Our Guests’ 5 Favorite Things to Do While in Harpers Ferry

We always enjoy hearing about what our guests are up to while they visit here in Harpers Ferry. In case you’re wondering what there is to do,  here is a list of the five things we seem to hear from them most often:

Explore Historic Lower Town

John Brown’s Fort

While the history buffs obviously like perusing the National Park Service museums and reading interpretive signs, just about everyone agrees that Harpers Ferry is 360 degrees photogenic. Not only do you have a quaint 19th-century-shop-lined slope leading to John Brown’s Fort, but there’s the natural beauty presented by the confluence of two rivers cutting through the mountains and traversed by rusty train bridges. Shopping and food only enhance the experience. Learn more here.

Hike Maryland Heights

Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights

We finally were able to try this one ourselves a few weeks ago, after hearing about it from the vast majority of our guests. The lower viewpoint requires a 4.5-mile roundtrip, with some steep and rocky sections, but the view is totally worth it. On the way up, you get birds-eye views of the Harper Cemetery, the Hill Top House Hotel ruins, and other Upper Town sites. Once you arrive at the overlook, you can view all of Lower Town Harpers Ferry, as well as both the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers.  If you have the energy to extend your hike an extra couple of miles, you can go on up to the peak and view some Civil War sites along the way.  The National Park Service has more information here. (Unfortunately, as of this writing the trail is still closed due to last week’s flooding damage to the access points. Be sure and check that NPS webpage before making plans.)

The Appalachian Trail is also obviously an attraction for hikers, too, and we’ve had a few thru hikers stay overnight. (They were incredibly disciplined to leave the cozy bed and warm shower so early in the morning to hit the trail again.)

Bicycle the Converted Towpath of the Old C&O Canal

River view from the Canal Towpath.

This scenic and mostly flat path passes by Harpers Ferry as it follows the Potomac River from Foundry Branch in Virginia to Cumberland, Md. We have walked a bit on the path just across the train bridge but haven’t made it out with our bicycles yet. However, many guests have stopped here overnight on their biking trip between Pittsburgh and DC, while others are making a practice run – riding over from DC, staying a night and heading back. Some guests haul their bikes over for riding once they get here (one lady even brought her bike over on the Amtrak!). If you can’t do that, bicycle rentals are available at several local businesses. See this National Park Service page for more info: https://www.nps.gov/pohe/planyourvisit/c-o-canal-towpath.htm and https://www.nps.gov/hafe/planyourvisit/bicyclinginformation.htm

Tube/Raft on the River

Tubers commence their adventure on the Potomac.

We tried tubing the Potomac last summer. The River Riders website said this one was for “adventure seekers,” so of course, that’s the one Christian wanted to try. It required a bit more physical exertion than I envisioned but was fun, nevertheless, and is surely a breeze for younger folks in better physical shape than I am. The Shenandoah is billed as “flat water” tubing and sounds more my speed. You can also raft, canoe, kayak and paddle board. Two local outfitters we recommend are River Riders and River & Trail Outfitters.

Visit Local Wineries

Guests who enjoy wine tasting and basking in the view of lush landscapes with stemware in hand have found themselves in luck. Just across the river in Loudoun County, Virginia, is a group of wineries referred to the Loudoun Heights Cluster. Maggie Malick Wine Caves is the first you’ll encounter along Harpers Ferry Road in only a ten-minute drive. Breaux Vineyards is our favorite in the cluster, mostly because of the views and the sparkling wine option. If you want to add dinner, 868 Estate Vineyards has a restaurant (make reservations ahead of time, though). Hillsborough Vineyards on Charles Town Pike is a particularly nice setting.

Tasting room at Sunset Hills.

Sunset Hills Vineyard is technically in the Waterford Cluster, but is just a little further up the road along the Berlin Turnpike and is the one we have chosen for club membership. We really like their rosé, but we find all of their wines very drinkable, and there’s plenty of room for a picnic. (Oh, yes, they serve amazing fresh bread, along with a cheese plate and other light snacks).

For a full list of nearby wineries, see https://www.visitloudoun.org/things-to-do/wine-country/clusters/

Hanging Out at Rockhaven

This is a freebie beyond the official list of five, but honestly, almost all our guests end up spending some time just hanging around in their suite or outside on the balcony or deck or in the garden. I’ll let the guests speak for themselves on this topic (from their Airbnb reviews):

“Lynn and Christian’s suite is beautifully designed and decorated. It is in a tranquil setting, opening up to lush garden. The hosts have thought of everything, making it even easier to fully unwind and get the most out of your stay in Harper’s Ferry.” ~ Jennifer

“Super cute room for a great little getaway! Nice relaxing space with great host to help us at anytime.” ~ Geri

“…We enjoyed the cute, well-equipped and stocked kitchenette and the adorable balcony off the back (our own private sanctuary for morning coffee!)…” ~ Aubrey

“…The grounds are glorious and the suite was outstanding with all the comforts of home and more! Best B and B I’ve ever stayed in!!” ~ Betsy

“… Their garden is over the top lovely and there was a few places to ‘hang’ outside where we felt we still had total privacy. …” ~ Terry

Whatever you enjoy doing in Harpers Ferry, your visit will be that much better with a good night’s sleep and a quiet morning to yourself!  Come see us sometime!

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