Shepherdstown, West Virginia
In association with: Brand USA
You could do this trail without singing along to Take Me Home, Country Roads, but John Denver’s catchy chorus is the perfect accompaniment to this most diverse of regions, characterised by natural attractions mixed with adventure, history and culture in abundance.
Starting in Philadelphia, stop by Robert Indiana’s world-famous LOVE statue in the City of Brotherly Love before heading to Gettysburg, the spot where US president Abraham Lincoln delivered the ‘Gettysburg Address’ in the town’s National Military Park. In between, the bucolic byways and rural views of Amish country are delightful.
From here it’s a four-and-a-half-hour drive to West Virginia’s vibrant Morgantown, but a historical stop at the state’s oldest city, Shepherdstown, breaks up the journey with the fascinating Civil War Museum. Hiking is a great way to explore the area’s battlefields, including Antietam. Beyond Shepherdstown, the Panorama Overlook offers spectacular views of West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Between Morgantown and Blackwater Falls State Park, gentle creeks give way to rapids, waterfalls and canyons, notably along the Cheat River Byway and inside the state park, where hiking and mountain biking make great activities.
Heading to Fayetteville, charming historic towns such as Beverly, the bogs of Cranberry Glades Botanical Area and the Gorge National Park & Preserve showcase the natural diversity of this beguiling state of West Virginia. The Bridge Walk across the gorge, 244 metres above the New River, is unforgettable.
Beyond Fayetteville and colonial Lewisburg, make time for a dip in the waters of White Sulphur Springs, then cross the state line into Virginia, where your drive borders the Appalachian Mountains through Shenandoah National Park.
En route to Washington DC, the absorbing Manassas National Battlefield Park offers ranger tours and Civil War re-enactments, and Arlington National Cemetery is a sobering but vital stop before the US capital. When you arrive, take time away from big-hitters such as the Smithsonian Institution and Washington Monument to walk the cobbled streets of the city’s historic neighbourhoods, such as Georgetown.
From Washington DC, Maryland capital Annapolis’s historic district is great for a wander before crossing Chesapeake Bay into Delaware. Here, the Delaware Bayshore Byway takes in preserved coastal marshlands and historic river towns as it wends its way to scenic New Castle, for a last stop before returning to Philadelphia.
If, with its green, traditional English gardens and well-known Dutch and Amstel houses, it feels distinctly European, don’t be surprised; this was the first capital of the first US state.
Want to further expand your USA knowledge?
The USA Discovery Program is an award-winning, online agent training programme. With more than 60 modules, this training programme provides you with the knowledge and skills needed to sell trips to the USA more effectively.
Whether it’s must-visit places and unique experiences or historical facts and dining tips, this resource offers comprehensive overviews of states, cities and experiences across the USA. Register at USADiscoveryProgram.co.uk to read up and earn badges.
PICTURES: Brand USA; Anton Fresco