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!
The idea of “adventure” awakens something deep within the human spirit. After all, adventure is the topic of many of our favorite stories, books, and movies. We literally spend hours thinking and talking about adventures.
So if you’re feeling bogged down with the business of everyday living, consider embarking on your own new adventure: an outdoor adventure! There’s nothing that can freshen your perspective and breathe new life into your everyday quite like spending a day (or a few!) adventuring in the great outdoors.
If you’re seeking to satisfy the adventure-lover within you, put the Front Royal area at the top of your list of destinations. With a fantastic location at the Gateway to Shenandoah National Park, you’ll find plenty of scope for adventure here. Oh, and did we mention that this vibrant small town is also known as the Canoe Capital of Virginia? Call it nature’s playground if you like. With river, forests, and mountains all nearby, every adventure-lover will find something to enjoy in the Front Royal area. Don’t put your next adventure on hold. Make plans today to discover the adventure of Front Royal.
The Adventure of Front Royal
The first ingredient in planning your adventure is, of course, the adventure itself! You’ll find plenty to keep you busy in the Front Royal area. Let us give you some ideas.
The Shenandoah National Park is a great place to start. It’s Front Royal’s most famous landmark, and it’s a sought-after destination for adventure-lovers from all over the U.S. Mountain bikers and rock climbers will find plenty to enjoy in Shenandoah National Park, and in the greater Front Royal area too. If you’re looking for a memorable hike, see here for some local recommendations. Spoiler alert: two of the hikes on this list feature swimming holes!
Prefer to plan your next adventure on the water? There’s no better place than the Canoe Capital of Virginia! From kayaking to tubing to fishing (with lots more in between), the Shenandoah River is an endless source of adventure and fun. Check out one of our local outfitters, such as Front Royal Outdoors for everything you need to make your dream river adventure a reality.
The Supplies (Find What You Need in Front Royal)
Don’t forget to plan a stop in the town of Front Royal to stock up on food and any gear that you’ll need. Blue Wing Frog is a classic favorite food stop for our outdoors loving visitors. They offer wholesome, homemade food to eat in, and they’ll even pack it as a picnic for you to bring with you.
Meanwhile, if you’re missing an essential piece of gear, Mountain Trails should be able to help you. You’ll find a range of high quality outdoor equipment here, from water bottles to tents and everything in between!
Sweet Refreshment (Front Royal’s Happy Ending)
Outdoor adventures help you work up an appetite, and there’s no better way to reward yourself than with a drink and a bite to eat at one of Front Royal’s favorite breweries. Check out Front Royal Brewing Company or PaveMint Taphouse to give your adventure a perfect ending. Nothing pairs with a beer and a burger quite like the feeling of slightly aching muscles! Cheers to the adventure!
And if you think you won’t be able to tear yourself away after dinner, check out our lodging options. There’s camping, hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, something for everyone to love. Make your visit to Front Royal all the more relaxing by settling in for the night.
Maybe your idea of adventure is canoeing the river, scaling a rock face, challenging yourself with a new hike, or taking on some mountain trails with a bike. Whatever the case, you’ll find that your perfect adventure awaits you in Front Royal, Virginia. Don’t wait any longer to discover all our small town has to offer!
Welcome to Discover Front Royal’s “Discover-y” blog series! As spring weather begins to lift our spirits and tempt us outdoors, we’re turning the focus to the fantastic natural world around us. This series will feature a monthly post on the outdoor world around the Shenandoah Valley. Today’s topic: spring birds of the Shenandoah Valley!
Read on for some recommendations of birding spots in the Front Royal area. We’ve also included a list of five favorite birds that beginner and experienced birders alike will enjoy observing this spring (and even late winter if you are eager to get out there!).
Birding in the Front Royal Area
The Front Royal area is home to some fantastic spots for birding. An obvious place to start is the famed Shenandoah National Park. With its mountain-ridge location and plenteous forest habitat, the Shenandoah National Park is a magnet for migratory birds. The Dickey Ridge Visitor Center Area, just five miles from the Front Royal entrance station, is a top recommendation for bird-watching. Explore the trails in this part of the park if you’re in search of some spring bird sightings. See here for a further list of the park’s best hikes for birdwatching enthusiasts.
Another highly recommended spot for bird-watching around Front Royal is the Blandy Arboretum. The 700 acres of the arboretum include a variety of habitats, making it a great destination for wildlife enthusiasts of all kinds. Explore on your own, or consider checking out the arboretum’s educational programs. There are several birding offerings, which could be a great fit whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned birder looking for some company and fresh perspective on your birding adventures.
Finally, to view a diverse range of birds including waterfowl, don’t forget to check out some of the riverside locations around Front Royal. Shenandoah River State Park is a commonly recommended destination for bird enthusiasts. And if you head to Eastham Park you can take a birding walk along the Shenandoah River without even having to leave town.
1. Eastern Bluebird
Eastern Bluebirds are one of the few brightly colored birds you may sight around the Front Royal area in the dead of winter. While many birds leave the area in the fall, Eastern Bluebirds can be seen all year long. If you head out birding before spring has really started, Eastern Bluebirds are a great species to look out for. The pop of blue and rusty red will brighten any late-winter’s landscape.
A late winter birdsong to listen for is the “FEE-BEE” mating call of the Black-Capped Chickadee. Male Chickadees can begin to make this call as soon as late January. You’ll start to hear it more and more often as spring approaches. The Shenandoah Valley area is home to two species of Chickadees: Carolina and Black-Capped. The two are so closely related that they can interbreed. When they do, the offspring have the fascinating ability to make the distinctive bird call of both species.
3. Black-and-white Warbler
The sound of birdsong is a well-known hallmark of the return of spring. But did you know that in the Shenandoah Valley, it’s often the Black-and-White Warbler who’s the first to announce the end of winter. This distinctive, black-and-white striped bird is one of the first migratory birds to arrive in Shenandoah National Park each year. Hearing or seeing this bird is a sure sign than spring has finally come. Black-and-white warblers are also known for their “creeping” movement as they explore tree trunks in search of food.
4. Cerulean Warbler
The Cerulean Warbler used to be one of the more common birds of the lower Mississippi valley. In recent years, numbers have declined, and Cerulean Warblers are now a much rarer sight. One of the best places to spy them is Shenandoah National Park. Every spring, birding enthusiasts head to the park from miles around in hopes of laying eyes on one of these cheerful, bright blue songbirds. You’ll need to look hard and upwards! Cerulean Warblers generally prefer the higher part of the forest canopy.
5. Baltimore Oriole
The riverside trail at Eastham Park is a great spot for spring sightings of plentiful Baltimore Orioles. These brilliantly colored song-birds love to make their spring nests in the sycamores by the Shenandoah River. Take a stroll on the walking trail and keep your eyes peeled for the Baltimore Oriole’s attention-grabbing flash of orange.
Exploring nature and birding is a great spring pursuit. Once you get hooked, you can even bring the birds to your own backyard, and watch them right out of your window.
Consider putting up a bird feeder or nesting box this spring for bird-watching fun that keeps on going even after you get home. You’ll be helping out the Shenandoah Valley’s feathered friends too!
Skyline Drive/Shenandoah National Park is an incredible leaf-peeping destination. It’s not surprising that the park is something of a national treasure. The only problem is that it does attract significant crowds during the peak of fall foliage.
If you’re looking to enjoy fall foliage in the Front Royal area without dealing with crowds, this post is for you! We’ve rounded up some spots for leaf-peeping that will take you a little off the beaten path, while still ensuring that you can enjoy the unparalleled beauty of the Shenandoah Valley in fall.
1. Shenandoah River State Park
This amazing park is like Skyline Drive’s overshadowed little brother. Located just nine miles down the road from Skyline Drive’s Front Royal Entrance Station, Shenandoah River State Park doesn’t get the attention it deserves. However, there’s plenty to write home about here. The park extends right up the Shenandoah River, and you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
Visit Shenandoah River State Park to discover 5.2 miles of Shenandoah River shoreline, over 24 miles of hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and opportunities for camping, horseback riding, and fishing.
2. George Washington National Forest
George Washington National Forest is another great option for fall outdoor adventure in the Front Royal area. Though less frequented than Skyline Drive, the National Forest is full of hiking and biking trails, and also boasts great locations for camping and fishing. Passage Creek is a stocked trout stream that flows through the forest. It’s a favorite of local fly-fishermen. And, of course, the forest features plenty of trees, so there’s lots of fall foliage to enjoy.
If you’re looking for scenic views in the George Washington National Forest, Buzzard Rock is a great hike to check out. It’s something of a local favorite. You’ll follow a wooded trail before eventually emerging on the exposed rocks at the top of the mountain. From this vantage point, enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside. There’s a good chance you’ll even see some buzzards soaring through the skies.
3. Enjoy Fall Views from the Shenandoah River
If you want to enjoy a relaxing outdoor adventure away from the crowds, don’t forget that Front Royal sits right on the famous Shenandoah River. You might associate river trips more with summer, but the river can be a great fall destination too. As fall colors appear on the tree-lined banks of the river, a boating trip is a great way to enjoy them. To plan your trip, get in touch with one of Front Royal’s River Outfitters. Or, if you have your own boat, you can organize a day on the river independently. This map shows public river access points in the Front Royal area.
4. Take a Scenic Fall Drive
Skyline Drive isn’t the only scenic road in the Shenandoah Valley. There are plenty of other options for those seeking less heavily travelled fall foliage drive. If a fall drive through the Front Royal area sounds appealing, consider this Fall Foliage Driving Tour, developed by the experts at the Virginia Department of Forestry. They’ve carefully planned out the route to ensure lots of opportunities for enjoying the fall leaves. To make the day complete, stop in Front Royal to pick up some fall-themed road trip snacks or a pumpkin spice latte to sip on as you drive.
Don’t let fear of crowds prevent you from enjoying all that the Shenandoah Valley has to offer in the fall. Even if you’d prefer not to join the crowds at Skyline Drive, there’s plenty of beautiful fall foliage in the Front Royal area.
Discover Front Royal