Nestled in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia is one of the most beautiful states the United States has to offer! Known for its varied terrain and friendly small towns, the state offers outdoor enthusiasts a playground of adventure! If culture is more what you are looking for, Appalachian culture is running strong, with a strong emphasis on traditional music and bushcraft. There are also many museums and heritage sites, such as the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail or the West Virginia State Museum, that hold tight to the state's industrial past. West Virginia's enduring spirit is connected to the land and invites you to explore every inch if you're seeking an American adventure off the beaten path!
Located just north of Bluestone Lake, Hinton was established in 1873 and chartered 24 years later in 1897. Hinton was named after the original town owner, John "Jack" Hinton. Although this sleepy town of less than 3,000 people may seem obscure, it did have its time on the big screen; part of the 1994 film Lassie was shot in Hinton.
There are a variety of outdoor spaces for you to enjoy, including Bluestone State Park and Bluestone Lake, a secluded lake with breathtaking views and woodland trails. History and town pride is on display in the Hinton Historic District and the Hinton City Railway Museum. There's plenty for the kids too! The Three Rivers Avian Centre Wildlife Refuge has a wide variety of feathered friends and instructional shows. Some fun for the whole family? Try the Wild Water Express water park!
Just 90 minutes west of the Washington metropolitan area, Berkeley Springs boasts the ultimate spa retreat for people all over the world. It has many natural warm springs and artistic culture to boot! First called Medicine Springs in 1747, the waters have drawn many people seeking the health benefits of the springs, including George Washington!
The town boasts one of the country's smallest state parks, but you can still wade in the ancient stone pools or visit their newly renovated bathhouse for a massage, facial, or sauna session. There's also a vibrant artistic scene, including multiple art galleries, such as the Heath Studio and the MAC Ice House, showcasing award-winning artwork. If you're a birdwatcher, you're in luck! Bald eagles come through the town in summer, neo-tropical birds migrate in the fall, and in winter, over 120 species winter there due to the springs!
Point Pleasant lives up to the name! It boasts a rich history of transport and boat building during the Colonial era and is the site of many historic battles, such as the Battle of Point Pleasant. In more recent history, cryptid sightings have been reported. Mothman is said to make his home here. So, if you're a follower of all things creepy that go bump in the night or just want to immerse yourself in history, Point Pleasant has everything you could ask for.
Just like all of West Virginia, Point Pleasant is rich with local wildlife and has amazing trails in the McClintic Wildlife Management Area. Or you can see a replica of Fort Randolph, which was built for the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Point Pleasant. Or perhaps the Mothman Festival is the draw for you that features tours, pageants, balls, films, music, and everything to celebrate Point Pleasant's most infamous resident.
One of the oldest towns in the state of West Virginia, Shepherdstown is a hidden gem. Along the banks of the Potomac River are award-winning local restaurants, a thriving local music and arts scene, and theatrical performances. If none of that tickles your fancy, Shepherdstown is also one of the most haunted towns in America.
Rich in Civil War history, Shepherdstown has museums, battle sites, and re-enactments all year round, but you can step right into the history too! There is the O'Hurley's General Store or even the "Little House," a recreation of a one-acre miniature farm built in 1929. You can taste the history too, at the historic Mecklenburg Inn, or 'the Meck' to locals. For something more contemporary, they do boast Bistro 112, a restaurant that offers high-quality French food. If you want to connect with nature, try the Crystal Grottoes Caverns or the wide variety of geocaches around the area!
Known for its hospitality and friendly residents, Huntington invites both locals and visitors to experience its unique blend of history, culture, and modern vibrancy. From the scenic vista of the Ohio River to its many cultural hotspots, Huntington stands as a testament to old-school charm and new-school amenities.
The dining in Huntington is second to none. An institution of Huntington, Jim's Steak & Spaghetti House, has been pleasing palettes since 1938. Huntington also features West Virginia's first Smithsonian Affiliate, the Heritage Farm Museum & Village, which lets you experience pioneer times in over 15 log structures and seven award-winning museums. Ritter Park, a favorite local park, was named one of the 10 Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association. This is a small town bursting at the seams with charm.
Ripley is a small-town melting pot! Ripley offers a mix of Western culture and history. With Fourth of July fireworks that are something to behold, beautiful covered bridges, and genuine Appalachian moonshine, Ripley is so comforting it will feel like home.
The Downtowner Restaurant is famous for its comfort food, and it is still family-owned, so it has that homemade feeling. Locals recommend the peanut butter and graham cracker pie. The architecture of this town is a stroll down memory lane, with most buildings in the downtown area hailing from the 1930s all the way to the 19th century. For those seeking adventure, Mill Creek Water Trail calls your name, a 20-mile walk that will take you to nearby Cottageville. Cedar Lakes Conference Center offers trails, games for the kids, and cozy cottages and lodges to spend the night in. You might not want to leave!
Bursting with West Virginian hospitality, Buckhannon is a small-town getaway with huge charm. You can enjoy chicken and biscuits at cozy family-owned diners like C.J. Maggie's or seasonal farm-to-table specials from trendy bistros like the Fish Hawk Market.
History runs rich through the veins of this town, such as in Pringle Tree Park, where two deserters from the English army during the Seven Years' War lived in a giant sycamore tree – the offspring of which are still growing tall to this day! Every spring, the town transforms. Buckhannon has a prized Strawberry Festival. This eight-day event has horse and carriage parades, strawberry recipe competitions, and vendors galore.
The rich tapestry of these vibrant towns makes West Virginia such a memorable state. No matter which of these towns you decide to frequent (we hope it will be them all!), you will not be disappointed no matter what you are looking for. It is, as John Denver said, almost heaven.