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With a population that hovers right around 300 and a timeless downtown that looks like an illustration torn from a book about the Civil War, Harpers Ferry is one of the United States' most historic towns. The site of a former armory, John Brown staged his armed slave revolt here and the town played a role in the unfolding of the Civil War. Hikers flock to Harpers Ferry to stroll the Appalachian Trail, which charts a course through town, coming within steps of the site where Lewis and Clark made the first stop on their cross-country trip. Virginia may be for lovers, but Harpers Ferry isn't just for history buffs—from whitewater rafting to thrilling ghost tours—you'll find it here, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.
Harpers Ferry is an excellent place for a family getaway. Take the little ones along and try these popular family friendly experiences together:
Trail-weary hikers and avid sightseers are delighted to discover that it takes a mere 25 minutes to walk from one end of Harpers Ferry to another. Travelers who want to indulge in the city's modern-day charms stroll the red-brick sidewalks on High Street, while those who long to see history come alive head to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
Brightly colored federal structures line the drive on High Street in the heart of small-town Harpers Ferry. Contemporary restaurants offer everything from piled-high sub sandwiches and lip-smacking burgers, while a smattering of gift shops, outdoor outfitters, and educational sites like the John Brown Wax Museum round out the scene.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Traveling back in time has never been easier than in the lower portion of Harpers Ferry, which functions as an open-air museum, cluing in visitors to what life was like in United States during the 19th century. A stroll past the restored brick buildings in the historical park reveals the role the town played in the events of the Civil War.
From sightseeing destinations to outdoor festivals, there are endless things to see in Harpers Ferry. Begin by traveling to the spot where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia converge at The Point. Early risers can catch the sunrise during their stay, and active explorers can meander through the park’s wooded regions for a look at the foothills that played an influential role in the Battle of Harpers Ferry during the Civil War. Before the day is through, pay a visit to John Brown's Fort, where the abolitionist and his followers took shelter in the final hours of the 1859 armory raid. Looking to take in a performance? Harpers Ferry National Historical Park hosts living history weekends, and a quick check on the park service website can confirm admission prices and availability.
There are a bevy of things to do in Harpers Ferry. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or you simply want to drink in the history of the region, a trek through the forest is the perfect way to launch your Harpers Ferry adventures. Begin by clambering up to Jefferson Rock, where Thomas Jefferson admired the convergence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in 1783. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is also based in town and can offer suggestions for how to chart your way through the woods. Those with whitewater in mind can arrange a rafting expedition on the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers by contacting River Riders, an outfitter who hosts everything from zipline canopy tours to team building on their aerial adventure park. Finally, you don't have to limit your travels to the town of Harpers Ferry. Consider enrolling in a winetasting tour to sample some of the award-winning varietals in the region.
Have a go at a couple of these inviting indoor activities and turn a dull, rainy day into something unforgettable:
The only thing more thrilling than a free attraction is two of them, such as Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters and Appalachian Trail Conference Headquarters.