Known primarily for the warm mineral waters of its natural springs, Berkeley Springs, in the hills of northeastern West Virginia, has drawn travelers for centuries. Among these was George Washington, and a rough-hewn stone bath in the center of town is marked as his preferred bathing spot. The outdoor spring water that attracted Washington and many others can be experienced in the historic streams and pools of Berkeley Springs State Park, or there are a number of more modern spas which channel the same water.
Plenty of other activities have grown up around the spas. There are opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as hiking and golf, as well as a range of cultural and historic sites. Over recent decades, the town has picked up something of a bohemian vibe, with a number of artists settling there.
Berkeley Springs is easily accessible by car, only a two hour drive from Baltimore and Washington D.C. The nearest airports are Baltimore/Washington International (BWI), Reagan National Airport (DCA) and Washington Dulles (IAD), all a similar distance away.
Whether or not it is the site of the America’s first spa, the Berkeley Springs State Park certainly has a long history, both with American settlers and Native American traditions. The latter used the springs for their healing properties, while a 16-year-old surveyor named George Washington made his first of many trips to the spa in the 1740s. Today the warm mineral waters remain open to the public, and a bathhouse offers various treatments using the springwater.
Play a round on this rolling golf course in the foothills of the Capacon Mountains. It’s a creatively designed course, with hazards including 73 sand bunkers, three ponds and numerous small streams, as well as a double green over 100 yards wide. But it’s also fairly inexpensive and offers good beginner lessons.
The Star Theatre is a small cinema in Berkeley Springs, with only three screenings weekly – Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. It’s been open since 1977 and, somehow, has managed to keep its prices incredibly low. It also hosts other community events through the week. Dropping in during a stay in the town is a great way to tune into the town’s local bohemian vibes, with Sunday being the "in-crowd" night.
Tari’s green facade and warmly glowing windows are one of the most recognizable sights on Berkeley Spring’s culinary scene. The cafe has two dining areas and a tavern, and each room is given a different ambience by the selection of local art that’s displayed – Tari’s doubles as an art gallery. Open for lunch and dinner, the food is great too, and while the main menu isn’t cheap there are occasional special deals that can be a great bargain.
Photo via their official FB page.
Ambrae House is a quaint, family run bed and breakfast in the center of Berkeley Springs, only a few minutes’ walk from the town’s springs and other attractions. It consists of three guest suites, a private sitting area, a restaurant and a wine bar. Its owners work hard to create a homey atmosphere.