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Enjoying patio dining along one of the charming streets in downtown Charleston

West Virginia

West Virginia’s Small Towns: Exploring Hidden Gems and Mountain Charm

By: Idoia Gkikas

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  • States:
    West Virginia

West Virginia’s mountainous terrain lends itself to small-town living.

Local history meshes with modern amenities in these off-the-beaten-path destinations, where old buildings may house craft breweries, art galleries and boutiques. Within a three-hour drive of Charleston, West Virginia’s capital and gateway city, you can experience this this old-meets-new, small-town life.

Lewisburg: Artsy Vibes Steeped in American History

Right here in the town of Lewisburg – population 3,800 – is one of only four remaining Carnegie Halls in the world. In addition to this world-class arts destination, explore the shops downtown and pick up a one-of-a-kind memento at Harmony Ridge Gallery or Brick House Antiques. When your appetite calls, sample locally sourced foods at Stardust Café or American favorites at Food & Friends. Witness the town’s rich history at sites such as the 1862 Confederate Cemetery, the circa-1820 North House Museum and the Old Stone Presbyterian Church, built in 1796 (and still in use).

Colorful flowers and shops lining a picturesque street in Lewisburg

Colorful flowers and shops lining a picturesque street in Lewisburg
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Thomas and Davis: Tiny Towns with Big Appeal

Founded on coal mining and lumber, the neighboring towns of Thomas and Davis have preserved many of their historical structures while adding modern flair with funky shops and art galleries. Take a self-guided walking tour of Thomas, which has nearly 50 structures on the National Historic Register. Enjoy drinks, live music and locally made ice cream at the popular Purple Fiddle. Adding to the towns’ eclectic appeal are three local craft breweries: Stumptown Ales, Mountain State Brewing Company and Blackwater Brewing Company.

Sampling a craft beer brewed at Stumptown Ales in Davis

Sampling a craft beer brewed at Stumptown Ales in Davis
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Morgantown: Outdoor Adventure Awaits

When you visit lively college town Morgantown, be sure to wear blue and gold – the official colors of the West Virginia University Mountaineers. Go for a scenic walk at the Core Arboretum or Cheat Lake Park and Trail, or put on your hiking shoes to explore 80 kilometers of trails and scenic overlooks at Coopers Rock State Forest. Feeling adventurous? Try whitewater rafting on the Cheat River with Cheat River Outfitters, or do the zip line canopy tour at WVU Research Forest. 

A winter view of Pleasant Street near the Monongahela River in Morgantown

A winter view of Pleasant Street near the Monongahela River in Morgantown
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Elkins: Historic and Scenic

Step back in time in Elkins, where you can ride a century-old train at the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. Explore the outdoors at Blackwater Falls State Park or the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area – both within an hour’s drive of Elkins. Satisfy your hunger with tasty barbecue at the 1863 Grill, or the hot dog chili at the famous Custard Stand Diner. Catch a live bluegrass or mountain music show at the Augusta Heritage Center, and stay overnight at circa-1893 historic Graceland Inn & Conference Center.

The Elkins Depot Welcome Center in a restored 1908 train station

The Elkins Depot Welcome Center in a restored 1908 train station
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Getting There

Fly into Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), which offers connecting flights to Yeager Airport (CRW) in Charleston, West Virginia’s capital city. Rental cars are readily available in Charleston.

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