I have a rule. No travel during the holidays. But rules are made to be broken, and this year I gladly broke my own.
My rule might sound a bit harsh, but it has been a healthy and happy boundary that has kept my life and my family’s life a little bit calmer every year.
But this Thanksgiving, instead of staying home, I made an exception and packed my bags for Harpers Ferry, the tiny town in in West Virginia situated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Steeped in history and bordering the old C & O Canal and the Appalachian Trail, it was the perfect centralized location for visiting family while getting in some light hiking and local exploring.
This short trip was also a great way to sharpen my skills at packing light for cold temperatures.
Here’s what I cover in this post:
- Where I Stayed
- How I Packed / What I Wore
- Five Places In and Around Harpers Ferry To Visit
WHERE I STAYED
I wanted to keep it local, so we stayed at the Light Horse Inn, a small inn from the 1700’s that is now a bed and breakfast.
The owners kept many of the original architectural details and the inn is filled with period furniture and artifacts.
linen robe by Baltic House of Linen
Elizabeth Suzann Florence Pants in linen (I wear them as PJ’s and pants)
HOW I PACKED / WHAT I WORE
This year I’ve been trying a new approach to packing. And it’s working for me.
Rather than packing a suitcase full of mix-and-match items, I pack by activity.
On this trip, I had three activities to pack for: Thanksgiving dinner, hanging out with family, and outdoor exploring. Here’s how it worked.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about wearing pieces that I love even if they are a bit outside my comfort zone. For Thanksgiving this year I wanted to dress up a bit and play with my usually minimal style. So I went with this dramatic print dress by Doen.
I love neutrals. They are my main jam. But this dress with its Victorian wallpaper print and the ever-elusive long sleeves struck a chord with me. This dress is also super comfortable– like wearing pajamas.
HANGING OUT WITH FAMILY
Swedish Hasbeens belt, vintage (similar here)
These three pieces each deserve their own post. This turtleneck in camel is the perfect amount of thickness to wear alone or with layers, and the camel color is spot on for my tastes.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I am a big fan of the Imogene and Willie’s Elizabeth high rise jean. I always travel with a pair of Elizabeths. I’ve been buying a pair every year for nearly seven years now like clockwork. Once a pair becomes worn out, I get any holes repaired and that pair becomes my hiking / camping pants.
The third player here are these chocolate brown suede boots. I’ve been searching for a pair of chocolate brown boots with a tall shaft for at least a year now. And these Aquatalia boots are the ones. Waterproof, walkable, and warm, I wore these on a light hike AND in the rain AND in the snow. My feet never got wet and I did not have trouble with foot pain. These are definitely an investment. But at 40% off right now, if I only purchased one thing this year, these would be it.
I wear these with Bombas merino wool socks (I got that tip from the wonderful blogger Caroline Joy) and they have kept me comfortable and warm all fall. They fit under “skinny” jeans (ugh, can we please find a different word for fitted pants?) and keep me super warm. I don’t need to size up in my shoes to wear them.
This warm cardigan is perfect to wear on its own without adding too much bulk. I love these merino wool undershirts with it as well. Unbuttoned, the same cardigan adds an extra layer of warmth over an piece in my suitcase.
That’s it! My three uniforms over Thanksgiving.
Overall I packed about 11 pieces and didn’t wear 2 of them. I washed my turtleneck once and wore it twice on the trip. I never wore my dark jeans (similar here) or my favorite silk button up, though it was nice to have them on hand.
6 SPOTS TO VISIT NEAR HARPERS FERRY
Before I sign off, I want to jot down my favorite places to visit in Harpers Ferry. If you have more to add, please leave a comment! I would love to hear from you.
Harpers Ferry Brewery The vibe is loud, but the view is wonderful and the beer is good. Definitely go before the sun sets to see the city from across the river.
The White Horse Tavern This restaurant just outside of the historic center doesn’t look like much from the road– but don’t be fooled. This renovated motor in has great food and friendly vibes. We took in a lot of local history and a little town gossip by eating at the bar with the locals rather than grabbing a table.
John Brown Wax Museum This museum is not for everyone. But if you like a good vernacular museum that tells a compelling story, this one is not to be missed. It’s housed in an old, frankly dark and very cold historic home that was once also a store front. Winding stairs take you from exhibit to exhibit and tell the story of John Brown’s life and his raid on Harpers Ferry.
Almost Heaven Pub and Grill This spot right in the historic center has the best crab cakes I’ve ever had (I’m from the Midwest, so take my opinion for what it is). Sit in the lower level– the low ceilings and original walls and floor give a sense of what the town was like long ago.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Walk Don’t miss a walk by the river toward town. Walk over the ruins of the old cotton manufacturer (among other places, which is lovely on its own but especially good if you can nerd out on the history of clothes (like me!). As the walk moves into town, stop 22 contains the Back Voices Museum and also contains exhibits that tell a little about the history of the rise of ready-made clothes versus hand-made clothing (textile nerd heaven). Keep going through the town and over the bridge where you can get a beautiful view of the rivers.
From there, if you don’t want to stop walking, pick up the Appalachian trail. I know I kind of wanted to.
Now for Your Story
Do you have any recommendations for in and around Harpers Ferry? What do you pack for colder weather travels? I’d love you hear ideas!
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