We’re continually on the hunt for opportunities to add richness to our lives. In the time of the road trip revival, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston that make for a great getaway. We feel that our worldly and devoted readers will find these places interesting.
Jefferson County, WV
Driving four to five hours northeast of Charleston brings you to Jefferson County, West Virginia. The main cities are Shepherdstown, Charles Town, Harpers Ferry (the confluence of the Potomac & Shenandoah Rivers where MD, VA, and WV meet), and Berkeley Springs. However, there are some darling small towns in between you might check out, too. Driving I-79 and I-68 are the quickest, but the scenery on US-48 is hard to pass up. When you arrive in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, be prepared for a great dose of history, agritourism, and shopping, while enjoying outdoor attractions, delicious restaurants, and iconic lodging.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN JEFFERSON COUNTY, WV
Charles Town has been known for thoroughbred horse racing (simulcast horse and dog racing, too) since 1933. You’ll also find headlining musical acts, Sportsbook, table games, nearly 2000 slots, and several restaurants at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races’ pristine 511K-sq-ft property.
The Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is a must. Harpers Ferry was voted “Best Town for History” by readers of WV Living for multiple years, and it’s easy to see why. Park at the Visitor Center and take the shuttle down to the historical attraction, or drive your car to the bottom and use one of the parking lots, if available.
From there, you can explore on foot to see John Brown’s raid site, explore museums, and visit John Brown’s Fort. You can learn about the setting with an in-depth park ranger-guided tour. Also in the area is the beautiful Goodloe E. Byron Memorial Pedestrian Walkway Bridge, which is part of the Appalachian Trail. Grab a selfie in this picturesque spot.
If you want to get out on the Potomac River, consider a whitewater rafting or float trip with River Riders. There are Class III rapids for those thrill-seekers. E-biking and an aerial adventure park are two other popular activities.
Pick up National Park souvenirs from Bookshop and your outdoor clothing and gear from the Harpers Ferry General Store. Be sure to enjoy some sweet treats from the nation’s only historic candy store, True Treats Historic Candy.
In Charles Town, the Old Opera House, circa 1910 and a stop on the WV Historic Theatre Trail, is a real beauty and where you can see stage productions. Black Box Arts Center in Shepherdstown is another.
Take in the waters of Berkeley Springs, where George Washington did, with a mineral soak at The Old Roman Bath House. Stroll the cute boutiques around the park, namely the Berkeley Springs Antique Mall, where you could honestly spend hours browsing. Antiques are also the shopping stars in Martinsburg; find two of the best places to find them at Antique-ish and Queen Street Antiques.
Then, explore WV’s ag scene at the family-owned Orr’s Farm Market, with a gourmet food-filled market and bakery, pick-your-own orchards, apple cider slushies and donuts, and a seasonal pumpkin patch.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Harpers Ferry has two popular eateries: The Anvil Restaurant, known for the tasty crab cakes, and The Rabbit Hole Gastropub for delicious fish & chips, plus an impressive craft beer cave.
The Press Room in Shepherdstown is a fine-dining eatery with a casual vibe and excellent food. I prefer the house pate appetizer and soft-shell crab with sweet corn relish. Blue Moon Cafe is your place for gourmet sandwiches and creative salads.
Dine in a historic setting at The Country Inn Restaurant in Berkeley Springs for a comforting Crab Pimento Cheese Dip with veggies and bread, or The Beehive Cafe for yummy breakfast and lunch dishes. Pop into Just in Time Seafood, in Martinsburg, for uber fresh fish sandwiches, tacos, and crab cakes; plus, you can have fresh crab packaged to take home with you, should you choose.
Abolitionist Ale Works in Martinsburg is excellent for IPAs and sour ales.
WHERE TO STAY IN JEFFERSON COUNTY, WV
The Bavarian Inn is a historic European-looking property with classic rooms and chalets. The property is gorgeous, and a craft brewery and award-winning restaurant are onsite. The Inn at Charles Town is great for business and leisure travelers, with spacious rooms, typical hotel amenities, and a casino attachment.
For an intimate weekend getaway, Jackson Rose B&B in Harpers Ferry offers gracious hospitality in a lovely setting amidst rose and herb gardens. The historic property served as Stonewall Jackson’s first headquarters during the Civil War. Another popular choice, The Angler’s Inn, offers four well-appointed guest rooms in their 1875 property. RVers and campers will love the spectacular scenery at the Harpers Ferry Campground, with tent and luxury tent sites and cabins.
Of course, you will also find a selection of chain hotels and motels in each of the cities mentioned above.