Every fall sees large numbers of visitors heading to the Front Royal area in pursuit of the breathtaking fall foliage vistas. But if you’re seeking nature’s glory splendor in Front Royal this year, make sure you catch the whole show! Mother Nature isn’t done after a day of drinking in the splendor of fall. There’s an equally glorious display about to come: the star-filled night sky.
There’s something about stargazing that’s good for the soul. The sight of thousands of sparkling lights coming from worlds away is one that never gets old. It’s a good reminder of how big the universe is. And how small we are.
And maybe it’s something we’re meant to see. After all, for most of human history, people everywhere enjoyed star filled skies on a regular basis. Today, light pollution has made stargazing difficult for those living in highly populated areas. That’s yet another reason to escape to the Front Royal area this fall so you can enjoy the night sky the way it’s supposed to be.
Stargazing Spots in the Front Royal Area
For those in search of the thrill of gazing at a starlit sky, there are two parks in the Front Royal area that offer particularly outstanding displays.
The first is Shenandoah National Park. Driving on Skyline Drive already makes you feel a bit closer to the sky. But for stargazers there’s still some light pollution from the towns in the valley below. To maximize your night sky viewing, head to one of the park’s top stargazing areas. The Big Meadows area is a sought-after stargazing spot, and the location of Shenandoah National Park’s formal astronomy program, which takes place on select Friday nights through the month of October. The Skyland Amphitheater is another top stargazing spot in the park. Making arrangements for a campsite,cabin, or hotel room in Shenandoah National Park is a great way to enjoy some stargazing without having to make a long trip home at night.
For more tips, see this guide to stargazing in Shenandoah National Park. The guide includes including a list of the top overlooks in the park for stargazing (with the least light pollution interference).
On the other side of Front Royal, another great option is Sky Meadows State Park. Sky Meadows offers such great night sky views, that it’s recently become an officially designated Dark Sky Park. The park typically closes at dusk, but check their schedule of events for the popular Astronomy for Everyone program. For these family friendly events, the park stays open after dark, and you can enjoy a guided stargazing experience. Or if you want a real stargazing adventure, plan on using their primitive hike-in tent camping site and spending a memorable night under the stars.
Five Stargazing Tips
If you’re sold on making stargazing part of your next Front Royal adventure, read on for a few more tips that will help make your experience great!
1.Plan with the moon in mind. The brighter the moon, the less you’ll see of the stars, as the light of the moon can drown out these smaller nights. Stargazing will be best with a new or crescent moon above you.
1.Wait for clear skies. You’ll also want to make sure that there’s minimal cloud coverage blocking your views of the stars. Choose a crisp, clear fall night (and maybe bring a mug of hot chocolate!).
1.Let your eyes get used to the dark. You may not be used to being outside after dark, but your eyes will get there quicker than you think. While it takes several hours for your eyes to completely adjust to darker conditions, major changes take place in your eyes after just ten minutes of darkness, allowing you to see better. To help your eyes adjust, avoid using flashlights or other artificial lights as possible. It’s also helpful to avoid looking at phone screens. If you must use a light, try using one that’s tinted red.
1.Stay safe. If you’re an adventurous spirit in the park after dark, you might be tempted by the idea of a stargazing hike. While hiking at night can be a fun and memorable adventure, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll want to take added safety precautions. Don’t stray from trails at night. You may find it impossible to retrace your steps without light. Also, avoid trails with hazards such as steep drops that could be particularly dangerous in the dark. Be particularly alert for wildlife. And as always, make sure someone knows where you are going, and when you expect to return.
For more stargazing tips, see this article on stargazing in Shenandoah National Park.
There are few sights as captivating as a night sky filled with stars, or as stunning as the Blue Ridge mountains lit up with the colors of fall. Plan to enjoy both this year. A combination leaf-peeping star-gazing trip will leave you filled with awe at nature’s wonders.
With jaw-dropping scenery, quaint towns, and outdoor attractions in all directions the Front Royal area is a great place to plan a relaxing day on the road. Skyline Drive, with its northern entrance located right in the town of Front Royal, is a quintessential driving experience that’s become an American tradition. But if you’re looking for a little variety in your driving, read on! We’ve put together three new scenic drives you’re sure to love. Below you’ll find three recommended routes, along with suggested stops to suit every taste. So fill your tank with gas, and head out on a Front Royal area drive that’ll take you to a new destination . . . with lots of fun along the way!
Scenic Drive 1: Front Royal to Luray (via 522 and 211)
Head south from Front Royal on 522, and you won’t even notice the minutes glide by as you gaze out at rolling pastures and gorgeous farmlands with mountains in the background. Once you get to Sperryville, head west on 211, and you’ll find yourself driving up into the Blue Ridge Mountains, passing Shenandoah National Park’s Thornton Gap Entrance. On the other side of the mountain, you’ll come down into the town of Luray, a great destination for relaxation and family fun. To return to Front Royal, you can retrace the same route, or head back on 340 north for a shorter, but still beautiful, drive home.
For the Foodie
As you head out of Front Royal, you’ll pass two fantastic wineries, Rappahannock Cellars, and Chester Gap Cellars. If it’s too early in the day for wine, save them for the drive home.
522 takes you through Flint Hill, which is the home of some great foodie favorites for a bite to eat. Try The Blue Door Kitchen or Griffin Tavern here. Or go a little further and stop at The Inn at Little Washington for the ultimate fine dining experience.
For the Outdoor Adventurer
If you’re a love of the great outdoors, this drive will bring you to some great hiking. The Appalachian Trail crosses 522 just south of Front Royal. It’s a great place to pull off and take a hike on this iconic trail. Or use the Thornton Gap Entrance Station to enter Shenandoah National Park: the home of almost unlimited outdoor adventure.
For the Family
Families enjoying a day together will want to visit Luray Caverns and enjoy a tour of the largest caverns in the Eastern United States. From there, head to Lake Arrowhead beach to enjoy swimming, relaxing, or even a boat rental.
Scenic Drive 2: Front Royal to Middleburg (via Sky Meadows State Park)
If you’re looking to explore another small town of Northern Virginia, Middleburg is a great destination. Instead of using I-66 for most of the drive, enjoy some country roads by taking exit 18 and heading north on VA-688. You’ll pass some great stops (more on those below!) before hitting US 50. Head East on US 50, and it’ll bring you right into Middleburg, where you can explore all this historic town has to offer.
For the Foodie
Foodies will love a stop at Valley View Farm off VA-688. Pick your own fruit, taste local honey or wine, and shop the on-site farm store for delicious, farm-fresh goodies.
For dinner, stop at Hunters Head Tavern for a farm-to-table tavern experience.
For the Outdoor Adventurer
Take a hike at Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane.
For the Family
The Apple House is Front Royal’s favorite “on the way out” stop, and you’ll pass right by it on this trip. Grab a quick breakfast, or stock up on some crowd-pleasing donuts for later on. Not hungry yet? Save it for an ice cream stop on your way home.
Kids will enjoy checking out the pick-your-own options along 688. In addition to Valley View Farm, check out Hollin Farms, and Hartland Orchard. Or explore the Children’s Discovery Area at Sky Meadows State Park.
Scenic Drive 3: Front Royal to Harper’s Ferry
Located at the meeting of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Harper’s Ferry is a great road trip destination from Front Royal. Whether you’re a lover of hiking, history, the scenic outdoors, or delicious foods, you can find it here. Enjoy the scenic stretch of 522 north of Front Royal, and then connect with US-340 to take you the rest of the way.
For the Foodie:
On your way in or out of Front Royal, visit Region’s 117 in Lake Frederick to enjoy locally sourced, gourmet food.
For the Outdoor Adventurer
There’s a lot for an outdoor lover to enjoy in Harper’s Ferry, but if you’re looking for a stop along the way take a break at the Virginia State Arboretum. Here you’ll find educational programs, walking trails, and gardens.
For the Family
Check out River Rider’s Family Adventure Resort for an exciting family adventure near Harpers Ferry, or stop by Dinosaur Land on your way out of Front Royal to check out this retro attraction featuring massive model dinosaurs. Who doesn’t want to fit in a photo op with a triceratops?
If you’re looking for a beautiful drive with a fun destination and exciting roadside stops, the Front Royal area is a great place to be! Buckle up this weekend and enjoy a memorable highway adventure in a stunningly beautiful area.
Have you ever thought of the food you eat as an adventure? It’s not a connection we make every day, but food has numerous ties to excitement and uncharted territory. Maybe your food adventure is trying something new, savoring a dish from a distant land, or sampling artisanal food that doesn’t taste quite the same anywhere else. Or perhaps the adventure is more simply in the fact that the food you eat is the fuel for your next hike, bike ride, swim, or rock climb. Or maybe it’s a combination of the two!
Whether you’re looking for a uniquely delicious dining experience, or for food that will carry you for miles in the great outdoors, you can find it in Front Royal. Try out some adventurous eats in our welcoming small town, and you’ll discover why Front Royal is the foodie’s choice in the Shenandoah Valley.
Front Royal’s Unique Restaurants
Front Royal’s diverse selection of gourmet eateries make the town a great destination for foodie of all tastes. If you’re after a classic fine dining experience, you can’t go wrong with the Element. It’s fine dining the Front Royal way!
For a unique and delicious micro-brewery experience try Pavemint Taphouse. Pavemint has all the character you’d expect to find in a micro-brewery located in a renovated gas station. The smoker in the parking lot will tempt you inside, to enjoy delicious, locally sourced food alongside your craft brew.
If wine sounds better than beer, another great option in town is ViNoVa tapas and wine bar. Pair your wine with gourmet tapas from a fresh and exciting rotating menu. The small plate format is meant to encourage guests to share and try something of everything!
If you enjoy cuisines from distant lands visit Royal Spice to experience authentic Nepalese and Indian Cuisine. Family owned and operated, Royal Spice specializes in bringing exotic flavors from the foothills of the Himalayas all the way to Front Royal, Virginia. It’s hard to imagine a more adventurous eat!
And the adventure doesn’t end in Front Royal! Get off the beaten by a bit by heading to the neighboring town of Flint Hill, and expand your options even further. At Flint Hill’s Griffin Tavern you’ll find pub food in a renovated 1850s Victorian Manse. Or check out The Blue Door Kitchen and Inn for gourmet offerings in the setting of a delightful four acre estate.
Food (and Caffeine!) to Fuel Your Adventure
If it’s the desire to adventure in the great outdoors that brings you to the Front Royal area, you’ll still want to make food a part of your adventure. You’ll find that Front Royal’s business owners are ready and willing to help fuel your journey. Blue Wing Frog is a favorite hiker stop for healthy, homemade food. Better yet, they’ll even pack a picnic for you, so you can enjoy gourmet food out on the trails.
For some of us, when we think of the fuel that gets us going, we only think of caffeine. If coffee is an adventure necessity for you, Front Royal’s coffee shops will keep you supplied. DL Campus on Main, Happy Creek Coffee and Tea, and the Daily Grind are all located in Front Royal’s historic downtown. For an adventurous order at Happy Creek, try the Valencian. It’s coffee with chocolate and orange zest. An unexpected combination, but a great one!
Planning a Front Royal Foodie Getaway
There are too many great places to eat in the Front Royal area for just one dinner out. If you’re a lover of gourmet food, why not treat yourself to a getaway, and spend several days in Front Royal? If you want to know exactly what to expect, Front Royal has accommodation available at several classic chain hotels including Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, and Townplace Suites.
If you want to carry your adventure into your accommodations, there are also more unique options. Stumble Inn is specifically geared to the many Appalachian Trail hikers who come through our town. With shuttle service and resupply run provided, it’s a great stay for these great adventurers.
For a historic local Airbnb try John Pope Cabin in Browntown. Built in 1865 at the end of the Civil War, this historic cabin was the home of a soldier along with his wife and eleven children. Now it’s a cozy, welcoming, and totally unique accommodation option for a stay you won’t forget!
With gourmet restaurants, outstanding breweries, delightful coffee shops, and hospitality for hikers, Front Royal is fast becoming THE foodie destination of the Shenandoah Valley. When you’re planning your next adventure, don’t forget to plan for some adventurous eats in Front Royal, Virginia!
The idea of “adventure” awakens something deep within the human spirit. After all, adventure is the topic of many of our favorite stories, books, and movies. We literally spend hours thinking and talking about adventures.
So if you’re feeling bogged down with the business of everyday living, consider embarking on your own new adventure: an outdoor adventure! There’s nothing that can freshen your perspective and breathe new life into your everyday quite like spending a day (or a few!) adventuring in the great outdoors.
If you’re seeking to satisfy the adventure-lover within you, put the Front Royal area at the top of your list of destinations. With a fantastic location at the Gateway to Shenandoah National Park, you’ll find plenty of scope for adventure here. Oh, and did we mention that this vibrant small town is also known as the Canoe Capital of Virginia? Call it nature’s playground if you like. With river, forests, and mountains all nearby, every adventure-lover will find something to enjoy in the Front Royal area. Don’t put your next adventure on hold. Make plans today to discover the adventure of Front Royal.
The Adventure of Front Royal
The first ingredient in planning your adventure is, of course, the adventure itself! You’ll find plenty to keep you busy in the Front Royal area. Let us give you some ideas.
The Shenandoah National Park is a great place to start. It’s Front Royal’s most famous landmark, and it’s a sought-after destination for adventure-lovers from all over the U.S. Mountain bikers and rock climbers will find plenty to enjoy in Shenandoah National Park, and in the greater Front Royal area too. If you’re looking for a memorable hike, see here for some local recommendations. Spoiler alert: two of the hikes on this list feature swimming holes!
Prefer to plan your next adventure on the water? There’s no better place than the Canoe Capital of Virginia! From kayaking to tubing to fishing (with lots more in between), the Shenandoah River is an endless source of adventure and fun. Check out one of our local outfitters, such as Front Royal Outdoors for everything you need to make your dream river adventure a reality.
The Supplies (Find What You Need in Front Royal)
Don’t forget to plan a stop in the town of Front Royal to stock up on food and any gear that you’ll need. Blue Wing Frog is a classic favorite food stop for our outdoors loving visitors. They offer wholesome, homemade food to eat in, and they’ll even pack it as a picnic for you to bring with you.
Meanwhile, if you’re missing an essential piece of gear, Mountain Trails should be able to help you. You’ll find a range of high quality outdoor equipment here, from water bottles to tents and everything in between!
Sweet Refreshment (Front Royal’s Happy Ending)
Outdoor adventures help you work up an appetite, and there’s no better way to reward yourself than with a drink and a bite to eat at one of Front Royal’s favorite breweries. Check out Front Royal Brewing Company or PaveMint Taphouse to give your adventure a perfect ending. Nothing pairs with a beer and a burger quite like the feeling of slightly aching muscles! Cheers to the adventure!
And if you think you won’t be able to tear yourself away after dinner, check out our lodging options. There’s camping, hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, something for everyone to love. Make your visit to Front Royal all the more relaxing by settling in for the night.
Maybe your idea of adventure is canoeing the river, scaling a rock face, challenging yourself with a new hike, or taking on some mountain trails with a bike. Whatever the case, you’ll find that your perfect adventure awaits you in Front Royal, Virginia. Don’t wait any longer to discover all our small town has to offer!
Discover Front Royal