There are many advantages to traveling by car. You’re in charge of the schedule, and the entertainment. You can stop and get out whenever you find something that interests you. In a COVID-19 world, a road trip is a great option for a vacation or day trip. You’ll limit contact with strangers, and you’ll avoid the extra inconvenience of using mass-transit with additional COVID-19 regulations. And if you’re not crossing state lines, you’re unlikely to have your plans disrupted.
The Shenandoah Valley and the Front Royal area are great destinations for a road trip. If you already live in Front Royal, a Shenandoah Valley road trip is a chance to enjoy the area in a new way. If you’re in Northern Virginia, or the D.C. area, just an hour or so’s driving can put you in a different world: the scenic haven of the Shenandoah Valley.
Pack up some yummy road trip snacks, get in your car, and enjoy an adventure on the road with your family. Here are some ideas for road trips around Front Royal and the Shenandoah Valley.
Shenandoah Valley Scenic Day Trip
This road trip takes you down Fort Valley, over the Massanutten Mountain, and back up the valley on the other side to return to Front Royal. The road trip passes right by several tourist attractions and some great spots for hiking, fishing, swimming, and picnicking. Plan out your stops for a day for fun for the whole family.
To take this trip, head north on 340/522 away from Front Royal and towards Riverton. Make a left onto Strasburg Road/VA 55. After about 5 miles on Strasburg Road, you’ll take a left on State Route 678/Fort Valley Rd. Fort Valley Road takes you down the “valley within a valley.” At this point, the Massanutten Mountain divides the Shenandoah Valley in two. You’ll have the Massanutten on your left, and the Alleghenies on the right.
First, you’ll pass through the George Washington National Forest. Passage Creek follows beside the road for some distance here. It’s a stocked trout stream, so purchase a fishing license ahead of time and stop here for a morning of fishing. Elizabeth Furnace Recreation Area is another great spot for a stop in the forest. After passing through the forest, you’ll come out into more open valley. Enjoy driving among beautiful farms with mountains in the distance. Consider a diversion to the Woodstock Fire Tower for a memorable hike.
After about 20 miles on Fort Valley Road, make a left onto State Rte 675. This mountain road takes you over the Massanutten Mountain. At the top, you can take a break to enjoy the Kennedy Peak hike, an easy, family friendly hike that ends at a viewing platform with stunning 360° views. It’s a great spot for a picnic lunch. When you get back in the car, you’ll be heading down the other side of the mountain into the town of Luray. Luray is a great place to grab lunch if you didn’t pack a picnic. The town also boasts its own attractions. Luray Caverns are definitely worth a visit. Another option would be a stop at Lake Arrowhead in Luray.
From Luray, get on 340 north, and it’ll take you all the way back to Front Royal. When you get to Bentonville, you’ll find the Shenandoah River State Park. The park boasts a long stretch of river access, so you can cool off from your day in the car. A little further along 340, you’ll run into Skyline Caverns. End the day with a delicious dinner at one of Front Royal’s own eateries.
Civil War History Road Trip
A road trip through the Shenandoah Valley has plenty to offer Civil War enthusiasts. The Shenandoah Valley was a key strategic area during the Civil War. Today, the Valley is a treasure trove of battlefields, museums, and memorial markers that bring Civil War history to life. The Civil War sites of the Shenandoah Valley are idea road trip stops. You can follow self-guided driving tours of several of the battlefields (including Front Royal). Other battlefields offer hiking trails, allowing you to take a break from the car and stretch your legs.
If you’re starting in Front Royal, check out the Battle of Front Royal Driving Tour and the Belle Boyd Cottage Then continue to Winchester (visit Berryville on the way if you want a longer trip). In Winchester, you can join I-81 south and travel as far as Staunton and Waynesboro, finding Civil War sites of interest all the way.
The Civil War history of the Shenandoah Valley is rich. If you have time, take several days exploring the valley. For a day trip, or even a weekend, you’ll need to pick and choose where you want to visit. Look here for great information and help planning your trip.
Skyline Drive Road Trip
A post on road trips in Front Royal and the Shenandoah Valley wouldn’t be complete without mention of Skyline Drive. The central byway of the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive begins right in Front Royal.
It takes about three hours to drive the full 105 miles of Skyline Drive without stops. Of course you’ll want to stop to enjoy the views from some of the park’s 75 scenic overlooks. If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, there are plenty of spots to stop for a hike, and you’ll a range of hikes of varying difficulties. You’ll find yourself deep in nature without walking far from the road.
For a really relaxed trip, look into lodging inside the park. From cozy cabins and hotel rooms, to back country camping, there are options at all levels of ruggedness!
If you’re planning a road trip this summer, consider driving in the Shenandoah Valley. You’ll find natural beauty, fascinating history, and plenty of fun.
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