6 Exciting Things To Do Near Harper’s Ferry You’ll Love

You’re going to West Virginia? Why? 

I get it. Even though West Virginia might not be high on your bucket list right now, I hope this list changes your mind, specifically about the town of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. 

Harper’s Ferry is a hidden gem in the US. Featuring a national historical site, the town of Harper’s Ferry offers more than you may have thought. 

This is a fantastic vacation destination for anyone who loves history as the area played a pivotal part in the Civil War. 

Additionally, you can read more about the events that took place in Harper’s Ferry during the Civil war here. 

A few reasons we loved our trip to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

  1. The central location and amazing day trips within 2 hours. 
  2. A town steeped in history. 
  3. An off-the-beaten path vacation destination. 

We visited Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia in May with our RV and stayed at Harper’s Ferry / Civil War Battlefields KOA Holiday. 

We enjoyed the quiet atmosphere and were really lucky to have a site without too many neighbors. Because it’s a KOA Holiday the resort had fewer amenities, but the location was perfect. 

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Things to do in and near Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

Harper’s Ferry serves as an excellent home base for day trips around the area. 

Explore Downtown Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

We were pleasantly surprised at the cobblestone streets and civil war era buildings of the Lower Town in Harper’s Ferry. 

What I enjoyed most about this area was how open and relaxing the experience it was. You’ll notice, all of the buildings near John Brown’s Fort are open for visitors so you feel as if you’re experiencing an open-air museum. 

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Downtown Harper’s Ferry

Parking in Harper’s Ferry

For parking in downtown Harper’s Ferry you’ll need to pay around $20 for parking but it goes towards the national site. Set your GPS for 171 Shoreline Drive, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425.

I suggest paying for parking here ahead of time. Or you can also pay for parking in the lot as well.

If you’re feeling up for a workout, you can walk all the way down to the Winchester and Potomac Railroad Bridge. Keep an eye out for thru hikers from the Appalachian Trail which goes through the town. 

If you’re looking for more of a hike, you can keep going to the 6.6 mile Maryland Heights Trail

Once you’re done with your hike you can explore the local shops along High St. and if you continue walking up Public Way you’ll get a great view of the town. 

Murphy-Chambers Farm Trail

If you’re staying at the Harper’s Ferry / Civil War Battlefields KOA Holiday you’ll be within walking distance of Murphy-Chambers Farm Trail on the other side of the Harper’s Ferry Historical Site. 

I highly recommend this trail during sunset. We had the trail to ourselves and were able to take great photos of the cannons as the sun went down. 

Enjoying our sunset walk in Murphy’s Farm
Murphy’s Farm in Harper’s Ferry

You can see from this map how close the trail is to the KOA campground. 

After you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the town don’t miss a trip to Bolivar Bread Bakery for a yummy treat. This was recommended by a local and we were so thankful for the tip!

Finally, you’ll also want to spend some time at the Wilt’s Fruit Stand. Delicious produce and perfect place to buy local souvenirs.

Check out Wilt’s Fruit Stand for the best produce!

Explore Nearby Charles Town, West Virginia

Distance from Harper’s Ferry…14 minutes

Only a few minutes away, a drive to Charles Town is definitely worth it. 

I highly recommend strolling along Route 51. You’ll find a ton of local shops and restaurants including the bookstore Fuzzy Dog Books and Music, Alfredo’s Mediterranean Steakhouse & Grille, and La Mezzaluna Café. 

Admittedly, the reason we even considered going to Charles Town was because it had a yarn shop, Yarnability, (my weakness as an avid knitter). I love to get local yarns as a souvenir on our trips!

Venture to Nearby Frederick, Maryland

Distance from Harper’s Ferry…27 minutes

Not too far away, Frederick, Maryland has the cutest downtown area. Surprisingly, there were so many adorable shops and restaurants to explore. 

We opted to do a 2.5 mile self-guided walking tour of Frederick. You can find maps at the Visitor Center. Even on the rainy day we visited, this was a highlight of our trip!

If you have enough time, consider visiting the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, the Curious Iguana Bookstore, or Frederick Fudge and Ice Cream – yum! 

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Take a Auto Tour in Gettysburg National Military Park

Distance from Harper’s Ferry…1 hour

By far the best part of our trip was a spontaneous trip to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

Gettysburg National Military Park

We decided to download the NPS App and do the Auto-Tour through Gettysburg. This is an amazing audio tour through the park but with the convenience of having your own car and setting your own pace. 

To find the tour on the app…

NPS app -> Find a Park -> Search Gettysburg National Military Park -> Explore Full Park -> Things To Do -> Self-Guided Tours -> Gettysburg Auto Tour

The Gettysburg Auto Tour will take you to 16 places and should take you around 2-3 hours. 

Give yourself plenty of time to explore because there is so much to see and you’ll want to take in each stop along the tour. 

Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg National Military Park

If you’re like me, you may have learned about the battle of Gettysburg while in school but driving through the area makes the time in history tangible and can really make an impression. 

Also of note, the gift shop at Gettysburg was HUGE! You could easily spend an hour just exploring the numerous books they offer.

Once you’re done with the auto-tour head to The Gettysburger Company for lunch by the best ice-cream of your life at Mr. G’s Ice Cream. 

Dive Deep into History in Washington, DC

Distance from Harper’s Ferry…1 hr 16 minutes

There are numerous Smithsonian museums, national monuments, and history around every corner in Washington DC. 

While we didn’t take a day trip to Washington on this particular trip, it would be a great excursion! 

If you didn’t want to park in downtown DC, you could park at one of the metro stations and take the metro in instead. 

Take a Scenic Drive Through Shenandoah National Park

Distance from Harper’s Ferry…2 hours

One thing to note about Shenandoah National Park is that it takes 3-4 hours to drive Skyline Drive, the road that runs the entire length of the park. If you are coming from Harper’s Ferry like we were you may want to focus on the northern sections of the park. 

Driving the Skyline Drive Road in Shenandoah National Park

We entered the park via the town of Front Royal and exited the park via the town Luray.

If you have time you can also explore Luray Caverns, the largest caverns in the eastern US. 

There are tons of hiking trails in Shenandoah National park ranging from around 1 mile to over 13 miles long. 

We opted to do a few quick hikes including the 1.2 mile Little Stony Man via Appalachian Trail and the 1.6 mile Dark Hallow Falls Trail.

Final Thoughts

Murphy’s Farm, Harper’s Ferry

Looking back, I wished we had more time to spend in Shenandoah. Ideally, we would have split the week and spent a few days closer to that area to enjoy more hikes and get to explore the southern end of the park. 

No matter how long you have to explore, you will definitely find plenty to do on a trip to Harper’s Ferry. If you love history with a touch of nature, you’ll have a blast visiting this area!

Happy Traveling!