If you’re in town to visit Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, you’ll definitely want to allow additional time to spend in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
You’ll find a charming historic downtown with incredible food and plenty of outdoor adventure nearby.
Shepherdstown is West Virginia’s oldest town with the first settlement dating back to 1730, pre Revolutionary War.
I’m sharing more about the unique things to do in Shepherdstown and why it’s a great place to visit.
My friend Beth joined me for a girlfriend getaway to explore the Shepherdstown area for the first time.
Thanks again to Visit Jefferson County Convention & Visitors Bureau for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own and this article may contain affiliates.
Where is Shepherdstown, West Virginia?
Shepherdstown is located in the lower Shenandoah Valley along the Potomac River in Jefferson County.
The quaint town was originally named Mecklenburg when it was established in 1762 but later changed to Shepherdstown to honor founder Thomas Shepherd.
Follow the Town Run Through Historic Downtown Shepherdstown
The Town Run was one of my favorite discoveries during our visit because it was something that we stumbled upon while walking around downtown after dinner.
There are more than 6 natural springs that feed Town Run before it enters into the Potomac River in the south end of town.
The total length of the Town Run is over 3 miles and what’s fascinating is that it never floods and doesn’t run dry.
Our favorite part was discovering the interesting ways that the water flowed and weaved under houses, in backyards, across alleys and beneath streets in downtown Shepherdstown.
Once we knew to look for the Town Run it was fun to discover where is would pop up next during our time wandering the streets.
Town Run is also an alternative source of portable water for the community.
Visit the Rumsey Monument
206 N Mill St, Shepherdstown, WV
The large 75 ft tall granite column was completed in 1915 and is dedicated to James Rumsey, who is known as the Potomac’s pioneer of steam navigation.
The monument has a nice vantage point of the Potomac River and the surrounding area.
James was made chief engineer of Patowmack Navigation Company by George Washington to help promote navigation in the Upper Potomac area.
He built a boat with a steam powered engine while living in Shepherdstown in 1785. James successfully traveled against the current with his steamboat on the Potomac River at Shepherdstown on December 3, 1787.
Unfortunately James passed away suddenly while trying to raise more money with investors for his steamboat project and others have been given credit as the “first.”
The city of Shepherdstown hasn’t forgotten him with several historic markers in the city along with the James Ramsey Bridge that’s also named in his honor near the Bavarian Inn.
Wander Through O’Hurley’s General Store
205 E Washington St, Shepherdstown, WV
This General Store has a little bit of everything including glassware, cookware, decor, dry goods, candles and more.
You’ll find an assortment of items to purchase with the exception of the resident cat, Murphy.
I found really cool metal candle holders and my friend found some small beautiful woven rugs that thankfully still fit in her suitcase for our flight home.
Owner Jay Hurley was actually born upstairs and parts of the building are over 120 years old.
The beautiful Great Hall attached to the General Store was also designed and built by Jay who is also a welder. The space has also been a popular place for local musicians to play traditional folk music in previous years.
Find Everything From Honey to Hives at Hive House Apiaries
108 S Princess St, Shepherdstown, WV
Jason Murphy is both a bee keeper and the owner of the Bee keeper supply store Hive House Apiaries.
If you have been toying around with the idea of beekeeping or if you are already have an active hive, this is THE stop for you!
Jason is generous with his beekeeping knowledge and loves to help other start hives in their communities near and far. He also currently manages 70 bee hives in the area.
This is a nice option for someone who wants the benefits of bees on their property without the responsibility of taking care of them.
If you aren’t quite ready to commit to becoming a bee keeper you can enjoy the fruits of their labor instead…technically the bees should also get some credit for their contribution too.
You’ll find an assortment of honey for sale in the shop from local bee hives in the area including the hives in the beautiful garden next to the shop.
120 N Princess St, Shepherdstown, WV
We stumbed upon “The Little House” as a happy accident while exploring downtown Shepherdstown.
This cottage would have been my dream “play house” as a kid.
The Little House is 10ft tall Dutch Colonial style child-sized house that was built between 1928-1930.
It’s fully furnished inside and even has a working fireplace and electric power in the 10 ft by 9.6 ft space. (We just peeked in the windows.)
The house is also known as the Florence Shaw Demonstration Cottage because it’s part of a play complex with a miniature dairy barn behind the house nearby.
Definitely make sure that you take some pictures of people next to and far from the little house to help show the scale of it.
Enjoy Fresh Baked Goods at Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery
100 W German Street, Shepherdstown, WV
This bakery is housed inside a 200 year old building and specializes in Old World style whole grain artisan breads in addition to pastries, gourmet coffees, sandwiches and soups.
Many of their items can be found in restaurants throughout West Virginia and Maryland. They also ship to all 50 states.
We decided to do a mix of sweet and savory for our breakfast visit starting with a spinach and feta croissant and the sausage and mozzarella croissant.
Shepherdstown Bakery is also a great place to get a specialty coffee. I really enjoyed their lavender latte.
We sampled a few bakery goods including a “Royal cookie” made with macadamia nut chocolate and coconut, a ginger molasses cookie and stollen.
The Stollen caught our eye because we had never heard of it before and of course had to try it.
What is Stollen?
Stollen is a rich German fruit and nut loaf typically served warm with butter or jam that’s very popular around the holiday season.
Picture a lighter bread version of a fruit cake. If you’re a fan of fruit cake, stollen is worth a try.
View the Seeing Eye on the Shepherdstown Public Library
100 E. German St., Shepherdstown, WV
The Shepherdstown Public Library is on the National Register of Historic Places because it’s located inside the former Market House building that was built in 1800.
It was formerly a one story market that built an additional floor prior to the Civil War in 1850 and was used for an assortment of purposes over the years.
If it’s walls could talk I’m sure that it would have a lot of stories to tell as a former local jail, butcher shop, school, town council offices and fire department.
The narrow building is uniquely positioned between two side streets where wagons could previously pass by easily.
The Shepherdstown Public Library is small but mighty, as West Virginia’s longest continuously occupied library.
Stop By the Visitor’s Center
102 S King St, Shepherdstown, WV
The library is located a few steps from the Shepherdstown Welcome Center.
The Welcome Center is a great resource if you are looking for additional things to do in the Shepherdstown area.
Try Unique Flavors of Popcorn at Mountaineer Popcorn Company
War Memorial Building, 102 E German St, Shepherdstown, WV
Mountaineer Popcorn Company is a great stop if you are looking for a snack that has plenty of sweet or savory options.
I definitely recommend trying a few samples to help narrow down your popcorn choices.
Their non-GMO popcorn kernels are exclusively grown for them at Town & Country Nursery in Kearneysville, WV.
We took home several bags including the “Loaded Baked Potato” and the “Breakfast Munch.”
Rent a Bike From Shepherdstown Pedal and Paddle
115 W German St, Shepherdstown, WV
If you want to explore more of the city I recommend renting a bike from Shepherdstown Pedal and Paddle. The bike shop is in a great location, a short ride from the C&O Canal Towpath bike trail.
They provided us with a map to help guide us to the closest entrance of the C&O Canal Towpath bike trail.
The shop also offers paddle trips that incorporate biking and kayaking or you can just kayak.
Our route started in historic downtown and traveled passed the Shepherdstown University campus.
The college is the site for the Contemporary American Theater Festival known as one of the top theater festivals in the world.
Explore the C&O Canal Towpath
The C&O Canal Towpath is 185.4 miles of trail from Georgetown in Washington DC to Cumberland, Maryland and is popular for both bike riders and walkers.
The bike path is very flat with a lot of shade thanks to the trees along the trail.
The Towpath also connects the Appalachian Trail from West Virginia to Maryland.
The most challenging part for us was the incline going back up the bike trail near the top of bridge but it’s doable… or you can just walk your bike back up.
Enjoy a Sweet Treat at Rock Hill Ice Creamery
111 W German St, Shepherdstown, WV
Rock Hill Ice Creamery is a great place to stop for homemade ice cream while you’re in town.
We treated ourselves to an ice cream after our bike ride as a sweet reward for our exercise.
They offer a variety of regular and seasonal ice cream flavors along with vegan sorbets.
Dine at a Former Gas Station at the Blue Moon Cafe
200 E High St, Shepherdstown, WV
Blue Moon Cafe resides in a building that was a former gas station.
One of the best things about this restaurant is the outdoor dining space that feels like a secret garden oasis.
I would highly recommend dining outside so that you can view and listen to the water passing by from the Town Run.
The casual menu has something for everyone including salads, sandwiches and burgers.
For appetizers we tried the crab melts and we split a sandwich because we weren’t super hungry at the time… but we still wanted to try a few menu items.
We enjoyed the Gobbler sandwich made with smoked turkey, bacon and Russian dressing, melted provolone cheese on a kaiser roll, served with chips and a pickle.
Dine in an Old Newspaper Building at the Press Room
129 W German St, Shepherdstown, WV
Press Room was one of our favorite restaurants that we dined at during our visit. This is a VERY popular place to eat, so make sure that you make reservations ahead of time.
During our meal, each menu item kept on getting better and better!
It also helped that our server guided us in the right direction for each course. She was a frequent patron before she became a passionate server there and it definitely showed.
We started with the Lemon drop martini that was just the right amount of sweet.
We shared the delicious Smoked bluefish spread as our appetizer.
For our entrees we enjoyed the grilled sea scallops with mushroom risotto and the smoked salmon pasta.
We split both of our entrees for the best of both worlds and had a hard time determining which dish was our favorite of the two.
Their lavender crème brûlée was a twist on a classic dessert and the perfect ending to a wonderful meal.
Scenic Views of the Potomac River and Power Plant at Dam No. 4
This section of the dam dates back to 1832 and had supplied the hydro-electric gravity dam since 1913.
This is a popular fishing spot and there is a good chance that you will see fisherman in the distance while you’re there. Keep your eyes out for bald eagles that have been spotted on the eagle cam in the area too.
Stay at the Bavarian Inn Resort and Brewing Company
164 Shepherd Grade Rd, Shepherdstown, WV
What’s nice about staying at the Bavarian Inn Resort and Brewing Company is that you are within steps of a restaurant and brewery without ever leaving the property.
The 11 acre European inspired boutique resort has room options that overlook the Potomac River or the Greystone Manor and grounds.
Downtown Shepherdstown and the James Rumsey Bridge are also located within walking distance of the Bavarian Inn Resort.
The Bavarian Inn is located within 10 miles of the following places:
- Antietam Civil War Battlefield
- Harpers Ferry National Park
- River Riders Adventure Park, Zip Lines and Canopy Tours
- Hollywood Casino
- Breweries and Wineries
- Cress Creek Country Club (1/2 mile away)
One of the best things about the outdoor infinity pool at the resort (open early May – end of September) is that it comes with a great view of the Potomac River.
Bavarian Brothers Brewing at the Bavarian Inn WV
You don’t have to leave the resort to enjoy a local glass of beer.
You can enjoy bites and brews in the laid back atmosphere of the brew pub and lounge at the outdoor beer garden.
If you’re not a fan of beer you’ll still find plenty of other options including wine and specialty cocktails on the menu.
Drink or Dine at The Rathskeller at the Bavarian Inn WV
The Rathskeller is located on the lower level of the building below the Potomac Room, Thursday- Saturday nights starting at 5pm.
This is a great option if you want a more intimate and casual dining experience with similar fare as the main dining room.
Breakfast at the Bavarian Inn Resort
The dining room is also open daily for gourmet breakfasts. During the summer enjoy outside dining on the patio and terrace.
For breakfast we enjoyed the Chesapeake Benedict and Nova Scotia salmon. I love any excuse to have crab incorporated into my breakfast.
164 Shepherd Grade Road, Shepherdstown, WV
The Potomac Room at the Bavarian Inn features a fine dining experience offering both German and American fare.
We decided to split two different entree so that we could taste two menu items for the best of both worlds.
I ordered the Schweineschulter. It was made with slow roasted pork shoulder, caraway potato, cream sauce, buttered Romanesco and Pearl onions. (Pictured above)
My friend ordered the Bavarian Inn Crab Cakes made with lumped crab, whipped potato, asparagus and Hollandaise. We were both really glad that we once again split our meals because both entrees were uniquely different and delicious.
For dessert we split the Apple Strudel served with ice cream and whip cream, it was the perfect ending to a great meal.
Worth the Drive
If you want to explore beyond Shepherdstown, here is another stop that’s worth the drive.
Enjoy a Tasting at Devils Due Distillery
315 James Burr Blvd, Kearneysville, WV
At Devil’s Due Distillery you can sample seasonal flavored moonshine and whiskey.
The tastings are free and you can purchase at tasting glass for an additional fee.
Looking for more things to do in the area?
Check out my article on Harpers Ferry with outdoor adventures, hidden gems and great restaurants to visit.