Summer can be a fun time for the whole family, with kids home from school and enjoying lots of extra free time. But too much freedom can quickly turn into boredom and frayed nerves. To keep summer fun and exciting, it can be helpful to plan some structured family activities. That’s where we come in. Read on and follow our blog to find fun posts full of ideas for keeping summer fun for kids in Front Royal! Today we’re kicking it off with a summer classic: planning a picnic in the park for your kids. Affordable, fun, and easy to plan, a picnic in the park with all the family together can become a treasured memory. Read on to discover four Front Royal ingredients you won’t want to leave out to create a memorable picnic. Maybe you can aim for a weekly or monthly picnic through the summer so everyone has something to look forward to.
Secret Ingredient Number 1: Picking the Perfect Park
Front Royal’s park system is full of great facilities with something to interest big kids, little kids, nature lovers, young athletes in training, and everything in between. If you have a group with lots of different interests, Gertrude E. Miller Community Park is our top pick for keeping everybody happy. The large complex includes a stretch of Happy Creek for fishing, basketball and tennis courts, extensive playgrounds, and more. The adjoining Lion’s Park even includes specially designed accessible play area for children with special needs. Our other favorites include Eastham Park and Rockland Park. For a bigger adventure where you’ll have to pay a park entrance fee, try Shenandoah River State Park or Shenandoah National Park.
Secret Ingredient Number 2: Packing Fantastic Food without Stress
The food you bring is a key ingredient to your picnic, and it’s fun to pack something special so everyone can enjoy the treat. If you’re making your own at home, check here to find some fun ideas kids will enjoy. Choosing a simple recipe that kids can help assemble can add to the fun for everyone. To give your meal a special touch, why not stop for some fun, local food, at Manor Line Market, or grab a treat from Down Home Comfort Bakery to enjoy after your food. For a special treat and a totally stress free picnic, head to Blue Wing Frog, where they’ll take care of providing delicious, picnic-appropriate food and packing it all up for you.
Secret Ingredient Number 3: The Activities
While free play time at the playground is a hit with most younger age groups, planning some organized activities for your picnic can be a fun way to make sure everyone has a good time and burns some energy.
Older kids will enjoy competing in disc golf at Sherando Park or Rockland Park. Tennis is another great option for a smaller group of older kids. Find courts available at Chimney Field Park and Gertrude E. Miller Community Park). If you get a group together and end up with more kids than court space, why not get everyone involved with a fun tournament? An organized softball or baseball game can be another great way for a larger group of friends to make some memories together.
For a less competitive atmosphere, a nature scavenger hunt can be fun and educational! Or try out geocaching for an adventure where everyone can be on the same team.
Secret Ingredient Number 4: The Ice Cream on the Way Home
With a hot, tired, and happy crew ready to go home, stopping for an ice cream on the way can be the perfect ending to a fun outing. Front Royal has loads of friendly ice cream joints, and the ice cream is delicious all over town! For a downtown treat on Main Street, stop by C & C Frozen Treats. Try out Spelunkers for their legendary frozen custard, or stop at The Apple House for delicious soft serve and more, right before getting on I-66.
Use Front Royal’s secret ingredients to plan fun summer picnics that will stave off boredom and keep kids outdoors and having a great time. Make it a day with friends, or a chance for just your family to spend time together. Either way, you’re in for a treat and a family tradition that will make this summer one to remember!
We live in an era in which high quality videos and pictures of the world’s most fascinating sights are at our fingertips for most of our waking hours. Spending long periods of time outdoors peering through binoculars in the hopes of catching a (perhaps distant) sighting of an elusive bird may seem . . . a bit out of touch. But birdwatching is a pastime that grew in popularity throughout the twentieth century, and still commands a large number of devotees. If you’re in the Front Royal area, it may be time to discover (or continue enjoying) the thrills of birdwatching for yourself. The Shenandoah Valley is a great place to birdwatch. With habitat for some of America’s favorite birds, as well as rarer migratory species, the area draws birdwatchers every year. Read on to explore three reasons why birdwatching is still worthwhile in the smartphone era, and find our tips for great birding spots in and around Front Royal.
1. Birdwatching is Good for Your Health
Birdwatching requires slowing down, peace and quiet, and often a hike into less-frequented areas of nature. Research has shown the negative effects of the constant stimulation and instant gratification we get from our digital devices. It’s affecting our mental health, as well as our attention spans, and even brain function. Taking a break from the screen and focusing your attention on observing a bird at the slower pace of real life can provide a much needed change. Especially when combined with exercise such as walking, birdwatching can boost your mental, physical, and emotional health all at once!
2. You get to Search for an Answer
In the world of google and countless information apps, finding thousands of answers to any question can be as quick as typing it in and hitting go. All that information can be overwhelming, and it also takes away the unique satisfaction of figuring out a problem on your own. When you’re out in the field watching birds, identifying a species you haven’t seen before is the perfect opportunity to exercise your (perhaps neglected!) sleuthing skills! Flipping through a field guide, making comparisons, sometimes getting stumped, and finally arriving at an answer is a uniquely satisfying process, one many of us experience all too infrequently.
3. Birdwatching Brings Its own Thrills
Perhaps it’s partly because birdwatchers aren’t guaranteed success every time: birdwatching is full of thrills. Whether it’s spotting a new species for the first time, finally laying eyes on a bird you’ve been patiently awaiting, or sharing the joy of exploring nature’s wonders with friends and family, birdwatching has excitements all its own in store. It’s another great way to get outdoors and explore all the natural world has to offer.
If you’re considering a birding outing around Front Royal, you’ll find there are loads of great places in the area to explore. See our post here to learn more about birdwatching at Shenandoah National Park or the Virginia State Arboretum. Between these two locations there’s scope for almost unlimited birdwatching. For a lesser-known park with lots of birdwatching potential try Shenandoah River State Park. A thrilling local hike that’s name for the bird sightings it includes is the George Washington National Forest’s Buzzard Rock Hike. A fun climb up through the woods emerges onto an exposed rocky outcrop at the top, with thrilling scenes of buzzards wheeling through the skies and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a local favorite you’ll want to check out.
Whether you’ve never tried birding or you’re an experienced birdwatcher, let this spring be a time to get out there with your binoculars and field guide! Birdsong is one of spring’s most exciting sounds. It’s a great time of year to get out there and get to know the wonderful creatures that fill the air with song.
Our National Parks are some of America’s greatest treasures, and they’ve been getting steadily more popular in recent years. In fact, crowds are actually becoming a problem in many of America’s favorite places to enjoy peace, quiet, and nature’s beauty.
It’s up to the National Park Service to make sure these treasures stay enjoyable for us today, and are preserved for many generations to come. That’s why several national parks are introducing new ticketing policies to limit impact on the ecosystem, and to improve every visitor’s experience.
The Front Royal area’s own Shenandoah National Park is seeing some significant changes in 2022. But there’s no need to be intimidated. Discover Front Royal has you covered with this guide to all the upcoming changes at Shenandoah National Park. Read on to find the information you need to make sure your visit to the Park goes according to plan.
Tickets to be Required for Old Rag Hike
The biggest change Shenandoah National Park visitors will experience is a ticketing system designed to reduce crowds at Old Rag. One of the park’s most popular hikes, Old Rag has begun to suffer from overcrowding during peak seasons of the year. Starting March 1, 2022 Old Rag hikers will need to pre-purchase a $1 ticket to secure their spot on the mountain’s famous trails.
Don’t worry, the system is designed to give everyone a fair chance. Tickets can only be purchased up to thirty days in advance, so a little advance planning should give you the Old Rag access you want. And you’ll have the added bonus of enjoying a more secluded hiking experience.
Head here to purchase Old Rag tickets and here for more information. Note: Old Rag tickets will not be available at the trailhead and must be purchased in advance.
Camping Fee Changes at Shenandoah National Park
Going forward, campers at Shenandoah National Park can expect to pay a little more for their stay. Campground users will now pay $30 per night, with the fee for group campsites going up to $75. It’s a raise in fees that’s been long in coming; camping fees at Shenandoah National Park haven’t changed since 2007. The Park Service will use the increased revenues to make improvements and updates to the campgrounds, such as adding new fire grates and picnic tables.
And coming in 2023, the park will also introduce new fees for back country campers, so they can fund their efforts to ensure that camping at Shenandoah National Park remains safe and fun for everyone.
Free Lifetime Passes for Veterans and Gold Star Families
But it’s not all about fees going up! In 2022, free lifetime passes to National Parks and more (including Shenandoah National Park) will become available for America’s veterans and Gold Star Families. So those who have sacrificed so much can enjoy some of America’s greatest treasures at no cost. Check here to see who’s eligible and learn how to claim your lifetime pass!
With the warmer weather coming, it’s a great time to start dreaming of outdoor adventure in and around Front Royal. If Shenandoah National Park is in your plans for 2022, look forward to less crowds and improved camping facilities to come.
Hiking is truly a sport that has something for everyone. It can be as simple as a walk in the woods, or as complex as an expedition that’s several days long (or more!). One thing’s for sure; those who’ve discovered the joys of hiking keep on coming back for more! It’s the feeling of accomplishment as you put the miles behind you, one step at a time. It’s the companionship you find along the way. It’s nature’s beauty and the reward of a enjoying a stunning view after a tough climb.
If the hiking bug has bitten you, and you’re looking for more ways to get out and explore the hiking trails of the Front Royal area, this post is for you! Read on for five tips on getting the most out of your Front Royal hiking adventures!
1. Get the Right Gear (It’s Worth It!)
If you’ve fallen in love with hiking, you may have become an enthusiastic hiker while making do with gear you already had in your closet. We’re here to tell you that it’s worth investing a little money on some high quality gear. For your adventures on the trails, you want to make sure you have long-lasting equipment that won’t let you down. The proper gear can also make a huge difference in making your time on the trails more enjoyable. It’s time to make the switch from from random-backpack-lying-at-the-bottom-of-the-closet to properly-designed-hiking-backpack. You’ll find the difference is magical! Stop by Mountain Trails in Front Royal to have all your equipment needs met.
2. Make a Hiking Bucket List
With fantastic hikes all around, deciding where to start can be overwhelming. That’s why we recommend keeping a bucket list of hikes in the area that you’d like to check out. Take your hiking to the next level by committing to a weekly or monthly hike. When the hiking day rolls around you can pull out your bucket list and you’ll have a list of great hikes calling your name! No more wasting time trying to figure out where to go. Having trouble figuring out what to put on the list? See here for some ideas to get you started. Shenandoah National Park and Shenandoah River State Park are two prime locations for hiking in the Front Royal area. Have a chat with a park ranger at either of these parks. They’ll be able to put you onto some more great hikes to add to your list.
3. Get off the Beaten Path
We don’t mean this literally! We know one of hiking’s prime safety and conservation rules is to stay on marked trails. What we’re talking about is choosing a less popular hike; one that sparks your interest, but perhaps isn’t on everyone’s “top ten hikes” list. Don’t be afraid to strike out on your own and check out a hike that’s calling your name, even if no one’s recommended it. You may discover a hidden treasure! And you’ll probably enjoy a more secluded adventure in the process.
4. Learn About Nature as You Hike
Hikers love being out in nature, but it’s possible to spend many hours outdoors with only a vague idea of all that’s going on around you. Diving in to learn a little more about the natural world can be a great way to make the landscape around you come to life even more! Try bringing along a field guide to trees, birds, flowers, or wildlife, and identifying some of the species you come across as you’re walking. Tip: if you aren’t interested in spending long periods standing still while you wait for animals to appear, it’s probably better to start with trees or flowers!
5. Enjoy a Fantastic Post-Hike Meal
There are few things more satisfying than enjoying a delicious meal after a long day out on the trails. It’s the moment you can relax with a burger and a beer (and muscles that are just sore enough to remind you that you’ve thoroughly earned it!). When you’re back from your hike and looking to satisfy your hunger, fueling station Front Royal is here for you! For that classic post-hike burger and beer combo, check out Vibrissa Beer or PaveMint Taphouse. Or if you’re looking for something more unique, Front Royal has you covered, too. From fine dining, to oriental cuisine, to delicious Mexican eateries, there’s definitely something for everyone. So whether you’re a local or a visitor, don’t forget to stop in town after your hike and fill up with a delicious meal from one of Front Royals’ many delightful restaurants.
With exciting hiking trails to keep you supplied with adventure, fantastic restaurants, and a handy supply store, Front Royal is a hiker’s dream come true. Get your hiking boots on and explore all the hiking fun that awaits you in the Front Royal area.
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