Guest Post by Taylor Jones.
Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, it is all upon us this holiday season. Despite all things 2020 - Front Royal has leveled up this year! In years prior it may not have been as easy to holiday shop locally but this year things are different. Local business is thriving! I’ve gathered a list of local spots that can make all your holiday present dreams come true.
First up is Inklings on Main Street. If you haven’t been through to visit this brand new spot you are missing out! They have great gifts from local vendors, vintage clothing, and all things Shenandoah related. This is a great place to shop for the person in your life who loves and takes pride in the Shenandoah Valley - as they have tons of mugs, posters, and puzzles that are Shenandoah themed. You can also find artisanal soaps, candles, and lotions! This place is chock full of things you probably didn’t know existed but are the perfect gifts for your family and friends.
It wouldn’t be a local gift guide without a shoutout for The Apple House - whether you’re looking for a fun hot sauce, cool socks, a funny tea towel, or some beautiful jewelry you’re looking for The Apple House. You may know them for their donuts and great barbecue but they are so much more. This place is quintessential to our town and they will not disappoint you or your gift receiving loved ones. P.S. - They offer holiday catering too!
Stokes…. I truly believe Stokes General Store is the most slept on spot in Front Royal. Stokes has so many great gift options and not just the ones you would think. They sell guns, and knives, and all things adventure related for that person in your life. But they also sell Carhart jackets, Minnetonka footwear, cast iron skillets, all kinds of boots and shoes; they’ve got it all. My favorite Denim jackets will never go out of style and Stokes offers them at a fair price and the chance to support a local shop!
Another great option for your adventure loving friends is Mountain Trails on Main Street! Mountain Trails is a real gem. They sell Patagonia outerwear and Blundstone boots and all the beanies you could ever wish for. They also sell sleeping bags, the fancy and coveted HydroFlasks and all sorts of warm flannels. Mountain Trails isn’t just an obvious choice for your adventuring loved ones, they have gifts for the whole family! They also have a store in Winchester!
A new spot with lots of great new options is Turnmeyer Galleries on South Street! They sell fun Front Royal Christmas puzzles, beautiful ornaments, and Shenandoah-themed mugs! Turnmeyer Galleries also sells beautiful images of the local scenery, in a number of different mediums. It is also a great spot to buy Yankee Candles locally!
Mystic Mountain Trading Company has lots of great options for your hippy friends! They have all the colored tapered candles, crystals, wind-chimes, and warm blankets you could desire. Mystic Mountain has gifts you may not have thought of but are sure to be crowd pleasers!
And last but not least, Royal Oak Bookshop! Royal Oak Bookshop is a representation of all the best things in our town. Packed to the brim with all sorts of books (local or otherwise) this shop is undervalued. This Holiday season you can call to place an order for any book, they’ll wrap it, and send it anywhere in the world! They also have a bunch of great books about our local history that would interest anyone who has lived in our town for long. The staff are friendly and helpful, including the shop cat.
There are so many other great shops in Front Royal but these are just a select few. Remember to shop local if you can this year. It is more important than ever for our local businesses to be able to stay afloat and support their families throughout 2020 and beyond!
Have a Happy Holiday!
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.
It’s amazing how much of a difference the look and feel of a building can have for a business. . . and a for a town!
We take it for granted all too often, but a well-designed building with an enjoyable atmosphere is a key component of a successful business. The building can be the factor that determines:
A town that has the right spaces available will attract exciting and innovative businesses. On the other hand, a street that looks downtrodden, depressing, and out of date is likely to stay that way! Who wants to begin an exciting new venture on “sad street?”
The Vibe Properties story is the tale of how one property company is creating great business spaces to spark incredible growth in the town of Front Royal. In 2019, Vibe Properties received the Urban Catalyst Award from the American Institute of Architects. This prestigious award is a testimony to the major improvements taking place in downtown Front Royal.
Want to know the fascinating story of a small town, a historic street, and a couple with energy and vision? Read on!
The Story of Vibe Properties and Main Street Front Royal
When Vibe Properties’ co-owners, Kerry and Tim Barnhart retired to Warren County, they quickly fell in love with the town of Front Royal. They soon noticed the unfulfilled potential of the downtown Main Street area. The street was quaint and centrally located. But rent rates in that part of town were low, scaring away possible investors. The atmosphere was decidedly neglected. The Barnharts were ready to take on the challenge. They founded Vibe Properties with a simple but compelling mission: to acquire buildings in downtown Front Royal. To turn these buildings into spaces that would attract new businesses. To breathe new life into a historic part of Front Royal. After only two years, the American Institute of Architects’ Urban Catalyst Award recognized that they had done just that.
Vibe Properties began in 2017, with the acquisition of two of Main Street’s historic buildings, the Weaver Building and the Barnhart Building. Over the next year and a half, the company undertook extensive renovations to the buildings to give them an inviting and interesting look while honoring their rich history.
The Weaver Building was built as a department store in the early 1900s. When Vibe Properties acquired the building, it stood empty. It got a newly designed store front and entryway. In the back of the building, exposed steel and large windows replaced a brick wall. The new design allowed for a more open feel with views onto a dinning terrace in the back, and the Blue Ridge Mountains beyond.
Meanwhile, the Barnhart Building was a nondescript row of shops. Around a hundred years old, the building had seen many different uses over the years. Vibe Properties completely changed the façade, giving each business its own inviting and distinctive look. The company also made extensive changes to the interior of the building. Front Royal residents and visitors stopped walking straight past. It didn’t take long for the Barnhart Building to fill with exciting new businesses.
Vibe Properties: Catalyst for Change in Front Royal
The town of Front Royal is experiencing strong population growth. At the same time, thousands of visitors pass through every year. With its proximity to Shenandoah National Park, the George Washington National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, and the Shenandoah River, Front Royal is ideally situated to attract hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts. But until recently, the historic center of Front Royal had little to offer. Residents routinely turned to neighboring towns for dining and shopping options. Visitors had little reason to stop by Main Street after a long day on the trails or the river.
Now, Main Street hosts the kind of businesses that were drawing Front Royal’s residents and visitors to other towns. The Weaver Building is the home of Try Thai Restaurant, and Inklings gift shop, and Wildfire Yoga.
Inklings is a locally owned business that offers soaps, candles, clothing, art, and other gifts. Try Thai has taken advantage of the newly designed space to offer indoor and outdoor dining in a beautiful setting offering amazing Thai Cuisine. Wildfire Yoga offers private, group, and virtual sessions in a variety of yoga styles, designed to improve body mechanics and daily life.
Cross the street to the Barnhart Building and you’ll find Mountain Trails, Down Home Comfort Bakery, the Front Royal Brewing Company, and ViNoVA Wine and Tapas. Down Home Comfort Bakery was located in the Barnhart building before its acquisition by Vibe Properties. Now, the shop has a completely redesigned exterior and interior. It looks and feels like just the kind of place you’d want to pick up a delicious home-made cake, pie, or treat. Mountain Trails is a new branch of the Winchester-based outdoor equipment company. And the Front Royal Brewing Company extends into the back of the building, which has been redesigned to tastefully exhibit its origins as a turn-of-the-century parking garage. The feel is spacious, modern, and unique. Next door to the brewery, ViNoVA Wine and Tapas caters to wine lovers, and offers fun specials like the Midnight Snack, and Bottomless Paella Brunch.
Vibe Properties’ tenants have gone above and beyond to attract Front Royal’s “outdoorsy” visitors. Imagine arriving in Front Royal after several strenuous days (or weeks!) on the Appalachian Trail. Feel like cleaning up? The Barnhart building includes Basecamp Front Royal, a free service sponsored by Mountain Trails, the Front Royal Brewing Company, ViNoVA Wine and Tapas, and Down Home Comfort Bakery. Here, hikers can store gear in a secure locker, do laundry, and take a shower. After cleaning up, they can enjoy a craft beer and burger at the brewery. For those who prefer wine and tapas, ViNoVA is right next door. Desserts (or some treats to take on the trail) are at the Down Home Comfort Bakery. Any needed hiking gear can be found at Mountain Trails. Front Royal is no longer a neglected town to rush quickly past. It’s become the perfect haven for weary hikers.
A New Chapter for Front Royal
If you’ve been noticing that Front Royal has recently undergone significant improvement, it hasn’t just been your imagination. The achievements of Vibe Properties show what a creative vision and the courage to pursue it can accomplish in just a few short years. A new chapter has begun in Front Royal. And it couldn’t be more exciting.
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