You Can Take a Drive and a Dip Along This Historic Loop

Just a short drive outside of the Washington and Baltimore metro areas, this loop through West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle is both a relaxing and enlightening weekend getaway. Here you’ll find everything from deluxe spas and award-winning dining, to remarkable American history and unforgettable accommodations—all set against the beautiful, lush backdrop of the Potomac River.

Historic Berkeley Springs

A luxurious and art-filled place, Berkeley Springs is less than two hours away from Baltimore. Known primarily for its relaxing spas and mineral hot springs, this charming little town was originally established as a public bath and frequented by presidents, politicians and celebrities. The town continues to receive recognition to this day and has been featured by Southern Living as one of the best natural hot springs in the south for a good soak. Inside Berkeley Springs State Park, you can actually visit the open-air bathtub that George Washington regularly used. In addition to the state park, be sure to experience some of Berkeley Spring’s award-winning dining, including an unforgettable meal at Lot 12 Public House featuring West Virginia’s only James Beard rated chef.

Bavarian Inn

Overlooking the Potomac River, right next to the Maryland border, sits the Bavarian Inn. Resembling a French chalet with its wide porches and floor-to-ceiling windows, a stay at the Bavarian Inn will make you feel like you’ve been transported to a European mountain town. All of the rooms feature elegant furnishings and modern amenities. You’ll also find an infinity pool, an outdoor bar, multiple gardens and the hotel’s own brewery.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Full of history, nature and adventure, there’s truly something for everyone at Harpers Ferry. Located at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park has become a popular place to hike, rock climb and learn about the incredible history that took place there. Hike up to Maryland Heights for some incredible views of the rivers, or take a guided tour of Bolivar Heights—one of the most important Civil War battlefields in all of West Virginia. Regardless of what you choose to do, you’ll undoubtedly be met with both fresh air and a fresh perspective.

River Riders Family Adventure Resort

If you want to get a true taste for the Potomac Highlands, try flying over it or rafting through it. At River Riders Family Adventure Resort you can do exactly that. This white water guide service not only offers rafting, kayaking and paddle boarding, but also tubing, ropes courses and a brand new 1,000-foot long zipline that flies you over the Potomac River. With so many different activities, it’s nearly impossible to fit everything into one day. For overnight visits, River Riders has both tent and RV campsites, as well as cabins and large vacation homes for rent. River Riders is the ideal place for your next family outdoor adventure.

Downtown Charles Town Historic District

History lovers and explorers won’t want to miss a visit to Charles Town. Located in the heart of Jefferson County, the Downtown Charles Town Historic District still looks much like it did when George Washington and his brother Charles first developed it back in the early 1800s. American flags, cobblestones and large, brick Colonial buildings line the streets, making you feel as if you’ve gone back in time. Some notable places to visit are the Jefferson County Courthouse and the New Opera House—beautiful, classic buildings that have both made it onto the National Register of Historic Places.

Orr’s Farm Market

Part farm, part grocery store and part event space, it’s hard to describe the magic that is Orr’s Farm Market. Family-owned since the 1930s, most people come to Orr’s for the incredible hospitality and delicious, fresh produce. Depending on the season, visitors can walk the orchards and gardens and pick their own cherries, blackberries, strawberries and pumpkins. Orr’s also hosts a daily farmers market with baked goods and handmade crafts from a variety of local vendors. Once you’ve collected your crops, don’t forget to stop by the gift shop or pay a visit to the farm animals in the Barnyard.

Photo by Alexandra Charitan

Farnham Fantasy Farm

Often described as ‘West Virginia’s Only Amusement Park,’ you won’t find anything like Farnham Fantasy Farm anywhere else in the state (or possibly anywhere else in the world). Located down a long gravel driveway, scattered across acres and acres of grass, is a collection of massive fiberglass statues known as the Fantasy Farm. Owned by resident art collector George Farnham, this eclectic display includes statues of everything from the Simpsons family on a rollercoaster to a 1,000-pound Santa Claus to a life-sized great white shark. All of the statues are located on Farnham’s own private property, and visitors are encouraged to stop by and take pictures whenever they like.

Capon Springs and Farm

Capon Springs and Farm is truly a place of healing and restoration and has also been recognized by Southern Living for being one of the best natural hot springs in the south. This all-inclusive resort was originally a popular destination for doctors and patients to take advantage of the “healing powers of the waters”. Those same waters still flow throughout the resort today, and are used across the property in places like the gardens, drinking fountains, outdoor pool and spa. Guests at Capon Springs and Farm can stay in a number of different rooms, ranging from extra large suites to adorable, quaint cottages. And while the relaxing spa and calming waters are the most popular attractions, the resort does offer plenty of invigorating activities, including hiking, swimming, golf, tennis and fishing.

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This post was last updated on March 6, 2023