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Harpers Ferry vs. Shepherdstown

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30 posts
1 review
Harpers Ferry vs. Shepherdstown


We (me, hubby and our 10 month old baby) are planning on making a trip to West Virginia to view fall foliage during mid-late October. In addition to hiking/nature, we also like to experience small towns and have great food. We are planning to spend a few days in southern WV (Midland Trail, Lewisburg, New River Gorge etc.) and then head to the north east region. I cannot decide between staying at Harper's Ferry or Shepherdstown. I like the appeal of the small town of Shepherdstown from what I read in that forum, but Harpers Ferry appears to have more outdoor attractions (Appalachian trail etc.). Although we like to get a flavor of local culture, we are not deeply into history (which I am afraid Harpers may have too much of that?). We would like to hike, eat good food, stroll through shops, and visit some wineries in the northern Virginia region. Any advice on staying at Harpers Ferry or Shepherdstown based on our interest? Thanks!!

Baltimore, Maryland
1 post
1. Re: Harpers Ferry vs. Shepherdstown

Hello, I hope to share a little bit of limited knowledge with you about West Virginia. I live in the Baltimore area so most of my experience traveling to West Virginia is in the form of day trips, the Harpers Ferry area is about an hour and fifteen minutes away. Harpers Ferry and Shephersdstown are both quaint towns, Shepherdstown is a bit bigger, it has a college albeit a really small college. I have only stopped in Shepherdstown to eat and haven't really explored the town, but it does seem to have more amenities than Harpers Ferry. I believe you could "knock out" both towns within the same day, as they are only twenty minutes apart and both pretty small. The outdoor activities are the usual reason we go visit the area, I really enjoy rafting and hiking and you can't go wrong in this area of West Virginia. We don't usually visit for the history. However if you would like to take a really cool history tour than I would highly recommend Antietam Battle Guides, I am not much of a history buff but we took my grandfather a couple of years ago and it was fascinating, it was the bloodiest day in American history. It is about a three hour tour. I have visited the New River Gorge area that you are visiting and that is a very beautiful area. I have gone rafting there a bunch, and if you could find a sitter for your baby, the upper Gauley is one of the greatest rides you would ever take in your life, they only do the dam release for six weeks out of the year and it just so happens its during the time of your visit. This part of West Virginia is about six hours from where I live so all of my weekend getaways have involved camping in this area. It does not seem that there are many "towns" in this part of West Virginia, maybe a one road Main Street with a shop or two, but nothing like Harpers Ferry or Shepherdstown, which is saying something cause those aren't big towns. The outdoors activities are great though and there are plenty to do. My wife and I have always wanted to visit the wineries around Charlottesville Virgina but we haven't made it yet. Charlottesville is supposed to be a great town for food and wine. when you make it up to the Harpers Ferry area you might want to consider staying in Frederick Md, it about twenty five minutes away and the downtown has some really nice restaurants and a bit of culture. I came across your post looking for things to do with our three year old and his two older siblings, unfortunately the rafting I would like to do has to wait a few more years. Good luck with your vacation, it is a beautiful area, especially if you like outdoor activities.

Level Contributor
75 posts
35 reviews
2. Re: Harpers Ferry vs. Shepherdstown

As sowebo said. Both towns could be knocked out in a day. It might be a long day, but you could do it.

As far as staying. Absolutely stay in Shepherdstown. I have stayed in both hotels near Harpers Ferry. I would not rate either above 1 star.

There are two great hotels in or near Shepherdstown that are very nice hotels. Both I have stayed in. There is a third that has good reviews, but I have never stayed there.

If I were going there to site see. I would stop by Harpers Ferry and spend a few hours there. Continue to Shepherdstown and get dinner and walk the streets for a bit. Git up the next morning and spend several hours shopping the streets there.

A very good place to eat. Tony's Pizza right there on the main street. Great club sandwiches.

Martinsburg, West...
Level Contributor
9 posts
141 reviews
3. Re: Harpers Ferry vs. Shepherdstown


I second Peterpan's suggestions.

I also strongly recommend you take a half day to visit Harper's Ferry even if you are not a history buff. It's a seminal part of our history. It's a small town, maybe three city blocks, a step back in time. Very interesting, not just a history lecture.

The Appalachian Trail goes through Harper's Ferry, serious hiking, steep, rugged trails. The AT Conference Headquarters is also in Harper's Ferry. Across the river is the C & O Canal, wide easy hiking.

Have a great trip.

4. Re: Harpers Ferry vs. Shepherdstown

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