NOTE: The descriptions of the places in this guide were accurate at the time the articles were posted. Please be advised that you should call ahead before traveling to any of them.

Let's Get Physical in Front Royal, Virginia

By: Michelle Harper


Front Royal VirginiaIf your idea of the perfect getaway is to explore and enjoy the great outdoors, then Front Royal, Virginia is the ideal place for you. Probably best known as the "Gateway To The Shenandoah", the town has much more to offer than a scenic pass through to Skyline Drive, which in only about a mile out of town. Located in the heart of Shenandoah Valley in northern Virginia, this "town for all seasons" offers a range of activities from golfing to kayaking and backpacking.

Apple HouseA recommended first stop of the day is in Linden on Rt. 55 at the Apple House. This will probably be the only time you will want to be indoors all day. Here you can have a tasty home-cooked country breakfast in a very friendly and casual atmosphere. While you are there, grab a batch of their famous fresh made apple donuts or take home a freshly baked pie or some homemade Bar-B-Que. The country store offers a variety of Virginia products such as hams, wine and quilts. They even have coon skin caps, and wooden toys if you happen to be in the market for these items.

Shenandoah RIverFor a great side trip, you might want to pack up you goodies take a ride down Dismal Hollow Rd. (located next to the Apple House on the right). This narrow, winding road is an enjoyable ride that leads to a local secret favorite fishing spot on the Shenandoah River. After a few miles on Dismal Hollow Rd. turn right onto Happy Creek Rd. which eventually becomes Morgans Ford Rd. Soon you will see a "One Lane Bridge" sign and probably a lot of cars in a gravel parking lot. Here you can just pull over and watch the local fisherman while you snack on your donuts or if you were able to bring your rod with you, throw in your fishing line rod and try your luck. Just seeing the one-lane low water bridge itself is worth the short 15 minute trip.

Morgans FordAfter this brief pit-stop, return to Rt. 55 and follow it into the town of Front Royal. Follow the signs to the Visitors Center, located in a restored train station in the heart of town. The common area also has a caboose donated by the Norfolk and Southern Railway and a gazebo, where there is usually something entertaining happening. Downtown hosts two annual festivals: Octoberfest on the last Saturday in September and the Wine and Mushroom Festival on the 3rd Saturday in May.

Before you leave the Visitor's Center, be sure to pick up your free "Walking Tour of Front Royal" guide. Here history buffs can learn more about the history of the town ranging from its involvement in the Civil War to a mansion where Warren Beatty and Shirley McClaine played as children. Your tour will take you by such sites as the Warren Rifles Confederate Museum, Belle Boyd House - home of the famous confederate spy Belle Boyd and Soldiers Circle, where the remains lay of 276 confederate soldiers representing each of the 13 states of the confederacy.

Front Royal is also known as the "canoe capital of Virginia" and for good reason. The winding Shenandoah River offers the perfect place to tube, fish, canoe, enjoy any type of water sports your heart desires. Rapid sections of the river offer thrills for the white water enthusiast, while other sections provide the perfect conditions for a leisurely canoe ride. Canoes, kayaks and tubes are available for rent with convenient drop off and pick up service. If you choose, you can even combine your river adventure with overnight camping or horseback riding at nearby Shenandoah River State Park. For those seeking a shorter dip in the river requiring only a few hours, tubing is a great way to enjoy the afternoon.

Skyline CavernsIf you want to get out of the sun for a while, Skyline Caverns, is conveniently located nearby on Rt 340. Here the temperature is always a cool 54 degrees. The cavern offers a look at rare Anthodites, beautiful formations also known as "orchids of the mineral kingdom". While you are there, you might want to take a ride on the mini train or shop at the country store. Picnicking is also available on the grounds.

Tied of land and sea? Front Royal has even more options. How about a nice hot air balloon ride? This offers a novel way to experience the beauty and serenity of the Shenandoah Valley below.

You will probably be exhausted after a day filled with adventure and may not be quite ready to go back to civilization. If that is the case, Front Royal offers several hotels and Bed and Breakfasts. However, if you want to continue to commune with nature, there are campgrounds available at Shenandoah National Park, Guest State Park, as well as several privately owned campgrounds. What better way to end an active day in the peaceful outdoors than to sleep under the stars in the beautiful town of Front Royal, Virginia?

For more information visit: (Skyline Caverns) (Canoeing, Kayaking, Tubing) (hot air balloons) (camping) (Trail Riding)

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