Berkeley Springs is a historic small town in the Eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Known as “America’s first spa”, the area has a long history of attracting visitors seeking the benefits of its healing waters. Today there are over 10 spas within this town of roughly 700 people.
Don’t stop at the spa treatments though. This region of West Virginia is an underrated destination for star gazing as it has one of the darkest skies in the country. From spas and shops to hiking and stargazing, here are the best things to do in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.
- Things to do in Berkeley Springs
- Take a dip at the Berkeley Springs State Park
- Relax at a Berkeley Springs Spa
- Catch a glimpse of the Berkeley Springs Castle
- Peruse vintage treasures and collectibles at the Berkeley Springs Antique Mall
- Taste the must-try Fruity Pebble French Toast at Charlotte’s Cafe
- Enjoy a film at the budget-friendly Historic Star Theatre
- Cuddle with kittens at Give Purrs a Chance
- Catch a sunset at Panorama Overlook
- Things to do near Berkeley Springs
- Best Hotels in Berkeley Springs WV
- Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Berkeley Springs West Virginia
- Conclusion: Visiting Berkeley Springs, WV
Things to do in Berkeley Springs
Take a dip at the Berkeley Springs State Park
Berkeley Springs State Park is the centerpiece of the town. While it is one of West Virginia’s smallest state parks, there are many unique features and attractions that make this state park a worthwhile destination. You can book a spa service at one of the park’s two spas – the newly renovated BerkeleySprings Bath House or a historic Roman-style Bath House. There is an outdoor chlorinated pool open in the summer, in addition to various springs where you can dip your toes into the warm spring water.
The highlight of Berkeley Springs State Park is George Washington’s Bathtub. The original location of George Washington’s bathtub is actually located where the Roman Bath House now stands, however toward the far end of the park is a replica of the bathing tubs used by the president. A modest 2-foot by 5-foot hole in the ground is lined with stones, with a spring-fed stream continuously pumping fresh mineral water through it. The tub is only about 1.5 feet deep, but there is enough room to wade or even crawl in. The tub was ranked by Smithsonian magazine as one of the world’s six most breathtaking baths.
Relax at a Berkeley Springs Spa
Unsurprisingly, the most popular attractions in Berkeley Springs are the many spas and wellness centers. The water flowing through this small town community contains significant amounts of sulfates, nitrates, and carbonates which are known to have healing properties, particularly for those suffering from psoriasis, acne, and eczema. Many claim that hot springs are also curative for treating arthritis, menopausal symptoms, and digestive disorders.
There are over ten spas in the small town of Berkeley Springs including two within the State Park. The most popular spas in the area include:
- Renaissance Spa – This spa is located in one of the most popular hotels in Berkeley Springs, the Country Inn. Guests are treated to mineral whirlpool baths, massages, facials, and more while enjoying a fantastic view of Berkeley Springs.
- Berkeley Springs Bath House and the Roman Bath House at Berkeley Springs State Park – These two spas are the only state-run spas in the United States. The main bathhouse offers typical services including massages, a sauna, or a whirlpool bath. The Roman Bath House offers Roman baths starting at $27 per half-hour. It is also family-friendly, charging only $3 for children 5 and under. The modest prices of these spas make them particularly popular.
- Atasia Spa – In addition to whirlpools, treatments at this Berkeley Springs spa include aroma-stone and raindrop therapy, Reiki, and reflexology.
Related Content: Hillbrook Inn Restaurant and Spa, Charles Town WV
Catch a glimpse of the Berkeley Springs Castle
The Berkeley Springs Castle is one of West Virginia’s iconic landmarks. Construction on the castle began in 1885 and it is now included on the National Registry of Historic Places. Inspired by Berkeley Castle of Gloucestershire in England, this West Virginia castle has a turreted rooftop, gargoyles, and even a dungeon accessible by a secret passage.
It was once a summer camp and then a museum open to the public, however, it is now a private property owned by the white nationalist organization, the VDARE Foundation. Under the current ownership, the castle is closed to public tours, however, you may still catch a glimpse of the Berkeley Springs Castle from Cacapon Rd.
Website: Berkeley Springs Castle
Address: 276 Cacapon Rd. Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Peruse vintage treasures and collectibles at the Berkeley Springs Antique Mall
Just steps away from Berkeley Springs State Park is a strip mall with a coffee house, cheese shop, and various gift stores. On the corner of the building is the Berkeley Springs Antique Mall with a large collection of antiques, glass bottles, vintage toys, and other collectibles.
Despite what you may expect from a typical antique shop, this store is clean and organized. Exploring the stocked shelves is sure to bring back memories from your grandparents’ home or maybe even your own childhood.
Address: 7 Fairfax St, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Related Content: Best Things to do in Hampshire County, WV
Taste the must-try Fruity Pebble French Toast at Charlotte’s Cafe
If you are wondering where to eat in Berkeley Springs, Charlotte’s Cafe should be at the top of your list. This local restaurant features a mouth-watering menu of made-in-house dishes. A must-try menu item is their Fruity Pebble French Toast – Texas Toast dipped into a brown sugar cinnamon batter followed by a coating of the classic Fruity Pebbles children’s cereal.
Other creative desserts include chocolate stout stuffed donuts, green velvet Whoopi pies, and Bailey’s Cheesecake. Charlotte’s Cafe is dog-friendly.
Website: Charlotte’s Cafe
Address: 495 S. Washington Street Berkeley Springs, WV
Enjoy a film at the budget-friendly Historic Star Theatre
The Berkeley Springs Movie Theatre was built in 1916 as an automobile garage. It wasn’t until 1928 that it was transformed into a movie theatre. It still maintains many of the original features including the box office, iconic marquee, and a Manley hot oil popcorn machine.
Ticket prices range from $2 on “Two Buck Tuesdays” to $6 on Fridays and Saturdays. VIP loveseat sofas are available for a minuscule $3 more. The Star Theatre shows newly released movies in addition to live events including film festivals, cabaret performers, and more. It is the only theatre within 40 miles.
Website: Star Theatre
Address: 49 N. Washington Street Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Cuddle with kittens at Give Purrs a Chance
If you are looking for kid-friendly things to do in Berkeley Springs, Give Purrs a Chance is a great option. This non-profit cat adoption center is the temporary home of approximately 25 cats roaming freely between 2 floors of a Victorian house. Visitors pay a $10 admission fee (or $6 for children ages 7 and below) for the opportunity to socialize and cuddle these friendly felines while they await adoption.
Revenue is then used to help offset the cost of rehabilitating and caring for the animals. Although they call themselves a cat cafe, there are no coffee and pastries for sale. There is, however, a “Catique Boutique” which sells an assortment of cat-related specialty gifts including ceramics, soaps, and jewelry.
Website: Give Purrs a Chance
Address: 51 Independence St, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Catch a sunset at Panorama Overlook
Panorama Overlook, also called Prospect Overlook, is a popular viewpoint in West Virginia. Standing at the overlook, one can see three states (Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia), two rivers (the Potomac and Cacapon), and two significant pieces of transportation history (the C&O Canal and the B&O Railroad).
Not only did George Washington bathe in Berkeley Springs, but he also frequented Panorama Overlook. According to Travel Berkeley Springs, Washington would ride to this viewpoint on horseback to dream about a way west. You can drive directly to the overlook year-round making it an ideal activity for families with young children.
Address: 3299 Cacapon Rd, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Things to do near Berkeley Springs
(16.9 miles | 26 minutes from Berkeley Springs)
Located along the border of Virginia and West Virginia is the small town of Unger. It would be easy to drive right past this town if it weren’t for a menagerie of towering fiberglass statues. Property owners George and Pam Farnham moved to WV in the 1980s and began their collection of oversized fiberglass statues, known as “colossi”.
The Fantasy Farm (as they lovingly call it) is home to over 20 statues including a 25 ft. tall Muffler Man, a 30 ft. tall grocery clerk, Santa Claus, and even the whole Simpsons family riding a fiberglass roller coaster. The Farnham Colossi is private property, however, it has become a popular road trip destination and roadside attraction. The owners welcome visitors and suggest calling ahead.
Address: 14633 Winchester Grade Rd, Unger, WV 25411
Snap a photo with the Almost Heaven swing at Cacapon Resort State Park
(14.8 miles | 33 minutes from BerkeleySprings)
Head to Cacapon Mountain Overlook at the Cacapon Resort State Park for a panoramic view of 3 states: West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Located just steps from the parking area is a picture-perfect wooden swing inscribed with the state’s slogan “Almost Heaven”. In 2022, the state placed these hand-built swings at 9 of the most scenic (and Instagrammable) locations in West Virginia.
Address: 818 Cacapon Lodge Dr, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
Related Content: 22 Best Campgrounds in West Virginia
Explore Paw Paw Tunnel
(28.1 miles | 38 minutes from Berkeley Springs)
The Paw Paw tunnel is said to be one of the greatest engineering feats of its day, helping to bypass six miles and numerous bends of the Potomac River. Construction on the Paw Paw Tunnel began in 1836 but took around 14 years to complete due to violence, lack of funding, and other challenges. The tunnel was only used until 1924, but it is now maintained by the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. Visitors can still trekk through the tunnel, exploring its dark depths with a flashlight.
Address: Towpath, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Oldtown, MD 21555
Stargaze at the Morgan County Observatory
(11.4 miles | 20 minutes from Berkeley Springs)
West Virginia has some of the darkest skies in the eastern United States. Greenbank Observatory and the Morgan County Observatory are two West Virginia observatories that offer unique opportunities for the public to stargaze and learn about astronomy.
The Morgan County Observatory is a quick drive from Berkeley Springs making it a worthwhile activity, particularly on a clear night. As a nonprofit organization, admission is typically free but a donation is suggested to help support their mission of “improving and expanding access to astronomy through education and viewing of astronomical objects in our skies.”
Address: 9047 Winchester Grade Rd, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
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Hop on board the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railway
(53.1 miles | 1 hour 9 minutes from BerkeleySprings)
Taking a scenic train ride on board the Potomac Eagle is one of the most popular things to do in neighboring Hampshire County. There are seven different train journeys to choose from including the “trough trip” which takes passengers through a nesting ground for American Bald Eagles.
Should you find yourself in the area during the winter, the Potomac Eagle also offers a North Pole Express experience filled with caroling, hot cocoa, cookies, and a visit from Santa. The Potomac Eagle scenic train is a perfect activity for kids at any time of year.
Address: 149 Eagle Dr, Romney, WV 26757
Best Hotels in Berkeley Springs WV
Located just 2 hours from Washington DC, Berkeley Springs WV makes a great weekend getaway from the city. There is a wide selection of hotels and places to stay in the area depending on your preferences. While some are centrally located offering direct access to the town’s main attractions, others are located a few miles away in the Cacapon Mountains bringing you closer to the dark skies of West Virginia.
Country Inn is one of the most popular hotels in Berkeley Springs. It is located in the heart of downtown, adjacent to the famous state park and the town’s many shops. This Berkeley Springs hotel offers 60 unique guest rooms and the Renaissance Spa. The in-house Restaurant serves American favorites like Angus Hand Cut Steaks and Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes. You can find live music playing throughout the property on most Saturday evenings.
Moonbase (unique stay)
Moonbase is one of the most unique places to stay in West Virginia. If you are an outdoorsy traveler with a taste for camping, then you absolutely must book a stay at Moonbase. Located 20 minutes outside of Berkeley Springs, Moonbase is a stargazing outpost in the mountains of Great Cacapon. 15 acres of elevated space provide a spectacular sunrise and an even more breathtaking view of the stars.
Guests stay in one of four specialty tents that were inspired by the stars. Each tent features a heated memory foam mattress, solar-powered electricity, dimmable track lighting, wifi, a private deck, and a fire pit. The outpost has climate-controlled flushing toilets, running water, outdoor showers, and a shared community area for mingling with other guests. Moonbase is both kid-friendly and pet-friendly!
Berkeley Springs Tiny Home (unique stay)
At 430 square ft, this cute and tiny home is a great place to stay for couples. This new property is bright and clean with a fully equipped kitchen, private patio, and smart tv. It is about 1 mile from downtown Berkeley Springs and 8 miles to Cacapon State Park. Pets are permitted.
Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Berkeley Springs West Virginia
What is Berkeley Springs WV known for?
This West Virginia small town is known for its warm springs. Mineral waters, naturally heated to 74.3 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, flow through the town from numerous nearby springs at nearly 1,000 gallons per minute. It was officially incorporated as the Town of Bath in 1776 by young surveyor George Washington, inspired by the famed Bath in England.
As the popularity of the warm springs continued to grow, the town came to be known as Berkeley Springs. Today, visitors continue to visit Berkeley Springs to experience the healing property of the mineral springs.
Beyond the warm springs, the town’s other claim to fame is that George Washington used to bathe there. Berkeley Springs Park has transformed the original springs that were used by our first president into a modern bathhouse and spa. There is also a publicly accessible (and free to use) replica of George Washington’s bathtub.
Does Berkeley Springs have hot springs?
Berkeley Springs is one of 3 locations in West Virginia that have hot springs. The other two are Greenbrier and Capon Springs. Although they are considered hot springs, it is more appropriate to call them warm springs as the temperature remains around 74.3 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. While it is a comfortable temperature during most seasons, you may want to avoid wading in the public warm springs in the wintertime.
Is Berkeley Springs water safe to drink?
Not only is the water safe to drink, but it is also very good for you. There are many potential health benefits tied to drinking mineral water like that found in Berkeley Springs. Among those benefits are the regulation of blood pressure and blood circulation, strengthening of bones, and promotion of digestive health.
A public tap is located adjacent to the Roman Bathhouse where you can fill your water bottle with fresh mineral water. The nearby Berkeley Springs museum sells gallon jugs for $1.
Conclusion: Visiting Berkeley Springs, WV
Berkeley Springs is a safe and peaceful destination for your next road trip. Whether you want to explore the great outdoors, support the local shops, or relax in the restorative warm springs, you are sure to enjoy your visit to America’s First Spa.