We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.
Often we tend to forget the things that are literally in our back yard. That’s the case of Southern West Virginia, one hour southeast of Charleston, where the cities of Beckley, Ghent, Daniels, and such are. There are many neat things to see and do in Southern WV, so why not start with a few of these?
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN SOUTHERN WV
Tamarack is one of the Southern West Virginia gems that most have seen, but maybe not stopped for. This original building sits by the interstate/turnpike and is every bit as unique inside as it is out. Housing regional artisans’ paintings, glassware, craft beer, wine, clothing, gourmet food products, books, and much more, Tamarack is a treasure trove of all things made in West Virginia. Fiesta dishes are one of the most surprising to people who visit Tamarack. Besides shopping, you can also dine or grab a snack.
Southern West Virginia proudly boasts the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (the newest National Park), with 70,000-acres surrounding the New River offering endless outdoor recreation. Pop into Canyon Rim Visitor Center to stamp your National Parks passport, then walk the boardwalk paths for the best view of the famous New River Gorge Bridge.
Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent is a fun place to enjoy the winter season through skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing on the largest tubing park in the state. Lessons are available. Switching hats to the spring and summer season, enjoy America’s favorite pastime with a baseball game at Epling Stadium, where the West Virginia Miners play a few dozen games.
There are plenty of other things to do outdoors in Southern WV, too, including fishing, hiking, biking, or picnicking at Little Beaver State Park. Cyclists can also enjoy the McManus Trail for a bike ride (parking at Prince St.) and while in the vicinity, be sure to stroll downtown Beckley for local shopping, mighty memorials, and murals.
Orange cold brew with foam from chocolate moose. Photo by Melody Pitman.
Beckley’s Chocolate Moose fits more than one category as this eclectic coffee shop also has a climbing gym and mini-golf. Treat yourself to hand-dipped ice cream or a clever coffee or smoothie creation that tastes as good as they sound. I recommend the Orange Cold Brew with dark chocolate and orange cream cold foam.
One of Beckley’s most important attractions is the Exhibition Coal Mine, an 1889 drift mine now used for education. Historic coal camp houses, church, and a school sit around the property and a youth museum and gift shop. The attraction is open from April 1 to Nov 2.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Starting with breakfast, one restaurant is synonymous with West Virginia, Tudor’s Biscuit World. This counter-serve local chain has incredible biscuits, perfect for dunking in gravy or building a delicious breakfast sandwich. The Ron, Peppy, and Mountaineer are popular choices.
For lunch, grab a burger or WV hot dog (onion rings or petals go great as a side) from the iconic King Tut Drive-In or the weekly lunch special from Daniel Vineyards. Tamarack’s restaurant is also a treat. Try the daily special, such as meatloaf or fried catfish, accompanied by two sides of your choice (the green beans and glazed carrots are tasty!), but save room for the signature Peach Bread Pudding. This is one dish you will be talking about for days!
Go local for dinner with one of the two family-owned chains that have been in Beckley for 50+ years. The Char is your fine-dining steakhouse with fabulous food and ambiance, while Pasquale’s is the Italian restaurant with delicious bread, decadent pasta dishes, and an excellent antipasto platter. Pasquale’s Spaghetti and Meatballs is a dish I could eat every day.
Another standout dining spot in Southern WV is The Dish Cafe in Daniels. This scratch-made kitchen serves a variety of menu items, but the burgers are a standout. The Hey Jack Burger is piled with pimento cheese, cherry pepper slaw, and a fried egg. Try the award-winning Mac & cheese as your side; it is sensational!
Daniel Vineyards is a lovely setting for a West Virginia wine tasting, while Weathered Grounds Brewery is a craft beer institution with a picturesque setting and live music.
WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTHERN WV
Southern West Virginia’s premier lodging is at the Resort at Glade Springs. You can stay in the main inn, lodges, and villas at this gated property that offers dozens of amenities and three 18-hole championship golf courses that are some of the best in the state. Rooms are spacious and have upscale bedding, granite bathrooms, and the luxuries of home, while the resort provides free Wifi and parking. From billiards, movies, and bowling, to archery, laser tag, and full-service spa, Glade Springs has it all.
You’ll find all the big names in chain hotels in Southern West Virginia, too, including Hampton Inn, Country Inn & Suites, Econo Lodge, and Courtyard Marriott, all in Beckley.
TRAVEL IN YOUR OWN BACK YARD
Hopefully you will take this short, but sweet road trip to explore Southern West Virginia. There is way more to do than what’s listed, especially with the area’s zip lining, whitewater rafting, ATV parks, and other outdoor attractions, but this will be a great intro. Happy travels.