In friendly Shepherdstown, West Virginia, you’ll feel right at home.
Shepherdstown is about 80 miles from Arlington. From the Capital Beltway, take I-270 North toward Frederick. In 28 miles, merge onto I-70 West, drive 1.3 miles and merge onto U.S. 340 West toward Harper’s Ferry. After 21 miles, turn right on WV-230, Shepherdstown Pike, and continue 10 miles into town.
WHERE TO STAY
Thomas Shepherd Inn Bed and Breakfast, 300 West German St., 304-876-3715 or 888-889-8952. This comfortable 1868 house is located downtown, within walking distance of all the shops and restaurants. Many of the generously sized rooms have sitting areas. Fans of claw-foot bathtubs should book Room No. 6. Rates: $170-$205; includes full breakfast, afternoon snacks, WiFi and access to the living room, guest library and porch with rocking chairs.
Bavarian Inn, 164 Shepherd Grade Road, 304-876-2551. Although a little corner of Germany might be the last thing you’d expect to find in West Virginia, wait a moment before you cue the oompah music. More elegant than kitschy, the Bavarian Inn is perhaps best known for fine dining, with an emphasis on German specialties like spaetzle and wild game. Many of the inn’s rooms are equipped with antiques, gas fireplaces and balconies with a lovely view of the Potomac. Rates: $99-$349.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Blue Moon Café, 200 East High St., 304-876-1920. Open daily for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Relaxed and friendly, this classic college town eatery offers a large menu of salads and sandwiches, plus comfort foods such as pizza, Mexican dishes and meatloaf. A good selection of microbrews populate the beer list. When weather permits, ask for a table in the garden. Entrées $8 to $15.
Yellow Brick Bank, 201 East German St., 304-876-2208. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (lunch is served until 4 p.m.). Housed in a 1906 Beaux Arts bank (the old bank vault now holds a wine cellar), this is the restaurant where Nancy Reagan used to lunch with George Will. Lunch is served in an informal seating area near the bar, with dinner in the main dining room. The menu emphasizes seafood and steaks, with some vegetarian options. Lunch entrées $9 to $17; dinner, $20 to $31.
Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery, 100 West German St., 304-876-2432. Open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Serving pastries for breakfast and soups and sandwiches for lunch, this bakery really shines at providing customers with an afternoon sugar rush, with a wide range of cake slices, cupcakes, doughnuts, éclairs and fancy cookies, as well as a coffee bar.
Lost Dog Coffee, 134 East German St., 304-876-0871. Open Monday-Friday, 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 7:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. This independent coffee shop serves up an offbeat attitude and dozens of whole-bean coffees and loose teas. According to its website, “we fix bike tires and help little old ladies across the street.”
Mecklenburg Inn, 128 East German St., 304-876-2126. Hours vary. The beer garden is a highlight at this pub that dates to 1793, in which ornate, tin-covered walls and a woodstove are reminders of its long history. Brave souls can take a seat on one of the tree swings out back. It hosts frequent open-mic nights and live music.
WHERE TO SHOP
Dickinson & Wait Craft Gallery, 121 East German St., 304-876-0657. Open daily, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Roughly 20 percent of the American crafts here come from the Appalachian region. The stock ranges from the small and portable (art cards and jewelry) to the truly hefty (handcrafted furniture). Recent treasures include a fetching tape measure housed in blue maple wood and a lamp made from river stones.
D’Accord Boutique, 134 West German St., 304-876-8003. Open weekdays and Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. If you can’t jet to Paris to shop for housewares, this shop is the next best thing. French linens, pottery and glassware are interspersed with dozens of small treasures, from Eiffel Tower key chains to caramels from Brittany.
Four Seasons Books, 116 West German St., 304-876-3486;. Open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m. An independent bookstore with new and used books, operating under the motto “matching people and books since 1991.”
German St. Coffee & Candlery, 103 West German St., 304-876-1106. Open most weekdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed Tuesday); Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. If you’re packing a picnic, stop here for a wide selection of local cheeses, wines, snacks, dips and chocolate. True to its name, the shop also sells whole-bean coffees, candles and candle chandeliers, and other gifts, such as bath products and kitchen towels.
Pedal & Paddle, 115 West German St., 304-876-3000. Open Monday-Friday, noon-7 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., April–December (shorter hours in winter months). The rental fleet here includes mountain and road bikes, kids’ bikes, kayaks and canoes. The shop also provides shuttle service to the Potomac River and hosts group bike rides every weekend.
O’Hurley’s General Store, 205 East Washington St., 304-876-6907. Open daily, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Stop by to pet Milo the cat, warm up by the fireplace, add a piece to the half-finished jigsaw puzzle, or attend the weekly heritage music jam sessions on Thursday nights from 7:30-11 p.m. You’ll also find an unusual collection of hardware, housewares, local products and assorted things you never knew you always needed.
WORTH CHECKING OUT
Shepherdstown Visitors Center, 129 East German St., 304-876-2786. Open daily, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. There’s a lot going on in Shepherdstown, so be sure to check the online calendar of events before you visit. During the summer, when town parking is tight, you might want to print out the parking map at www.shepherdstown.us/?page_id=4832.
Historic Shepherdstown Museum, 129 East German St., 304-876-0910. Open April-October: Saturdays, 11 a.m-5 p.m.; Sundays, 1-4 p.m. Call to arrange a private tour during the off-season.
C&O Canal: To reach this level hiking and biking path about a mile from town, follow North Duke Street across the Potomac River. There are parking lots just over the bridge.
Contemporary American Theater Festival, 304-876-3473. This highly regarded festival showcases five or more new American plays, along with workshops, lectures and discussions. Single tickets $30-$59; special rates for students, seniors and military. Multiple-show passes also available.
Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival, 304-725-2055. The festival features some 200 juried artisans, along with area wines and bluegrass music. Advance tickets: $5 for adults; $2 for children.
Freelance writer and photographer Laurie McClellan was so smitten with Shepherdstown that she checked its real estate listings as soon as she got home.