Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you’ve only heard them mentioned once or twice, you’re not alone. And yet these underappreciated snow sports deserve a lot more popularity. Their famous cousins, skiing and snowboarding, tend to steal the spotlight. But both essentially require travel to expensive resorts, and demand a reasonably high level of physical fitness. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are much more widely accessible. If you like to hike (or even walk!), and live in an area where there’s snow, chances are you’ll be able to enjoy one or the other with only minimal upfront investment.
A snowy day in the Front Royal area is a great setting for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Whether you’re new to these snow sports, or an old hand, we’ll hope you’ll adventure out this winter and enjoy them. Read on for more information about these sports, as well as some suggestions of where to go in the Front Royal area.
Snowshoeing – the Basics
Snowshoeing can be as simple as hiking in the snow . . . but using specially designed snowshoes to make your life easier. Snowshoes work by providing a wider base for your feet than normal shoes. With your weight distributed over the wider area of the snowshoe, you can walk on top of the snow, without your feet sinking fully into it.
It’s possible to take a deep dive into various specialized techniques for snowshoeing. However, it really can be as simple as slipping snowshoes over your boots and taking a walk (in snow, of course!). “If you can walk, you can snowshoe” is a common mantra among snowshoeing enthusiasts. Snowshoeing is a great way to continue to enjoy your favorite hiking trails through the winter months. To get started, simply buy or rent a pair of snowshoes and head out. Poles are also worth considering if you plan to tackle steep slopes or tricky terrain.
Cross-country skiing is both more expensive and more challenging than snowshoeing. Nevertheless, it’s still more accessible than downhill skiing. It’s a great sport to try if you’re looking for a bit more excitement than snowshoeing.
Cross-country skiing involves a pair of skies similar to those used for downhill skiing. Poles are also essential. Cross-country skis allow the skier to traverse flat and even uphill terrain in addition to downhill runs. Because of the speed involved, downhill slopes are the most challenging to navigate in cross-country skiing, and should be approached with caution.
To get started cross-country skiing, it’s helpful to do some research into techniques. Check out videos such as this one, which give beginners a good introduction to the sport. You can also possible to look into instruction and guided trips, but since you can take cross-country skiing at your own pace, it’s also possible to try it out on your own.
Locations for Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing in the Front Royal Area
With snowshoeing’s similarities to hiking, it is possible to snowshoe on many of the great hiking trails around Front Royal. In fact, there are so many beautiful places to hike around Front Royal, that it’s a great place to give snowshoeing a try. When Skyline Drive is closed to traffic because of snowy conditions, remember you can access the park on foot from any boundary access point.
To find a great cross-country skiing trail, you’ll need to be a little more selective. You’ll want to find smooth trails, with gentle slopes. However, there’s still plenty to enjoy in the Front Royal area. Check out some of the trails in Sky Meadows State Park where the terrain is less mountainous. In Shenandoah National Park, the Limberlost Trail is a top pick for beginner cross-country skiers. The Big Meadows area is another part of the park that is particularly popular, with its gentle slopes and open fields. Finally, the iconic Skyline Drive itself might be an option. Before the road is plowed after a snowfall, while it’s still closed to traffic, it can provide an ideal surface for cross-country skiing, complete with stunning views and overlooks. Of course, you’ll need to keep a close eye out for the snowplow if you take this option. It’s also suggested that skiers access Skyline Drive at the Thornton Gap entrance station, rather than in Front Royal. A long, steep climb is the first thing you face after the Front Royal entrance station.
Though they are accessible to a wide variety of people, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing do involve some risk. As with any sport, especially those involving snowy and icy conditions, it is possible to suffer serious injury while snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Don’t be discouraged from giving these sports a try, but remember that it is important to exercise caution and stay within your limits. Ideally, you should bring a buddy if you are heading out onto the trails. At least be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. If you feel uncertain about your proficiency, it is much better to obtain professional training than to risk injury.
Don’t let the fantastic hiking trails in the Front Royal area lie silent and unused this winter.
A snowfall in the Front Royal area is a great opportunity to get out and give one of these snow sports a try. It’s not too hard to get started, and you may discover a new favorite way to exercise in the winter.
With Christmas 2020 fast approaching, COVID-19 restrictions continue to fill our lives with uncertainty and disappointment. It’s tough wondering which beloved Christmas traditions we’ll miss out on this year. We could all use some festive cheer! That’s why the Front Royal Chamber of Commerce has decided to go ahead with its annual Christmas Parade. With a few modifications, this outdoor event can go ahead safely, bringing some Christmas spirit to our favorite small town.
Read on for details of the 2020 Front Royal Christmas Parade, including COVID-19 safety measures. You’ll also find some ideas for making a day of it. Come out and be a part of giving the town of Front Royal a Christmas boost!
The Front Royal Christmas Parade
The Front Royal Christmas Parade will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 5. This year, to allow for social distancing, the parade will proceed down N. Commerce Avenue, beginning at E Stonewall Drive, and disbanding at Bing Crosby Stadium. With many of Front Royal’s favorite businesses and organizations participating in the parade, it’s a great way to celebrate everything Front Royal has to offer. With the extra space along the 2020 parade route, you’ll be able to comply with COVID-19 guidelines as well as enjoying this beloved Christmas tradition.
Shop and Dine - Support Front Royal’s Local Businesses
Although the parade will not go down Main Street this year, the route still allows participants easy access to the shops and restaurants of downtown Front Royal. It’s a great excuse to explore what the town of Front Royal has to offer.
Plan to visit Front Royal’s unique shops before the parade if you still have Christmas shopping on your to-do list. You’ll find unique gifts, antiques, used books, pottery, and outdoor gear, all within walking distance of the parade route. Downtown Front Royal is just the right place to find just the right gift for the trickiest people on your list.
If you’re hoping to enjoy the parade with something warm and delicious in your hand, you can! Allow time to stop by the Down Home Comfort Bakery, or one of Frond Royal’s coffee shops on your way to the parade route. Happy Creek Coffee, the Daily Grind, and DL Campus Coffee on Main are all great options for delicious coffee or hot chocolate and a tasty treat.
Don’t forget the fun doesn’t end with the parade. Round out the afternoon by grabbing dinner at a local restaurant before you head home. Or check out one of Front Royal’s fantastic entertainment spots.
If you’re starting to worry that the Grinch will steal Christmas this year, an afternoon at the Front Royal Christmas Parade will lift your spirits. You can enjoy a day of family fun, celebrate everything about our amazing small town, AND support local business! We’ll see you there!
P.S. - The parade is a fantastic opportunity to take some great photos that you can enter for our "Staying Home for the Holidays" photo contest! We'll be featuring them on our Home for the Holidays page on our website too!
Late fall can be a bleak time of year. But for those who know what to look for, late fall has its own beauty. Among the mostly bare trees, you’ll still find a few that are holding on to their leaves. When the best of the fall foliage has passed, it’s a great time to look out for oaks and beeches. These two species typically hold onto their leaves for the longest. In fact brown leaves can remain on oak trees through the whole winter, until the new growth in spring replaces them.
But as the season of fall slowly winds, down, there’s still time for some fun in the town of Front Royal. Located at the northern entrance to Skyline Drive, Front Royal has even more to offer than just its natural beauty. In the town itself, you’ll discover a wide range of fun activities, together with delicious local food and drink. It’s small-town living at its best. Here’s our top ten ways to have fun in Front Royal. It’s a small town, but it can make your leaf-peeping day complete.
1. Throw an Axe!
The brand new sport of axe throwing appeared in the U.S. in 2006. It’s growing fast, and it’s come to Front Royal. To spend an hour throwing axes, visit Shenandoah Valley Axe Throwing Co in the heart of Front Royal.
2020 has been a stressful and frustrating year. Axe throwing is a fun way to let off some steam!
2. Become Part of a Pizza Tradition
Melting Pot Pizza is a local favorite haunt. Visit once and you’ll know why. This Front Royal tradition has been serving up delicious East Coast thin-crust pizza since 1972. It’s a fun, family friendly environment. There are even gluten-free options, so all your friends and family can enjoy. With delicious pizza and a friendly vibe, it’s no surprise that this place has been around for almost forty years.
3. Sip on a Latte
If you’re looking to unwind with a book and a cup of something warm, look no further than Happy Creek Coffee and Tea. This cozy coffee shop has delicious beverages and plenty of character. In addition to hot drinks, they’re famous for their cold brew coffee on draft. If you’re there around breakfast time, you can enjoy a fun yogurt and oatmeal bar. Gluten free baked goods are available throughout the day.
4. Feel the LOVE
Outsize letters spelling out the word LOVE have been popping up all over the state of Virginia in recent years. In turbulent times, they’re here to remind us that our beautiful state is all about love. It’s become a statewide tradition to hunt down the LOVE signs.
If you’re on a LOVE sign hunt, you’ll want to stop by Front Royal. If you’re new to the idea, Front Royal is a great place to start. Front Royal’s LOVE letters were made right here in town at AG Laser Technology. Stop by the Front Royal Visitor Center and Main Street Gazebo area to check out Front Royal’s very own LOVE letters.
Don’t forget to snap a picture and share on social media using the hashtag #LoveVA.
5. Enjoy a Craft Beer
Front Royal is a great destination for lovers of craft beer. The Front Royal Brewing Company offers award-winning craft beer brewed on site (as well as delicious food). The names of the different beers honor the local area.
Pavemint Taphouse is a conveniently located micro-brewery, housed in a creatively renovated gas station. Pavemint offers a wide range of craft beers. Drive by most days, and you’ll see the smoker outside with wood piled up next to it. Delicious meat is on the way for lucky diners.
Tap into history and the beer at the one and only Virginia Beer Museum! With Virginia having over two hundred craft breweries, this unique stop allows you to experience Virginia beer while appreciating the history of its growth in our state! Don't miss it!
6. Sample Kale Ice Cream (or Another Flavor You’ve Never Tried Before!)
C & C’s Frozen Treats is a fun ice cream shop with a retro vibe, located on Front Royal’s Main Street. The shop specializes in unique flavors of ice cream. Recent offerings have included Tomato and Basil, and Kale. You’ll also find flavors to suit more traditional tastes such as brownie batter, peach, or salted caramel. The menu changes weekly, so fall tastes such as pumpkin pie will likely pop up. You shouldn’t count on a particular flavor, but you can count on being deliciously surprised.
7. Paint Your Own Pottery
For a fun fall craft project with no clean-up, visit the Kiln Doctor to paint a piece of pottery in store. You can choose from a range of unpainted pottery pieces, including plates and mugs, or seasonal ornaments such as jack-o-lanterns and garden gnomes. Get to work and enjoy yourself. They’ll take care of the clean-up, and they’ll give your piece of art a professional finish.
8. Ride the Trolley
For a retro adventure, take a ride on the Front Royal Trolley. The fare is only fifty cents each way. Relax and enjoy the scenic town of Front Royal in a whole new way.
9. Discover a Classic or a New Favorite
Royal Oak Bookshop is the perfect place to hunt for a treasure in a used book. It’s the rambling used bookstore you’ve been looking for, complete with friendly cats!
10. Go for a Riverside Walk
The Shenandoah River runs right through Front Royal. Visit Eastham Park for a scenic stroll on an easy walking trail by the side of the river. The trail is lined with trees, so you can enjoy fall foliage here too.
Front Royal may be small, but it certainly isn’t boring! If you’re looking for a “just for fun” outing, there are plenty of to choose from! We’ve rounded up our eleven great ideas for entertainment in Front Royal. If a family fun day is in your future, you don’t want to scroll past this post. Front Royal has classic favorites like bowling and roller skating and new trends like axe throwing and rock climbing, as well as a totally unique Dinosaur Land! You’ll find there’s something for everyone!
1. Get Your Wheels On
For roller skating fun, look no further than Mac’s Roller Rink. It’s a classic indoor roller skating rink, offering open skate times, events, and private parties.
2. Scale a Rock Wall
Battlegrounds Fitness is a great new addition to Front Royal’s entertainment and fitness sector. The CrossFit gym includes a rock wall, which is accessible to members and to guests with day passes. You’ll build your muscles, balance, and coordination while having so much fun you’ll forget that you’re exercising! Battlegrounds Fitness is also a great option for a birthday party that will leave your kids (or you!) fitter and stronger.
3. Go to the Movies
You can watch a movie at Royal Cinemas on Front Royal’s historic main street. The theater shows all the latest releases. Popcorn and candy available!
4. Explore an Arcade
Across the street from Royal Cinemas, you’ll find another classic attraction. Fireball Arcade is a retro arcade with pinball and all your favorite video games. For a two-in-one outing, plan some arcade time before or after your movie showing.
5. Go Beyond the Caverns at Skyline Caverns
Most visitors come to Skyline Caverns to take a tour of the fascinating caves. But don’t forget, there are other attractions here too! Visit the mirror maze for a fun family challenge. Or bring kids for a ride on the miniature train. You can make the caverns a part of your visit, or save them for another day.
6. Challenge Your Kids to Bowling
Fun family competition. . . and hopefully some spares and strikes . . . are in your future at the Royal Family Bowling Center! This classic bowling venue has everything you’d expect. Including the pizza!
7. Throw an Axe
For another kind of target practice, check out Shenandoah Valley Axe Throwing Co. Haven’t you always had a secret urge to hurl an axe against a wooden target? This activity is recommended for ages 12 and up, although younger children are allowed at parents’ discretion.
8. Paint (or crochet!) a Masterpiece
Visit The Studio in downtown Front Royal for art instruction and workshops. Check out their schedule of events here. You’ll find crochet and sewing options as well as painting.
9. Get Into All Things Pottery
If you’re more of a sculptor than a painter, check out Front Royal’s Explore Art and Clay. You’ll find options to paint your own pottery, enjoy a clay workshop, or use a potter’s wheel.
10. Let the River Take You on an Adventure
If your family is itching to get outside, the Shenandoah River will provide fun, exercise, and scenic beauty. Front Royal Outdoors and Skyline Canoe Company are two local outfitters that offer various river trips. For more Front Royal river trip options go here.
11. Travel to the Age of Dinosaurs
Dinosaur Land is a roadside attraction that has been delighting visitors to the Front Royal area for sixty years! The open-air attraction boasts over forty life size dinosaur models in a park-like setting. Bring your imagination, and enjoy a walk into prehistory! You’ll find tons of great photo opportunities, and maybe even learn something new about dinosaurs.
If you’re planning a special occasion celebration, a vacation, or just a day of fun in the Front Royal area, there are plenty of entertainment options that the whole family will love! Use this list to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the fun that the Front Royal area has to offer!
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