A landscape carpeted with delicate wildflowers is a quintessential spring sight. After a long winter, spring wildflowers are a welcome harbinger of the glorious warmer seasons that Mother Nature has in store. Read on to discover the spring wildflowers of the Shenandoah Valley! We’ve included a brief introduction to what you can expect to see, as well as some suggestions for where to find the best wildflower scenery.
Spring Wildflowers in the Front Royal Area
While we often think of wildflowers in vibrant sunny meadows, you’ll find that the earliest flowers of the spring are more commonly shade lovers. Some of spring’s most famous and popular wildflowers are bloodroot, bluebells, trillium, violets, azaleas, and mountain laurel. These stars of the spring wildflower show flourish mostly in forest and on riverbanks. With its forested parks and riverside trails, the Front Royal area is full of places to enjoy these favorite spring wildflowers.
Want to come upon a forest floor carpeted with bluebells or trillium? Or to stroll along a river bank overflowing with delicate blooms? Use our handy guide below to plan your next outdoor adventure, and you’re sure to find some spring wildflowers waiting to greet you.
1. Shenandoah National Park: A Wildflower Lover’s Destination
Front Royal’s famous neighbor, the Shenandoah National Park draws crowds in every season, and spring is no exception. It’s the home of 862 known wildflowers, and its wooded trails provide ample opportunities for wildflower sightings. It’s no surprise that the Shenandoah National Park made this list of the best places in the country to see wildflowers!
If you’re planning a wildflower viewing trip to Shenandoah National Park, check out this handy wildflower calendar first. That way, you’ll know which species you can expect to enjoy when.
2. Blandy Experimental Farm and Virginia State Arboretum: Get a Wildflower Education
Located just thirty minutes from Front Royal, the Virginia State Arboretum is a great place to plan your next spring wildflower stroll. The Arboretum features a variety of native habitats. Check out the woodlands for those early spring favorites.
If you’re looking for a more formal educational experience, check out their programs. You could sign up for a wildflower walk, or join the upcoming wildflower webinar
3. Shenandoah River State Park: Enjoy Riverside Bluebells
Moving our wildflower search from forest floors to river banks, the next destination on the list has to be the Shenandoah River State Park. If you love a woodland scene filled with bluebells, don’t look any further than the Bluebell Trail at this local park. You’ll enjoy a gentle, one mile walk by the famous Shenandoah River. This hike is such a perfect spring stroll that it made this list of recommended wildflower hikes in Virginia.
4. Take Advantage of the NOVA 4-H Center’s Hiker Parking
For a more adventurous hike that’s famous for its wildflowers, park your car at the NOVA 4-H Center, and hike back into Front Royal. This strenuous hike will take you eleven miles, along a stretch of the Appalachian Trail, and then through the Shenandoah National Park. You’ll be ready for that hearty beer and burger when you make it to town!
Bonus: Take a Drive past Flowering Trees
The ground isn’t the only place to look for spring flowers in the Shenandoah Valley! As trees begin to flower, they make for some of the most stunning sights in a spring landscape. And on the scenic byways around Front Royal, you can enjoy them from your car! If you’re looking for a spring drive that features flowering trees, try heading south on US-340 towards Luray. You’ll find yourself enjoying views filled with dogwoods and redbuds, some of Virginia’s favorite spring flower-bearers.
This spring, make a resolution to get out at least once and discover the wildflowers of the Shenandoah Valley. There are plenty of great wildflower destinations in the Front Royal area!
Mom and pop shops have always been a big part of the American Main Street . . . and the American Dream! There are few things that say “America” more than a husband-and-wife team who work hard to provide a valuable service and share their talents with the town! When the kids join in (or even take over!), a business operation becomes a true family tradition.
March 29 is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day. Discover Front Royal is celebrating by highlighting Front Royal’s fantastic mom and pop shops. From restaurants to roller rinks, our mom and pop shops are diverse . . . and they’re an essential part of our small-town living experience. You may well run into the owners when you stop by. Don’t forget to thank them for their hard work!
Below you’ll find the stories of the people behind five of our town’s mom and pop shops, as well as a list of several more local mom and pop businesses.
1. Po Green’s: Classic Southern Food in Front Royal
Husband and wife team Edwin and Anneise Green head up Po Green’s, your stop in Front Royal for Barbecue and Southern food. They’re the perfect team for the restaurant business. Edwin is the chef, and heads up the kitchen side of things, while Anneise is in charge of the dining room and the restaurant’s catering business. She’ll also occasionally lend a hand in the kitchen whipping up a home baked dessert or two.
2. Downhome Comfort Bakery: Homemade Goodies on a Small Scale
Keith and Maureen are the happy couple behind Downhome Comfort Bakery. Maureen is at the heart of creating delicious homemade baked goods. Meanwhile Keith enjoys offering a friendly welcome (and a Front Royal history lesson!) to any customers who have time for a chat.
3. L’Dees: The Diner where Customers become Part of the Family
4. Mac’s Roller Rink: A Decades-long Roller Skating Tradition
5. C&C’s Frozen Treats: Ice Cream meets Family Fun
William (Crazy Willie) and Nina Huck own C&C’s Frozen Treats on Main Street. The couple relocated to Front Royal from Louisiana, and they’re not ashamed of their “deep south” heritage! Their delicious ice cream has become the talk of the town. With the unique selection of “crazy” flavors changing every week, you’ll never get tired of Main Street’s classic ice cream parlor. The Hucks have also worked hard to bring the Front Royal community together. In the spring, they host an annual Family Fun Day that includes a parade on Main Street, a Louisiana crawfish boil, and, of course, ice cream!
6. Turnmeyer Galleries
Turnmeyer Galleries is so much more than a photo gallery! They offer workshops, classes, gifts, Fine Art, jewelry, candles and an array of other boutique items. Their store offers unique pieces from local artists and craftsmen. It's truly a must stop and shop on Main Street!
Even More Mom and Pop Shops in Front Royal!
If you’re looking for a mom and pop shop to support on National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, choose one of the five above, or see below for a more comprehensive list. The shops listed below are certified mom and pop, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
I Want Candy: Main Street’s destination for all the candy you could want.
Talk of the Mountain Seafood: from crabcake to oysters to catfish sandwiches, you’ll find it all here and more!
Two Fat Butchers: a classic butcher shop. On the weekends, check their smoker outside for ready-to-eat smoked foods.
Ben’s Family Cuisines: a restaurant serving a variety of Asian specialty food.
Royal Spice: Front Royal’s family-run Indian Restaurant.
Happy Creek Coffee: Coffee, tea, and gluten free food!
Dusty's Country Store: Gourmet Food Store inside Downtown Market
The COVID-19 lockdowns have been particularly hard on small business owners. Many are still recovering. This year, celebrate Mom and Pop Shop Business Owners Day by supporting your favorite Front Royal mom and pop Shop. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, use this post to discover a new one.
And remember ...
Welcome to Discover Front Royal’s “Discover-y” blog series! As spring weather begins to lift our spirits and tempt us outdoors, we’re turning the focus to the fantastic natural world around us. This series will feature a monthly post on the outdoor world around the Shenandoah Valley. Today’s topic: spring birds of the Shenandoah Valley!
Read on for some recommendations of birding spots in the Front Royal area. We’ve also included a list of five favorite birds that beginner and experienced birders alike will enjoy observing this spring (and even late winter if you are eager to get out there!).
Birding in the Front Royal Area
The Front Royal area is home to some fantastic spots for birding. An obvious place to start is the famed Shenandoah National Park. With its mountain-ridge location and plenteous forest habitat, the Shenandoah National Park is a magnet for migratory birds. The Dickey Ridge Visitor Center Area, just five miles from the Front Royal entrance station, is a top recommendation for bird-watching. Explore the trails in this part of the park if you’re in search of some spring bird sightings. See here for a further list of the park’s best hikes for birdwatching enthusiasts.
Another highly recommended spot for bird-watching around Front Royal is the Blandy Arboretum. The 700 acres of the arboretum include a variety of habitats, making it a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts of all kinds. Explore on your own, or consider checking out the arboretum’s educational programs. There are several birding offerings, which could be a great fit whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned birder looking for some company and fresh perspective on your birding adventures.
Finally, to view a diverse range of birds including waterfowl, don’t forget to check out some of the riverside locations around Front Royal. Shenandoah River State Park is a commonly recommended destination for bird enthusiasts. And if you head to Eastham Park you can take a birding walk along the Shenandoah River without even having to leave town.
1. Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebirds are one of the few brightly colored birds you may sight around the Front Royal area in the dead of winter. While many birds leave the area in the fall, Eastern Bluebirds can be seen all year long. If you head out birding before spring has really started, Eastern Bluebirds are a great species to look out for. The pop of blue and rusty red will brighten any late-winter’s landscape.
A late winter birdsong to listen for is the “FEE-BEE” mating call of the Black-Capped Chickadee. Male Chickadees can begin to make this call as soon as late January. You’ll start to hear it more and more often as spring approaches. The Shenandoah Valley area is home to two species of Chickadees: Carolina and Black-Capped. The two are so closely related that they can interbreed. When they do, the offspring have the fascinating ability to make the distinctive bird call of both species.
3. Black-and-white Warbler
The sound of birdsong is a well-known hallmark of the return of spring. But did you know that in the Shenandoah Valley, it’s often the Black-and-White Warbler who’s the first to announce the end of winter. This distinctive, black-and-white striped bird is one of the first migratory birds to arrive in Shenandoah National Park each year. Hearing or seeing this bird is a sure sign than spring has finally come. Black-and-white warblers are also known for their “creeping” movement as they explore tree trunks in search of food.
4. Cerulean Warbler
The Cerulean Warbler used to be one of the more common birds of the lower Mississippi valley. In recent years, numbers have declined, and Cerulean Warblers are now a much rarer sight. One of the best places to spy them is Shenandoah National Park. Every spring, birding enthusiasts head to the park from miles around in hopes of laying eyes on one of these cheerful, bright blue songbirds. You’ll need to look hard and upwards! Cerulean Warblers generally prefer the higher part of the forest canopy.
5. Baltimore Oriole
The riverside trail at Eastham Park is a great spot for spring sightings of plentiful Baltimore Orioles. These brilliantly colored song-birds love to make their spring nests in the sycamores by the Shenandoah River. Take a stroll on the walking trail and keep your eyes peeled for the Baltimore Oriole’s attention-grabbing flash of orange.
Exploring nature and birding is a great spring pursuit. Once you get hooked, you can even bring the birds to your own backyard, and watch them right out of your window.
Consider putting up a bird feeder or nesting box this spring for bird-watching fun that keeps on going even after you get home. You’ll be helping out the Shenandoah Valley’s feathered friends too!
It’s time for a guessing game! What sport:
Disc golf is a great sport to try out this year as the winter weather slowly warms up. And if you’re in the Front Royal area, you’ll find two fantastic disc golf courses to choose from. Read on for a run down on disc golfing, as well as more information on Front Royal’s disc golf courses.
Disc Golfing 101
The concept of disc golfing is simple: it’s golf . . . but with a Frisbee-type disc! Instead of aiming for a hole in the ground, players try to throw discs into a series of eighteen specially designed baskets. And, just like in golf, the winner is the player who takes the least throws to get his or her disc in the basket.
Disc golfing can be played at many levels – all the way up to world championships, but it is a widely accessible sport that many can enjoy. Of course, you can spend some time studying specialized techniques, but in general, if you can throw a Frisbee you can have fun disc golfing. It’s also a good fit for groups of different sizes. You can play by yourself, with one partner, or with a bigger group of friends.
As well as being fun at many different skill levels, disc golfing is also accessible because it’s inexpensive. Most disc golf courses are found in parks, so you don’t have to worry about paying hefty membership fees. The only investment you’ll need to make is purchasing a few discs. Disc golf discs come in many shapes and sizes – just like golfers use different clubs for different shots, disc golfers will select from a range of discs for each throw. Some discs are designed for long distance throwing, while others are built for accuracy, or designed to suit the individual player’s strengths and weaknesses. For beginners, the best strategy is to choose a disc golf starter set. These sets contain a selection of discs that are suitable for beginner technique. You’ll also save money by buying several discs at once.
Disc Golfing Courses in the Front Royal Area
If you’re ready to get started (or continue!) with your disc golfing career, two beautiful courses await you in the Front Royal area. For a woodland experience, head to Rockland Park. The disc golf course here is mostly wooded, and features lots of elevation change. These features make for a course that players and spectators will have fun discovering. However they can be a bit of a challenge for beginners – an inaccurate throw could easily turn into a disc lost in the woods.
For a course with more open fields and less hills, take the short drive out of Front Royal to Sherando Park. You’ll still find some woods and hills here, but these “holes” are mixed in with some more open, level terrain, where you’ll be able to work on your long distance throwing. Whichever course you choose, you’ll find that memorable disc golfing fun awaits you.
(For an added challenge and some amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, add a few miles and visit Jenkins Moutain Disc Golf in Washington, VA.)
This year, as winter turns to spring, take the time to get outside and enjoy Front Royal’s disc golf courses. Players of all ages and ability levels can have a great time. It’s another popular sport that’s right at home in Front Royal.
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