At the northernmost gateway to the Shenandoah National Park sits the lovely town of Front Royal. Here you will be able to enjoy all the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley, tube, canoe, or kayak down the Shenandoah River, exploring the historic downtown area, or hiking in the great outdoors.
With Front Royal being just a little over an hours’ drive west on 66, it makes it the perfect weekend getaway, but there is also plenty to do for that week-long summer vacation in the mountains.
Take time to peruse all the fun things you can do to make Front Royal a trip to remember.
Front Royal Hotels in Virginia
There are some excellent accommodation choices for that overnight, weekend, or extended stay in Front Royal.
The Holiday Inn and Suites is a terrific choice for families since it has an indoor heated pool and exercise room. Golfers will enjoy the view of the waterfall of the 18th hole of the Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club.
For those looking for a bed and breakfast option, the Mountain Home B&B is highly rated and pet-friendly. Choose between staying in one of the three private rooms in the main house or the cabin that sleeps 8. Those who enjoy hiking will want to try their skills out on the Appalachian Trail, only 120 feet from Mountain Home.
The Inn at Vaucluse Spring surrounds the limestone spring waterfall and is the perfect romantic getaway vacation. The 44-acre property has six guest houses and private cabins with luxurious amenities from which to choose. Begin each day with a delicious three-course breakfast as you take in the fabulous views.
As you enter the Shenandoah National Park from the northern entrance at Front Royal, Mathews Arm Campground will be the first campground along your route. Each of the 165 sites has a fire ring and picnic table. For those who need additional supplies, two miles away is the Elkwallow Wayside. Here you can pick up any supplies you may need.
Mathews Arm Campground has an amphitheater, storage lockers, flush toilets, but there are no showers here.
While here, take advantage of the lovely1.7-mile easy loop of the Traces Nature Trail, and hike the moderately strenuous 5.1-mile loop to the Overall Run Falls.
Just 3 miles from the Front Royal entrance gate of the Shenandoah National Park, Front Royal RV Campground offers 114 campsites and 20 one and two-room cabins. The tent sites are in a wooded area, ranging from full hook-ups, water/electric hook-ups to no hook-ups at all.
There are plenty of amenities and activities like a pool, playground, mini-golf, horseshoe pits, fishing pond, movie room, and basketball court for the whole family to enjoy.
What to do in Front Royal VA
Front Royal/Warren County Visitors Center
Begin your Front Royal visit with a stop at the Front Royal – Warren County Visitor Center. Here you will discover the refurbished 1885 train station, and the visitor center staff can assist you in creating the perfect itinerary for your time in town.
Main Street Historic District
Plan on spending some time strolling along the streets of Front Royal’s Historic District. Here, you will find many small businesses, restaurants, museums, festivals, and beautiful architecture.
Take the Front Royal Walking Tour
Take the self-guided walking tour along some of Front Royal’s streets to learn more about the historical sites, some of the more prominent citizens and take in some of the unique architectural designs.
You can view a piece of the original Chester Street road along Chester Street and walk by the Mullan-Trout House that belonged to Reverend Trout, a Methodist circuit rider. Then head to 15 Chester Street to the brick home of Dr. Manly Littleton Garrison, who served the community for 50 years.
At 14 Chester Street sits the Scott House, where Mr. Scott, a mortician, operated the first funeral home on Main Street.
Dr. Anderton Brown once owned the Samuels Apartments located at 29 Chester Street where he treated wounded Confederate soldiers in his office.
The Williams Chapel is the only remaining antebellum Front Royal Church. In 1888 Belle Boyd gave a detailed recounting of her deplorable Civil War exploits at the chapel.
On the corner of Peyton and Chester Streets was home to Mary Fristoe, who bought the property after inheriting money. She rented out the home while living in a back building until her death.
You will come to the Balthis House, just a few houses down. Built in 1787, the Balthis House, built by two of Front Royal’s founders, is the oldest structure still standing on the oldest Front Royal street.
The two-story Federal-style wooden townhouse property also has a playhouse/gazebo and Front Royal’s only outdoor kitchen.
The Balthis family took advantage of the area’s wagon manufacturing business and became successful blacksmiths.
Guided house tours are offered throughout the year, where you can learn more about this family, their life, and the interesting additions they built onto the original house.
Further down the street is the two-story Warren Rifles Confederate Museum. The museum has a collection of Confederate memorabilia and Battle of Front Royal weaponry on display. While the battle was an important moment in the Civil War, it was a dark time in our history that continues to bring controversy across the country.
On the next block, you can visit the Belle Boyd Cottage, where Belle Boyd, the infamous Confederate spy, stayed with her aunt and uncle.
The Ivy Lodge, which was once the home of Major Victor Moreau Brown, showcases Warren County history exhibits. The exhibits include insight into the Native American population in the Shenandoah Valley, living as a colonist, and industries and agriculture which have flourished in the area. Temporary exhibits also feature Warren County citizens and local events.
Then pass the Italianate Gideon Jones House before reaching 123 Chester Street, where you will find the Petty-Sumpton log structure most likely built in 1788 by George Cheek and restored in 1976.
The Dunover Apartments, at 144 Chester Street, was the social spot during the late 1800s and was reported haunted by Mrs. Glasscock’s ghost.
Journey along the Battle of Front Royal Driving Tour Route
History buffs will enjoy the 16-mile trip that follows General Nathanial Bank and Colonel John Kenly’s troops along the Shenandoah River banks during the Battle of Front Royal.
Begin at the Front Royal Visitors Center and spend the next three hours stopping at the ten stops culminating at Fairview.
Along the route you will visit:
- Asbury Capel, where General Jackson sent word to the 1st Maryland to lead the assault.
- Belle Boyd – At this stop, 1½ miles from the village, Jackson’s troops get into battle formation and meet with Confederate spy Belle Boyd who urges troops to attack Union troops in Front Royal quickly.
- Take in the fantastic view as General Jackson did at the Prospect Hill Cemetery.
- As you stop at the courthouse, envision the troops battling between buildings and along the street.
- The Bel Air stop commemorates Lucy Buck and her diary entries about the Yankees running through the nearby meadows.
- Climb the Rose and Richardson’s Hills and see where the Union troops took a stand against the Confederate forces.
- As you stand at the Bridges stop, imagine seeing the fire and smoke from the burning bridges. You can even still see the bridge embankment.
- You can look up to Dr. Kenner’s Home, Guard Hill, and the old road along the riverbank at the Guard Hill location.
- The final stop on the tour and the Battle of Front Royal is at Fairview.
Enjoy Boating on the Shenandoah River
The Shenandoah River is the perfect river for a summer float down the river on an innertube or paddle down in a kayak or canoe. Since Front Royal is known as the Canoe Capital of Virginia, there are plenty of outfitters to rent equipment from if you don’t have your own, and they also have drop-off and pick-up services.
If you have a tube, canoe, or kayak, there are several launch sites to choose from on the South Fork of the Shenandoah River. The river is often slow moving during the summer and fall with an occasional Class I, II, or III rapid and perfect for beginners.
Shenandoah Spirits Trail
The Front Royal Brewing Company, Virginia Beer Museum, and Backroom Brewery, located in Front Royal and part of the Shenandoah Spirits Trail that runs from Winchester to Harrisonburg, offer unique local craft beer.
The Sunflower cottage Herb Farm’s boutique Backroom Brewery specializes in craft beer made from farm-grown hops and a pinch of herbs off the farm.
Main Street’s Front Royal Brewing Company, located in a 1920 parking garage, specializes in trend-setting IPAs and German beers. Grab one of Brew Master Tim Arndt’s specialties and pair it with a delicious farm-fresh meal created by Chef Megan Bwenson and either dine indoors or in the outdoor seating area.
Brewmasters, wine connoisseurs, or craft beer lovers will want to stop at the Virginia Beer Museum on Chester Street in Front Royal to learn more about the history of beer in Virginia.
Take the interactive tour and explore the rooms of exhibits and artifacts that tell the 400-year long story of the history of beer in Virginia. Then head to the first floor Hell Twon Saloon for an award-winning Virginia craft beer.
Other Front Royal wineries:
Shenandoah River State Park
The Shenandoah River State Park parallels over 5 miles of the Shenandoah River’s South Fork. Here you can enjoy hiking and biking along the 24 miles of trails along the river and valley.
The park’s large riverside picnic grounds are perfect for an afternoon picnic before heading to the river access with your kayak.
Culler’s Overlook is a great spot to view the valley, river, and beautiful sunset.
Hike the Appalachian Trail
Put on your hiking boots and hike a piece of the 2,180 mile Appalachian Trail. Over one hundred miles of the trail wind through the neighboring Shenandoah National Park.
An easy access point for Front Royal visitors is at Chester Gap on Route 522, just a few miles east of town.
Explore the Skyline Caverns
Take the guided 1-hourSkyline Caverns tour to discover the unique crystal formations 260-feet underground.
See the Painted Desert, Capital Dome, Fairyland Lake, and the 37-foot Rainbow Falls along the path.
The kids will want to ride the Skyline Arrow train and test their directionality in the Enchanted Dragon Mirror Maze.
Watch a Valley Baseball League Baseball Game
Head to the Bing Crosby Stadium on a June or July evening and watch the Cardinals, part of the college-level summer league, play. Cheer on the local team that has been playing here since 1984 as you eat your hot dog and popcorn.
Bing Crosby’s 1950 movie Riding High was filmed at the original stadium.
Go Horseback Riding at Royal Horseshoe Farm
Get some “fresh” air and take a scenic 1½ hour trail ride with the staff of Royal Horseshoe Farm. They will take you on a history lesson as you ride through the hills, meadows, and woodes areas of the Shenandoah Valley.
Along the route, you will pass old cannon emplacements, Manassas Run, a house where young George Washington stayed while out surveying, and barns that once held ponies of the US Cavalry.
Kid time at Fantasyland Park
When the kids need a little time of their own, head to Lions Park at 903 Hometown Way and venture to the Fantasyland playground.
Here the kids will enjoy scampering through the nooks and crannies, sliding down the five slides, and crawling through the tunnels. What could be better than a relaxing swing on one of the two swing sets?
The park offers two playgrounds, one equipped for smaller children and the other for kids a bit older.
Front Royal Restaurants (and beyond)
The Happy Creek Coffee and Tea is the perfect place to begin your day. They offer locally roasted coffee, nitro cold brew, natural fruit smoothies, and gluten-free baked goods.
The Daily Grind is another place you can stop for your morning smoothie or coffee. However, they also have amazing desserts that you might want to pick up for later in the day.
A picnic lunch from Blue Wing Frog is a must for the adventurers in your group that will be nowhere near food at lunchtime. Their made from scratch menu changes daily and may include mushroom pate, shrimp po’boys, or a banana espresso cake.
For the best barbecue sandwich or an apple butter cinnamon donut, you will need to drive about five miles out of town to The Apple House at 4675 John Marshall Hwy, Linden, VA.
Front Royal Love Signs
The Virginia is for Lovers slogan began in 1969. Today the saying has blossomed into over 500 LOVE signs that are promoting travel across Virginia. The Front Royal area is home to a handful of LOVE signs you will want to visit and pose for a picture.
- Heritage Hall – 400 W. Strasburg, Road, Front Royal
- The Gazebo at Front Royal Visitor Center – 414 E. Main Street, Front Royal
- PavMint Smokin’ Taphouse – 95 Commerce Avenue, Front Royal
- Apple House Restaurant – 4675 John Marshall Highway, Linden
- Low-Water Bridge Campground – 192 Panhandle Road, Bentonville