In winter, a cozy fireplace can become the beating heart of your home. It’s a place the family can gather to bask in the warm glow of the fire. If you’re stuck at home this winter, try dedicating some screen-free evenings to spending time by the fire as a family. We’ve rounded up some innovative ideas for fireside activities. Even if you’ve been enjoying your fireplace for years, read on! You may discover a new way to relax by the fire on a winter’s evening.
1. Cook on the fire – it’s not just for summer!
You may have spent many evenings by your fire, but have you ever thought of making dinner on it? Just like a campfire, the fire in your hearth can be used for cooking. Gather around the fireplace on a winter’s night for a fun dinner that will remind you of those summer campfire cookouts. For some ideas to get you started, see here and here. Bonus: cooking as a family in the living room gives mom a break!
If you’re not in the mood for cooking a full dinner, you can still enjoy your fireplace and some delicious fire-roasted snacks or deserts. S’mores can be made indoors, just as they can on an outdoor campfire. Or for a Christmassy option that will remind you of a popular song, try some chestnuts “roasted on an open fire.” Make sure you have butter and cinnamon ready to dip them in! Baked apples are another great option for a fun and easy fireside desert.
2. Enjoy the Mood Lighting!
If you can turn off the lights while you’re gathered around the fire, you’ll notice how quickly the mood changes. Distractions melt away, and stresses seem to disappear, as the warmth and light of the fire comfort body and spirit. Skeptical . . . just give it a try one night: we promise, you’ll love it. Bonus points if you have Christmas lights up at the same time.
3. Have a Fireside Chat
There’s something about sitting by a fire together that can get people to open up and engage in great conversations that would not happen so easily otherwise. Need some help getting a conversation going? Consider keeping a pack of “conversation starter” cards near the fire. You never know, you might learn something you never knew before about a family member or guest.
4. Try a Fireside Game
There’s nothing like a family game night for involving everyone in some fun. Do it around the fire, and you’ll find it’s an unbeatable combination. If you’re going to play a family game around the fire, it’s ideal if it doesn’t involve too much moving around, and doesn’t require bright lighting. You’ll find some ideas here.
5. Read a Story Together
When the whole family is gathered around the fire is a great time to crack open a book and start reading aloud. If you can find a collection of short stories, that’s a great place to start. They’re short enough that you can get through a whole story – or two – in an evening. The short stories of Edgar Allan Poe will give your family a lot to think and talk about. They’re not a great option for younger audiences though. Or dig through a second hand bookstore, such as Front Royal’s own Royal Oak Bookshop and see what treasures you can find for yourself.
When the weather outside is frightful, the fire can be delightful. Take the time to enjoy your fire and your family this winter. Here’s to memories made around the fireside that will last a lifetime.
When you’re enjoying Christmas at home, the Christmas tree is a central part of the celebration. You pile up gifts under its branches. You gather around it with family and friends to share the joys of the season. And there’s nothing like “that Christmas tree smell” for really making it feel like Christmas has arrived!
If you’re searching the Front Royal area for a real Christmas tree, read on. We’ve rounded up some recommended local farms and businesses that can provide you with the perfect tree. Also below: tips for taking care of your tree when you get it home.
“Cut-Your-Own” Christmas Tree Farm
There’s nothing quite like picking your tree from the field and cutting it down yourself. If you have time and energy to cut your own Christmas tree, it can be a fun family outing that will become a beloved tradition. Make getting the Christmas tree as memorable as enjoying it at home!
Hartland Farm and Orchard is a popular local spot for “cut-your-own” Christmas trees. They offer complimentary hot chocolate to make your Christmas tree hunt complete, as well as a variety of tasty treats for purchase. Hartland tends to sell out quickly so check their Facebook page for updates before you head out.
If you’re up for a bit of a drive into the Shenandoah Valley, Valley Star Farm also offers cut-your-own” trees. A visit to this beautiful farm in its scenic location is a great way to kick off your Christmas celebration.
If you want to go to a Christmas tree farm, but aren’t up for cutting your own tree, don’t worry. Both Hartland and Valley Star Farm also offer precut Christmas trees for your convenience.
Precut Christmas Trees in Front Royal
For a wide selection of precut Christmas trees right in town, check out Springtime Garden Center, located at the heart of Front Royal. You’ll also find a variety of other Christmas plants and decorations here. In the spirit of the Christmas season, Springtime Garden Center is making it easy for you to make a charitable donation when you purchase your tree. Here you’ll find giving trees for seniors and veterans, and opportunities to donate to Toys for Tots or the Warren County Humane Society. Bring non-perishable food items, and they’ll deliver them to C-CAP for you.
The Giving Tree is another local option for precut trees and seasonal decorations. This family business also offers gourmet local foods so you can stock up for your Christmas celebration while you shop for your tree. The unique gifts you can find here make it a one-stop-shop for all things Christmas.
Taking Care of your Christmas Tree
If you’ve ever had a Christmas tree shed pine needles all over your carpet (and spent the next few months stepping on the ones you didn’t get with the vacuum…), you’ll know why it’s important to take good care of your tree...even though it’s only in your home for a few weeks. The following tree care practices should help you avoid the dreaded “pine needle drop.”
For optimal health, Christmas trees, like people, need to stay hydrated. But it’s important to make sure that your Christmas tree is able to absorb the water that you’re giving it. After a Christmas tree is cut, its sap can harden in the bottom of the trunk, sealing it off from the water it’s standing in. That’s why it’s important to cut a few inches from the base of the trunk immediately before placing it in water. A fresh cut absorbs water much better than an old one. Keep the cut hydrated, and you won’t have to worry about it sealing up.
Even if you’re not bringing your tree inside right away, it’s best to make the cut when you get it home, and then stand it in a bucket of water. Replenish the water frequently to ensure that the tree has no chance to dry out. Some suggest watering with very hot (almost boiling) water when you first bring the Christmas tree into your house. This technique also helps to ensure that no hardened sap prevents your Christmas tree from getting the water it needs.
The benefits of Christmas trees are numerous. They bring people together. They provide a sense of beauty and peace. It’s even been suggested that the scent of evergreen trees decreases stress and anxiety. Don’t miss out all the good things that a Christmas tree can bring to your home this year!
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!
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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