My grandfather was born here in 1911. Technically, he was born in Arden. Which is a beautiful area outside Martinsburg proper, filled with orchards and farms.
He would often recount stories from his youth. Running down one lane dirt roads to the train tracks. Hopping trains to ride them into the Martinsburg (can you imagine hopping a train into town???). Beginning the long walk home before it got too dark, hoping you could hitch a ride somewhere along the way.
My grandfather died just days short of his 98th birthday. Ninety-eight years of watching this town change from the few blocks of downtown Martinsburg surrounded by family farms, to the DC/Metro area suburb it is today.
When I think of all the changes that have occurred in my 34 years, I cannot even imagine the things he must have seen in his lifetime.
The dirt roads of his childhood have been replaced with six lane highways. The farms with shopping centers and subdivisions.
As a real estate attorney, I've had a front row seat for our latest evolution. Given our proximity to DC and the fact that property is much more affordable here than there, our population exploded in the last decade.
And commercial development struggled to keep up with residential development.
Yet, in spite of it all, our growing metropolis has somehow managed to maintain its small town feel.
And this is my favorite time of year here.
On Friday nights, the most popular venue is a high school football game.
On the weekends, the best view is from my back porch, looking up to the mountains bathed in autumn colors, the air redolent with the perfume of the apple orchards surrounding me.
In fact, we just celebrated our annual Apple Harvest Festival. Where you can find all things apple related.
One of my favorite activities is a bike ride along the C&O Canal. In fact, that's how I spent Sunday afternoon. We biked from Shepherdstown (an area rich in history and personality) to Harpers Ferry (the scene of John Brown's epic raid). To my right, the sun glinting off the Potomac River. To the left, the mountains resplendent with the fiery shades of fall.
While in Harpers Ferry, we enjoyed a walk through town, watching historic re-enacters make apple cider. Grabbing some ice cream from a local creamery.
At night, you can book a ghost tour... and given Harpers Ferry's history, there are plenty of ghost stories to keep you awake at night.
So... after all that buildup, here are some tips for visiting the Eastern Panhandle from a West by God Virginia girl born and raised...
Things to do:
I am all about the outdoor activities from spring to fall. We have gorgeous trails to hike or bike or run, rivers to boat, kayak, raft and tube. We also have zip lining. In the winter, there are several ski resorts in the vicinity.
If you prefer another type of thrill seeking, we have legalized gambling at Charles Town Races & Slots.
If you're an urbanite, you can be in DC in 90 minutes (barring traffic delays.... which honestly, there are always traffic delays), where you can hit up the Smithsonian museums.
And I already mentioned Harpers Ferry. You really should go. From the Jefferson Rock to Maryland Heights, there are stunning views from pretty much any point in Harpers Ferry. Take your camera.
Things to Eat:
Eat at King's Pizza. But they have several locations, so you need to hit up the King's in Martinsburg. Seriously. It looks like just a little pizza joint, but they have food that would make your Italian grandma proud.
dish in Charles Town and domestic in Shepherdstown. Owned by the same people, these restaurants offer a deliciously creative menu with dishes crafted from only fresh, locally grown/raised ingredients. If you're lucky they'll have creme brulee on the menu.
If you visit the area, you must visit the local farmers markets... let me repeat that you must visit the local farmers markets. One of the best things about living here is the supply of fresh produce from spring through fall. Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, peaches, apples. For an added thrill, you can even pick your own at Orr's Farm Market.
So if you're wondering why you would want to visit West Virginia, the real question should be why wouldn't you???
This post is part of a collaborative project- the brain child of Kendra T. who lives in Chicago. She created this exercise in order for bloggers to share more information about their hometowns. To read about her tips for visiting Chicago, keep reading...
My Love For Home
Chicago is my hometown, and today I am here to endorse some of my favorite places in the city! Chicago is one of the nation's central hubs--its airports are some of the busiest in the country as many people change flights here on their way east or west. But the goal of this article is not to get you to pass through Chicago, but to get you to stop in for a visit! Here are a few tips from a native to help you appreciate this one-of-a-kind city.
1. Affordable Eating
While there are many upscale restaurants in Chicago that are absolutely delectable, these eateries are also very expensive. For family travelers (like myself), there are still plenty of upscale options in Chicago, though! One of my favorites is Café des Architectes. Located in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, this combination of French and local flavor has reasonably priced breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus, with children’s menus as well.
When people think of the world's great skylines, they often overlook Chicago. This is a shame, because in my opinion it's one of the most beautiful skylines you can find anywhere. Even if you prefer living in the country, the bright lights of the city’s skyscrapers will impress you when the sun goes down. If you ever visit Chicago, I highly recommend staying downtown to enjoy this city atmosphere. One of the best resources for finding good deals on hotels is gogobot, a social site that relies on user reviews and finds great deals throughout the city.
3. Educational Fun
If you have kids, you should be sure to take them to the Field Museum on South Lake Shore Drive when you're in Chicago. I try to bring my kids here at least a couple of times per year, and we never run out of fun things to see and do. The museum does a wonderful job of combing education with entertainment. Besides the always-exciting traveling exhibits, it has something all kids love--dinosaur fossils! The Field Museum is always offering new exhibits and special events, so you can visit at any time and find something fresh and fun.
Anyone who is an art lover should not pass up the chance to visit the Chicago Cultural Center. This is near Millennium Park, and is part of the area in Chicago known as “The Loop”. This is one of the hubs of Chicago and one of its most popular attractions, and you can find lots of free public events almost any day of the year. It features two magnificent stained-glass domes. One of them, the Tiffany Dome, is the largest stained-glass dome in the world! The Chicago Cultural Center also features a variety of lectures and performances of all kinds.
There is so much to see and do in Chicago that I could only mention a small selection of possibilities. This is a city that you can visit over and over again and always find something new and exciting going on. It's also easy to get around Chicago, whether you are walking, driving or taking public transportation. Now start planning your visit!