Martinsburg, WV lies at the far northern end of the Shenandoah Valley, less than two hours northwest of the nation’s capital. Like many small towns in the Valley, it has a big place in history.
“Martinsburg is a great area for history lovers,” said Samantha Cronk of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB, “including the home of female Southern spy Belle Boyd and the Martinsburg Roundhouse, which was actually burned down – and later rebuilt – by Stonewall Jackson during the war.
“While the area is rich in Civil War history,” Cronk continued, “its historical significance spans further back. General Adam Stephen, credited with being the founder of Martinsburg, was a general from the French and Indian War and also served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War. His house, known as the General Adam Stephen House, has been renovated into a living history museum, looking like it would have during Adam Stephen’s residency there. While it is only open to tours during May-November, it does host an annual holiday celebration every December.”
Under “Things to Do,” even at this time of year, outdoor pursuits are many in the region. Berkeley County is home to a number of popular hiking spots, such as the Tuscarora Trail, a 250-mile long spur trail of the Appalachian Trail; Beacon Trail, which offers a short walk to a fire tower that allows hikers a view for miles; and Devil’s Nose, one of the most beautiful short hikes offered in the county that includes a cascading little waterfall and takes hikers to a scenic overview. In addition to local paths, some trails connect to large hikes like the Great Eastern Trail. Hunting at Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area is very popular as well.
We put a few questions to Samantha to get updated on what else is happening in this scenic Valley destination.
SVTA: What is the single most important thing you want tourists to know about Martinsburg-Berkeley County in the winter months?
Samantha: “Life doesn’t stop when the snow starts! Winter is a great time to explore the culinary side of Berkeley County; our locally owned restaurants range from fine dining to greasy spoons and everything in between. Some local favorites include Brix 27, Kitzie’s, Restaurant and Lounge, Mother Shuckers and TwisteDough food truck.”
SVTA: Have any new businesses of interest to tourists opened recently?
Samantha: “The Historic McFarland House opened a fine dining restaurant in addition to its use as a private event/wedding venue. The new Chef William Walden is French trained, and the restaurant updates its menu seasonally as well as hosting multiple special events and Sunday brunch. It provides a great place for a special dining experience beyond the casual.
“While they haven’t opened yet, there are several upcoming new businesses that will add to Berkeley County’s flair and accessibility, including a hotel and escape room.”
SVTA: What surprises visitors most about the area?
Samantha: “Visitors are always happily surprised to find out how much there is to do in Berkeley County and its proximity to other attractions. When guests stay in Berkeley County, they not only have access to our great culture and events but a four-state area. From Berkeley County, Virginia is 25 minutes away for quick access to attractions like wineries. Maryland is also 20 minutes away with great hubs like Hagerstown and Frederick, which is about 40 minutes. From Martinsburg it’s about 25 minutes to Harpers Ferry National Park, 30 to Antietam and less than 1.5 hours to Gettysburg for Civil Way history buffs.
“By making Berkeley County a home base, guests can have an infinite amount to do that is all accessible as a day trip in addition to Berkeley County’s own attractions, events and history.”
SVTA: What do you feel is the most important/popular attraction in the area?
Samantha: “One of the most popular attractions to the area is geocaching. Geocaching is like a modern-day treasure hunt where participants use their smart devices to track coordinates to find “caches.” A cache is anything big enough to hold a logbook. It can look like a birdhouse, a Tupperware container or a false rock. A cacher’s goal is to find the log book and sign their name to it to prove they found it as well as log their find on geocaching.com, which is the website where participants create an account on, find the coordinates and log their finds.
“Berkeley County is world-ranked for its caches, in partnership with cache creator Tim Eggleston or “WVTim” in the geocaching community. Tim’s caches are considered premium caches and they draw hundreds of visitors every year, including international visitors, to come and cache in Berkeley County.
SVTA: Are there performing arts going on at this time of year?
Samantha: “Samantha: “The historic Apollo Civic Theatre in the heart of downtown Martinsburg will be showcasing local talent in a production of “Miracle on 34th Street” December 6, 7, 13, and 14 at 8 p.m. and December 8 and 15 at 2:30 p.m.”
SVTA: What sort of holiday celebrations are planned?
Samantha: “A full listing of events for the holidays and year-round can be found at www.travelwv.com. A few coming include:”
Christmas Parade in Downtown Martinsburg, Tuesday, December 3, 7-9 PM — The parade winds throughout downtown, with the best place to gather along Queen Street between King and Martin streets.
Colonial Christmas at the Adam Stephen House — The past comes to life during this event as volunteers act out different scenes of what life would have been like during Christmas in the 1700s. The event is December 7, 8, 14 and 15 from 4-8 p.m.
South Berkeley Christmas Parade, Sunday, December 8, 2:30 p.m. — A 5K race precedes a holiday parade in Inwood.
Berkeley Community Chorus Christmas Concert Saturday, December 14, 7:30-9 — The Berkeley Community Chorus will singe its 8th annual holiday concert at St. Leo Catholic Church in Inwood. Tickets will be sold at the door for $10 adult, $8 senior and children 12 and -This family-friendly event is held in downtown Martinsburg, with activities, music and seasonal treats like apple cider, doughnuts and free apples leading up to the big apple drop at 6 p.m.
Learn more about the region by contacting the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 126 E. Race Street, Martinsburg, WV 25401. Phone: 304-264-8801.
Banner Photo: Historic Martinsburg Roundhouse courtesy Martinsburg-Berkeley Co. CVB