Saving money and gas due to the rising cost of living and oil prices? Live in the Greater DC Metro area and “been there/done that” everything the travel websites and books recommend to do in the area? Don’t want to go where the tourists slow you down and irritate you with their one-thousand camera snapshots of everything including your shoes?
If you are like my fiancée and I, you’ve said yes to every question and been everywhere in the area – even places you didn’t expect to find yourself in.
But where do you go if you want a weekend trip out of town for your special occasion, or even if you just want to get out of town within a four-hour drive of DC, and at a low cost?
This four–part blog series will focus on West Virginia first.
Here are two places I recommend that aren’t on those travel websites, in no particular order:
- Berkeley Springs, West Virginia – this is about a two-hour drive from DC (any season).
Make a massage appointment at Berkeley Springs State Park, and include in your package time for soaking in the walk-in mineral spring tubs. Afterwards, check out the bath reserved especially for George Washington, who visited the natural springs in 1776. The newly renovated main bathhouse provides sauna, baths and female massagers for women on one side and male massagers for men on the other. The waters flow at a constant 74°F from the base of Warm Springs Ridge. You may still drink freely and fill your jugs at Lord Fairfax’s public tap, and wade in the ancient stone pools in the nation’s smallest state park.
Berkeley Springs, a fountainhead of warm mineral waters frequented by Native Americans long before Europeans arrived in the New World, are at the heart of a mountain spa community in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. First noted as Medicine Springs in 1747 on a map drawn by Thomas Jefferson’s father, the waters for many centuries have drawn visitors seeking health and relief from the stress of everyday life.
If you have time, check out the old country stores on Main street, the farmer’s festival held across the street from the State Park and some of the local wineries. Also go to Cacapon State Park for a variety of low-cost boat rentals and enjoy the lake at the bottom of Cacapon Mountain, which is the highest peak in the eastern part of West Virginia at 2,300 feet.
- Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia – this is about a ninety minute drive from DC (spring, summer, fall).
For years, Harper’s Ferry has been my favorite place to go when it becomes scorching hot and humid (HHH temps!). The best thing to do there is tubing on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. There are two companies I recommend. If you like a place that gives you a classy, one-stop center and prompt on-time service, go to River Riders. If you just want cheap, around-the-clock constant trips down the river, go to Butts Tubes.
If you like ghosts or have always wanted to visit a truly haunted place, Harper’s Ferry is world-famous for their apparitions. Some of them have looked so real that people have attempted to pose in pictures with the ghosts themselves. Several TV shows have visited this town in the hopes of catching some of the action. Visit the Harper House, St. Peter’s Catholic Church (where Father Costello has been seen since 1833), or even just walk through the town at night-time. You may get to see something!
Harper’s Ferry is historically famous as the starting point of the Lewis and Clarke expedition, the site of the John Brown raid (which precipitated the Civil War), the site of three Civil War battles (resulting in over 30,000 troops on each side surrendering, the largest surrenders in history until WWII), the founding of the NAACP, and as a major retreat center for seven US Presidents. Definitely worth a visit!
Where do you like to go? Share with us your favorite places to go in West Virginia!
And stay tuned for further articles on Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland!