Best Adventure town


This tiny county seat might be small in size and population, but it’s the biggest name in adventure tourism east of the Mississippi. For years, “Fayetteville” has been synonymous with whitewater rafting. The town and its surrounding communities are home to a smattering of trusted outfitters ready to take you down the New River or its wilder sister, the Gauley. Rock climbing is another of Fayetteville’s big draws. The rock faces lining the New River Gorge make the area a perfect playground for climbers. And there are plenty of top-notch hiking and mountain biking trails in the area for enthusiasts of all experience levels. Outfitters also offer ziplines, aerial obstacle courses, water parks, stand-up paddleboarding, and more, so everyone from the adrenaline junkie to the adventurous amateur can feel at home.


These little towns are epicenters for adventure from biking and hiking to skiing and fishing.

The Hatfield-McCoy Trails are transforming this southern coalfield town.

Best Town to Experience the Winter


These tiny touching towns are epicenters for adventure when cooler temperatures spread a blanketof snow over the mountains and valleys. Ski at one of the area ski resorts, snowshoe at White Grass, sled at Blackwater Falls, or tube at Canaan Valley Resort. Grab a bite at Hellbender Burritos or Sirianni’s and enjoy a pint or two at Stumptown Ales or Mountain State Brewing. There are also plenty of antique shops, eclectic retail, art galleries, and cafes.

Best Historic Town


Harpers Ferry is a favorite historic landmark and home to many historic events, such as the first successful American railroad,
John Brown’s infamous raid on a federal armory, the largest surrender of federal troops during the Civil War, and one of the earliest integrated schools in the country. While the town is brimming with history, it’s also beautifully situated at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Tourists flock to this town to see sights like Jefferson Rock, the Appalachian Trail, the C&O Canal towpath, the John Brown Wax Museum, and, of course, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Best Hidden Gem Town


The quaintness of Thomas isn’t going to be a secret much longer. With Blackwater Falls State Park, Canaan Valley Resort, Timberline, and Dolly Sods at its doorstep, visitors are flocking here for everything from festivals and fall foliage to outdoor recreation and entertainment. TipTop is the place for baked goods and coffee, The Purple Fiddle in Thomas provides a relaxing atmosphere to eat and be merry, and try a local brew from fellow Best of West Virginia winner Mountain State Brewing Company.


This New River gateway town is charming and historic. Pipestem State Park, Sandstone Falls, and Bluestone Lake are just a hop, skip, and jump away, and with darling bed and breakfast options like The Guesthouse Inn, there’s no excuse not to spend a few days. You’ll want to eat at The Market on Courthouse Square and catch a movie at the renovated Ritz Theater.

Capon Bridge may be small, but it delivers a lot for a little town of just 400. The Famer’s Daughter Market & Butcher serves lunch on weekends and is the go-to place for locally sourced meat and produce, and nearby, The River House, created as a nonprofit, community-based arts and music program, houses a coffee shop and displays local art.

Best Town for Foodies


Faster than you can say “Garlic Aioli and Sriracha Fries”—an appetizer at Table 9, one of Morgantown’s epicurean-attracting restaurants—the home of the WVU Mountaineers has been transformed into a mecca for diners with discerning taste. Chefs all over town are creating inventive dishes made with locally sourced, in-season ingredients. Foodies looking to find an exciting meal do not have to look very far in Morgantown. And, more often than not, they can find a West Virginia-brewed beer on tap or a craft cocktail to wash down their meal.

Best Town for the Arts


Charleston hosts several art galleries, and ArtWalk turns downtown Charleston into a big, walkable art gallery every third Thursday from March through December. But the crown jewel of arts in Charleston is FestivALL, the annual celebration where the city “becomes a work of art.” For two weeks each June, venues around town host all kinds of art, drama, music, and dance shows. On Sunday nights, head over to the Culture Center for a taping of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s nationally syndicated Mountain Stage radio show, which features some of the biggest names in Americana music. Music isn’t the only game in town, however.
The Charleston Ballet offers regular performances of classic ballets, while theater groups like the Charleston Light Opera Guild and the Kanawha Players stage a variety of musicals and dramas throughout the year.

Best Town to Experience the Fall


The best way to see this first-time winner for best town to experience the fall is by rail. The Cass Scenic Railroad will take you in an open-air car behind a preserved Shay steam-driven locomotive from the charming town lined with pristine white clapboard company houses to an authentic logging camp or to Bald Knob, the third-highest point in West Virginia.

Best Town Transformation


Huntington has been dealt some difficulties of late, but it is meeting the challenges head-on. Since it was named America’s Best Community in April 2017, its blighted areas are being transformed thanks to groups like Coalfield Development Corporation and visionary mayor Steve Williams. Coalfield has converted the former Corbin factory into “West Edge Factory” with a solar panel installation business and training center, a woodworking shop, agribusiness operations, and more. And this is just the beginning.


Drive down Front Street in Thomas and you’ll see art galleries, shops, markets, restaurants, and music venues in what were once empty storefronts.

The birthplace of West Virginia is experiencing a rebirth with new loft living and entertainment options transforming the historic downtown.

Off the Beaten Path


Wardensville is probably not what you’d expect, assuming you expected anything. This town of less than 300 people, 100 miles from Washington, D.C., is arguably not on most West Virginians’ radar—but it should be. Anyone traveling from D.C. or Baltimore to, say, Lost River, has to drive the two-lane through Wardensville. There’s currently no other route. In the past five years Wardensville’s Main Street has begun to change with shopping, dining, and even great art. The beautiful Lost River Brewing Company, serving fresh seafood and other delectable dinners and handcrafted brews, opened in 2011. A darling coffee shop, art gallery, and antique shop-combo, Lost River Trading Post, opened in 2013. An art gallery, the Mansion on Main, opened in early 2015, as did an Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College venture called New Biz Launchpad. A couple of years ago lights went up on the rooflines of many Main Street businesses to attract even more attention downtown. There’s a lot of energy and excitement—a testament to dynamic leadership and community involvement.

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