Looking out over a dock at Summersville Lake, Nicholas County, West Virginia.

These Small Towns in West Virginia Come Alive in Summer

With its highest elevation reaching an astounding 4,863 feet at the Spruce Knob summit, West Virginia is an Appalachian Mountain State rightfully known for its majestic landscapes and outdoor recreation. Astonishingly, over three-fourths of West Virginia is also covered in lush forest, with a range of flora and hilly landscapes to traverse, many with sparkling mountain streams, rushing rivers, and calm lakes.

To explore these spectacular slices of nature amongst the rugged and awe-inspiring Appalachian Mountains this summer, look no further than West Virginia’s small towns. While they may be small in size and population, these communities thrive and come alive during the summer months, welcoming visitors from near and far to enjoy some of West Virginia’s most magnificent pockets of nature alongside the comforts and charms of local restaurants, cozy accommodations, and unique attractions.


A day in May, Long Point on Summersville Lake, Nicholas County, West Virginia,
Long Point on Summersville Lake, Nicholas County, West Virginia.

Summersville is a West Virginia town that is aptly named, drawing summer crowds thanks to its abundance of water recreation and outdoor beauty, making it a hub of activity during the warmer months. And while Summersville may be small, it certainly offers larger-than-life attractions, like Summersville Lake: the largest lake in West Virginia. This majestic body of water welcomes visitors from all over West Virginia and beyond, boasting 60 miles of shoreline and 2,700 acres of lake.

Swimming, scuba diving, boating, and fishing are just some of the favored pastimes that draw visitors here during the summer, with nearly one million visitors in total, annually. Biking and hiking are also incredibly popular activities in Summersville, with a variety of trails to ride or trek. Places like the Muddlety Creek Trail are a favorite with locals and visitors alike, for its scenic 3-mile stretch amongst towering trees and other local wildlife. All in all, Summersville is an outdoor haven that you will not want to skip this summer.

White Sulphur Springs

Greenbrier Hotel resort exterior entrance with landscaped flowers, lawn, parked cars, in West Virginia.
Greenbrier Hotel resort exterior entrance, in West Virginia. Image credit Andriy Blokhin via Shutterstock.com

If you are looking for a more luxurious small-town getaway, White Sulphur Springs boasts lavish attractions and natural beauty, but primarily, its natural springs. Located in the rolling Allegheny Mountains, White Sulphur Springs was originally developed as a health spa town in the 1770s due to the supposed healing properties of these mineral springs. Today, the community thrives as a resort town, welcoming guests year-round, especially during summer. It is popular for those looking to experience the luxurious and rejuvenating natural springs enjoyed so long ago. 

The Greenbrier Hotel is where you will find these springs (located on the hotel grounds) and is by far the town’s most iconic attraction. This five-star resort is also a National Historic Landmark, opening its doors in 1913. The 11,000-acre grounds have famously hosted 28 presidents of the United States, with elegant rooms, beautiful mountain views, world-class dining, world-famous spas, and America’s only private casino. While the Greenbrier is definitely one of West Virginia’s more costly stays, its history, and decadence are unbeatable, making it an excellent choice for travelers hoping to splurge on a lavish summer getaway.

Point Pleasant

Sternwheeler Queen of the Mississippi docked on Ohio River.
Sternwheeler Queen of the Mississippi docked on Ohio River. Image credit Jack R Perry Photography via Shuttertstock.

Nestled where the dazzling Kanawha and Ohio rivers meet, Point Pleasant, by all means, lives up to its name, and is a great cost-effective option for those looking to enjoy a pleasant day trip. With friendly locals and a welcoming small-town charm, Point Pleasant invites its visitors to mingle with the town’s community, whether that be picnicking and strolling through one of its serene parks or appreciating its various historical attractions. Places like Riverfront Park, located along the Ohio River, include stunning water views. Stroll the scenic walking trails, or sit in the amphitheater-style seats facing the river for a relaxing evening to watch the boats float by. The park also features fantastic historic murals commemorating the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant.

This charming combination of nature and history is a common theme in the town, with other spots like Tu-Endie-Wei State Park (located where the town's two rivers meet) combining lovely views of the water with a fascinating touch of history through an impressive 84-foot tall monument memorializing the town’s historic battle. So if you are looking for a more relaxing, lowkey day trip with pleasant views, a captivating local history, and welcoming locals, Point Pleasant is the destination for you.  


Downtown Morgantown, West Virginia, along the Monongahela River.
Downtown Morgantown, West Virginia, along the Monongahela River.

Located in Monongalia County along the Monongahela River, Morgantown is a thriving college town and a lively summer destination whose natural beauty and spirited locals welcome visitors from near and far. The town is iconically home to West Virginia University, and while the school’s Coliseum draws in sports fans during the year, it also features a vibrant art scene. For instance, visitors can take in contemporary exhibits in the school’s Mesaros Galleries. But arguably, it is the town’s natural attractions that draw in the large summer crowds, with places like the West Virginia Botanic Garden, whose colorful 85 acres and 4.5 miles of walkable trails invite visitors to take in the breathtaking local floral. 

Another nature hotspot in Morgantown is Dorsey’s Knob Park, whose views and scenery are ideal for a tranquil hike or picturesque picnic. This 70-acre park is renowned for its peak named "Sky Rock" overlooking Morgantown, and features a playground, a Sky Rock viewing platform, and a lodge offering overnight stays for up to 16 guests. Downtown Morgantown is also nearby, so the lodge is an excellent gateway, both to the surrounding nature as well as restaurants and nightlife. The Iron Horse Tavern, for example, is a great nearby gastropub to checkout, offering New American cuisine, refreshing cocktails and beers, and an inviting atmosphere.


Sandstone Falls on the New River at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve during the Autumn leaf color change near Hinton, West Virginia.
Sandstone Falls on the New River at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve near Hinton, West Virginia.

Bordering the southern edge of New River Gorge National Park and Reserve, you will find the charming town of Hinton. Historically thriving as a railroad town, today, Hinton is beloved for its preservation of the town’s history, as well as its abundance of natural beauty. Nestled on a bluff overlooking New River, you can find Hinton’s downtown Historic District, whose incredible preservation of historical buildings (with a variety of architectural styles, ranging from American Gothic to High Victorian) earned it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. History lovers and architecture enthusiasts can transport themselves back in time by strolling the town’s streets with the help of a free (upon-request) Walking Tour Brochure, available online. 

Hinton’s myriad of breathtaking natural sights is yet another one of the town’s charms, and New River Gorge National River Park and Reserve is definitely a crowd favorite during the summer. With over 70,000 acres of nature following 53 miles of the rushing whitewater river, visitors can explore the magnificent canyons by foot or adventure the water with whitewater rafting. Within the park, you can also find gems like Sandstone Falls, an awe-inspiring 1,500-foot wide waterfall lining New River, offering an unbelievable backdrop for wading or swimming in this popular swimming hole.

Berkeley Springs

Apple Butter Festival Booths in Historic Downtown Berkeley Springs, Morgan County WV
Apple Butter Festival Booths in Historic Downtown Berkeley Springs, Morgan County, West Virginia.

Famous for its quaint, storybook beauty and rejuvenating mineral springs, the town of Berkeley Springs is a West Virginia paradise for those looking for a magical summer getaway. In addition to its adorable inns, the community is also a popular cottage town, with Berkeley Springs Cottage Rentals offering a variety of accommodations, ranging from cozy cabins to a rustic farmhouse. Places like Fairview Farm, a vintage accommodation with modern comforts in the picturesque countryside, offers a gateway to nature, a short distance from the Potomac River, and a drive to the Cacapon River (famous for its supposed healing waters). Fairview Farm is just one of the many incredible accommodations surrounded by the glorious nature of Berkeley Springs. 

But a visit to this heavenly town is incomplete without a visit to Berkeley Springs State Park, whose mineral spas were actively used by settlers in the 1700s and by Native Americans long before that. Visited by George Washington himself, these waters were renowned for their rejuvenating and healing properties, and today visitors can enjoy a range of traditional and contemporary spa services, including a dip in their lavish whirlpool. 


The picturesque Glade Creek Grist Mill in summer in Babcock State Park near Fayetteville, in the Applalachian Mountains of West Virginia.
Glade Creek Grist Mill in summer in Babcock State Park near Fayetteville, in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.

Referred to by many as the "Gateway to the New River Gorge," Fayetteville is another town bordering the magnificent New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, making it an excellent summer destination for those looking to participate in a range of water and land recreation. Along with spectacular views from the New River Gorge Bridge (once the longest steel-arch bridge in the world), the park offers a plethora of other outdoor adventures, including hiking, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, fishing, and so much more. 

Downtown Fayetteville offers its own excitement as well, with historic architecture and a guided walking tour of structures along the Civil War Trail, as well as the town’s 75 historic homes. Shopping and dining are also popular pastimes, with adorable antique shops like The Hobbit Hole, and restaurants like Pies and Pints, a mouthwatering pizzeria with unique specialty toppings.

Whether you are looking to travel in West Virginia for a blissful day trip, an enchanting weekend, or an even longer serene stay, these small towns offer a range of opportunities and attractions to keep any traveler busy and content. From the state’s awe-inspiring mountains to its incredible mineral springs, West Virginia invites you to sample and adventure through its unique natural settings. With the added perk of comfortable lodgings, warm locals, and incredible historical attractions, these small towns are an excellent home base for your next vacation this summer.

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