West Virginia is home to some of the coolest small towns with deep roots in American history, arts, and culture. Stay in an old company town or tour a nationally held secret bunker. You may even have a run-in with the paranormal here, but you'll surely be calmed by the forests, rivers, and natural beauty of the Mountain State.
Voted "America's Coolest Small Town," Lewisburg has quaint vibes and historic charm. Book a night at the historic General Lewis Inn or watch the symphony at Lewisburg's Carnegie Hall, one of four remaining Carnegie Halls. For a deeper dive into this town's history, take an online guided walking tour or arrange a guided tour with the North House Museum.
Soak in mineral springs and U.S. history in this small town, which has been luring tourists since the 1770s. For a luxurious retreat, follow in the footsteps of 28 U.S. Presidents and spend the night at "America's Resort," the Greenbrier Hotel. Play a round at Oakhurst Links, the oldest established golf club in the United States, or venture 720 feet below the hotel to tour the 112,544-square-foot bunker built to house members of Congress in case of a nuclear attack.
A former coal town, Thomas was once home to one of the world's largest and best-known coal companies. Take the short drive to Douglas Falls and hike to the 35-foot waterfall. On your way there, don't miss remnants of this area's coal mining past. Beehive-shaped ovens that were used to burn coal still stand on this trail. After Douglas Falls, stop by the Purple Fiddle in town for live music and a post-hike drink or scoop of ice cream.
From historic buildings and iconic hikes, Fayetteville offers something for outdoor and indoor enthusiasts alike. Tour the Fayetteville Historic District or ride at West Virginia's only bike farm. Peruse the aisles of the New River Antique Mall or catch the next Vintage in the Ville event for unique finds. For amazing views, head to the New River Gorge Bridge for a breathtaking backdrop of a 3,030 feet long steel arch bridge over the New River Gorge.
Situated on the Ohio River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Wheeling is a convenient getaway for both Pennsylvanians and Ohioans. Walk along the Wheeling Suspension Bridge to experience a part of this town's industrial past. Head to Oglebay Park for outdoor recreation or to tour the estate of the park's namesake, Cleveland industrialist Earl W. Oglebay. Home renovation junkies might also recognize this town from the show "In With the Old" on Magnolia Network.
Venture to Shepherdstown, the oldest city in West Virginia, for European vibes along the Potomac. Originally named Mecklenburg for the birthplace of King George III's wife, Shepherdstown was later renamed for its founder, Thomas Shepherd. However, this town still honors its German heritage. Stroll down German street or stay in the nearby Bavarian Inn Resort and Brewing Company for European-inspired accommodations and authentic German cuisine (and beer) only an hour outside Washington, D.C.
Imagine living in a town owned by your boss. Now preserved as a state park, Cass is one of the few surviving examples of a logging industry company town built for loggers who worked in the nearby mountains. Shop in the old company store or stay in one of 20 refurbished cottages that formerly housed workers. For even more fun, ride aboard one of the steam locomotives to the second highest point in West Virginia, Bald Knob.
Situated in north-central West Virginia, Buckhannon is known for its annual strawberry festival, West Virginia Wesleyan College, and its proximity to state parks. Head 25 miles south to Audra State Park for stunning vistas and camping at over 60 sites. Hike a 2.7-mile loop and go over the Middle Fork River, through the woods, and on a boardwalk through the Alum Cave for an incredible outdoor adventure.
Families won't run out of fun activities in Hinton. Catch a movie at the Ritz Theatre, a West Virginia Historic Theatre Trail member, or take a plunge at the local water park, Wild Water Express. Explore Hinton's railroad history at the Hinton Railroad Museum, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, or venture to Bluestone State Park for boating and fishing.
Fans of American history or local folklore might know this town for its famous Revolutionary War battlefield or local cryptid known as Mothman. History buffs should head to Tu-Endie-Wei State Park to commemorate the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, while paranormal enthusiasts should visit the Mothman Museum or the annual Mothman Festival for a deep dive into this town's extraterrestrial history, which was chronicled in the 2002 film The Mothman Prophecies.
Head to this favorite getaway of George Washington, only 90 minutes west of the Washington/Baltimore metro area, for historic spas and a vibrant arts scene. Take a dip at the historic Roman Bath House or imbibe on free spring water at Berkeley Springs Park. Art buffs should visit the community arts center, the Ice House, for local art at the Co-Op Gallery.
Catch the New Tygart Flyer from Elkins Depot for a thrilling train ride aboard a vintage diesel train to a 150-foot wide waterfall, the High Falls of Cheat. For adult beverages and more legroom, upgrade to Parlor Car service. For historical architecture in town, go to the Governor H. Guy Kump House or the historic mansion known as Halliehurst. End your trip at the Gandy Theatre for dinner and a show.
Sutton is where the Flatwoods Monster was first sighted in the 1950s. Take a picture of one of the five Flatwoods Monster Chairs that commemorate this local lore. For outdoor recreation, head to the Elk River Water Trail or rent a pontoon or houseboat on Sutton Lake. In the summer, check out one of the live performances at the Mountain Lakes Amphitheater or visit the Elk Theatre year-round for weekend showings.
Charles Town was named after George Washington's youngest brother, Charles, and is another great getaway. In the warmer months, tour the Charles Washington House, Happy Retreat, on the first Saturday of every month or attend one of the festivals held on its grounds. For more history, head to the Downtown Charles Town Historic District to see additional sites on the National Register of Historic Places, such as the Jefferson County Courthouse and the New Opera House.
Boasting America's largest small-town Independence Day celebration, Ripley hosts seven days of activities leading up to the Fourth of July festivities. This includes a carnival, entertainment, and a two-hour-long grand parade. Stick around to sip on traditional moonshine at the Appalachian Distillery or enjoy seasonal entertainment at the historic Alpine Theatre. Don't miss a photo op at the Staats Mill Covered Bridge.