We live in an era in which high quality videos and pictures of the world’s most fascinating sights are at our fingertips for most of our waking hours. Spending long periods of time outdoors peering through binoculars in the hopes of catching a (perhaps distant) sighting of an elusive bird may seem . . . a bit out of touch. But birdwatching is a pastime that grew in popularity throughout the twentieth century, and still commands a large number of devotees. If you’re in the Front Royal area, it may be time to discover (or continue enjoying) the thrills of birdwatching for yourself. The Shenandoah Valley is a great place to birdwatch. With habitat for some of America’s favorite birds, as well as rarer migratory species, the area draws birdwatchers every year. Read on to explore three reasons why birdwatching is still worthwhile in the smartphone era, and find our tips for great birding spots in and around Front Royal.
1. Birdwatching is Good for Your Health
Birdwatching requires slowing down, peace and quiet, and often a hike into less-frequented areas of nature. Research has shown the negative effects of the constant stimulation and instant gratification we get from our digital devices. It’s affecting our mental health, as well as our attention spans, and even brain function. Taking a break from the screen and focusing your attention on observing a bird at the slower pace of real life can provide a much needed change. Especially when combined with exercise such as walking, birdwatching can boost your mental, physical, and emotional health all at once!
2. You get to Search for an Answer
In the world of google and countless information apps, finding thousands of answers to any question can be as quick as typing it in and hitting go. All that information can be overwhelming, and it also takes away the unique satisfaction of figuring out a problem on your own. When you’re out in the field watching birds, identifying a species you haven’t seen before is the perfect opportunity to exercise your (perhaps neglected!) sleuthing skills! Flipping through a field guide, making comparisons, sometimes getting stumped, and finally arriving at an answer is a uniquely satisfying process, one many of us experience all too infrequently.
3. Birdwatching Brings Its own Thrills
Perhaps it’s partly because birdwatchers aren’t guaranteed success every time: birdwatching is full of thrills. Whether it’s spotting a new species for the first time, finally laying eyes on a bird you’ve been patiently awaiting, or sharing the joy of exploring nature’s wonders with friends and family, birdwatching has excitements all its own in store. It’s another great way to get outdoors and explore all the natural world has to offer.
If you’re considering a birding outing around Front Royal, you’ll find there are loads of great places in the area to explore. See our post here to learn more about birdwatching at Shenandoah National Park or the Virginia State Arboretum. Between these two locations there’s scope for almost unlimited birdwatching. For a lesser-known park with lots of birdwatching potential try Shenandoah River State Park. A thrilling local hike that’s name for the bird sightings it includes is the George Washington National Forest’s Buzzard Rock Hike. A fun climb up through the woods emerges onto an exposed rocky outcrop at the top, with thrilling scenes of buzzards wheeling through the skies and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a local favorite you’ll want to check out.
Whether you’ve never tried birding or you’re an experienced birdwatcher, let this spring be a time to get out there with your binoculars and field guide! Birdsong is one of spring’s most exciting sounds. It’s a great time of year to get out there and get to know the wonderful creatures that fill the air with song.
If you’ve spent some time in Front Royal and grown to love everything that makes our small town special, it might be time to meet some of our neighbors. If you’re looking for a change of scene without straying too far from Front Royal, you can find plenty to do in our neighboring towns. Read on for a rundown of four of Front Royal’s fantastic neighboring towns, and get ready to discover something new on your next visit to the Front Royal area!
Home to the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, Winchester is the closest city to Front Royal, and it’s where Front Royal natives often go to carry out business that can’t be completed closer to home. Just a 20 minute drive away, it brings some of the convenience of city life to our rural community. It’s also a great place to relax and enjoy a change of pace. Old Town Winchester is a favorite part of the city for ambiance, strolling, dining, shopping, as well as being the venue of a fun calendar of special events.
You’ll also find entertainment and museums in and around Winchester. The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley is one of the city’s top attractions, with exhibits of local art and history, as well as a large campus to enjoy that includes stunning gardens, park areas, and walking trails.
With a variety of local farms in the surrounding area hosting markets, pick your own operations, and seasonal fun, Winchester is also a great place to take your next fruit picking, pumpkin patch, or Christmas Tree cutting adventure.
Just down the road from hikers’ favorite Old Rag Mountain, Sperryville is a great town to stop at before or after your next Shenandoah National Park hike. Explore a new area of the park and a new Virginia small town too!
You’ll find a friendly welcome in Sperryville when you’re ready to take a break from the trails. Explore delicious dining, and unique shops, as well as rustic lodging options. Sperryville is a popular haunt of horseback riding enthusiasts. With beautiful Virginia countryside spread out all around, it’s a great place to saddle up!
Enjoy a scenic drive down US-55 from Front Royal, and you’ll find yourself at the next town up the Shenandoah River: Strasburg. It’s another quaint and quintessential country town with something for everyone!
If you’re looking for outdoor fun, head to Strasburg’s town park. It’s situated on the banks of the Shenandoah River, and here you’ll find a riverside recreation area, tennis, basketball, volleyball, and more, as well as a walking trail with views of the river and the Massanutten mountain.
For fun and Victorian style dining and lodging, check out the Strasburg Hotel, or wander around the town and explore a wide range of delicious dining options. You’ll find something for everyone. Don’t forget to stop by the Farmers Market on a Saturday morning during the season, for some healthy, local food shopping.
The Strasburg Emporium is an antiques mall where you can browse over 60 dealers without leaving the building. It’s a great place to hold your next treasure hunt. And make sure you check out the Strasburg Museum to learn some local history.
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and retaining the original grid of streets laid out by George Washington himself, the town of Little Washington is a national historic landmark. Over the years, this delightful small town came to be known as “Little Washington” to distinguish it from its much larger neighbor: “Big” Washington D.C. Enjoy wandering the quiet, walkable streets, and immersing yourself in the world of this quaint, historic village.
Little Washington is a great place to continue your wine-tasting adventure, with several outstanding wineries nearby. The town also boasts world famous dining and accommodations at The Inn at Little Washington. For a more casual experience, drop by Patty O’s Café and Bakery for a coffee and pastry at a charming sidewalk café. You can also catch some world-renowned musicians performing at Little Washington Theater.
It’s neighbors like these that help keep the Front Royal area fun and welcoming for residents and visitors alike. Looking to uncover a new favorite haunt near Front Royal? Check out one of our neighboring towns on and enjoy the adventure!
2022: What’s In Store in Front Royal
The Front Royal area has a full calendar of fantastic celebrations and events. Some are classic small-town festivals that bring in the locals and have been an annual tradition for many years. And in recent years, some new additions to the calendar have been drawing bigger crowds from across the nation to our amazing small town. Read on to find out what’s on Front Royal’s 2022 events calendar, and plan ahead for a year of fun and celebration.
St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
March is here, and it’s the time of year when everyone the U.S. seems to remember they have a little (or a lot!) of Irish blood in them. Whether you’re Irish or not, St Patrick’s Day celebrations can become an annual tradition that adds some fun to the beginning of spring.
With Irish dancing, Irish music, and, of course, beer, Front Royal has everything you need to make St. Patrick’s Day great. The party starts on March 12, with a Pot O’Gold Hunt: a fun treasure hunt up and down Front Royal’s Main Street. Organized by Jig ‘n’ Jive, Front Royal’s own Irish Dance studio, this is a celebration you won’t want to miss.
St. Patrick’s Day weekend itself has even more in store. Head to the Virginia Beer Museum on March 18 for a fun St. Patrick’s Day Party, or catch folk singer/songwriter Ben-David Warner’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Tour on Main Street.
Endurance Races of the Shenandoah Valley
If you or someone you know is an athlete, there are two fantastic races planned for 2022 that will not only test your strength and endurance, but also allow you to enjoy the fantastic outdoor spaces around Front Royal.
The Shenandoah Epic on April 23-24 is a 24 hour race that covers up to a hundred miles of hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking, all in the stunning setting of the Shenandoah Valley in spring. Participate, volunteer, or spectate at the finish line, you’re guaranteed a good time.
For a fun mountain biking challenge, plan on The Shenanduro on May 7. Enjoy the 6-12 hour endurance mountain biking course at Shenandoah River state park, and then relax with food off the grill, music, and the Shenandoah River to cool off in!
3 Day Bike About
Strasburg, VA - June 10, 11 & 12, 2022.
3 Day Bike About provides riders and their family and friends a fun-filled 3-day weekend of cycling and sightseeing. Routes will send you off in a different direction with new places to visit every day. Routes will range from 15 up to 55 miles depending on the day.
A Year Full of Festivals
A full calendar of festivals will make 2022 fun in the Front Royal area! The festival year starts off April 23, with Browntown’s Redbud Festival and Front Royal’s own Earth Day Celebration, both on the same day! May 21, see Front Royal’s Main Street transformed into a Wine and Craft Festival and enjoy a day of wine tasting and craft shopping in gorgeous spring weather.
Fall brings one of Front Royal’s biggest festivals: Appaloosa Roots Music Festival. Spend the weekend of September 3-4 camping at beautiful Skyline Ranch Resort, and enjoy the music of national sensation Scythian, a folk band that has its roots right here in Front Royal. Of course you’ll also hear loads of other up-and-coming folk music stars too.
Homesteaders of America Conference
A month later, crowds from across the nation will be back in Front Royal for the annual Homesteaders of America Conference, October 7-8. Drawing nationally acclaimed authors and speakers, as well as a fun crowd of homesteading enthusiasts, this unique conference will leave you inspired with new ideas for living closer to the land and taking responsibility for your own food supply.
The Festival of Leaves Returns!
It's super exciting to have this event back this year!
The Festival of Leaves is an annual celebration held in the Historic Downtown area of Front Royal, Virginia. The event provides arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, music programs, a parade, heritage square with living history interpretations and demonstrations, kids area, and much more!
The year ahead seems busy, but there are plenty more events in the works for the Front Royal area that haven’t made it on the calendar yet. Keep checking our events page to make sure you have the latest updates and don’t miss out on a single one!
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