Nestled atop the Allegheny Mountains, just a few hours away from Washington, D.C., is the small but charming town of Romney, WV. Known for its historic landmarks, outdoor recreational activities, and scenic beauty, Romney and its surrounding county, Hampshire, offer a refreshing breather from the city buzz. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or a family looking for fun when visiting Romney, Hampshire County is a great destination to explore. West Virginia’s oldest county will surely exceed your expectations.
In this blog post, I will provide suggestions for your trip to Romney and Hampshire County, including how to get here, what to see and do, where to stay, and where to eat.
Getting to Romney, WV (and Hampshire County)
If driving from Washington D.C., take the I-66 West and get on US-48 West/US-55 West. From there, keep going for about 120 miles until you reach Romney. The scenery along the way is stunning, with lush forests and rolling hills.
If you’re traveling from elsewhere, the most convenient airport is Dulles International Airport, just an hour and a half drive from Romney. My trip was from Charleston once and the Eastern Panhandle (Berkeley Springs and Shepherdstown) the next.
Potomac Eagle Scenic Railway
A ride aboard the Potomac Eagle Scenic Train is a must when you are visiting Romney! The train takes you on a breathtaking 3-hour journey through the lush Appalachian Mountains, passing by pristine forests, river valleys, and eagle habitats.
One of the highlights of the narrated historic Trough Trip is watching majestic American bald eagles soaring over the Potomac River in a remote canyon accessible only by train, on foot, or paddling. We saw three eagle’s nests and a few flying over the treetop. One eagle was perched for its perfect regal picture on a branch near the train route.
My husband and I rode in the adults-only Superior Dining menu option, which offered a four-course meal during the three-hour trip. Our menu choices were:
- Biscuits and mini-cornbread
- Shrimp cocktail or hummus with veggies & pita bread
- Caesar salads
- Chilean Sea Bass w/ Lemon dill sauce (a small upcharge) and Chicken Scallopini w/ Mushroom Sauce (each came with two side dishes)
- French Silk Pie and Chef’s Choice
Other food choices are a 3-course premium dining and boxed lunches. There is also a concession car for purchasing snacks and drinks. I’m not going to lie…our meal was really good. It was a much higher level of sophistication than I had imagined.
On the way back, our train car had a turn at going outside to the open-top gondola car for ultimate views and photographs. Prices for this trip range from $70 — $145 per person and $40 — $60 for children. Watch for the North Pole Express holiday event and leaf-peeping excursions during the fall and winter.
South Branch Bluegrass Festival
Though you can only enjoy the fun South Branch Bluegrass Festival during June each year, you should pencil in the dates to attend this excellent tribute to America. Parking is super easy, and the walk to the stage area won’t tire you out. Bring your own chairs.
The bands we saw at the 14th annual South Branch Bluegrass Festival were Appalachian Roadshow, the United States Navy Band Country Current, Centefire, Dunlap & Mabe, and Springfield Exit.
The all-day fun of the bluegrass festival at Wapocoma Campground includes food trucks (don’t miss the fantastic BBQ and equally as delicious sauces at Gig’s BBQ), sweet treats, local crafts, and gourmet foods as you enjoy making family memories at this small-town wholesome event.
Things to See and Do in Romney
For outdoor enthusiasts, Hampshire County offers plenty of hiking, fishing, and camping options. The George Washington National Forest, covering over a million acres, is a sanctuary for nature lovers, with hiking trails, campsites, and picnic areas. Thirty minutes from Romney, you’ll find Nature Conservancy’s Ice Mountain Preserve, an excellent spot for hiking to a scenic overlook and observing some rare arctic plants.
Romney is also home to several historic landmarks and museums, such as the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and Blind, showcasing the history of deaf education in the state, and the Hampshire County Courthouse, built in 1922.
If you’re a history buff, the Washington Heritage Trail, a 136-mile route, will take you through the county’s rich history. There is also a substantial ancient burial area for the Hopewellian Native American tribe, probably built between AD 500 and AD 1000. It lies outside Romney, overlooking the South Branch River and the Confederate Monument.
In downtown Romney, see the Davis History House, the only log house still standing on its original lot in Romney. It has original artifacts from the family who lived there 150 years ago and some Civil War memorabilia.
My friends rave about the Spring Valley Farm & Orchard, especially for the fresh peaches, but it was closed on the days I visited.
Delightful Accommodations in Romney
When it comes to staying overnight, the Koolwink Motel is an excellent option for budget travelers and those who love kitschy Americana. The Koolwink has been serving guests since 1932. It is known for its cozy and spotless rooms, friendly staff, and convenient location, just a mile from downtown Romney.
The spacious rooms are basic but retro though still comfortable. They also have deck chairs outside the door to enjoy the natural setting. I was a fan of the well-manicured grounds and picnic area. We booked lodging for under $100 a night and stayed over because we loved the Koolwink so much!
Rooms include a coffee maker, refrigerator, and microwave. There is also free Wi-Fi.
For those who prefer a more luxurious experience, and if budget is no object, you’ll be amazed at the pristine Mountainaire Luxury Cabin property at Capon Bridge.
Where to Eat in Romney
While Romney has some tasty dining options, it is not a foodie town. This is where you will want to focus most of your planning to ensure the restaurants are open when you want or need meals.
We found a tasty breakfast at Mountain Top Restaurant with homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, omelets, and pancakes. It is part of a truck stop, but the restaurant is separate and really good. The internet is still showing it as closed, but it is very much open for business.
The Farmer’s Daughter
I recommend The Farmer’s Daughter Market & Butcher for lunch, a seriously good burger joint with an award-winning reputation. Dry-aged beef, American cheese, pickled red onion, lettuce, and Duke’s mayonnaise make up the famous House Burger!
Lunch is served Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 3 PM, and it can get busy. The custom sign above the meat counter reads, “If you’re in a hurry, you’re in the wrong place.” My order took about 12 minutes, the perfect time to browse the store.
For dinner, pizza and pasta dishes are really good and reasonably priced at Italian Touch in downtown Romney. I feasted on the Baked Manicotti for only $10, which included a side salad and bread. My hubby went for the 16″pizza, which allowed leftovers for the next day.
Crystal Valley Restaurant & Saloon
Another tasty dinner option, and one for a celebration or get-together with friends and family, is Crystal Valley Restaurant & Saloon. This restaurant is known for its delicious homestyle cooking and friendly atmosphere.
The dinner menu offers various dishes, from classic American fare to international cuisine. Try their famous wings with homemade sauce on $1 wing nights (Fridays) and $1 tacos (Wednesdays).
We dined with friends at CVRS, where the property doubles as a lively saloon and bar with live music and a great ambiance. I chose the Longhorn Meatloaf, which has a flavorful mushroom brandy sauce that exceeded expectations. It came alongside rustic garlic mash and local green beans. The farm-to-table freshness embodies the vibe that CVRS effortlessly achieves.
My companions enjoyed the beer-battered cod Fish & Chips, complemented by sweet pineapple coleslaw. CVRS is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Where to Shop in Hampshire County
Seeing so many unique shopping spots to explore when visiting Romney and Hampshire County was surprising. I didn’t have shopping on my agenda when I arrived, but rest assured, I made it an essential part of my trip since I had such great choices.
The White House on Main Boutique
After you’ve experienced the natural beauty of Romney, it’s time to explore the local shopping scene. The White House on Main Boutique is a charming little shop that offers unique home decor, gifts, and clothing. It’s the perfect place to find a souvenir or gift for someone special.
The boutique’s friendly staff will help you find just what you’re looking for, and the prices are very reasonable. And get this…Romney must be pretty darned safe, as this store and another couple we passed frequently, and at night, keep their goods and decorations on the porches 24/7.
Farmhouse Studio is a two-story home place in Points, WV, offering gourmet baked goods, art, interior crap, gifts, women’s and children’s clothing, and local wines. Be prepared to spend some time browsing through the rooms filled with a wide variety of gourmet snacks and cheeses to house-made pepperoni rolls. The selection is marvelous!
This is the place if you’re looking for some home decor, including a nice variety of wreaths. Are you looking for a gift? Farmhouse Studio has that covered, too, all while offering friendly hospitality.
The River House
Located directly beside the Capon Bridge is The River House, a comfortable coffee shop displaying local artist’s pieces for sale lining the walls, with traditional restaurant and comfortable sofa seating. The shop displays local artists’ pieces for sale.
Check out their selection of cookies, cupcakes, and other sweets. They even offer a cheese and cracker tray to share over a long conversation with friends. I opted for the Chai Latte. Gazpacho Soup was also being offered that day.
Venture out the side door to access the outdoor deck overlooking a garden lawn with additional conversation seating below.
Bent River Trading
Bent River Trading was the first place in Hampshire County where I had a book signing, so it holds a special place in my heart. This treasure trove is chock full of goodies. I stress, full of fabulous West Virginia-made crafty items, from housewares and furniture to clothing and gourmet foods.
In fact, on weekends during certain months, there is a great outdoor farmer’s market with so many incredible offerings. Being a world traveler, I go to markets like this often, but I saw some things at Bent River Trading that I had never seen.
The local vendor was kind enough to explain all her items to me, too, including how to prepare and use some of her herbs and vegetables.
The Co-op, an Arts Market and Farmer’s Market
The Hampshire County Marketplace & Co-op is the place to go if you’re looking for a local, authentic experience. This Arts Market and Farmer’s Market showcases the best of Hampshire County’s local talent and produce.
You can find everything from handmade musical instruments to gorgeous knitted and handmade accessories and clothing. There are roughly 40 juried artisans in this space. Plus, the locals are always happy to chat and share their stories.
The Co-op is a great way to support the local community while exploring the Romney’s culture. Check out the classes and workshops offered to really get your creative juices flowing.
Where to Drink
Flying Squirrel Ranch and Rada Craft Distillery covets the title as the first legal distillery in the oldest WV county. Among their creations are Rada Appalachian Spirits bourbon, rye, European-style botanical gin, apple brandy, moonshine, and a black walnut liqueur, piqued my curiosity.
Romney: Our Conclusion
Romney, WV, and Hampshire County may not be the most well-known destinations in the country, but they are certainly worth a visit. With its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and friendly locals, this area is the perfect getaway for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Whether you’re interested in exploring historic landmarks or getting lost in nature, Hampshire County, West Virginia, has something for everyone. Pack your bags, hit the two-lane road, and discover the charm of this hidden mountain gem.
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