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.
Whether it’s relaxing by the pool with a cool drink, enjoying a cookout with friends, or spending time with kids on summer break, we all have our favorite summer activities. But there are certain adventures that scream “summer” like no other! We call them essential summer experiences!
We’ve rounded up a list of nine essential summer experiences that you can enjoy in Front Royal, Virginia. So whether you’re looking for a way to entertain your kids or just yourself, read on! You’ll discover the best of the summer experiences that await you. Give them a try, and you’ll find some new traditions that’ll have you coming back year after year (or maybe multiple times in the same year!).
1. Float, Float, Float your Tube!
If you’re in the Front Royal area, you won’t want to let the summer go by without at least one adventure on the Shenandoah River! In our book, a river float trip is the number one most relaxing way to beat the heat and enjoy the river in summer. For tube rental, check out one of Front Royal’s own river outfitters, such as Front Royal Outdoors or Skyline Canoe Company. They have everything you’ll need for a river adventure, including shuttle service! And if you’re in search of a slightly more strenuous outing, you’ll find great canoeing options here too. Front Royal isn’t called the Canoe Capital of Virginia for nothing!
2. Wine, Cheese, and a Sumer Breeze
For an elegant summer outing, a picnic at a winery is hard to beat, and Front Royal is fast becoming a wine lover’s dream destination. With scenic wineries all around, the only problem is deciding which one to visit. Fortunately, there are enough weekends in the summer that you’ll have a chance to try them all out! Bring your own picnic and enjoy the finest in Virginia wines, against the stunning backdrop of the Shenandoah Valley.
3. Summer in a Cup or a Cone
An ice cream outing is one of those summer experiences that delights young and old (and everybody in between!). Whether you’re taking a break in the middle of another adventure, or making a weeknight more fun with a quick outing, you can’t really go wrong with ice cream in the summer! Front Royal is home to several winning ice cream stands and parlors. Two top picks: The Apple House in Linden for a rustic country feel, or C & C’s Frozen Treats on Main Street for a small town ice cream vibe!
4. Cool Down in Town!
Make a hot, sweaty day into a memorable moment by cooling off in Front Royal! Kids will love Front Royal’s own Splash Pad at Dr. Paul Seide Memorial Gardens. And if the splash pad doesn’t satisfy the water-lover within, no worries! Front Royal’s community pool is right next door!
5. Take Me Out to the Ballgame!
Hotdogs, sunflower seeds, and a great ballgame. It’s all you need to enjoy a summer evening in an all-American way. Front Royal’s Bing Crosby Stadium is the home of the Front Royal Cardinals, and a great place to enjoy a summer evening of baseball. Check the league schedule here to find a Cardinals home game that works for you.
6. Grill and Chill
Merge two essential summer experiences into one by planning a cookout on the banks of the Shenandoah River. Shenandoah River State Park is the home of an extensive riverside picnic area, with plenty of charcoal grills available! Swim or fish, and then relax with some food hot off the grill. Don’t forget the watermelon!
7. Splash Around on a Swimming Hole Hike
If outdoor adventures and hiking are your passion, give your hobby a fun summer twist by incorporating a swimming hole on your next hike. Overall Run Falls is a favorite waterfall destination in Shenandoah National Park. If you enter the park at Thompson Hollow Trailhead, you can hike towards Overall Run Falls and enjoy the swimming holes and waterfalls along the way. This area of the park is also accessible from the Mathews Arm Area off Skyline Drive, but expect a longer hike before you can cool off in a natural pool!
8. Pick Your Own Farm Fresh Fruit
It wouldn’t be summer without the juices of freshly picked in-season fruit running down your chin! From strawberries to blueberries to peaches, there’s always something to pick in a Front Royal summer! Stribling Orchard and Hartland Orchard are two of our favorite pick-your-own locations in the Front Royal area. Most pick-your-own farms restrict picking to ensure a continuous supply, so be sure call or check social media before you arrive to avoid disappointment! You can also check ahead to find out which fruit is in season.
9. Appaloosa Music Festival
Mark your calendars for August 13-15! You won’t want to miss Front Royal’s own family friendly folk music festival. Popular D.C.-based Scythian Band has been hosting the annual Appaloosa Music Festival in Front Royal since 2014. Find camping, music workshops, local foods, local vendors, and a free kids zone, plus a great lineup of “roots music” bands from all over the U.S. And find it all right here at Front Royal’s own Skyline Ranch Resort! Buy your Appaloosa tickets today to make sure you don’t miss out on this unforgettable music festival!
There’s something to love about every season, but summer might be the one with the most potential for pure outdoor fun! Our essential summer experiences have an edge on making the most of this warm and sunny time of year. So get out there and have fun in the sun in Front Royal, Virginia.
Eating outside is a great way to enjoy the warmer weather, and with Memorial Day around the corner, the summer picnic season is fast approaching. Whether you’re a local looking for a change of pace, or a day-tripper wanting a scenic getaway, the Front Royal area is fantastic for picnicking! You’ll find a huge range of great picnic spots ranging from town square to Shenandoah River, to scenic mountaintop, all within easy distance of our small town.
Looking for the perfect picnic spot this summer? Here’s our list of five ways to enjoy a picnic around Front Royal. Choose one to suit your preference, or for a fun summer challenge, make it a goal to try out each one this year!
1. Picnic in the Town
If you’d like to watch the world go by while you enjoy a picnic, Front Royal’s downtown Gazebo area is a fun option. You’ll find benches, low walls to sit on, and convenient trash cans. Kids can enjoy exploring the historic caboose, and checking out the sundial by the Visitors Center.
Give your picnic a sweet ending with an ice cream from C & C’s Frozen Treats. You’ll find this cheerful ice cream parlor right across the street.
2. Picnic in the Park
For an evening of fun with the whole family, a picnic in the park can be a great fit. You can combine yummy picnic food with games like sand volleyball, tennis, disc golf, and more! Or let kids entertain themselves at the playground while adults relax around the table. Many of the parks have picnic shelters available for rent.
Front Royal’s parks include a wide range of amenities. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. Head to the Warren County Parks and Recreation page to learn about the unique features you can expect to find at each of the parks around town.
3. Picnic by the Shenandoah River
There’s something particularly relaxing about a picnic by the river, and Front Royal’s Shenandoah River is renowned for its beauty. Enjoy swimming or fishing, or simply relax and watch the water flow by. For a great riverside picnic in the Front Royal Area, the Shenandoah River State Park is hard to beat. You’ll find a large riverside picnic area with picnic tables and grills available. If you’re planning a gathering, picnic shelters are also available for reservation here. Eastham Park is a more centrally located riverside option that’s popular with the locals
4. Picnic in the Mountains
Front Royal’s famous for its river, but it’s also famous for its nearby mountain ranges. The stunning views you’ll enjoy from a mountain overlook make the mountains yet another great place to plan a picnic. The Shenandoah National Park is a favorite destination for a mountain picnic. If you want to get off the beaten path, bring your picnic with you on one of the park’s scenic hiking trails (Compton Peak is a good one near the Front Royal end of the park). If you’re not in the mood for this kind of adventure, no problem! Relax and enjoy the great views from the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, or one of the many scenic pull-offs along the park’s main road.
5. Picnic at a Winery
There’s something particularly relaxing about sipping on a glass of wine in a beautiful place. For a sophisticated picnic, pack a hamper and bring it with you to one of the Front Royal area’s wineries. Most welcome you to bring your own food to pair with a glass of Virginia wine. Enjoy stunning vineyard scenery, mountain vistas, and some of the best wine you’ll ever taste!
So pack your picnic basket and head to the Front Royal area for some unforgettable picnicking this summer! And don’t forget to check out some of our local businesses to help you fill your hamper with goodies. Dusty’s Country Store is a great place to pick up local foods. Check out Down Home Comfort Bakery for delicious baked goods. Or take all the stress out of packing by stopping by Blue Wing Frog. They’ll make all your food and get it “picnic-ready” for you!
Every fisherman knows that as the weather (and the water) warms up, fish become more active . . . and easier to catch! As spring arrives, the sight of anglers becomes much more common on the many waterways of the Front Royal area.
Today we’re gearing up for the fishing season by shining the spotlight on fly fishing in the Front Royal area. Fly fishing is a specific fishing technique. Instead of using live bait or weighted lures, the fly fisherman uses light weight lures, known as “flies” to attract fish. Some flies are designed to sink below the surface of the water, mimicking small fish or insect larvae, but many float on the surface. The goal? To fool a hungry fish into mistaking them for one of the many flies that enjoy the river’s surface in the warmer months. Because the fly fishing “flies” are so light, the casting technique in fly fishing differs significantly from that used in spin cast fishing.
If this special form of fishing has piqued your interest, Front Royal is a great place to give it a try. Whether you’re a beginning fly-fisher, or an old hand, the Front Royal area has fishing opportunities for all skill levels. Read on for some suggestions of where to go fly fishing in the Front Royal area.
Why Fly Fish?
In certain situations, fly fishing can be more effective than using a spin cast technique. It’s also exciting; if you’re using a surface fly, you’ll often get the thrill of watching the fish come up to tand take it. Many practitioners of fly fishing would also argue that their techniques are more refined and sophisticated than those used in spin casting. But we’ll leave that question for the fishing enthusiasts to debate . . . (preferably in the bar after a day on the river).
Fly Fishing the Shenandoah River in the Front Royal Area
The Shenandoah River is an obvious place to start if you’re looking for a place to fish in the Front Royal area. This scenic river is rightly sought after as a destination for all kinds of water sports, and fishing is no exception. If small mouth bass are your prey of choice, you can’t go wrong planning a day of fly fishing on the Shenandoah.
The Front Royal area has multiple access points to the river. Fishermen can fish from the banks, or plan a river trip from one landing to the next. See here for a map of river access points in Warren County. Looking for a watercraft rental? Peruse our list of local river outfitters here.
Stocked Trout Streams around Front Royal
Smallmouth bass are fun to catch, but the classic target of the fly fisherman is the trout. Finding a stocked trout stream is a great way to “get your feet wet” trout fishing. If you’re lucky enough to time your outing soon after a visit from the stocking truck, you’ll have a high chance of success.
For a family-friendly, easily accessible option, try the Gertrude E. Miller Community Park in Front Royal. A stocked section of Happy Creek runs through the park. There’s also a playground and picnic shelter close by. So the non-fishers, or “short-attention-span-fishers” can have a great time too. This park is a popular location for Front Royal fishing, so expect to see other anglers here.
A more secluded option for stocked trout fishing is Passage Creek in the George Washington National Forest. Here, you’ll find beautiful scenery, peace and quiet, and a classic fly fishing stream experience. To access Passage Creek, head out of Front Royal on VA-55 towards Strasburg, and after 5 miles, take a left onto State Route 678/Fort Valley Road. Passage Creek runs beside this road for a significant distance, and you’ll find several parking spots where you can pull off and access the creek.
(Note that due to construction at the Front Royal fish hatchery, Passage Creek will not be stocked in spring 202.1)
Native Trout Fishing in the Front Royal Area
But while stocked trout fishing is a great way to get started, many experts agree that catching native (not stocked) brook trout in a mountain stream is one of the best ways to experience fly fishing. If you’re in search of a fly fishing adventure along these lines, Front Royal can be your destination too.
The Shenandoah National Park, with its northern entrance located in Front Royal is a great place to fly fish. It’s one of the few coveted spots in the D.C. area where you can find native brook trout. The Rapidan River is one of the most famous native trout habitats in the park. It’s off the beaten track, though, so if you’re planning a fishing trip there, a four-wheel drive vehicle is recommended. For the adventurous, there are also several native trout streams in the park that are accessible from hiking trails.
Enjoy your fly fishing adventure in the Front Royal area! Before you head out, don’t forget to purchase all appropriate fishing licenses. And if you’re hoping to bring your catch home, be sure to read up on all the harvesting regulations wherever you plan to fish.
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