Road Trips from Washington D.C.: Eastern Panhandle

The Eastern Panhandle Region is home to approximately 6% of the state’s population. One of two panhandles in the state of West Virginia, this region borders the states of Maryland and Virginia. Complete with a relaxed atmosphere and small-town charm, the Eastern Panhandle is the perfect place for anyone with a love for scenic, laid-back appeal and top-notch southern hospitality to enjoy.

Day 1

Visit Shepherdstown, West Virginia’s oldest town, and bask in the beauty of a place nestled right along the banks of the Potomac River. With a vibrant nightlife atmosphere, award-winning restaurants, local art and music, and theatrical performances, Shepherdstown is sure to have something for everyone to appreciate.

Overlooking the Potomac River, The Bavarian Inn has been pampering its guests with relaxing getaway spots, gourmet meals, and the finest comforts for over 40 years. This 11-acre award-winning European-inspired Resort provides world-class food, timeless elegance, and unmatched service. Due to COVID-19, dining services are currently limited to 75% capacity, and reservations are required. Guests can take comfort during their visit knowing that staff is always wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and regularly sanitizing traffic-heavy areas.

Just minutes away, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is a must-see location during your visit. Harpers Ferry is historically known for being raided in 1859 by American abolitionist John Brown, who attempted to use the town as a base for a slave revolt. During the time of this raid, the state was still a part of Virginia. At the park, visitors can immerse themselves in the history and natural beauty of old buildings, scenic hiking trails and so much more. It is recommended that you take one of the free shuttles from the park’s Visitors Center down into the town, as parking options are limited.

For some creative cuisine, friendly service, and a cozy atmosphere, visit The Press Room. Considered a “true gem” by locals, this upscale restaurant (located in what was once an old newspaper building, hence the name) offers a wide variety of pasta dishes, meats and fish, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options.

Have a sweet tooth to satisfy? The Sweet Shop Bakery, located in the heart of Shepherdstown historic district in a 200-year-old building, is just the place for you. With delectable baked goods, steaming coffee, yummy wraps, warm soups, and more, this bakery is committed to making every customer leave with a full stomach and a happy heart. The bakery offers both indoor and outdoor seating and is also wheelchair accessible.

Day 2

Spend the day in Charles Town, a beautiful place surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains that is full of unique architecture, historical landmarks, and a bustling atmosphere. Founded in 1786, Charles Town got its name from the youngest brother of America’s first president, George Washington. Charles Washington is honored for donating the four corners of the George Street and Washington Street intersection to the city for public use. Home to approximately 5,700 residents, this town prides itself on its high-quality services.

Visit Cool Spring Preserve, a stunning 63-acre stretch of forest, meadow and marsh that houses 18 different species of rare plants. Open daily from dawn to dusk, this preserve is part of the Shenandoah Wet Prairie Marsh, where only 100 acres of this type of marsh are known to exist globally. The land now known as the present-day preserve was purchased by a young George Washington in 1752 and is considered to be a designated “birding hotspot” and picnic area by many.

If you’re looking to learn all about the large amount of history that shaped this small region, check out the Jefferson County Museum. Founded in 1965, this museum is dedicated to fostering a sense of love and understanding of historical events in the hearts of every visitor. Here, visitors can enjoy permanent exhibits like Early Settlement and the Washingtons, John Brown’s Raid and the Civil War, People and Industries, and Jefferson County Photos: Then and Now. Brand new exhibits are added to the galleries each winter.

Take a walk on the supernatural side as Charles Town Ghost Tours takes you through some of the most terrifying tales of 100 active spirits that are said to haunt this historic district. Each story told is a true and documented account taken from personal interviews and historical records. The company offers four distinct tours. Two daytime tours, The Charles Town History Tour and The Victorian Grave Art Tour, and two evening tours, The Traditional Haunted Walk and The Cemetery Stroll. Public tours run from mid-March to mid-December. Reservations are required for each tour, and groups will be kept small.

Stop by family-owned and operated Alfredo’s Mediterranean Grille & Steakhouse for a delicious meal. With a wide variety of traditional and modern dishes and sampling food from Spain, Greece, France, Italy, Lebanon, and Morocco, you’re sure to find something to satisfy your appetite. Arrangements can be made for anyone with special dietary needs.

Stay the night in comfort at The Inn at Charles Town Races. A former recipient of Trip Advisor’s 2018 Certificate of Excellence, this hotel offers first-class amenities, award-winning dining, 18 spacious suites and free shuttle service. Located on the grounds of Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races and a thoroughbred horse racing track, you’re only steps away from action and excitement. 

With its relaxed atmosphere and small-town ambiance, you’re free to explore the Eastern Panhandle your own way. Where’s your first stop?

This post was last updated on February 25, 2022