Ready for the holidays, this charming West Virginia town offers modernized accommodations, great food and a list of activities that make it ideal for a festive trip to celebrate with family and friends.
As travel makes a comeback, Americans yearn for accessible destinations to trade in vacations at home for vacations outside. But instead of long-haul trips to city destinations, travelers are choosing getaways close to home as the perfect travel option right now.
Enter Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, where the entire community comes together to create a magical event for locals and visitors alike. As a cherished local tradition for years, “Hometown Holidays” transforms downtown Berkeley Springs into a winter wonderland, making it the perfect place to visit this holiday season.
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Just a 90-minute drive from the Washington DC metro area, this quaint little town in the Appalachians spreads its holiday magic throughout the winter season. In November and December, residents of Berkeley Springs stroll through the downtown area decorated with festive and twinkling lights, holiday-themed counters, renovated street lanterns, and decorated Christmas trees. Toddlers stand on tiptoe to put their wish lists in the special Santa Claus mailbox run by the Bath Christmas Project volunteers. Friends gather around the “elfie” stations to take photos to capture their vacation memories. In the town’s gazebo, a crowd gathers to sing Christmas carols and hear a child read: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. This charming town looks like it came straight out of a vacation movie.
“We are a small, tight-knit community that looks out for one another,” says Lori Hansroth, executive director of the Berkeley Springs-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce and a resident of Berkeley Springs for 25 years. “The comment we hear parcel of visitors is that everyone here is friendly and welcoming.
Reconnect with loved ones with festive entertainment in a small town
No need to wait until December to get in the holiday mood. For many local businesses, like The Country Inn, the holidays begin around Thanksgiving.
“Our chef, Scott Collinash, creates a great Thanksgiving dinner, and that kicks off the Christmas season,” says Matt Omps, general manager of The Country Inn, a 70-room property he and his family bought in 2013. “My mother Barbara and sister Lara decorate the property, including 15 Christmas trees and life-size nutcrackers. It’s a great time to visit the inn.
Located in the heart of Berkeley Springs, the inn offers guests easy access to downtown within walking distance and is adjacent to Berkeley Springs State Park. “We have a lot of families and friends who get together here during the holidays. They hang out, have a glass of wine in front of the fireplace and play board games, ”explains Omps. “They don’t need to cook, so they spend time making up in a really warm atmosphere.”
Berkeley Springs officially kicks off its 2021 Hometown Holidays festivities on November 27 with Small Business Saturday, featuring discounts, prizes, and special events from local merchants such as Berkeley Springs Memories, Mineral Springs Trading Co., and Sage Moon. A list of holiday activities continues through the end of the year, with programming including both beloved traditions and new events. For example, locals typically fill the city center for the annual Bath City Winter Fest Parade, which this year takes place at 5 p.m. on December 4, followed by the lighting of trees in Bath State Park. Berkeley Springs.
To everyone’s delight, the Cocoa Crawl is back. This free event (starting at 5:00 p.m. Friday, December 3) lists local stores to visit, each offering a different holiday treat or cocoa flavor (think red velvet, salted caramel, and hazelnut). Visitors can kiss a hot cup of joy and meet local store owners. Traders stay open later, allowing visitors to browse the downtown market with a holiday shopping list in hand.
Shop, dine and relax like a local
Ready to shop local for unique holiday gifts? “Store owners really go above and beyond in decorations and fill their shelves with unique items,” says Hansroth. She suggests visiting Inspired Chaos, known for its 11-foot tree and stunning seasonal decorations.
This year, the Morgan Arts Council (MAC) Ice House Gallery continues its tradition of hosting a special holiday gift display featuring items handcrafted by regional artisans. Called “A Season of Wonder,” the event runs from November 13 through January 31. 3 and curate a unique selection of items including holiday ornaments, jewelry, clothing and other artistic treasures.
With no chain restaurants in Berkeley Springs, you’ll want to dine where the locals eat. If you have kids, take them to Charlotte’s Café. “Toddlers might spy on one of the owners, John Mason, and believe it really is Santa Claus,” says Hansroth, noting that the cafe offers several opportunities to visit Mason in Santa costume during the season. . Other local favorites include Lot 12 (fine dining in a restored Victorian house), Tari’s Café, and Naked Olive.
After all the holiday activities, it’s time to unwind. Atasia Spa mixes its own sugar and vanilla pumpkin spice scrub while on vacation, says Frankie Tan, spa owner since 1998. “It makes the spa – and the guests – smell so good!” Despite its size (6,000 square feet), Atasia Spa is warm and intimate. Guests can relax in serenity rooms after (or in between) services or head out to the Zen-style garden outside surrounded by lush landscaping and two waterfalls. Like the rest of the city, Atasia Spa gets into the festive spirit with decorations and special holiday packages.
Berkeley Springs is actually known as a spa town, thanks to the healing mineral waters that flow from the state park spring next to the Country Inn. “We use the same water in our facilities, so water and healing have always been the big draw,” says Omps. He notes that many of the city’s activities feed off the healing and spa atmosphere, from canoeing and hiking to rejuvenation and pampering.
“Imagine it was snowing and you could walk to the cafe, build a snowman in the park, sit by a fire at the local inn, bathe in a Roman bath and visit the owners of local stores without ever having to move your car. ” said Hansroth. “We are all of this and more. “
Ready to experience the heat of the season and the friendliness of the Berkeley Springs community? Plan your trip to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.