More than 150 years after it was made famous by abolitionist John Brown’s short-lived raid on the federal arsenal and capture, Harpers Ferry remains an essential destination for travelers, history buffs and nature lovers alike. Nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains — at the crux of the Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia borders — Harpers Ferry provides a small town experience like no other. 

Destination: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Travel Time: 70-90 minutes

Travel Options: Car, train

Despite being quite far from any major city, Harpers Ferry is public transit accessible. Commuters can take the 22 minute MARC train into Washington, D.C., and then take a 90 minute route from Union Station to Harpers Ferry on a different MARC line. The trip by train may take longer because of connection availability at Union Station. Taking a personal vehicle is a speedier — and likely easier — means of transportation.  

9:00 a.m. – Breakfast

You’ll need to fuel up before you begin to take on Harpers Ferry. Luckily, the Country Cafe & General Store is built for just that purpose. Open Wednesday through Sunday, this cafe serves up a selection of classic rustic breakfast dishes at an affordable price — including a breakfast sandwich for less than $4. If you prefer to stay away from meat and gravy, Kelley Farm Kitchen offers a wide variety of vegan dishes perfect for any palate. For those visiting on a Monday or Tuesday, Battle Grounds Bakery & Coffee will be one of the few breakfast establishments open in the early days of the week.

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10:00 a.m. – Hike

Located at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, Harpers Ferry is situated within an extensive network of protected natural attractions. The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park envelops the town and is accessible with an entrance pass, which costs $10 a person or $20 for a private vehicle.

The park offers opportunities for hiking, biking, rafting and ziplining, providing the weather holds up on your visit. Various local companies sell river-based experiences, allowing guests to experience Harpers Ferry’s waterways at a variety of intensities, from paddleboarding to white water kayaking. 

For those looking to experience the Appalachian forests from a new angle, Harpers Ferry hosts many ziplining courses that carry thrill-seekers through the thick canopies and over the region’s rivers and streams. 

The park also provides 22 miles of paths to explore — including a section of the Appalachian Trail. Visitors can find historic monuments along their travels, such as John Brown’s Fort, and the museum dedicated to his raid. There are other Civil War remnants to be found along the way, including 19th century buildings and war relics.

2:00 p.m. – Lunch

After you return from your excursions, you’ll likely be searching for lunch. Look no further than Cannonball Deli, a classic, fast-casual American eatery that serves some of the best subs in town. The menu may be simple, but the restaurant’s quality — and proximity to the town’s visitor attractions — make it the perfect place for a post-hike bite. 

3:00 p.m. – Museums and tours

In a town as old as Harpers Ferry, there is no shortage of ways to engage with its rich history. A concentration of museums populate the city’s Lower Town sector, each documenting a different niche in the town’s past. The Civil Rights Museum and Black Voices Museum shed light on the important history of Harpers Ferry’s Black residents, while the Wetland Museum delves into the diverse ecology of the region. The Harper Museum showcases the home of the town’s founder, which also happens to be the oldest surviving structure in Lower Town, dating back to 1782. If you’re looking for something more supernatural, stick around town till after dark and partake in the Ghost Tour of Harpers Ferry. Tours start at 8 p.m., and tickets cost $18 per person.

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6:30 p.m. – Dinner

As your day in Harpers Ferry comes to an end, make sure to stick around for one last meal. For a truly savory experience, be sure to stop by The Rabbit Hole GastroPub — a multi-tiered restaurant that overlooks some of the area’s best views.

The menu combines rural favorites with chef-driven specialties, including crab cake and classic Appalachia barbecue sandwiches. Pair those mains with a variety of craft beers — both local and international — or opt for a small batch craft soda. There is no better place to catch a mountaintop sunset while enjoying top-of-the-line cuisine.

Harpers Ferry may be best known for its Civil War history, but there is far more to uncover within its paths and valleys. From river wading to high-flying adventures, Harpers Ferry is sure to have something for everyone.