Shepherdstown is a small town, yet it possesses a vivacity and energy more typical of a larger city. It was officially incorporated in 1762 under the name Mecklenburg and has plenty of historical pre-Revolutionary architecture. The town has more to offer visitors than just its historical features. Shop for handicrafts in local shops, attend arts-oriented festivals and hike the trails at nearby state parks.
Before you delve into the student-driven arts scene, familiarize yourself with the town’s more than 250 years of history. Wander around the Shepherdstown National Historic Districtand identify the different architectural styles. Find Grand Greek-Revival buildings as well as Federal and Victorian constructions around town. Pick up a map of historic homes at the Shepherdstown Visitors Center to help you navigate. The Historic Shepherdstown Museum, housed in an 18th-century hotel, is open from early April to late October and is devoted to local history.
The presence of students in the small town adds to its youthful atmosphere. Mingle with students at the Shepherd University campus near the banks of the Potomac River. Spend evenings in the busy bars where students congregate for nights out. Consider booking tickets for a show at the historic Shepherdstown Opera House, which screens films and eclectic live events.
Find cafés, restaurants and interesting shops selling antiques as well as handcrafted goods on the main thoroughfare, German Street. Walk or bike in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, running along the northern bank of the Potomac River and stretching all the way to Washington D.C.
The town has a busy events schedule, with several well-known festivals throughout the year. Arrange your trip to coincide with the renowned summertime Contemporary American Theater Festival. Film buffs may want to catch the Cut to the Chase Film Festival in September or the American Conservation Film Festival later in the fall.
Shepherdstown is about a 90-minute drive from Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Discover the arts and festival scene that has Washington weekenders enamored.