Overlooking Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the summer. Image credit Khairil Azhar Junos via Shutterstock

10 Loveliest Small Towns to Visit in West Virginia This Summer

John Denver was not the first to think of West Virginia as “Almost Heaven,” although he deserves the credit for making the phrase mainstream. Also known as the Mountain State, this state has long been a paragon of paradise due to its abundance of natural endowments from mountains to streams and rivers slicing through dense forests. Also bordering these numerous natural beauties are lovely small towns filled with friendly folks and plenty of historical and commercial attractions. These towns are some of the best places in the world to spend summers, especially for those who love to get active outdoors. From White Sulphur Springs to Elkins, discover ten picture-perfect towns in West Virginia to visit this summer.


West Virginia Arts and Crafts Fair, Ripley, West Virginia, USA, July 3,2005
West Virginia Arts and Crafts Fair, Ripley, West Virginia, in the summer. Image credit Malachi Jacobs via Shutterstock

The County Seat of Jackson is a small town along Mill Creek renowned for its Fourth of July Fireworks - among the largest in the state. While the fireworks are a prime attraction in spring, summer also has a unique vibe here, especially with attractions like Mill Creek. Visitors here can begin by renting a kayak and journeying on the 21-mile Mill Creek Water Trail from Ripley to Cottageville. Inside the town, spend time with the family at the Ripley City Park, featuring an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a water slide, picnic shelters, playground, gazebo, and a tennis court.

Next, the town invites visitors to the Staat Mill Covered Bridge or Clerc-Carson House to immerse in the historic ambiance. Meanwhile, the town also features the Farmhouse Market which is a unique shopping destination for antiques and other collectibles. For entertainment and relaxation, the Alpine Theater is a good place to enjoy movies and seasonal shows.


Elkins, West Virginia - Tourists ready to board the Tygart Flyer for a trip into the mountains by Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad.
Elkins, West Virginia - Tourists ready to board the Tygart Flyer. Editorial credit: Steve Heap / Shutterstock.com

Elkins is an ideal town for outdoor junkies in summer, and for valid reasons. The town lies at the confluence of the Tygart Valley River and Leading Creek and serves as the gateway to Monongahela National Forest. A summer experience in this town can begin with a visit to the national forest, where lakes, campgrounds, mountains, trails, diverse forests, and creeks beg to be explored. Activities in this forest include kayaking, hiking, fishing, tubing, and rock climbing.

The forest also features the Highland Scenic Highway, extending 43 miles and featuring four overlooks with breathtaking scenery. For a healthy dose of history in Elkins, visitors are invited to the West Virginia Railroad Museum, where the state’s railroad history is preserved and interpreted. Before leaving town, be sure to see interesting artworks at the Artists At Work gallery and then grab some barbecue at Smoke on the Water.

Point Pleasant

Riverfront Park, Point Pleasant, West Virginia, USA - Sternwheeler Queen of the Mississippi docked on the Ohio River.
Riverfront Park, Point Pleasant, WV, USA. Editorial credit: Jack R Perry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Point Pleasant is a perfect town in Mason County that is full of interesting sights. This lovely town is located along the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers and is famed for a humanoid creature with wings that appeared in the area between 1966 and 1967. In West Virginian folklore, the creature is known as the Mothman, and visitors can learn about it at the Mothman Museum or admire the 12-foot-tall Mothman statue in the downtown area.

Away from folklore, the town is home to the Point Pleasant Riverfront Park overlooking the Ohio River and featuring murals and statues reflecting the Battle of Point Pleasant. The Tu-Endie-Wei State Park is another interesting attraction in town, where an 84-foot-tall monument stands in honor of those who lost their lives in the Battle of Point Pleasant. For antique lovers, the Mason Jar store on Main Street is a perfect stop for shopping.

White Sulphur Springs

Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Greenbrier Resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

White Sulphur Springs is a quaint town in Greenbrier County that revolves around The Greenbrier, one of America’s premier resorts where visitors can easily spend the entire summer. Covering 11,000 acres in the Allegheny mountains, this luxury resort is home to 710 rooms, up to 20 restaurants, and over 35 retail shops while offering a myriad of indoor and outdoor activities. Some top activities offered in the resort include arcade games, alpine tower climbing, a Cold War bunker tour, and guided hikes.

History buffs in the resort can also explore a secret Cold War Bunker or the President’s Cottage Museum, where each room tells a unique story of the past via exhibits and photographs. Away from this fascinating resort, visitors to White Sulphur Springs can hike or bike on the 78-mile Greenbrier River Trail, crossing 35 bridges and small towns and featuring spellbinding natural views. Relax afterward at the Salt Cave and Spa, where you can get various body treatments in an artificial underground cave.

Berkeley Springs

Town square in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Image credit: G. Edward Johnson via Wikimedia Commons.
Town square in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Image credit: G. Edward Johnson via Wikimedia Commons

Berkeley Springs is a unique town for a summer vacation centered around natural mineral springs and bathhouses. The Berkeley Springs State Park houses most of these natural springs and bathhouses for tourists to visit and experience their healing properties. The Berkeley Springs Museum is also in the park, where history buffs can learn about the springs and the town via exhibits and tours.

Laid-back tourists can stroll to the Berkeley Castle, located on a hill overlooking the town, and be stunned by its magnificent architecture. In the same mood for sightseeing, hike to the Panorama Overlook to gaze at incredible views of three states - Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. Elsewhere, the historic Star Theatre is a cozy place to enjoy cinematic experiences, while Charlotte Café serves some of the best meals in town.


Temple Street (West Virginia Route 20) as viewed from 2nd Avenue in Hinton, West Virginia.
Temple Street in Hinton, West Virginia. By Tim Kiser, CC BY-SA 3.0 us, Wikimedia Commons

Hinton is a lovely small town in Summer's County, situated at the confluence of New and Greenbrier Rivers, setting the perfect landscape for recreation. In summer, the river confluence is a fine spot to admire nature, catch the sunset, watch birds, and capture the scenery with a camera. For more sights and adventures, the Bluestone Lake State Park is nearby, featuring the charming Bluestone Lake and opportunities for fishing, boating, kayaking, camping, and picnicking. History buffs can head to the Veterans Memorial Museum to explore artifacts and memorabilia from various wars, including the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. After exploring, refill the stomach at Kirk’s, where dining combines with enchanting views of the New River. Before leaving, visit Grandma’s House and pick rare antiques or vintage items.


German musical band in traditional Bavarian costumes preparing for Oktoberfest performance in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
German musical band in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Editorial credit: Evgenia Parajanian / Shutterstock.com

Shepherdstown is a summer-worthy town in Shenandoah Valley, along the Potomac River, that is full of things to see and do. Notably, this town is the oldest in West Virginia and features attractions like the Historic Shepherdstown Museum, where visitors can learn about the town’s aged roots through exhibits, artifacts, and historic programs. Other interesting historic attractions in town include Rumsey Hall (built in 1780) and James Marshall House (built around 1835).

Away from history, Shepherdstown is home to Morgan’s Grove Park, where visitors can hike a short trail, play in the green field with kids, and relax on a bench under trees. Additionally, the Potomac River is available for kayaking and canoeing, and the Shepherdstown Pedal & Paddle offers rentals. Before leaving town, experience the best dining in town at the Press Room and catch a show or movie at the Shepherdstown Opera House.

Harpers Ferry

Aerial view of the town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
Aerial view of the town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.

Harpers Ferry is a small town in Jefferson County, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in Shenandoah Valley. A summer in this town can start with kayaking, rafting, and tubing adventures on both rivers after gearing up at the River and Trail Outfitters. Next, visitors are invited to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park to see historic sites and hike over 20 miles of trails. While in the park, be sure to visit The Point (for impressive views of the river confluence) and hike Maryland Heights Trail for more views. Later, purchase locally crafted jewelry at the Vintage Lady and enjoy lunch at the Country Café.


Historic building along Main Street in Buckhannon, West Virginia, with locals and tourists walking along, awaiting a parade.
Main Street in Buckhannon, West Virginia. Editorial credit: Roberto Galan / Shutterstock.com

Buckhannon in Upshur County lies along the river of the same name, with the Allegheny Mountains renting its skyline. A summer vacation here is always exciting, with the Audra State Park offering opportunities for hiking, picnicking, swimming, kayaking, boating, and fishing on the Middle Fork River. The park also features Alum Cave, with its breathtaking rocky overhang. History buffs can head to Pringle Tree Park to see a giant sycamore that served as the home of two English soldiers who fled to Buckhannon during the French And Indian War. Buchannon also invites art lovers to Artistry on Main to shop for interesting artworks created by local artists. Take a quick break from all the exploration and enjoy sensational dining at C.J. Maggie’s, then head to the History Center Museum in the historic district to step back in time.


Blackwater Falls, famous waterfall in Blackwater Falls State Park, West Virginia, during the autumn season with people at the overlook.
Blackwater Falls, West Virginia. Editorial credit: Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock.com

For a quintessential summer vacation, visit the adorable town of Davis, laid along the Blackwater River in Tucker County. Once here, check out the elegant Blackwater Falls, one of the town’s top attractions, best seen in summer alongside a camera. The waterfall is housed in the Blackwater Falls State Park, featuring campgrounds, 20 miles of hiking trails, and the Pendleton Point Overlook, where visitors can soak in the panoramic beauty of the Blackwater Canyon.

Tourists still hungry for more time outdoors can head to the nearby Dolly Sods Wilderness Area to hike 47 miles of trails, fish, camp, and see interesting birds. After exploring, enjoy tantalizing snacks and delicacies at Hellbenders Burritos or Wicked Wilderness Pub. If there’s still time, head to the nearby town of Thomas to enjoy live music and delicious food at Purple Fiddle.

A Perfect Summer Getaway in West Virginia's Picturesque Towns

In a state where mountains, rivers, streams, and colorful forests define the landscape, a summer vacation always promises to be memorable. This is especially true in its small towns, which represent true descriptions of the phrase “Almost Heaven.” Surprisingly, despite all of these amazing features, West Virginia remains one of the least-visited states in the country, and that just makes its towns more unique and satisfying for summer vacations. Look beyond the larger cities in the Mountain State and the Southern United States, in general, this summer and visit these towns for a paradisaic vacation.

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