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Best Things to Do in Front Royal VA
CANOEING AND CAMPING
Front Royal is the official Canoe Capital of Virginia – and with good reason. The north and south forks of the legendary Shenandoah River join here to form the main stem of the Shenandoah, which continues a northward flow to its confluence with the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. The rivers offer a variety of boating, fishing and swimming opportunities, with occasional areas of relatively mild class I, II and III rapids. Several boat launch sites are located throughout the county. Bring your own canoe, or rent from one of several outfitters. They will assist you with logistics such as drop-off and pick-up services and provisioning. Rafting and tubing are also popular river sports for families and are also provided by local outfitters.
Camping is popular in a variety of other settings, including family campgrounds and riverside camping. Shenandoah National Park, George Washington National Forest and Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Shenandoah River State Park offer both family and backwoods options. The National Park Service requires a permit for backwoods camping, which is available at any of the National Park entrance stations at no additional cost. There is a park entrance fee.
Culture & Entertainment
There’s no limit to cultural and entertainment activities in Front Royal and the surrounding Warren County communities. As the northern gateway to the Shenandoah Valley and Shenandoah National Park, Front Royal is known for outdoor recreation, scenic beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Shenandoah Wine Trail, its historical Civil War roots and more. The “Canoe Capital of Virginia” is also home to a variety of artisans, crafters, musicians, concerts, wineries and festivals.
Five golf courses offer 108 of the most scenic and challenging holes in golf. All are private courses and are open to the public. Each course has its own distinct personality, with spectacular views of the Blue Ridge and Massanutten mountains, as well as the legendary Shenandoah River, as typical backdrops. See the Membership Directory in this guide for course listings.
George Washington National Forest
Trails with names like Buzzards Rock, Tuscarora and Signal Knob offer a variety of lesser-used but equally exciting and challenging trails. Each of these trails provides a variety of spectacular views. Campground camping, backwoods camping and trout fishing are but a few popular activities in this pristine setting.
Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Shenandoah River State Park
This park is on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River and has more than 1,600 acres along 5.2 miles of shoreline. In addition to meandering river frontage, the park offers scenic views of Massanutten Mountain to the west and Shenandoah National Park to the east.
A large riverside picnic area, picnic shelters, trails, river access and a car-top boat launch make this a popular destination for families, anglers and canoeists. Ten riverfront tent campsites, a campground with water and electric sites, cabins, camping cabins and a group campground are available. With more than 24 miles of trails, the park has plenty of options for hiking, biking, horseback riding and adventure.
Shenandoah National Park
Open year-round, Shenandoah National Park is home to the famous Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that winds across the crests of mountains through the entire length of the park. Along the way are scenic vistas showcasing spectacular landscapes to the east and the west.
The park is much more than just Skyline Drive, however. More than 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the renowned Appalachian Trail, reveal surprises, whether it is a hidden waterfall or panoramic view; there is a trail for each skill level. Hikers may run into one of the many species of wildlife found in the park or find apple trees, stone foundations and cemeteries of inhabitants from long ago.
In addition to trails, there are also camping and lodging facilities available. Visitors centers are open mid-May through late October.
Declared the “Canoe Capital of Virginia” by the General Assembly, Warren County boasts some of the finest opportunities for outdoor recreation in the commonwealth. Enjoying a float down the world-renowned Shenandoah River as it flows through the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains and lush farmlands is just a phone call away.
The legendary Shenandoah River – the valley’s premier attraction – offers float trips geared to novice paddlers; no experience is necessary. Visitors may choose adventures from as short as one hour – a great way to have time to visit other area attractions – to voyages lasting several days. Included in Virginia’s Birding and Wildlife Trail, the Shenandoah offers travelers special opportunities to float, swim and explore ancient Native American sites and view natural history firsthand. Special programs such as moonlight paddles or easy “hike and float” trips to and from the Guest/Shenandoah River State Park are available. Guided and unguided fishing trips for smallmouth bass are available from outfitters who have attained some of the nation’s highest professional ratings. What better way to enjoy the fall foliage than an uncrowded drift through some of the state’s finest color changes?
Skyline Caverns is the closest natural wonder to the nation’s capital and hosts nearly 100,000 visitors each year. People come from all around to experience the rare anthodites, unique formations of delicate white spikes, spreading in all directions, including upwards, from their position on the cave ceiling.
The guided tour featuring the cave’s geological history takes adventurers deep underground. Award-winning lighting systems allow visitors to enjoy the splendor of the Capital Dome, Rainbow Trail, the Painted Desert, the Wishing Well, the Grotto of Nativity, Cathedral Hall, the Shrine, Fairyland Lake and much more. Included are three underground streams and the 37-foot Rainbow Waterfall. Skyline Caverns also offers the Skyline Arrow, a one-fifth-scale miniature train, and the Enchanted Dragon Mirror Maze, a must for the young at heart.
Don’t forget a jacket on the tour; the caves stay a cool 54 degrees year-round. Located at the Northern Entrance to Skyline Drive, Skyline Caverns is open at 9 a.m. daily.
Virginia Canopy Tours
Each tour lasts two-and-a-half hours, consisting of eight zip lines, air stairs, sky bridge, rappel and two nature walks. In addition to the zip line, Virginia Canopy Tours also offers one-and-a-half-mile tubing trip down the Shenandoah River.
Wineries & Breweries
The area is also home to beautiful wineries and breweries nestled in exquisite surroundings, including:
Chester Gap Cellars, at over 1,000 feet elevation, the Cellars is a prime destination for those seeking a tranquil, intimate, friendly place to put their feet up, taste and let their eyes feast on lovingly tended vines and the endless blue mountains and hills of the southeast Piedmont. Visit www.chestergapcellars.com for more information.
Desert Rose Ranch and Winery is located on an operating horse ranch. Visit their unique tasting room, which is a step back in time to the Old West; you will be served at the horseshoe bar. It is a family and pet friendly winery where picnickers are always welcome. Visit www.desertrosewinery.com for more information.
Fox Meadow Winery, located seven miles east of Front Royal, offers visitors a unique setting for tasting Virginia wines made in the classic European style. The winery is situated at an elevation of 1,700 feet. From the tasting room deck of this destination winery, visitors enjoy a tranquil setting and a 30-mile view. Visit www.foxmeadowwinery.com for more information.
Glen Manor Vineyard & Winery has a mission to be true to the land and to capture its essence in their grapes through progressive viticulture and agriculture practices and in their wines by gentle and minimal handling and non-interventionist winemaking methods. Visit www.glenmanorvineyards.com for more information.
Rappahannock Cellars has established itself at the top of Virginia wineries by winning the 2006 Governors Cup award. The family encourages visitors to taste all their wines while enjoying unique hospitality amid the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For more information, visit www.rappahannockcellars.com.
Backroom Brewery is a boutique brewery at Sunflower Cottage Herb Farm just outside of Front Royal, specializing in beer made from farm-grown hops and other herbs. Visit www.backroombreweryva.com for more information.
Front Royal Brewing Company at 122 E. Main St., is in historic downtown Front Royal. Head Brewer specializes in heirloom German beers, trend-setting IPAs and experimental concotions. The food is locally inspired and farm-fresh produce and meats area used. There is indoor and outdoor seating. Visit www.frontroyalbrewing.com for more information.
Virginia Beer Museum is the first official Beer Museum in Virginia. Learn the fascinating story of Virginia’s 400-year history with beer. Enjoy the growing collection of artifacts and displays. Experience an interactive tour of Virginia breweries. Taste Virginia’s award-winning craft beers. Visit www.facebook.com/vabeermuseum for more information.