For special needs parents, it can be tough to find activities that whole family can enjoy together. But doing so is totally worth it. You don’t want your special needs child to be left out of those great memories that siblings share. Not to mention it’s more efficient if everyone can have fun at the same time! And that’s worth taking into consideration… After all, special needs parents are some of the busiest people in the world!
The good news is that the Front Royal area has plenty of opportunities for special needs family fun. We’ve done the research to round up a selection of accessible Front Royal destinations that will appeal to all different abilities and interests.
Whether you’re planning a trip to the Shenandoah Valley, or already live in the Front Royal area, this post is for you. Read on for a comprehensive list of accessible activities that parents and siblings will also enjoy. Everyone’s included!
Accessibility in Shenandoah National Park
No doubt about it, the top tourist attraction of the Front Royal area is Shenandoah National Park. With its stunning mountain views, the park attracts over one million visitors every year. It’s also one of the most accessible of America’s National Parks. In fact, this park was specifically designed with driving in mind. In an era when cars were first becoming widely available, the park’s designers planned that the central feature of the park should be Skyline Drive, a road leading all the way down the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can enjoy the park’s major attraction without ever having to leave your car! There are also plenty of accessible picnic spots with stunning views, conveniently located right by the road.
If you're not already aware, individuals with disabilities are entitled to a free lifetime pass to our National Park system! Learn more here!
With a variety of accessible facilities, including lodging and camping, Shenandoah National Park is a welcoming destination for the special needs family. For a fully accessible hike, check out the Limberlost Trail. Shenandoah National Park is beautiful all year long, but it’s a particularly popular destination in the fall.
Horseback Riding for the Whole Family
For special needs families in the local area, North Star Stables offers both able-bodied and therapeutic horseback riding lessons, for riders of all capabilities. You won’t find a more welcoming environment! Head instructor Teresa Pilegaard is a special needs mom herself. She’s seen the benefits of therapeutic riding in all areas of development: physical, mental, and emotional. North Star Stables is truly a treasure of the Front Royal area. There isn’t another PATH certified therapeutic riding instructor for hours around! The best part? Able-bodied siblings are welcome at North Star Stables too. All the kids can jump in and experience the benefits of horseback riding!
Note: due to medical clearance requirements, North Star Stables is unfortunately unable to offer one-off sessions for traveling families.
Summer Fun: Pools and Parks
If you’re thinking that water fun is an essential part of summer, we agree! And Warren County does too! Special needs families can enjoy the Claude A. Stokes Community Swimming Pool, which features a lift to assist those with mobility challenges to into the pool. Or for splashing and sprinklers, visit the splash pad at the Dr. Saul Seide Memorial Gardens. You’ll find it’s fully accessible and fun for all the family. Within the same park, you’ll also find Free Wheeling Way, a wheelchair accessible playground structure, complete with accessible picnic tables. It’s a recipe for a day of summer fun at the park.
Several of Front Royal’s other parks also feature accessible walking trails. The beautiful Eastham Park walking trail is located right on the banks of the Shenandoah River. Other options are the Skyline Soccerplex trail and the Rockland Park walking trails. Enjoy in the summer, or any time of year!
Even More Accessible Activities in Front Royal
After a day at the pool, on Skyline Drive, or on horseback, there’s still more to enjoy in Front Royal!
Older children, or those with a special interest in history, may enjoy Front Royal’s Civil War Driving Tour. Did you know that Front Royal was the scene of a Civil War battle? The driving tour will take you to all the important spots, and bring the history to life.
Arts and craft lovers will want to check out Explore Art and Clay. The studio is wheelchair accessible and offers paint your own pottery sessions. Come make memories painting a mug, plate, or seasonal decoration. They’ll give your work of art a professional finish. Budding sculptors should check their event schedule for the Kids Clay Club sessions. Projects can be adapted to suit different ability levels.
Finally, bowling is an all-time favorite for family fun. Bring the whole family to Royal Family Bowling Center. The lanes that are fully wheelchair accessible, and bowling ball ramps are available. Kids and adults of all abilities can play.
When the whole family’s together, you’ll make memories you’ll cherish for years to come. Start your adventure in Front Royal, Virginia. It might be as simple as a day at the park, or as exciting as a series of horseback riding lessons. Whether you’re coming for a visit or here to stay, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the unique opportunities you’ll find in the Front Royal area.
Whether you prefer an organized event or an excursion that you can take at your own pace, Front Royal, Virginia has you covered all year long. If you’re looking to get out and enjoy nature, Warren County offers hiking and biking trails, and about a hundred different ways to experience the stunning beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. And a calendar filled with quintessential small town festivals means you won’t get bored. Spring, summer, autumn, and winter, there’s always something happening in Front Royal. Here’s our guide to a year of fun and festivity.
**Due to Covid-19 and the restrictions put in place, many of our scheduled events have been cancelled. However, not forever and have been rescheduled for 2021.**
Spring in Front Royal: The Shenandoah Valley Awakens
Eight miles south of Front Royal, the village of Browntown kicks off the season’s festivals with its annual Redbud Festival. Every April, the redbuds bloom, and the Browntown community comes out to celebrate. You can enjoy delicious home cooked food, live music, and craft sales. A highlight of the day is the Gooney Creek Duck Race, a fun event for all the family.
Front Royal’s own historic Main Street hosts the first of many annual events in April as well. At Taste of the Town, Front Royal’s independent restaurants come out on Main Street with the best of their tempting cuisine. Buy a tasting ticket and stroll Warren County’s quaintest street as you sample delicious food in a festive atmosphere. Or sit down to enjoy and meet some new friends.
Main Street becomes the scene of two more festivals every May. Family Fun Day happens towards the beginning of May. Come out for a parade, an antique car show, games and face-painting for kids, and the trademark Louisiana Crawfish.
Later in May, Main Street transforms into for the annual Wine and Craft Festival. You won’t want to miss this day of fun for the whole family. Adults can taste wine from a selection of Virginia wineries. Meanwhile, festival has plenty to offer for the rest of the family. Delicious food, live music, and games for kids keep everyone happy. In between games and wine tastings, peruse the offerings from an array of talented artists. Craft sales include fine jewelry, clothing, pottery, and original paintings.
For a more relaxed way to enjoy the Shenandoah Valley in the spring, try a drive on one of the scenic roads around Warren County. The famous Skyline Drive starts right in Front Royal. It’s an obvious choice. The long drive down the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains features many overlooks where you can pull off and enjoy the view. But you don’t need to be on top of the mountain to enjoy it. For nature-lovers, other less well-known byways also offer stunning vistas in the spring. If you leave Front Royal going south on 340, you’ll be treated to a drive down the valley with the Blue Ridge Mountains on your left, and the Massanutten Mountain on the right. Alternatively, you can head north on 624 for views of farm fields and tree-lined roads. If you get as far as Boyce, finish your drive at the State Arboretum of Virginia, a fantastic spot for a spring picnic or a relaxing walk.
Summer in Front Royal: The Perfect Place to Enjoy Nature
America’s ultimate summer party happens on the Fourth of July. With events taking place up and down the Shenandoah Valley, Front Royal won’t be left out. The Northern Virginia 4-H Center hosts Front Royal’s Fourth of July celebration, with live music, games, food trucks and, of course, fireworks.
For a low-key summer evening in the Shenandoah Valley, try out Gazebo Gatherings, a free weekly concert series at Front Royal’s downtown Gazebo. Bring your own lawn chair and enjoy music and the community of Warren County.
Nature is easy to enjoy on an idyllic summer day in the Shenandoah Valley. Ideally situated on the iconic Shenandoah River, Front Royal offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Eastham Park is conveniently located only a mile from Front Royal’s historic downtown. The park features a generous stretch of riverfront, with a scenic walking trail, and access for swimming, boating, and fishing. Other popular public access points to the river include the Riverton Boat Ramp, and the Morgan Ford Boat Landing. Spend a day swimming and fishing at one of these points, or bring your own kayak or tube and float from one to the next.
Getting out on the river is a great recipe for summer fun, but it does carry some risks. Make sure to follow appropriate safety precautions, including wearing a life-preserver. If you need more guidance, or if you need to rent boating equipment, check out one of Front Royal’s own outfitters. If you’re fishing, be sure to purchase the appropriate license.
Autumn in Front Royal: Spectacular Hiking and Fall Fun
If you thought spring and summer in Front Royal good, just wait for autumn! Warren County becomes a sought-after tourist destination in the fall. As the tree-lined Shenandoah Valley lights up in vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow, Skyline Drive become a destination for many seeking nature’s beauty. The park sees more visitors in October than in any other month of the year.
Front Royal’s festivals continue through the autumn too. On Labor Day Weekend, the Skyline Ranch Resort becomes the home of the three day Appaloosa Music Festival. Sponsored by Washington D.C. band Scythian, this family friendly festival features folk music, camping, a free kids area, and food and drink from local providers.
Also in September is the River Valley Festival at VFW Post 1860 in Front Royal. This festival features a menu of pit roasted meats, along with juggling, live music, and craft beer and wine.
In October, Front Royal celebrates nature’s work of art with the Festival of Leaves on Main Street. Along with the usual crafts and live music, this festival has a historic flair, with historical re-enactors and tours of Warren County’s historic buildings: the Belle Boyd Cottage and the Balthis House. The festival also coincides with the annual Leaf Peepers races. Choose your distance: half-marathon, 10k, or 5k, and run in the all the fall glory of the Shenandoah Valley.
Driving or hiking at Skyline Drive will give you stunning views of the fall. Check here for updates on fall foliage in the park. If you want to avoid the crowds, there are other places to enjoy that are less crowded but still offer glorious nature in the fall. Try a picnic at an overlook in the Shenandoah River State Park. Buzzard Rock is another local favorite for hiking.
If you’re looking for a fun and seasonal family outing, there are plenty of opportunities for apple picking. Later in the fall, visit a local pumpkin patch.
Winter in Front Royal: Cozy Pancakes, Christmas Lights, and Winter Sports
Winter isn’t the busiest season of the year in Front Royal, but there’s still seasonal fun to be had. In early December, the Kiwanis Club of Front Royal holds an annual pancake day. Proceeds from this fun (and delicious) fundraiser go to support the work of the club.
The annual Christmas Festival and Parade is a special event that you won’t want to miss. This last festival of the year takes place at the beginning of December. The festival includes a parade down Main Street and ends with a lighting ceremony of Main Street’s Christmas lights. Even if you can’t make it to the parade, make sure you check out the lights at some point during the Christmas season.
Warren County is conveniently located for outdoor winter fun. For day ski trips, or snow tubing, check out Bryce Resort in the Allegheny Mountains, and Massanutten Resort. Both resorts are only about an hour’s drive from Front Royal. It’s a comfortable (and memorable!) day trip.
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