Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Distance from Baltimore: 66 miles, about an hour-and-a-half drive Why it's worth the gas: Abolitionist John Brown's abortive raid on the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry added fuel to the political fire that erupted in the Civil War. Today, Harpers Ferry is a peaceful retreat, with stunning views of the confluence of the Potomoc and Shenandoah rivers, an extensive historical downtown and armory, and plenty of adventures for outdoorsy types, including hiking through trails and battlefields and tubing the waters. Don't miss: Jefferson Rock on the Appalachian Trail is a rock where, indeed, Thomas Jefferson once stood. Judging the Harpers Ferry view, he called it "perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature." Information: Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, P.O. Box 65, Harpers Ferry, W.Va. 25425; 304-535-6029 or www.nps.gov/hafe
David Hobby, Baltimore Sun
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