The West Virginia Panhandle is home to some of the most beautiful and captivating scenery in the east. From historical sites and iconic lodging to outdoor activities and agritourism, there’s something for everyone in this picturesque region. Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, a West Virginia panhandle road trip won’t disappoint. Let’s take a look at some of the attractions you’ll find along your journey.
A West Virginia panhandle road trip introduces travelers to Jefferson County. 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.
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 slot machines, craps, a poker room, and several restaurants at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races’ pristine 511,000-sq-ft property.
Take in the stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When it comes to nightlife, this is where to go for an exciting night out.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
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.
This historic attraction commemorates John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, which helped spark the Civil War and changed history as we know it. Learn about the raid and area through an in-depth park ranger-guided tour.
You will also see 19th-century buildings, the B&O Railroad Museum, and can explore a Civil War museum.
Also in Harpers Ferry is the beautiful Goodloe E. Byron Memorial Pedestrian Walkway Bridge, part of the Appalachian Trail. Grab a selfie in this picturesque spot.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
If you want to get out on the Potomac or Shenandoah Rivers, this area, known as The Point, is where you can do just that. Consider a whitewater rafting or float trip with River Riders. There are Class III rapids for those thrill-seekers.
The Appalachian Trail Visitor Center is in the area, as you experience the famous hiking trail. E-biking and an aerial adventure park are two other popular activities.
Exploring Historic Harpers Ferry
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. You’ll find retro candies that span over hundreds of years, plus some trendy new candies. I was surprised to find so many great botanical tea selections at the Instagram-worthy shop. You can also shop online and send custom gourmet gift baskets from True Treats for a special occasion.
In Charles Town, the Old Opera House Theatre Company, circa 1910 and a stop on the WV Historic Theatre Trail, is a real beauty and where you can see stage productions.
The theatre runs six main-stage productions, a ballet, summer voice, acting, and dance lessons, plus a few other surprises throughout the year.
The Intriguing Baths of Berkeley Springs
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.
Don’t miss the colorful murals in town.
Extreme Tranquility in the Old Roman Bath House & Spa
For a day of relaxation, visit Old Roman Bath House & Spa for a luxurious spa day of massages and facials that will leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I indulged in a blissful Roman Bath at the Main Bathhouse (Berkeley Springs State Park).
This private, walk-in bath holds 750 gallons of water at a 102-degree temperature. It is sourced from the spring. There is a spray hose for cooling off the water if you can’t take it, but I hung in there and took pleasure in the scorching water soaking my body.
For those who are modest, don’t worry. There is a typical dressing area for changing into the comfy spa robe and slippers, and a locker for storing your personal belongings. After your treatment, there are showers, if you wish to use them.
Shopping in WV’s Panhandle Towns
Antiques are in high demand when shopping in Martinsburg. Two of the best places to find them are Antique-ish and Queen Street Antiques. As a professional traveler, I explore antique shops around the country, and I was blown away by the great choices of treasures in West Virginia’s panhandle. The prices were just right.
Orr’s Farm Market: A WV Gem
Explore West Virginia’s agriculture 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.
Orr’s has a treasure trove of upscale food products that range from local creamery ice creams, locally-grown produce, and Rt 11 chips to Crabill’s Pork Products and Black Dog Coffee & Beans.
There are just as many kitchen accessories, home decor, and fun stuff as food items. I loved the handmade cutting boards, Studio M flags, and soap selections. Bring the kids to the Barnyard, with baby goats, sheep, bunnies, chickens, mini-horses, and more. Orr’s Farm Market is closed on Sundays.
You can read more about Orr’s Farm Market in my “100 Things to Do in West Virginia Before You Die” book.
Noteworthy Restaurants in Harpers Ferry
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.
In Charles Town, pop into Royalicious Bagel Bakery, a family-run bakeshop serving excellent New York-style bagels, Italian pastries, sandwiches, and salads. I had a sun-dried tomato bagel with veggie cream cheese, that was 10/10 fantastic.
The Press Room
Swing over to The Press Room in Shepherdstown for dinner – they serve up delicious dishes made with local ingredients sourced from nearby farms and purveyors. This fine-dining eatery offers a casual vibe and excellent food.
I loved the house pâté appetizer and soft-shell crab with sweet corn relish.
The Press Room also serves a great selection of oysters, and a toothsome Carbonara pasta dinner. Save room for a decadent dessert—the panna cotta with berries and fig vincotta is superb, as is the lavender creme brûlée.
Watch for this delightful restaurant to show up in my “100 Things to Do in West Virginia Before You Die” book.
Blue Moon Cafe
Blue Moon Cafe is your place for gourmet sandwiches and creative salads, plus a few eclectic international eats. You can’t go wrong with crab or artichoke dip to start with, and the quiche of the day is always a safe and tasty choice.
If you are jonesing for a sandwich, the Tarragon Chicken has celery, red onion, walnuts, and tomatoes, with a honey-lemon Dijon vinaigrette.
The Country Inn Restaurant & Beehive Cafe
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. Beehive serves all-day breakfast and a 100% plant-based menu.
Just in Time Seafood
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.
The Dreamy Bavarian Inn
The Bavarian Inn is a historic 11-acre European-inspired property overlooking the Potomac River with classic rooms and chalets. The 72-room property is gorgeous. The scenic infinity pool is a thing of beauty, too.
You won’t want to miss the award-winning restaurant, gift shop, onsite craft brewery with an outdoor beer garden, and indulging in the stately rooms that offer relaxation and a perfect out-of-town getaway.
Bavarian Inn sells authentic German gifts, such as cuckoo clocks and beer steins, perfect for taking a piece of your travels home with you!
Bavarian Inn has won Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, and is an hour from Washington DC, and minutes from historic Harpers Ferry National Historic Park and Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, MD.
The Inn at Charles Town Races is great for business and leisure travelers, with spacious rooms, typical hotel amenities, and a casino attachment. Final Cut Steakhouse is their upscale restaurant, and you can catch excellent shows and entertainment at the hotel’s Event Center.
Lodging in the WV Panhandle
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.
No matter what type of getaway you’re looking for – whether it’s relaxation or adventure – there’s something special waiting for you in West Virginia’s panhandle region!
With its beautiful landscapes and unique attractions like Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and Berkeley Springs State Park, it’s no wonder why so many travelers come here year after year. So pack up your car and hit the road – your next amazing adventure awaits!
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