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Things for Children to Do at Harpers Ferry

by Carly Seifert, studioD

The quaint and picturesque Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is filled with opportunities to educate your children. As you stroll the streets, taking in the history and the scenery, you will discover a variety of activities for your children to participate in that will not only prove enjoyable but help them gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of a crucial era in U.S. history.


According to the National Park Service website, Harpers Ferry is considered one of the best walking parks in the country. With 20 miles of hiking trails inside the park, children can enjoy a pleasant stroll along the river, a longer hike across a Civil War battlefield or an 8-mile adventure along the mountain tops. Along the trails, children can take in scenic views of the Potomac River and might encounter herons, wood ducks, Canada geese, turtles and an occasional muskrat.

Junior Ranger Program

Harpers Ferry is one of the many National Parks that offer children the opportunity to join the National Park Service Family as Junior Rangers. Children who wish to participate in the program will receive a booklet with activities ranging from filling out maps to completing Civil War word searches. Children must also hike trails in the park, attend a ranger-guided program and engage in discussions with Park Rangers. The program is divided into three levels -- apprentice, journeyman and master -- and an award is bestowed when children reach a new level.

Living History Workshops

Harpers Ferry has a variety of Living History workshops, and many of them are kid-friendly. Attend a workshop in the moonlight with your children, where they will have the opportunity to enjoy a historic, tavern-era meal prepared over an open fire while listening to 19th century music. Attend the Ice Cream and Strawberry Festival workshop at the Park Green where your children will learn how to make ice cream alongside the 1863 West Virginia Ladies Aid Society.

Special Events

Harpers Ferry hosts many events and exhibits throughout the year that will educate and entertain children. Rotating historical exhibits are featured in the park to highlight different historical events such as the Union's commitment to end slavery during the Civil War. The majority of special events are geared toward families and include ranger-conducted programs, youth activities, live music, living history and demonstrations. Events range from cider-making to taking a closer look at Harpers Ferry role in the Gettysburg Campaign.

About the Author

Carly Seifert has been a piano instructor since 2001. She has also covered adoption and introducing children to the arts for "Montana Parent Magazine." Seifert graduated from University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts in drama.

Photo Credits

  • Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images