West Virginia, known as “almost heaven” because of its high altitude and beautiful mountaintop views, may not be as well known for the state’s beach towns. This is such a disservice to one of the most beautiful places in the United States. Although there are plenty of mountains and hills to be seen, there are many landlocked beachfront areas with immaculate lakes and pristine beaches. These towns in the Mountain State offer world-class attractions, Appalachian hospitality, and plenty of activities for the entire family to enjoy. From summer festivals to water sports and breathtaking views of nature, these eight beach towns provide rest, relaxation, and local charm.
Home to the picturesque Tygart Lake, which is a reservoir created by the Tygart Dam, this small town draws visitors due to its proximity to Tygart Lake State Park and the celebrations observed by the town during the month of May. In fact, Grafton is known as “the home of Mother’s Day.” A native of the town, Anna Jarvis, arranged the first Mother’s Day observance in the United States in 1908 at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton. The town is also known for its Memorial Day celebration each year, complete with a parade and family-friendly activities.
Since this beach town is located in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, there are plenty of scenic views at the 10-mile Tygart Lake. People enjoy scuba diving, fishing, swimming, boating, and water skiing at the pristine lake and soaking up the sun on the sandy beaches.
Boasting West Virginia 's largest lake, Summersville Lake, the town is overflowing with scenic nature views. The 2700-acre lake is a popular spot for swimming, boating, fishing, water skiing, and white water rafting. Plus, the stunning cliffs make this beach town a popular spot for rock climbing and a wonderful place to take in all the views.
In addition to the state's largest body of water, the town also has a rich history. The Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park commemorates the American Civil War Battle of Carnifex Ferry. This battle allowed West Virginia to maintain its statehood without threat from the Confederacy. Along with its historical charm, the town offers annual festivals, such as the Annual Music in the Mountains Bluegrass Festival each summer.
Located in the heart of West Virginia, Sutton is the center of transportation for the state. Due to its central location, this beach town has a rich history, including the Sutton Downtown Historic District with more than 80 historic buildings. The district showcases the town’s boom in the 20th century and features various architectural styles, including Romanesque and Greek Revival.
In addition to the charming downtown, Sutton Lake provides additional charm and natural beauty to the beach town. With over 40 miles of shoreline, Sutton Lake offers a great recreation area that has not been commercially developed. The area is in pristine condition and provides amazing views of the water, mountains, and coves.
Known to locals as "the best little village in the state," Barboursville is big on small town charm. Each year the beach town hosts annual festivals, such as the Fall Festival in September and Village of Lights each December. Plus, the quaint downtown area boasts local restaurants and a record store, Orbit’s Record Shop.
Barboursville is also home to Beech Fork State Park. Located in the southwestern hills of the state, the park provides beautiful scenery along Beech Fork Lake. Activities include swimming, boating, and fishing, along with sunbathing on the sandy shores. The park also has hundreds of cabins and four campsites.
With natural warm springs and a vibrant art community, Berkeley Springs is known for both its mineral springs and unique culture. For centuries, the town has been a popular destination for health and wellness seekers. Long before colonials settled the land, the springs attracted Native Americans from all over North America. Today, Berkeley Springs State Park is home to several mineral springs, as well as a swimming pool, a playground, and hiking trails.
The town is also known for its eclectic art scene. Each fall, the Berkeley Springs Film Festival showcases works by independent filmmakers. The town also hosts several art galleries, including Frog Valley Artisans. While the studio features local artists, guests can also attend art classes and bring home their very own creations.
Depending on the season, Snowshoe is both a beach town and a skiing community. Home to the second highest peak in the state, Snowshoe Mountain, the town hosts thousands of skiers each year. However, the community transforms into a charming beach town in the summer due to the lake located at the base of the mountain, Shavers Lake. The body of water offers swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing to water enthusiasts. There are also a number of other activities for those who prefer to stay dry. From hiking to camping and even disc golf, the area offers much for people who enjoy the outdoors. Plus, scenic lift rides provide breathtaking views of the mountains and lake for those looking for a different perspective.
The quaint beach town of Oak Hill offers beautiful nature preserves along with historic charm. When the town was incorporated in 1903, the White Oak Railway Company created a depot in Oak Hill. The depot still exists today and is the oldest building in the beach town. Oak Hill also offers annual festivals, such as the Oak Leaf Festival held during Labor Day weekend each year. However, this town is best known for its proximity to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. The beautiful park covers 70,000 acres of land and offers a variety of activities, such as hiking, white water rafting, camping, and mountain biking. The town also hosts the Ace Adventure Resort that has many family-friendly activities both on and off water.
White Sulphur Springs
One of the most beautiful resort beach towns in West Virginia is White Sulphur Springs. Known for its natural hot springs, golf courses, and outdoor activities, this picturesque town also provides local charm on historical Main Street. However, an important part of the history of White Sulphur Springs just happens to be found at its luxury resort, the Greenbrier. While the resort boasts 11,000 acres of beautiful mountains, incredible restaurants, and a casino, it also played a role in American history. After making a deal with the resort’s owner, the United States government created a bunker under the Greenbrier to serve as an emergency shelter during the Cold War. Today, visitors are able to tour the 112,544-square-foot bunker.
While West Virginia is beautiful because of its natural beauty, the state is also wild and wonderful due to several charming beach towns. From the state's southwestern corner to its northeastern region and everywhere in between, there are several beach towns to explore. With annual festivals, water activities, and plenty of hiking available, West Virginia offers beach communities for people of all ages.