Before my recent weekend getaway to Berkeley Springs, it had been 25 years since my last overnight visit. I remember that long-ago trip like it was yesterday: it was just a few months after my second child’s birth and for a blessed 48 hours I stole away to The Country Inn where I indulged in a massage, a manicure, and mommy-only room-service.
Thankfully, so much of what I loved about Berkeley Springs has not changed — or has changed for the better. Let’s start with self-care options, which after all, is what history suggests was the focus of George Washington and other noted figures who helped establish the Town of Bath (Berkeley Springs’ actual name) in the 1700s. The Country Inn and adjoining Renaissance Spa still welcome guests and spa-goers under the care of local owners the Omps family — who recently also purchased and are restoring Coolfont Resort just down the road.
At the heart of town, warm mineral waters continue to flow from sandstone formations at a constant rate of approximately 1000 gallons per minute — a fact I learned while attending (and helping to judge) this year’s Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting contest. The most authentic place to “take the waters” is at the refurbished and sparkling clean bath houses of Berkeley Springs State Park which offer private walk-in tubs and optional massage treatments. In the summer people splash and swim in the springs that run through the park and the public swimming pool. Don’t forget (like I did) to bring a jug to take home a free souvenir: mineral water from public taps located in the park.
Berkeley Springs’ arts and culture vibe is as strong as ever. During this recent trip, we stopped by the always-cool MAC Ice House art gallery and visited Mountain Laurel Artisans. And while we did not have time to see a movie at the historic Star Theater, we did stop by to chat with friendly new owners, Paul and Trey Johanson.
Where to eat? We checked out some new (to us) establishments and recommend Lot 21 Public House for upscale dining with a wide variety of choices and Ravenwood Pub for a casual and unique experience (the talented owner/chef/waitress/ will strum her guitar and sing to you in this tiny bistro).
Lodging options are plentiful. In addition to the larger hotels, try brand-new bed & breakfast Mendenhall 1884 Inn or one of the many cottages and cabins available to rent through services like Berkeley Springs Cottage Rentals.
My time away in Berkeley Springs passed too quickly and I left with a list of things to do the next time we visit — which will be soon.
A Little Time Away: A Travel Blog Based in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. Content Premieres Exclusively in The WV Independent Observer.
Do you live or work in or near the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia – the counties of Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan? Are you visiting this beautiful region? Yes? Then you are a short drive from a huge and diverse number of things to do!
Whether you have just one afternoon or two full days, we have you covered with ideas and resources for quick trips away from the day-to-day. History, nature, art, food/drink, and more – our region has it all and we will share our explorations and observations with you.Harriet Pearson