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The town of Harper's Ferry doesn't get it. Maybe they don't want to. They just don't seem to want to have a nice tourist center experience--the National Park attractions are okay, and the history and significance of Harper's Ferry is quite educational, but, the town, forget it!
First of all, in this very hilly town, parking is impossible. Either you find a place along a narrow street, where the ice cream shops are lined up, that goes to a small parking lot at the end, or you're climbing the hill to try to park in a neighborhood. $6Note that the parking lot is for the commuter MARC train passengers--not a good idea to park there, especially during the week. There is a shuttle from parking lots at the far end of town--this is a Park Service deal--$6 bucks. On most streets, there are "no parking" signs, and apparently the locals are just fine with tourists staying the heck out of their neighborhoods. But, then why don't they plan a little park, a town square, something and put in a decent parking garage. The location of the town--in a "point" between the confluence of the Potomac and the Shanendoah rivers should be a goldmine location for tourism--as it is, the only ones making money are the inner tube and river raft companies that abound all around the area, but, not in the town of Harper's Ferry.
Also, the shops and little restaurants are just not very friendly, much less current. Stores have signs: "No drinks, food, kids, dogs, etc." Who do you think is visiting and why are they there? Some of the shops and restaurants aren't even air conditioned--a challenge during the summer months when tourists are walking up and down steep roads and steps to get to your little shop!
The absolute best location in town with a killer view was the Hilltop House. On a recent visit, it is fenced off and condemned, with major pieces of roof and walls caved in. Perhaps there is already a plan to raze and renovate that site, but, the surrounding area offers only residences and a few aging shacklike homes.
Oh, and as far as lodging, the town seems to only be able to sustain a few bed and breakfasts, and decent restaurants are scarce. I know many communities have taken a hit in the recession, but, perhaps West Virginia and the town of Harper's Ferry should take a look at the potential of turning the town into a quaint little getaway for Washingtonians, either for a day trip, or a bed & breakfast weekend. Perhaps the proceeds from the new gaming tables at the casinos in the state could provide some revenue for creating a nice town square in Harper's Ferry.
This place is a historic, geographically attractive, and potentially charming little burg waiting for some TLC.