5 best ol-time stops in this National Park’s living history village

Harpers Ferry is perhaps one of the most unique places in the United States.

The upper portion of Harpers Ferry is a traditional town, while the lower part is part of a surrounding National Historical Park. The park has plenty of outdoor activities, but the real beauty lies in the old-time offerings in both sections of town.

Here are 5 of the best:

1. Scoops Ice Cream Shop

This little place takes their ice cream service super seriously, which you’ll more than appreciate if you visit Harpers Ferry in the summer. Try one of their house-made confections in your choice of cone, from regular sugar to waffle, dipped in everything from chocolate to sprinkles. If your sugar craving gets you out of bed early, you can also grab your morning coffee at Scoops— it’s truly a one-stop shop brimming with small-town charm. You’ll find this gem at 173 Potomac Street, just below Mary Adams (you’ll understand what that means when you get there.)

Entrance to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, WV

2. Harpers Ferry National Historic Park

Nature lovers rejoice: it’s not all about shopping in Harpers Ferry. Get a good dose of the outdoors with your history lesson by simply taking a stroll to the lower part of the town (the National Historical Park). Take a leisurely walk through what’s considered to be one of the best walking parks in all of America.

Once you’re all strolled out, get back to your history lesson and sign up for one of the Historic Trades Workshops that the Harpers Ferry Historical Association puts on. They will instantly transport you to another time. Get in more historic experience at the Industry Museum and learn about the transportation and industrial innovations that led to the creation of Harpers Ferry in the first place.

Christmas at the Vintage Lady shop in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

3. Old Tyme Christmas Celebration

Plan your trip to Harpers Ferry in early December for a 19th-century holiday celebration. The streets are transformed to a time back in the late 1800s, and some of the shops even stay open late. Watch the beauty of the tree lighting ceremony, listen to Victorian carolers and pick up some roasted chestnuts. Check out the family-friendly offerings, like free wagon rides, an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a puppet show by the Wonderment Puppet Theater.

4. True Treats Historic Candy

“History Never Tasted So Sweet!” True Treats was founded by Susan Benjamin, a former communications strategist turned candy historian (yes, you read that correctly.) Learn more than you ever thought possible about candy while you indulge in sweet treats from authentic recipes straight from another era.

The Then, Later, and Now Collection traces how things like gum and licorice have evolved over time. Take a trip back to the origins of candy with Time Capsule confections, a collection crafted specially to introduce kids to what was first considered to be candy. Mega bonus: If you’ve ever read or watched “The Chronicles of Narnia” and yearned to try Turkish delight, now’s your chance!

John Brown Wax Museum

5. John Brown Wax Museum

If you have a penchant for history, head to the John Brown Wax Museum to learn about John Brown, an abolitionist who hatched a plan to arm and free slaves. In October 1859, Brown gathered up close to 20 men and headed to what was Virginia (and is now Harpers Ferry) to take over key points in an attempt to entice and enable African Americans to join the anti-slavery movement. The life-size wax figures— along with animations that really bring the scenario to life— is something any history buff will approve of.

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This post was last updated on March 1, 2022