Sure, the slots, tables, and live racing in Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Downs provide a memorable experience within itself—a memorable gaming experience, that is. But we all need to take a break from the adrenaline-pumping casino gaming to clear our minds and explore the area, right?
Whether we’re venturing as a local or from in or out of town, there is plenty to get excited about when you’re roaming the area around Charles Town, West Virginia.
This article provides eight nearby must-see attractions if you’re in the area and had enough casino gaming for the day. Each attraction is unique in its own way, and they definitely make Charles Town worth exploring for more than just its world-renowned horse racing.
Ready to take a quick tour of Charles Town and the West Virginia gambling scene? Let’s go.
Zion Episcopal Church
Alright, so if you’re looking for a taste of history that dates back over 200 years, the Zion Episcopal Church has it.
And the best part is that you’re looking at a place that welcomes everyone from a plethora of backgrounds. So, if Christianity isn’t your thing, no worries. Just come in to soak up the history you’ll find at this grand location.
The church itself can trace its origins back to St. Georges Chapel, whose ruins are located west of Charles Town on State Route 51. Historians believe the old ruins can trace its own roots back to the 1770s, during the time of the Revolutionary War.
After the war, the Chapel fell into disrepair, and they built the original Zion Episcopal Church near the site in 1815. The church expanded in the 1840s before a fire swept through and destroyed the building.
At which point, the present building you’ll find near the land-based casino and racetrack was built all the way back in 1851. As you may have predicted, the church also served as a key venue for the Union Army during the Civil War. At the time, the army used it for both barracks and a military hospital.
The nearby cemetery is where the real history lurks, with between 80 and 90 Confederate soldiers buried, as well as two officers from the Revolutionary War. Many from the Washington family have also found their final resting place in the cemetery.
Among the Washingtons buried at the site are Colonel John A. Washington, the last owner of Mount Vernon, and Lucy Todd Washington, who was the sister of Dolly Madison and the wife of George Steptoe Washington.
In all, you’ll find at least 70 members of the prominent Washington family buried at the cemetery.
Old Opera House Theatre Company
Don’t worry. If the opera isn’t your cup of tea, you’ll still find a lot of cool stuff to do at the Old Opera House Theatre Company.
Lose yourself in the theatre’s six yearly stage productions, its summer family production, one-act play festival, and ballet, among other marketable events the Opera House hosts.
Located in the center of Charles Town, the Old Opera House Theatre company has been a staple in the region over the last 100 years, presenting entertainment acts like comedies while hosting auctions, drives, and benefits.
If you’re looking for more sophisticated live entertainment than what they’re offering at the casino venue when you’re in town, the Old Opera House Theatre Company is more than worth checking out. Perhaps you can pitch in at the latest drive, win some treasure at an auction, or get behind the latest comedy act.
Jefferson County Museum
Want to learn a little about Charles Town’s and Jefferson County’s history?
Take a ride to the Jefferson County Museum, where you’ll discover prominent people, events, and milestones that have made Jefferson County, West Virginia what it is today. You’ll also find the building in Downtown Charles Town, where it shares its venue with the Charles Town Library.
And while it’s not a place to make a sports bet and perhaps eke out a profit, your mind and imagination will operate in the green. And that’s always rewarding!
Jefferson County Memorial Park
The exercise enthusiast in you will love what you’ll find at Jefferson County Memorial Park. Located just minutes from Charles Town Downs, it’s a fantastic place to get outside, stretch your legs, and to bust out a good workout after all that time you’ve spent on the casino floor.
The park is just one of five parks in the area, each with their own unique theme. Also within driving distance of Charles Town Downs is Charles Town Skate Park, Evitts Run Park, Happy Retreat/Craighill Estates, and William Knolls Park.
But Jefferson Memorial offers a variety of activities unlike the other parks in the area. Here, you’ll have access to the community pool, three tennis courts, two basketball courts, a walk/run trail, two playground areas, and four pavilions.
If you’re planning a gambling trip and looking to spend a day at the park away from the casino, reserve your own pavilion and spend some time at the pool and the trails. The slots and tables will definitely be there when you return to the floor.
Charles Town Farmers Market
At the Farmers Market, you can immerse yourself in a variety of food-related events that include cooking demos, guided walks, live entertainment, music, food sampling, food prep and drinks, and activities for kids.
You’ll also treat yourself to some of the best locally grown and raised food around that features 28 vendors from local farms each year. And nothing beats farm-to-table dishes, so it’s definitely worth giving a shot if you’re looking for the best organic foods around.
And if you’re looking to get a leg up on your nutritional outlook, you’ll find exactly what the doctor ordered here at the Market. No, seriously, you can partake in the “Walk with a Doc” program. Take a walk with a WVU medical doctor and spend some time gaining advice on nutrition, lifestyle, and other health-related topics.
So, if you feel guilty from indulging in that burger and drinks over at Hollywood Casino’s Sports Bar, you have a new hope. Make a date at the Farmer’s Market, and you’ll gain some awesome new outlooks!
Alright, so if you want a history lesson I’ll tell you right now the Beall-Air Manor is a place you need to circle in red and drag the entire family to, like Clark Griswold used to in the National Lampoon’s Vacation Series.
Of course, if you’re interested in history and especially events pertaining to the Civil War, Beall-Air Manor is one of quite a few locations you’ll hope to visit when you make the trip to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Downs if you’re into exploring the area.
Cool Spring Preserve
For those of you who crave the wild and wonderful great outdoors of West Virginia, rejoice as the Cool Spring Preserve offers 63 acres of epic scenery comprising forests, meadows, and marshes as far as the eye can see.
The Preserve has been dedicated as a “birding hotspot” and you can uncover a lot of history over at Bullskin Run, a major stream bordering the north side of the Preserve.
Want to learm more? Well, if you’ve read the entire article to this point, you’d win a bet if you predicted the history here had anything to do with George Washington. Because the near-1,500 acres along Bullskin Run is where Washington made his first major land purchase in 1752.
Washington leased the land in 200-acre parcels to tenants if they agreed to enrich the land with crops, vineyards, and small farms while preserving the surrounding woodlots.
If you’re a lover of nature and conservation, the Cool Spring Preserve is a must-see to lose yourself in mystical scenery whose land tells a story dating back over 250 years.
Jefferson County Visitors Bureau
And for information on more attractions, you can visit the Jefferson County Visitors Bureau. Here, you can find brochures and general information pertaining to everything Jefferson County, West Virginia, offers.
It’s your one-stop shop for an information outlet, and it’s all in one convenient location.
So, as you can see, even in small towns like Charles Town, there is a lot to see and get excited about. If you need a whole day or just a couple of hours off from the casino, there is plenty to do here given the assortment of historical locations that make so many small towns in America stand out.
With that said, Charles Town is more than just a delightful spot to play the slots, tables, sportsbook, and watch the races; it’s an outstanding family vacation destination if you’re not looking to break the bank—especially if you’re one who relishes in learning experiences above all else.
Have you been to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Downs? And if so, did you take the time to explore some of the nearby attractions listed above? Let us know in the comments and share your experiences.