Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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West Virginia is a low-population state filled with small towns and rural communities brimming with history, hospitality, and beautiful scenery. These destinations often fly under the radar of the average tourist, but you can learn a lot about local life while having unique experiences by spending time here.
To plan your route and start crafting your itinerary, here are some of the most charming small towns to visit in West Virginia.
People love visiting Hinton, West Virginia for outdoor recreation along the New River. It is a popular town near Bluestone State Park, which is known for hiking and watersports. There is a railroad museum in town and also a wildlife refuge center called the Three Rivers Avian Center. Another option for family fun in Hinton is the Wild Water Express water park. The Market on Courthouse Square is a prime spot for dining and shopping. History buffs love Hinton because of the King’s Civil War Museum and Veterans Memorial Museum.
An essential small town to visit in West Virginia is Shepherdstown, which is a historic town with great restaurants and a Bavarian heritage. The history of the town dates back to 1762. There’s an opera house in town, and you can take a haunted tour of Shepherdstown to learn about local history. Head to the Virginia and Ohio Canal Historic Park to get active with hiking and biking. You can get to Shepherdstown within about an hour and a half from Washington, D.C., making it a perfect weekend getaway from the city.
Make a plan to visit Fayetteville, West Virginia and you can enjoy a whitewater rafting trip during your stay. This town is near the Gorge and has opportunities to stay overnight in campgrounds and cabins. One of the best towns in the U.S. for fall foliage, it also has a historic town square and endless adventure or wildlife sighting opportunities. Take a Bridge Walk tour or hike along the Kaymoor Miners Trail for gorgeous scenery and history lessons in the outdoors. Then, stop by a local brewery for a refreshing drink and catch a show at the Historic Fayette Theater.
Harpers Ferry is a historic town located at the intersection of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. This town is known for being the location of John Brown’s raid and home to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. There is the Restoration Museum in town to learn about antiques as well. In this part of West Virginia, you can hike along the Appalachian Trail, visit the beautiful St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, and see John Brown’s Fort.
Most people plan to visit Summersville, West Virginia for lake recreation because Summersville Lake is a great place for boating and fishing. This town is just 20 minutes from Fayetteville, so it’s fun to combine both towns into your vacation itinerary. Plan to check out Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park and visit the Kirkwood Winery when you visit Summerville. There’s a veterans’ memorial park in town with a walking trail and sports fields too.
We also love Morgantown as a West Virginia destination, especially if you are looking for a lively college-town vibe. Coopers Rock State Park is located nearby and offers lovely views from the Cheat River Gorge. You can attend the Morgantown Poetry Festival and tour the university campus while you’re in town. If you’re a sports fan, plan to visit Morgantown during football or basketball season to catch a game at the local university. There are also outdoor summer concerts held at the sports venue. Other items to add to your Morgantown itinerary are the West Virginia Botanic Garden, Caperton Trail along the Mon River, and the Morgantown History Museum.
Another option when you’re looking for small-town fun is Parkersburg, West Virginia. This is a pretty town along the Ohio River in the western part of West Virginia. You can take a boat ride to the Blennerhasset Island Historical Park and see a historic mansion while also learning about railroad history. There’s also the Oil and Gas Museum if you are interested in local history. The North Bend Rail Trail State Park is in the Parkersburg area and is perfect for outdoor recreation.
In Sutton, West Virginia, you can plan a romantic getaway or family trip and enjoy lots of natural beauty and recreation. Sutton Lake and the Elk River Water Trail are popular attractions here. Look into renting a houseboat at the Sutton Lake Marina! There are also film festivals, live music ventures, and theater performances in this historic town.
Add Berkeley Springs, West Virginia to your travel bucket list if you want to experience a historic spa town in the mountains. This is a prime arts and culture destination with spas, shops, upscale dining, and outdoor fun. When you are here, you can check out an outdoor festival, play golf, go biking, and hike. During a trip to Berkeley Springs, you can also head to Cacapon Resort State Park for trails, a beach, and a golf course. This small town makes an excellent weekend getaway spot from Baltimore and Washington, DC.
When you visit White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, you’ll find a hub for outdoor recreation and local history. The Greenbrier Bunker is a popular attraction to learn about and tour. The Greenbrier Resort is a local landmark here, and the town is also a hot spot for festivals, including the Dandelion Festival and Freshwater Folk Festival. To get out in nature during your trip to White Sulphur Springs, head to the nearby Greenbrier Valley Trail and Monongahela National Forest. White Sulphur Springs is known to be one of the best places to live in West Virginia.
For mountain landscapes and plenty of great restaurants, make a point to visit Elkins, West Virginia. There are theaters in town to catch a show and the Augusta Heritage Center to learn about bluegrass music. The New Tygart Flyer is a train that you can catch here to see the surrounding mountains and trees. If you visit in the winter, there are ski resorts in the Elkins area. Other things to do in Elkins are to visit the Cranberry Glades Botanical Gardens, get some exercise on the Elk River Trail, and go fishing in the Elk River.
In Point Pleasant, West Virginia, you can check out museums, shops, and outdoor recreation spaces. The Mothman Museum is a place to learn about local history, while the McClintic Wildlife Management Area is a place to hike. A trip to Point Pleasant wouldn’t be complete without seeing the murals at Riverfront Park and going fishing at Krodel Park. Other local options are the West Virginia State Farm Museum, Point Pleasant River Museum & Learning Center, and Gunn Park.
There is a famous bridge in Wheeling that is perfect for viewing the fall foliage in the autumn season. During a trip to Wheeling, you can enjoy a game of golf at the Oglebay Resort, try your luck at the local casino and racetrack, catch a performance at the Stifel Fine Arts Center, and scope out the local nightlife scene. The Wheeling Heritage Trail is a great hiking trail for running, walking, and biking. Families will enjoy visiting the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum while in Wheeling too.
Thomas, West Virginia offers lessons in coal mining history and is a place to experience arts and culture too. You’ll find many art galleries and studios here, as well as art events and seasonal festivals. The town is filled with historic buildings, while there are opportunities to get outdoors and active at Blackwater Falls State Park and Thomas City Park. Many buildings in town are listed on the National Historic Register because of their significance.
A vacation in Lewisburg, West Virginia may involve going to arts and culture events at the local galleries and taking a historic tour of the downtown area. This quaint town is filled with antique shops and Civil War sites too. The Greenbrier Valley Theatre is a great place to check out a performing arts show. Lewisburg has been voted one of the coolest small towns, not only in West Virginia but in all of America. Lost World Caverns is just outside of town and features an impressive collection of underground rock formations. Popular places for food and drinks are the Stardust Café and Livery Tavern.