John Denver once sang “Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong. West Virginia”. This line encompasses Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
With its majestic mountains, beautiful rivers, scenic roads, and historical significance, the Harpers Ferry area of West Virginia is a destination in itself. With that being said, it’s also in great proximity to many other amazing places to see and things to do.
Here are our top 10 ideas for day trips from Harpers Ferry.
1. Head Underground at These Majestic Caverns
Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania offer amazing caverns for visitors to enjoy. Each one offers something a little bit different. Here are caverns located within a two-hour drive from Harpers Ferry.
- Crystal Grottoes Caverns, Boonsboro, Md. (18 miles north of Harpers Ferry)
- Skyline Caverns, Front Royal, Va. (45 miles southwest of Harpers Ferry)
- Luray Caverns, Luray, Va. (61 miles southwest of Harpers Ferry)
- Shenandoah Caverns, Quicksburg, VA (79 miles southwest of Harpers Ferry
- Indian Echo Caverns, Hummelstown, Pa. (101 miles northeast of Harpers Ferry)
Cavern tours usually take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, but many have other onsite things to do or are in proximity to other interesting landmarks and places to visit, which makes for a great day trip. Remember to bring a jacket. Caverns are usually around 50-59 degrees inside and the temperature never changes.
2. Embrace Nature at Shenandoah National Park
The entrance to the Shenandoah National Park is very close to Skyline Caverns. You can easily visit both in one day. Shenandoah National Park offers beautiful views, especially in the summer and fall months with spectacular color and wildlife spotting opportunities. With numerous hiking trails of a variety of lengths and skill levels, you can easily get lost in your beautiful surroundings.
With just over 105 miles of roadway on Skyline Drive within the park’s borders, you can alternatively choose to drive and stop at overlooks to enjoy. There is also a museum in this historic park about 50 miles into the road trip at one of the park’s visitor centers, along with a few rest stops along the journey. Skyline Drive offers four exit and entry points if you don’t want to do the full ride.
3. Take a Dip in Berkeley Springs
If you love Harpers Ferry, there’s a great chance you’ll enjoy a visit to Berkeley Springs, too. This cool West Virginia small town is only about an hour drive northwest from Harpers Ferry. Similar to Harpers Ferry, Berkeley Springs is a small, outdoorsy town wrapped up in history.
Known as the nation’s first spa, Berkeley Springs has long been a destination for those seeking the healing waters of their natural springs. Today you can even see the outdoor stone bathtub that George Washington would come and soak in!
While in Berkeley Springs, you should visit Berkeley Springs State Park, stroll through their quaint downtown, and of course, take advantage of their healing thermal waters.
4. Go Back in History at a Civil War Battlefield
The American Civil War was a divisive war that forever altered the history of the United States. The war occurred between 1861 and 1865 and the Mid-Atlantic states saw a lot of the battles. While in Harpers Ferry, Civil War buffs will love what the area and surrounding areas have to offer.
If you know anything about the Civil War, Gettysburg will definitely ring a bell. Since the Battle of Gettysburg is known as the turning point of the Civil War, it’s the most famous battlefield you can visit. Gettysburg is about an hour away from Harpers Ferry and is the obvious choice of a day trip for any history buff.
Bolivar Heights is just over a mile away from the heart of Harpers Ferry National Park and is a part of the park itself, yet it often gets missed by visitors to the park. As one of the most important Civil War battlefields in West Virginia, you can hike in the woods, see Civil War trenches, and learn about the major events that transpired in this location. Five Civil War events and encampments (not battles) took place in this pivotal location.
Antietam National Battlefield
Located in Sharpsburg, Md., about 17 miles north of Harpers Ferry, is Antietam National Battlefield. Known as the “bloodiest day” in American history. Learn about the people and their stories, see memorials, and tour the museum.
Manassas Battlefield Park
Located in Manassas, Va., about 50 miles south of Harpers Ferry, you can learn about the two major battles that took place in this small rural Virginia town in two separate years. You can hike in the woods, see landmarks, and tour an original building that served as a home, business, and hospital. Manassas Battlefield Park also offers a visitor’s center, and provides maps for a driving tour to see key locations.
Of course, you can also choose to track major Confederate and Union Civil War history events within the boundaries of Harpers Ferry itself and follow the events of John Brown’s raid.
5. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth at Hershey’s Park
The famous Hershey Park is about 100 miles northeast of Harpers Ferry. Take daredevil rides on the park’s state-of-the-art rollercoasters, visit the Hershey Story Museum, stroll the Hershey Gardens, explore ZooAmerica and see more than 200 animals, and/or take a bus tour and learn the history of The Hershey Company and see where its founder began the legend.
Visit Hershey’s Chocolate World and buy candy, ice cream, and other themed souvenirs – or enjoy one of the other indoor attractions offered. The park also houses a huge stadium where you can see your favorite artists play.
6. Get Touristy in Baltimore
Baltimore is a major port city in Maryland that is located about 70 miles east of Harpers Ferry, making it a great day trip. Whether you enjoy history, sports, food, or culture, you’ll find it in Baltimore.
A few of the best things to do in Baltimore are:
- See Fort McHenry
- Visit the world-famous National Aquarium
- Explore the Baltimore Museum of Art and B & O Railroad Museum
- Stroll along the city’s Inner Harbor
- See MLB’s Orioles play at Camden Yard or watch an NFL’s Ravens game at nearby M & T Bank Stadium.
- You can even visit Edgar Allen Poe’s gravesite.
Visitors can easily fill a day’s itinerary in Baltimore and be back in Harpers Ferry before bedtime.
7. Visit Our Nation’s Capital City
Many Mountain Mama guests are visiting Harpers Ferry from Washington, D.C., but if that’s not already your home town then it’s a great place to visit! Washington, D.C. is roughly a 90-minute ride from Harpers Ferry. With the upcoming new Metro Silver Line expansion, if you don’t feel like driving, you can cut your driving time by parking at the train station in Ashburn, Virginia (or one of the other new stops along this rail line) and take the Metro into the city. You can also eliminate parking hassles by traveling into the city by rail. This line is slated to open November 15, 2022.
The Silver Line takes you directly to the Smithsonian stop where you can visit world-class museums, see the monuments up close, explore important landmarks, enjoy ethnic cuisines, and experience unique pieces of American history not found anywhere else. It’ll also connect you to many other notable places in our nation’s capital city.
If you’re a sports fan, you can also see major league teams play in the heart of the city – MLB’s Nationals, NBA’s Wizards, WNBA’s Mystics, and professional soccer club D.C. United are all within either walking distance or an additional quick Metro rail ride away.
You’ll Love Getting to Know the Surrounding Area
With some just a hop, skip, and a jump outside of Harpers Ferry itself, a few of these other day trips will require more of a drive. With this list though, you’re bound to find a few ideas as near or far from Harpers Ferry as you’re willing to go. While Harpers Ferry is certainly a gem, the surrounding area has plenty to offer, as well!