Berkeley Springs, West Virginia Offers America’s First Natural Spas

Berkeley Springs is an idyllic West Virginia town nestled in the mountains, just ninety minutes from the Baltimore and Washington, DC metro area. It is known for its historic, natural warm springs; hiking; swimming; and theater and music events. The Berkeley Springs State Park is located in the center of the town and has been a draw for tourists and vacationers since the eighteenth century.

The state park’s primary draw is the Berkeley Springs Bathhouse, which has been open since 1930. It is considered the nation’s first spa, and it utilizes the water that flows from the area’s natural hot springs at a steady 74.3 degrees Fahrenheit. At this bathhouse, several relaxing activities and services are offered. The roman bath is quite popular. It features 750 gallons of natural spring water contained in a ceramic bath roomy enough for wading, floating, and exercising. The water is heated to 100 to 102 degrees, providing for muscle relaxation.

The spa also provides whirlpools, saunas, and various showers for guests’ enjoyment. Massage therapists are also on hand, offering half hour and hour long sessions of traditional, Swedish massage. These massages are performed by men on the male side of the spa and women on the female side, allowing guests to feel comfortable during their relaxing massages. Sensitive and private areas of the body are draped during massage sessions for the same reason.

For those looking for more active diversions in Berkeley Springs, a variety of hiking trails are available. The Washington Heritage Society has established numerous trails in the area that showcase Berkeley Springs’ stunning natural beauty. The West Virgina mountains are full of beautiful peaks, ridges and valleys and support a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife. The Potomac and Cacapon rivers wind serenely through the valleys, offering lovely views at every turn. Fishing is allowed in various parts of the rivers, but a West Virginia fishing license must be obtained before fishing is attempted.

The town surrounding Berkeley Springs State Park is a beautiful example of a well-preserved colonial, mountain settlement. It includes numerous old spas, shops, and bed and breakfasts. The County Courthouse is also a popular destination; it was established at the turn of the twentieth century. Many visitors also enjoy the Ice House art center, a constantly growing and changing show case of some of the region’s and the nation’s best art work.

Theater and musical events are also very popular in Berkeley Springs. The “Art in the Park” series of exhibits as well as the Morgan Arts Council’s “Summer Concert Series” provide a variety of artistic entertainment and draw large crowds throughout the year.

Various lodging is available in and around the Berkeley Springs State Park. Camp sites are for rent in the park itself. Some are designated as pet-friendly, allowing campers to bring dogs as long as leash restrictions are observed. Cabins and log houses may also be leased in the area for quite reasonable prices. In the town of Berkeley Springs, various comfortable and traditional lodging is available to visitors. Many of the B&Bs and inns in town provide a homey, comfortable experience that keeps tourists coming back year after year.

Berkeley Springs State Park is a beautiful, Mid-Atlantic destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The town features classic beauty and timeless activities while the park is full of stunning natural beauty. Hikers, campers, and those looking to relax at a natural spa are sure to enjoy Berkeley Springs. Art, music, and theater lovers feel at home in this lovely setting, as well. More information about the state park may be found at www.berkeleyspringssp.com.