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City of Shepardstown

One of the first things that visitors think when they reach picture-perfect Shepherdstown is, “How can a town this close to two major cities feel so far away from it all?” It’s hard to believe that this quaint little town in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia is really less than an 80-mile drive to Baltimore or Washington, DC. This hidden gem is just the remedy for time-deprived urbanites frustrated by endless traffic and the rushed lifestyle of many of today’s cities.

Outdoor Activities

But it’s not only traffic-less streets that draw visitors to Shepherdstown; it’s also the town’s storied past and unique shops that bring in people eager for a break from the rat-race. On the banks of the Potomac River, this town (once called Mecklenburg) became a hub for many professions that needed the river to ship goods and run their mills. Now, the Potomac and nearby Shenandoah River are perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and even whitewater rafting. The rapids – ranging from Class I to Class III – are wild enough to be exciting, but mild enough for the whole family to enjoy. Many rafters are even treated to bald eagle sightings while paddling down the Potomac River. Historical River Tours offers a fun and educational way to learn about the area’s Civil War past while negotiating the rapids in a family-oriented rafting trip.


Rafters may even hear the story about when George Washington needed troops to help defend Boston and the boys from Mecklenburg marched over 600 miles in 24 days in the famous “Beeline March to Cambridge.” Shortly after the American Revolution, James Rumsey, once a resident of Bath (Berkeley Springs) and Shepherdstown, invented the steamboat and tested it on the Potomac River beside present-day Shepherdstown. A monument to his achievement stands beside the river and there have been numerous groups that have tried to re-create his famed steamships.

During the Civil War, Shepherdstown (then being called Shepherd’s Town) was overrun by close to 8,000 wounded soldiers from the Battle of Antietam. Over 285 Confederate soldiers are buried in Shepherdstown and there is now a walking tour for those interested in the aftermath of the horrible fight at Antietam Creek.

A Night at the Movies

Following a stroll on the walking tour, visitors can enjoy catching a movie at the Shepherdstown Opera House. This movie theater was built in 1909 and was one of the first theaters in the nation. After being renovated in 1992, this theater now plays modern movies while still keeping its turn-of-the-century charm.


After the movie, stop by Shaharazade’s Exotic Tea Room and try one of 40 different teas from around the world. Shaharazade’s also offers fruit salads, grilled sandwiches, and many other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. Or if you’re in the mood for more substantial fare, head off to the Yellow Brick Bank, an upscale restaurant specializing in northern Italian and American cuisine. Diners love their beef and chicken and many recommend the corn chowder.


Following the delicious meal, remember that Shepherdstown’s many hotels offer the perfect place to lie down and rest. The Bavarian Inn blends fine dining, elegant rooms, verdant golf greens, and a hint of Old World Germany to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Oenophiles will be pleased to know that the Bavarian Inn has a selection of over 600 wines from around the world. Lodgers may play a round of golf at nearby Cress Creek Golf Club then cool down with a dip in the pool.

If today’s fast-paced world gets to be too much, visit the Thomas Shepherd Inn and stay in one of its lushly decorated rooms. This is truly an inn devoted to a simpler way of life and none of its six guest rooms have televisions in them. However, guests may choose to stay connected by the inn’s wireless network or the one television in the lounge. Complete with a delicious breakfast in the morning, this bed and breakfast makes returning home almost impossible.

But quaint inns, charming B & B’s, and beautiful sights are only a few reasons to visit this small town gem though. Numerous local shops dot the landscape and offer everything from baby clothing to fresh fruit and vegetables. So remember, when life on the Beltway gets to be too hectic and stressful, you only have to drive 80 miles to feel worlds away.

For more information, visit the Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau or the Shepherdstown Visitors Center.

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