Town for Arts
There’s always something happening in West Virginia’s capital city. Catch live music at The Empty Glass, The Boulevard Tavern, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Mountain Stage, or Haddad Riverfront Park’s Live on the Levee concert series. 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. The Clay Center is home to the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and hosts touring productions of Broadway hits. Catch indie films at the biannual West Virginia Independent Film Festival, or head to the Underground Cinema below Taylor Books. The visual arts get their due, too. Charleston hosts several art galleries, and monthly ArtWalk events turn downtown Charleston into a big, walkable art show. charlestonwv.com
Mayor – THREE WAY TIE
BEVERLY KEADLE, ROMNEY
Keadle has only been mayor of Romney for a little over a year but is already making significant improvements in her hometown. She has worked with Refresh Restart Romney to clean up abandoned properties, partnered with the Hampshire County Arts Foundation to get murals around town, and removed parking meters to encourage more traffic to downtown businesses.
GLENN ELLIOTT, WHEELING
Since taking office in 2016, Elliott has worked tirelessly to make West Virginia’s first capital city a better place to live. He’s overseen Wheeling’s continued economic growth, while also pushing city government to be more compassionate—as evidenced by continued work to address the city’s opioid epidemic and an ordinance that protects housing and employment rights for LGBT citizens.
STEVE WILLIAMS, HUNTINGTON
During his six years as mayor, Williams has worked to attract new investment, rehab Huntington’s brownfields, and bring good housing to the city’s most depressed neighborhoods. That work got a major shot in the arm when Huntington, under Williams’ leadership, won the $3 million grand prize in the inaugural America’s Best Communities competition in 2017.
For years, Fayetteville has been synonymous with whitewater rafting on the New River and its wilder sister, the Gauley. The town is also a perfect playground for rock climbers, with scenic faces lining the New River Gorge. And it’s also home to a huge range 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. 888.574.1500, visitfayettevillewv.com
Town for History
Thomas Jefferson once stood on a rock overlooking the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers at Harpers Ferry and declared, “This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” The sight is still worth a trip, whether across the Atlantic or just across the state. Harpers Ferry is 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. 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. discoveritallwv.com
Town for Foodies
The home of the WVU Mountaineers also happens to be 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. tourmorgantown.com
Town To Experience Fall
The adventure capital of southern West Virginia really comes alive once the leaves begin to turn. The New River Gorge explodes with color and—thanks to a timed release from the Summersville Dam—the Gauley River explodes with whitewater rafting. And then there’s Bridge Day, held on the third Saturday of October, where adrenaline junkies parachute from the New River Gorge Bridge. 888.574.1500, visitfayettevillewv.com