State 16: West Virginia | Harper’s Ferry

This state really is wild and wonderful. For over a year I’ve wanted to go to Harper’s Ferry and either the weather wasn’t cooperating or we always had other plans. A couple weeks ago in early March we finally decided to go. I visited West Virginia for the first time back in 2012 when I went to Bluefield with a friend from college. She grew up there and I went home with her on break. We went on an exciting drive from college in Virginia through mountains (literally) to her home state of West Virginia. It was thrilling for me to drive through a mountain tunnel. Usually I’m not too fond of tunnels, such as the one in Baltimore that goes underwater where I want to close my eyes going through it (don’t worry, I don’t do this while driving), but going through a mountain was more peaceful.

No mountain tunnelways to get to Harper’s Ferry though, although we did end up driving through four states to get there – New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and even Virginia for a few minutes. It was my fiance’s first trip to the state (he’s catching up!).

Harper's Ferry Town
Harper’s Ferry

When we arrived, our first task was to find parking which was nearly impossible. We drove around two small lots and there was not a spot in sight. We continued to drive about two miles away from the center of town to the Visitor’s Center. It costs $20 per car for parking, which includes free shuttle service back and forth. With no other option, we parked here. I cannot imagine how crowded this area must get in the summer months since it was already pretty busy on a weekend in March with a high of maybe 50 degrees max.

After hopping off the short shuttle ride, we found a place for lunch. A friend had suggested The Rabbit Hole. The restaurant was on the smaller side. It offered outdoor seating, but it was windy and too chilly for that. We had to wait about twenty minutes for a table, but that was no problem. Once seated, we ordered quickly and our food came at lightning speed (actually faster than our server even brought over our waters). I went for something on the lighter side and had the hummus plate which hit the spot and you could tell the hummus was freshly made. The restaurant was very lively and had directional signs from all over the country gracing their walls, from newer looking signs from national parks to antique beach notices.

John Brown Museum Building
John Brown Musem

We took a walk back down the hill where the Rabbit Hole sits, along with several other restaurants, coffee shops, stores and small museums. All the small museums are free and you can easily pop in and out. The largest and most highly recommended was the John Brown Museum telling the story of the abolitionist. Some others included the Industry Museum and the Black Voices Museum. Lewis and Clark had even been there! I feel like I have somewhat followed their journey, seeing markers for their explorations in Nebraska, Ohio and Indiana as well. Similar to the Mystic Seaport (Connecticut post coming soon!), there were also shops set up just as they were over a hundred years ago, such as the General Store, Dry Goods and a Confectionery. A home was set up like it would have been years ago as well. I love taking a glimpse into the past and seeing what everyday life would have looked like had we lived in another time.

After the museums and shops, you can walk along the river trails. The Visitor’s Center host recommended stopping at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Seeing where the two rivers meet was majestic set against the beautiful mountain backdrop. Perfect picture moment. It may have been our favorite stop. It was wild and wonderful as the state slogan promises.

Meeting of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers
Meeting of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers

Once we concluded our afternoon in Harper’s Ferry and soaked up all the sights, we headed about an hour away to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As there aren’t too many hotels in Harper’s Ferry, you mostly have to go over into Maryland or into Charles Town or Martinsburg aside from a few B&B’s from what I saw. Instead, we thought we would visit another place we haven’t explored before as we were pretty close. In Gettysburg we saw the historic battlefield and museum and Eisenhower’s home. It was a fun-filled weekend and provided us some quality time together where we didn’t have to worry about the stresses of work or getting ready for our upcoming wedding. Pure relaxation.

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