Sometimes people forget the Shenandoah Valley actually starts in West Virginia. Known as the Gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, the city of Martinsburg is about 90 miles from Washington, DC. And there is a lot to lure you there.
“Martinsburg is a town steeped in history, art and the outdoors,” said Samantha Cronk, Communications Assistant with the Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB.” From great Civil War icons like the Martinsburg Roundhouse, the history that made Martinsburg is still celebrated through museums, festivals and tours.”
A major part of Martinsburg’s Civil War history is the story of Belle Boyd. In 1861, when Belle Boyd was just 17, she shot and killed a Union soldier who cursed at her mother while he was searching the Boyd home for Confederate flags. Afterwards, Boyd became a notable spy for the Confederates, often sending them information with the help of a servant girl, Eliza Hopewell. Today you can still tour the Belle Boyd House, also serving as the Berkeley County Museum, which was built by Boyd’s father in 1853.
Highlighting the performance art scene is the historic Apollo Civic Theatre on East Martin Street. Built in 1913, the Apollo has hosted acts from Will Rogers to Garth Brooks and today puts on about six Apollo-produced performances plus numerous other concerts, pageants, children’s performances, etc. And speaking of children, take yours to the Wonderment Puppet Theater on West King Street, or the “For the Kids, By George Children’s Museum” – part of the Caperton Train Station on East Martin.
Dining in small towns can be spotty but Martinsburg gives you more options than you might think. Grills, steakhouses, dessert spots, and international cuisine are all available. And according to Cronk, “You can dine like a local at Boyd’s Steakhouse, where the only thing better than the food is the story behind the bar, formerly owned by mobster Al Capone. Or, embrace the farm-to-food movement at Cider Press Deli & Grill where the food has been locally and regionally sourced by farmers to provide fresh, delicious meals.”
Commenting on outdoor recreation, Cronk said, “The outdoors provides a scenic view of the city through extensive walking and biking trails. Guests can also find adventure in Martinsburg through geocaching, a modern day treasure hunt that mixes the outdoors with technology, showcasing the city’s natural beauty.”
In addition, West Virginia is a haven for hunters and fishermen–hunters alone generate almost $500 million in revenue for the state annually. And one good place for both is the Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area—a 23,000-acre tract known for its healthy populations of whitetail deer, wild turkeys and ruffed grouse as well as various species of small game. In the 205-acre Sleepy Creek Lake, anglers can generally find good opportunity for largemouth bass, bluegills and crappie. Contact the West Virginia Division Natural Resources at (304) 558-2758 for information on licenses, regulations, season dates, etc.
Besides hunting, recreational and competitive shooting opportunities are also available at the Peacemaker National Training Center—now the largest shooting range complex on the East Coast. It’s about 11 miles southwest of town. Certified Range Safety officers oversee all activities, from basic gun safety training to a full slate of competition. Contact them at (304) 229-4867.
Find out more about what awaits you in Martinsburg visit the Martinsburg-Berekley County Convention and Visitors Bureau.