Come experience the unique beauty of Harpers Ferry, WV, an enchanting land steeped in history, adventure, and family fun!
Nestled along the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, the town is a unique blend of history and nature, ideal for any family looking for a unique outdoor experience while staying at a cozy vacation rental in the mountains.
Whether you’re looking to explore the town’s historic charm, participate in adventure activities, or simply sit back and relax down by the riverside banks, there is something for everyone in Harpers Ferry.
Because not families come in all age ranges, we’ve built this guide to show unique activities to suit the littlest traveler up to the most inquisitive teenager!
About Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, is a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, about an hour and a half drive from Washington, DC, near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.
This quaint town is part of Jefferson County, which holds immense historical significance due to its involvement in the Civil War and the Antebellum period. The town is steeped in this history, with sites like John Brown’s Fort and Jefferson Rock drawing history enthusiasts from far and wide.
Today, Harpers Ferry is a historically-significant tourist attraction for family fun. If you are considering a family-friendly adventure, you can’t go wrong with the area’s blend of history, natural beauty, and relaxed atmosphere.
It is home to numerous attractions, features a variety of shopping and dining options, and a picturesque Downtown Harpers Ferry area. With its many historical attractions, Harpers Ferry is an excellent place to visit and explore for families.
Outdoor Activities The Whole Family Can Enjoy
If you need to reconnect with nature and your family, there are plenty of adventure activities to choose from in Harpers Ferry. Groups can go rafting, kayaking, tubing, or stand-up paddle boarding on the rivers. The town is also home to numerous hiking and biking trails, perfect for family mountain biking trips.
Harpers Ferry is also home to many scenic overlooks, making it the perfect destination for hiking or a lazy day by the riverside. Pack a picnic and spend the day swimming, fishing, and enjoying the breathtaking views of the rivers and nearby mountains. If you are looking for something a bit more relaxed, there are always plenty of spots to just sit back and take in the area’s natural beauty.
Given its strategic positioning where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet, the area is also perfect for families looking to experience a little fun on the water. You can venture down whitewater rapids or stay on flat rivers for water activities at every speed.
Things to Do with Younger Kids in Harpers Ferry
There are plenty of activities for younger children in Harpers Ferry! From outdoor activities to indoor fun, you’ll find a variety of things for the smaller members of your group to do while you stay in this mountain town haven.
Recommended Age: 4+
There are plenty of flatwater options for those who prefer a calm ride. Families can spend an afternoon tubing from tranquil lakes to slow-moving rivers and simply enjoy the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley. River and Trail Outfitters recommends a minimum age of 4 for their relaxed float routes.
Families can rent equipment and launch from various spots in the area, like the swimming hole at the Harpers Ferry Adventure Center. Due to the slower water, this activity is appropriate for younger children.
Age Range: Infants in packs and up
Harpers Ferry is a popular destination for families interested in experiencing the outdoors through hiking. Given its close proximity to the famous Appalachian National Scenic Trail, a 2,180-mile path that runs from Maine to Georgia, Harpers Ferry offers a variety of hiking experiences for families of all ages and abilities.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy maintains plenty of trails designed to take you on a journey through the area’s rich wildlife and floodplain forests.
Harpers Ferry has several trails that follow alongside the beautiful Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers for families looking for a more leisurely hike without the steep climbs. Scenic views and diverse terrain provide plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting, bird-watching, and photography.
These trails are rated as easygoing and recommended for kids ages 4 and up:
Recommended Age: 4+
Harpers Ferry is also a great all-ages destination for fishing families. With easy access to the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, as well as several other local waterways, there is plenty of opportunity for anglers of all ages and abilities to find success.
For families who are new to fishing, taking a trip to Harpers Ferry provides a great opportunity to introduce the sport to their kids! The area features plentiful fish, as well as calm waters and plenty of access points, making it a great, safe place to learn the basics. And with experienced fishing guides available in the area, it won’t be long before everyone in the family catches their daily limit.
Most fishing is centered around smallmouth bass, but anglers can also find success with other species, including catfish, panfish, and northern snakeheads.
Smallmouth bass fishing is particularly popular and harbors great potential with the right kind of know-how. Trips and guides can also be arranged to target specific species and waters, giving families a chance to enjoy the outdoors together.
The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, in particular, offer great angling opportunities for families. Both offer relatively easy wading access, although the lower sections of the Shenandoah are better suited to those with a boat.
On the Potomac, anglers can be found casting plugs, spoons, and spinners, while fly fishing is also an option and can be particularly effective during the warmer months. The lower section of the Potomac River is also home to musky and sauger, though these larger species are more of a challenge to catch.
White Fly Outfitters provides guided conventional and fly fishing tours, classes, and kayak rentals.
Recommended Age: All ages
Harpers Ferry is home to many festivals and special events throughout the year, including concerts and car shows. This is the perfect way to incorporate a family of all ages!
Families can enjoy various activities and experiences during these events, allowing them to explore the area’s culture and community.
Some of the most notable Festival are:
- FrostyFest (January)
- Flip Flop Festival (April)
- Family Expo and Craft Fair (April)
- Olde Tyme Christmas (December)
Zip & Climb
Recommended Age: 7+
Kids will love the seven zipline tour at Harpers Ferry Adventure Center. This two-hour adventure includes the 100-foot Sky Bridge and “zips” of over 400 feet each. Zipline canopy tours can be combined with a “Zip and Climb” package that also includes a high ropes course with three levels and over 60 obstacles.
Recommended Age: 6+
Yes, little people are good to go on a whitewater rafting adventure! This is the perfect opportunity for adventurous families to practice teamwork while getting a whitewater thrill!
The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers have a range of whitewater rafting levels perfect for beginners.
Families can rent equipment from local outfitters like River Riders or bring their own and make a full day of it. Guided tours are available from experts who know the perfect routes and waves to accommodate your family’s skill level. This adventure is open to children aged six and up.
Things to Do with Teenagers in Harpers Ferry
When you have small children, they are usually the deciding factor in all activities during a vacation getaway. However, sometimes you need to cater to the teenagers in the group! Given its outdoors-oriented activities, Harpers Ferry is especially great for teenagers who need to burn off some energy!
It’s also a wonderful area to engage in the nation’s history in a fun and interactive way. These are the best activities for older kids in your group from 12 years old and up.
Recommended Age: 12+
Hiking is really a whole family affair in Harpers Ferry. However, some more challenging routes will suit the older kids in your group! These trails offer additional length, trickier topography, and are rated moderate to hard in difficulty.
Harpers Ferry Appalachian Trail Loop
Several trails lead to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, which provides a unique experience that ranges from nice and easy to straight-up challenging.
One of the easier options is the Harpers Ferry Appalachian Trail Loop, a 1.8-mile trail with a moderately challenging route. You can easily complete this scenic stroll in under an hour. This path is very popular with birders and runners and is pretty manageable for children aged five and up.
In addition, these Harper Ferry trails are also great options for kids 12 years and older:
Canoeing and Inflatable Kayaks (Duckies)
Recommended Age: 12+
Whether you’re looking for a wild ride or a peaceful float, Harpers Ferry, WV, has something for everyone when it comes to canoeing and kayaking. Families can rent equipment or bring their own and explore the Potomac Valley from the water.
River & Trail Outfitters offers guided kayak and canoe tours and recommends a minimum age of 12 and weight of 90 pounds.
Escape Room Fun
Recommended Ages: 13+
For teenagers who love a fun challenge, the Rations Spaceport is an escape room experience near the Bolivar Children’s Park. This is the perfect opportunity if you have kids of different ages to let the older teens enjoy the adrenaline rush of problem-solving on the fly while the younger ones play at the playground.
Tours for Teens in Harpers Ferry
Recommended Age: 12+
Harpers Ferry is a great destination for families wanting to experience the town’s history. The area is rich in history and has expertly maintained its historical sites. It is the site of John Brown’s Raid as well as a key place of the Civil War when the Union and Confederate soldiers battled here.
Families with older kids will enjoy seeing the historical places and learning about the events that took place throughout Harpers Ferry’s history in any of these historical tours.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
For families looking for a traditional historical tour, Harpers Ferry offers walking tours of the historic Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. This site features John Brown’s Fort and Civil War exhibits to explore. The Harpers Ferry Park Association provides certified guided tours of the area leaving from the Park Visitor Center and ending in the Lower Town.
Tour the Town
For a more in-depth look at Harpers Ferry’s history; families can take a guided tour of the town. O’ Be Joyfull operates historical tours throughout the town and takes visitors to some of the most iconic and important sites on a 3 to 4-hour walking tour.
If your family isn’t faint of heart, a Harpers Ferry ghost tour may be the perfect unique activity to learn and be entertained. A ghost tour of Harpers Ferry is a family and dog-friendly spooky experience that walks participants through the historic buildings and their origins in Lower Town.
Down Home Family Fun In The Mountains
Visiting Harpers Ferry is an unforgettable experience that is ideal for the whole family. With its breathtaking landscape, the plethora of historical attractions, and numerous educational opportunities, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Book your Harpers Ferry vacation cottage rental for a memorable family getaway.