Taking advantage of paid vacation time improves your health, your happiness, your family relationships, and even your productivity at work. If you want to take a break, but aren’t able to make travel plans we have a solution: a Front Royal staycation! Block out some time to rest, rejuvenate, and explore your hometown!
If you’re lucky enough to live in the Front Royal area, there are plenty of opportunities for fun and relaxation right on your doorstep. Not sure where to start? Read on! We’ve rounded up some of our best ideas to make your Front Royal staycation feel like a vacation. You should find something below to suit everyone in the family. And don’t forget: your Front Royal staycation will help the small local businesses that have taken a hard hit during the COVID-19 crisis.
(COVID-19 policies change frequently. Avoid disappointment! Be sure to double check directly with the company for any policy updates before you finalize plans.)
DISCOVER FRONT ROYAL
Front Royal Staycation Dining
One major perk of vacation is taking a break from the never ending tasks of meal-planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. On your Front Royal staycation, you should make sure you still give yourself a break. In fact, since you’ll be saving money on travel and lodging, consider enjoying an extra fancy dinner or two. You might be dying to get out of your house and enjoy a meal in a restaurant. The good news is that many restaurants are now reopening with limited and outdoor seating.
COVID-19 has a lot to answer for, but it may also give you a chance to enjoy an old favorite restaurant in a whole new way. In an effort to follow COVID-19 guidelines, several local restaurants have added outdoor dining, and even carry out or delivery services. Outdoor dining definitely has a vacation feel to it. If you don’t feel like going out, you have the chance to enjoy your favorite restaurant in the comfort of your home.
Some Front Royal favorites that have added a COVID-19 carry out service include The Element, the Front Royal Brewing Company (also offering delivery), and Pavemint Taphouse,. Or bring home an old favorite such as Spelunkers Burgers or Melting Pot Pizza.
See here for a more extensive list of Front Royal dining options.
Front Royal Outdoor Adventure Staycation
Enjoying the great outdoors is a great way to have some summer fun while observing COVID-19 guidelines. Front Royal is the perfect place for a range of outdoor staycation activities (to suit varying levels of adventurousness!).
Nothing says “summer” like relaxing on the river. Many people happily travel for hours to spend some time on a scenic river in the summer. If you live in Front Royal, you don’t have to. A Shenandoah River staycation is at your fingertips! Front Royal’s river outfitters have reduced services due to COVID-19, but if you’re interested in boating or tubing, Front Royal Outdoors has limited river trip offerings. And if you have your own boat, Skyline Canoe is offering a shuttle service so you can enjoy a trip down the river without having to worry about getting back to where you left your car. Fishing and swimming at public river access points are great options for enjoying the river while complying with social distancing guidelines. Water enthusiasts can easily plan a whole week of different river activities in and around Front Royal.
For another day of outdoor summer fun, consider hiking or biking one of Front Royal’s popular trails. Pack your own picnic, or stop at Blue Wing Frog and have them pack one for you.
Other options for outdoor fun in and around Front Royal include rock climbing, golfing, and horseback riding stables. You can even enjoy a horseback ride through the Shenandoah National Park.
It wouldn’t be a summer vacation without some ice cream. Don’t forget to cool down at the end of the day at one of Front Royal’s favorite ice cream spots. Try The Apple House Ice Cream Stand, the ever popular Spelunker’s, or C&C’s Frozen Treats on Main Street.
The Indoor Front Royal Staycation
If being outdoors and active in the heat of summer doesn’t sound relaxing, don’t worry. There’s still plenty to do in Front Royal. And many indoor-based businesses have established COVID-19 policies that allow them to remain open. Here are some slower-paced ideas for your Front Royal staycation fun in Front Royal.
If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon in town, Front Royal’s quaint Downtown area is an excellent choice. Happy Creek Coffee, and Main Street’s Daily Grind are two of the town’s most popular coffee shops. If you’re not a coffee lover, The Vine and Leaf offers teas and fine wines. Peruse the shop or enjoy a beverage in the “sipping room.”
It’s also fun to take your time exploring Front Royal’s selection of unique shops. Royal Bookshop is a charming used bookstore that’s a walkable distance from Main Street. Arts and crafts lovers will have fun painting their own pottery at The Kiln Doctor. Or for an activity that has you in nature, but out of the sun, take a tour of Skyline Caverns.
For beer and wine lovers, Front Royal has plenty of opportunities for a relaxing afternoon or evening. On Main Street, try ViNoVa Tapas and Wine Bar or the Front Royal Brewing Company. Or take a drive into the country for an afternoon at one of several scenic wineries and breweries in the Front Royal area.
COVID-19 has led to many disappointments. It’s not easy to deal with the cancellation of a summer vacation. But a week of Front Royal staycation fun may be just what you need to lift your spirits.
Spring with its restrictions sprang into oblivion quickly and the outlook for summer is not looking much less restrictive. Gym space and time is limited; running in the heat is not fun; and public swimming pools are closed. So, what is the best physical activity in the summer of 2020 in our beautiful Shenandoah Valley?
Riding a mountain bike on one of our scenic trails could be the answer!
Mountain biking is the ideal experience for anyone who wants to exercise and connect with nature. There are some skills that mountain bikers need to possess while acknowledging the difference in mountain bikes, biking styles, techniques, and terrains.
Everyone knows any physical activity is good for you. We have all heard about the “runner’s high.” But when you do any activity that gets your blood flowing and triggers the release of endorphins.
You never get bored with mountain biking as the trail is always changing. No route is ever the same. The texture of the dirt on the trail is different and there can be more rocks, fallen branches, or other unexpected obstacles.
Mountain biking gets you places much faster than hiking. In warm weather everything around is more beautiful. The stillness and majesty alone are worth it.
Here are a few of them to get you started on your mountain biking journey:
Special considerations on bicycling on the Skyline Drive
Bicycling is permitted along Skyline Drive and on paved areas in the park. Bicycling (road and mountain bikes) is not permitted on trails, unpaved roads or in grassy areas.* Because Skyline Drive is a two-lane road with steep hills and numerous blind curves, cyclists are urged to use extreme caution.
Visitors should be prepared to operate their bicycles during periods of low visibility, or while traveling through a tunnel, or between sunset and sunrise, by exhibiting on the operator or bicycle a white light or reflector that is visible from a distance of at least 500 feet to the front and with a red light or reflector visible from at least 200 feet to the rear. During periods of fog, reflectors will not provide necessary safety for bicyclists. Lights on both the front and rear of the bicycle are required. Mountain areas can experience dramatically different weather than what is being experienced in the lowlands, so be prepared!
Donations were received by the Shenandoah National Bicycle Coalition and Planet Bike of 150 lights to be given to visitors at the entrances for safety of the bicyclists arriving without a rear light. Lights are supposed to be dropped off as the visitors exit.
*Bicycling from Skyline Drive is permitted on Rapidan Fire Road for approximately one mile. At the end of this mile, there is a sign indicating no bicycles are permitted beyond that point.
BIKE TRAILS AND BIKE PATHS
Local Trails & Greenways
414 E Main St Front Royal
Sherando Park Mountain Bike Trails
Address: 200 Landgrant Ln.
Stephens City, VA 22655
Phone: (540) 665-5600
Address: Luray Ave.
Front Royal, VA 22630
Phone: (540) 636-4600
Elizabeth Furnace Recreational area
Address: Fort Valley, VA 22652
Phone: (540) 984-4101
Buzzard Rock Trailhead
Address: 3087 Mountain Rd.
Front Royal, VA 22630
Shenandoah River State Park
Address: 350 Daughter of Stars Dr.
Bentonville, VA 22610
Phone: (540) 622-6840
Address: 250 Rockland Park Way
Front Royal, VA 22630
Phone: (540) 635-7750
255 Lakeview Circle
Stephens City, VA 22655
Phone: (540) 665-5678
Low Water Bridge Campgrounds
Address: 192 Panhandle Rd.
Bentonville, VA 22610
Phone: (540) 635-7277
Sky Meadows State Park
11012 Edmonds Ln.
Delaplane, VA 20144
Shenandoah River State Park
350 Daughter of Stars Dr.
Bentonville, VA 22610
Whitney State Forest
Address: Lee, Morton Ridge
Warrenton, VA 20186
Phone: (804) 492-4121
Cedar Creek & Belle Grove
Address: Middletown, VA 22645
Phone: (540) 869-3051
Shenandoah National Park
17157 Skyline Dr.
Front Royal, VA 22630
Shopping for Bicycle or Bicycle Repair
Do you need a new bike or maintenance/repairs done on your bike? Here are some bike sales and repair shops to check out.
Mountain Trails Front Royal
120 E Main St.
Front Royal, VA 22630
Blue Ridge Bicycles
2228 Papermill Rd # G
Winchester, VA 22601
Shenandoah Bicycle Company is open and operating, ready to assist you!
135 South Main Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
4414 Costello Way
Haymarket, VA 20169
Some final, yet important considerations:
Remain on open forest roads
Watch over the environment
Ride carefully, remain in control
ALWAYS be prepared
Remember: You are responsible for your own safety
and for the safety of those around you.
There's Peace and Quiet in Those Hills ...
While options may be different than those found in larger cities, there are plenty of unique activities and entertainment to be found in smaller communities such as Front Royal, VA. This small town comes with a rich history and direct access to the Shenandoah Valley and Skyline Drive.
There is so much to do and enjoy that we wanted to provide a day guide for your next visit here!
Stroll Around Town
Small towns in the more rural regions of America are known for their downtown areas with “heritage” buildings, quaint streets, and charming local shops. Front Royal is no exception. Don’t be afraid to venture beyond Main St.! Our town offers many shops, antique stores, outdoors parks and award winning restaurants.
Check out other businesses our town has available to you!
Explore a Museum
Front Royal and Warren County have a unique history. Though the museums may not have a well-known reputation, they are nonetheless a treasure trove of our culture, background, and insights.
Check out our other historic places of interest around town!
Go Out for Coffee
It is common to find groups of friends sitting at local coffee shops for hours on weekday and Saturday mornings. Coffee shops are also popular hangouts for the older, retired crowd. You can experience several hours of relaxation for the cost of one cup of coffee.
Skyline Drive Sightseeing
Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway. Though autumn is the most popular time to travel along Skyline Drive, with its breathtaking foliage, spring offers the pale green of trees waking up from a long winter, colorful wildflowers, as well as blooming azaleas and mountain laurel.
How long does it take to get through the park? With over 75 scenic overlooks along the way, most people allow three to four hours to drive the 105-mile length of Skyline Drive.
You’ll find some of the most scenic golf courses within the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains. The views here are amazing!
For Disc Golf lovers we have Rockland Park Disc Golf Course
Here you’ll find a complete list of area golf courses.
Go Fishing or Hunting
The Shenandoah River has been regarded as one of the best smallmouth rivers in the world. Pair that with the Blue Ridge Mountains to explore the best fishing and hunting in Virginia!
To learn more about the best places to dock, check out our recent blog!
One of the benefits of a small town is that there can be a lot of open space not too far away. Sometimes, it can be a ton of fun to pack a bag and head outside of town. If you have kids, hiking can be a chance to spend some time together, while you teach them how much fun it can be to explore!
Check out some of our best trails!
Everyone has a different reason to go camping. Many want to disconnect from high tech and reconnect with the outdoors. Families go camping to get away from distractions at home and to rejuvenate relationships. Camping means different things to different people.
Not sure where to stay? Here are some great choices!
Go Canoeing or Kayaking
The Shenandoah Valley offers numerous rivers ideal for canoeing and kayaking for all experience levels. The most famous is the Shenandoah River, which runs parallel to Front Royal.
Don’t feel like toting your own vessel, or maybe you don’t own one? Don’t worry, we have you covered!
Check out the following business to rent your own:
Support the Community by staying at a local B&B
Staying at a bed and breakfast is the perfect choice of lodging when you need a relaxing escape. You can find B&Bs almost anywhere you go, and they provide much better value than hotels. From personalized attention to delicious food, there are many reasons to choose a bed and breakfast over a hotel - especially in Front Royal.
When you are on the road, away from home, travelers seek to experience a deeper connection with the places they visit. The bed and breakfast industry, is known for its hospitality, which is why you see many B&B’s and Inns receive great ratings for this very quality.
Each bed and breakfast has its own history and its own style of accommodation. A B&B gives you the sense of being home because the rooms are both comfortable and elegant.
B&B’s are small businesses. Innkeepers take tremendous pride in their work. Not only that, they feel a responsibility to make sure their guests are comfortable and cared for.
And then there is the food! Home-cooked meals, with locally sourced ingredients, make the start of the day an enjoyable one. A freshly-prepared, delicious breakfast means the world to travelers who are far from home.
Front Royal and Warren County have a bevy of choices:
When was the last time you truly saw the stars in a night’s sky? A distinct advantage of a small-town visit is having the chance to see the stars! Stick around for an evening so you can see for yourself.
Public Parks & Gardens
From botanical gardens and arboretums to fun playgrounds and community parks, there’s something to please everyone!
Here are additional parks and places of interest to visit!
A Final Thought!
There are many ways to enjoy small towns and their surrounding areas. These economical and creative solutions can be a great way for visitors to enjoy just as much as you would in the big city. They may not seem as grand, but they can be just as educational, entertaining, and fun!
Fun, relaxation, and the outdoors await in Front Royal. It’s in our nature!
Discover Front Royal