Wild and wonderful West Virginia is full of beautiful outdoor scenes and charming small towns. Having lived in West Virginia for many years during our university studies, we have visited a fair share of the small towns in West Virginia. Here is our list of small towns in West Virginia you need to visit!
Best Small Towns in West Virginia
Best Historic Small Town in West Virginia: Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry is perhaps the most well-known town in West Virginia. As an early battleground of the American Civil War, Harpers Ferry was once the site of an armory that abolitionist John Brown and a group of enslaved people raided in 1859. Today, Harpers Ferry embraces its history, along with its beautiful natural scenery, preserved by the National Park Service and nonprofit organizations. The old “Lower Town,” located between the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, comprises the Harpers Ferry Historic District, where you can find small museums, restaurants, ice cream shops. Harpers Ferry has tons to offer the outdoor enthusiast, including the Appalachian Trail and hiking trails within the National Park Service, and water sports. Eateries we have enjoyed include Rations Cafe, Almost Heaven Pub and Grille, and A Step in Time Bake Shop. Harpers Ferry is walkable yet hilly, so plan accordingly.
Fairmont, WV is located a short 20-minute drive from Morgantown. Here, you’ll find an outdoor hidden gem, Valley Falls State Park. This smaller West Virginia State Park has a beautiful waterfall and miles of hiking trails. The falls are located by the parking lot, so you don’t have to hike to get to them. The trails at Valley Falls are of ranging difficulty, so you can find something for every skill level.
There is also a hidden waterfall along the Rhododendron Trail. When it comes to the Rhododendron Trail sign that tells you to make a hard right, there is an unmarked trail that goes slightly left. If you take the left and then another slight left onto a smaller trial, you’ll come upon another hidden waterfall!
Nestled in the Appalachians on the Ohio River, you’ll find historic Wheeling, WV. Wheeling is historically known for its important role in the transportation and glass industry. It was once a booming city with more millionaires per capita, but with industrial decline, it has become a snapshot of the past.
Attractions in Wheeling include the Wheeling Island, Victorian-style homes, Independence Hall, and the Oglebay Resort. During the winter, the Oglebay Festival of Lights dazzles visitors with its Christmas light show! Oglebay also makes for a fun destination during the summer with its mini-golf course, multiple swimming pools, golfing, and horseback riding! Read more about our weekend getaway to Wheeling here!
Shepherdstown duels with Romney for the oldest town in West Virginia. This little town along the Potomac River on the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia has historic charm. Here, you can tour the historic district and learn about Shepherdstown Colonial and Civil War history. If you cross the border into Maryland, you can visit Antietam National Battlefield. Shepherdstown is also home to the historic Bavarian Inn Resort, a hot destination for romantic getaways in West Virginia!
Romney, West Virginia is the oldest town in West Virginia as it was chartered on December 23, 1762 (the same day as Shephardtown, but with a lower charter number!)
In Romney, you can get your dose of history and the outdoors! You can visit The Davis History House, the only log house still standing on its original lot in Romney. The Taggart Hall Civil War Museum and Visitor’s Center features Civil War Memorabilia and Fenton Art Glass. One fun activity in Romney is the Potomac Eagle Train ride. On these train rides, you can learn more about local history and maybe get the chance to see some Bald Eagles!
Arthurdale, in Preston County, is an interesting town to visit if you’re a history buff. Authurdale was one of the first of many planned communities established under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. This plan hoped to aid impoverished laborers, farmers, and coal miners and move them towards a modern rural community with economic self-sufficiency. Eleanor Roosevelt was included in the project and paid close attention to Aurthurdale. Although this was a great attempt at helping the community, the initiative was unsuccessful and heavily criticized by the public and politicians. Authurdale is now on the National Register of Historic Places and you can visit the original homesteads and learn more about “Eleanor’s Little Village.”
Best Small Town in West Virginia for the outdoors: Davis
Davis, West Virginia is a beautiful, charming small town located in the Canaan Valley of West Virginia. This region of West Virginia is known for its scenic state parks and adventurous hike along the northern edge of the Monongahela National Forest. This past summer, we went on an extended weekend trip to the Canaan Valley. Read more about our three-day interinary to Davis here! In Davis, you can find bed and breakfasts, family-run restaurants, and local shopping. You can also visit the many parks in the area including Blackwater Falls State Park, the National Wildlife Refuge, and Cathedral State Park. So consider visiting Davis, West Virginia, and making it your home base for a weekend away!
Come Explore Small Towns in West Virginia this Summer!
West Virginia has become a tourist destination for city dwellers over the past few years. So keep West Virginia in mind when you’re looking for small towns to visit! Which one of these small towns in West Virginia is sparking your interest?!