The most breathtaking set you can choose for the scene of your life, the Gorge is full of elegant, rustic options and local vendors with an eye for country flair.
Best for: a great overlook of the New River Gorge and gourmet food for up to 400 guests
Sitting right atop the rim of the Gorge, Smokey’s deck gives you one of the best views in the area. The staff can help you personalize the wedding, from live music or a DJ to dazzling cocktail receptions. Settle your guests into deluxe cabins for any budget, then take your wedding party for an adventure in the water, land or sky.
Best for: an all-inclusive outdoor wedding for up to 100 guests
With a basic package that covers a rehearsal and bonfire, Creekside Island ceremony and reception dinner, Creekside Resort can also add on helpful services like cake, alcoholic beverages, music and coordinating florists and photographers. They can also help with memorable extras like a horse and carraige and wish boats to float down the creek.
Best for: outdoor winery setting for up to 400 guests or intimate indoor ceremonies for up to 40
With four options for your wedding setting, at Daniel Vineyards you can host a large celebration in the outdoor pavilion (equipped for any bad weather that may try to rain on your big day) or gather a cozier crew in the gazebo, surrounded by the blueberry patch and dense forests.
Best for: small, secluded weddings in a log home for about 25 guests
This gigantic, rustic 6-bedroom pondside cabin sits on 28 acres of land on the edge of the New River Gorge National Park, allowing for a private woodland venue only 4 miles from Fayetteville. With a fully-equipped kitchen, indoor and outdoor jacuzzis, game room, big-screen satellite TV and wi-fi, Lynn’s Pond House has all the luxurious amenities for a smooth ceremony with your closest loved ones.
Best for: a banquet room wedding in an artisan haven for up to about 300 guests
The headquarters for West Virginia craftsmanship, Tamarack is the perfect place for a wedding. Keep the stress of planning to a minimum with the Tamarack Conference Center’s many venues to accommodate a ceremony and reception. With a Greenbrier-trained chef staff, the Tamarack is equipped to cater small or large weddings.
There’s still a host more options to create any sort of Southern WV wedding you can dream up. There are churches speckled across the mountain landscape, state parks perfect for secluded getaways and ski lodges that can accommodate the swankiest of nuptials.
Where do you see your dream WV wedding?
The outdoor adventure is never over here in Southern West Virginia. Join us Sunday, December 23rd when Winterplace, our top-notch ski resort, officially opens!
Strap on your skis! It’s a thrill for everyone in the family. Yes, even your overly-cautious aunties and your little ski bunnies. There’s a spot for for anyone at Winterplace.
We know what everyone’s thinking:
“I’ve never skied before in my life”
Never even set eyes on a pair of skis? That’s fine. Beginners classes are guaranteed to teach you the basics. Certified trainers will guide you through the steps, and they’re so sure you can do it, you can retake the class free if you don’t learn to stand on your own down the snowy slopes. Here are some tips to get you started.
“I’m already ready to learn, even though Mom says I’m too young!”
Kids as young as four strap into skis and head out for a whirl with Winterplace instructors. (If they can do it, so can you!) Reserve your child’s spot in the SkiWee program so they can learn to slide down alongside you, safely. Children too young to ski can be left in good hands at day care.
“I got this skiing thing down years ago.”
Right on! If you’re a pro, we’ve got some challenging trails that will keep you on the edge of your skis! You can even go for a glide in the dark, with any of the 26 slopes open late into night. If you want to switch it up, try snowboarding. Hit the slopes, or, if you’re still seeking a bigger thrill, catch some air as you fly over the jumps in one of the mountain’s terrain parks.
“This isn’t my first ski trail. Show me some excitement!”
You don’t have to be a pro to tackle a new challenge on the mountain. The majority of the slopes are intermediate level, so you can always pump up the excitement a notch without dialing it up higher than you can handle. Give yourself a refresher first, then work your way up. Maybe you’ll even knock out an expert level trail before you head home?
“I’m not even going to try skiing. I’m to clumsy/scared/random excuse.”
No worries! Skiing isn’t the only sport you can enjoy on the mountain. If you’re hoping for some slightly more relaxed fun, plop down in an inner tube and give yourself a wiggle or a shove, then coast down the mountain full-speed. Still too high-energy? Kick back, grab a meal and lounge on the decks, enjoying the scenic mountain terrain. Live entertainment will keep your eardrums hopping all vacation long.
No matter what you’re daydreaming about for your winter vacation, we’ve got you covered. Flock like snow birds to Southern WV! It’s the best place to spend the season.
When will we see you on the slopes?
A holiday gift to inspire and nurture the mind is simple: stick a bow on a book. It’s the universal present everyone can enjoy, but also pointedly personal, because you have to take the time to choose a title that speaks to the recipient.
Southern West Virginia has spawned hundreds of profound authors, including Pearl Buck and Booker T. Washington, and countless powerful stories. To help you choose, we’ve picked out a variety of our favorite titles to connect anyone on your list to the most intriguing tales of Appalachian culture.
Adventure: “FAR APPALACHIA: FOLLOWING THE NEW RIVER,” Noah Adams
Trace the trails of the New River with NPR host and author Noah Adams as he bikes, hikes and rafts the full stretch of the river. He travels from Kentucky to the mouth of the New in West Virginia, looking back upon those who have roughed the journey before him and meeting local characters.
History: “FOLLOW THE RIVER,” James Alexander
Another riveting river chronicle, this one a historical novel, follows the humbling journey home of pioneer Mary Ingles, who was pregnant when she was kidnapped by Native Americans in 1755. After being captive for months, she escaped and embarked on a search for her home, using the only landmark she knew, the Ohio River, for a thousand miles.
Inspirational: “ROCKET BOYS,” Homer Hickam
A New York Times Bestseller about dreaming big and aiming for the sky, Rocket Boys is Homer Hickam’s memoir about pursuing rocketry while growing up in a small West Virginia mining town. In a culture where mining was a dangerous but prideful way of life, Hickam was determined as a teenager to develop a unique skill that could offer him a different opportunity.
Literary fiction: “THE STORIES OF BREECE D’J PANCAKE,” Breece D’J Pancake
This Pulitzer-nominated collection of short fiction included those inspired from Pancake’s own upbringing in rural West Virginia. Hailed as one of the greatest writers of all time, his short career still influences today’s most prominent authors and artists. Not for the feint of heart, Pancake paints portraits of the struggles of rural life and survival with sharp honesty.
Sci-Fi: “THE GREENBRIER GHOST AND OTHER STRANGE STORIES,” Dennis Deitz
A folklore collection of the spookier state stories, “The Greenbrier Ghost and Other Strange Stories” is a compelling read for anyone seeking a shiver. The title tale of the Greenbrier Ghost details the odd event of a woman who apparently appeared to her mother as a spirit after her death, and whose posthumous testimony was included in the trial that convicted her husband of the crime.
What books about Appalachia or West Virginia keep you turning the pages?
Break out your calendar! You’ve got an event to pen in: the Bramwell Holiday Homes Tour, Dec. 8. If you aren’t already privy to this annual holiday highlight, here are 5 reasons you’d be crumbling your own cookies if you miss it:
1. THE STORY
Astoundingly rich history. Riches in the millions, in fact.
Bramwell’s home tour isn’t your usual 20th century show-about. The homes aren’t revered simply for their period architecture; they are glamorous displays of the prosperous coal barons that congregated in what was once the richest town in the entire country.
Bramwell was the (and we mean THE) center of business at of the beginning of the coal boom in the late 1800′s, and it prevailed through the early 1900s, with more than 100,000 miners employed in the nearby coalfields. The elaborately detailed buildings that sprung up were a symbol of an epicenter of wealth and power. They reflect the Appalachian prestige and pride that still persists in this quaint town.
2. THE VIEW
Ornate architecture, plus a breathtaking mountainous backdrop
The natural beauty of the Mountain State and the carefully crafted trappings of the man-made landmarks collide, together creating a stunning visual display. From the Thomas House, built upon a hill overlooking the town, you can peer out over the entire scene. The tour will grant you an exclusive peek into the immaculate interior of the homes, which portray the privaledged Appalachian lifestyle with leather-lined studies, immense conservatories and ballrooms, and vibrant stained-glass windows. For a special treat, ask what the Bramwell-coined term “Architechtionary” means.
3. THE SPIRIT
Bramwell will be pulsing with holiday jubilation and cheer
Ever wanted to feel like you’re in a snow globe? Whether the flakes are shaking down or its still and calm, Bramwell will be lit up like a holiday wonderland. The town pulls out every bulb, candle and wreath they can find. Even the homes not on the tour add their own decorative touch. It will put Dr. Seuss to shame, outshining even a Whoville holiday display.
4. THE PEOPLE
They’re welcoming you with open arms and enthusiasm
The old-fashioned values of West Virginian culture nurture the importance of family and fellow man. Bramwellians embody this good will as a way of life, treating its guests as family. If the setting doesn’t shake awake the holiday spirit in you, the costumed tour guides and glee-fueled townsfolk surely will. With tons of volunteers all working to create a magical experience, not a single bah-humbug will escape into town. It will be muffled by warmth, cheer and triumphant carols.
5. THE HOSPITALITY
They’re also welcoming you with cookies and music
Nothing defines Christmas like selfless giving, and this whole event is just a thoughtful gift from the entire Bramwell community. It’s wrapped in regalia instead of ribbon, but it’s a present all the same. The hosts and hostesses will fill their homes with the aromas of fresh-baked goodies, and draw you inside with the resounding notes of soulfully strummed entertainment. All of this, just as a generous gesture to share their history and kindness with you.
There are more reasons you’ll want to join us in Bramwell for the tour, but we won’t give away all of the secrets. Get your pens to scribbling in the date and get your ticket info here.
What are you most looking forward to at the historic homes tour?
With the Christmas season going into high gear over the next few weeks, it is important to take the time to enjoy the fun of the holidays. One way to do that is to check out all of our awesome area light displays and decorations.
If you don’t know where to find the best light displays here, then we can help. Here’s your list of must-see Christmas decor in southern WV.
Holiday of Lights
What began as a small Christmas display has grown into one of the largest lighting exhibits anywhere in West Virginia.
The Tony Lotito Park in Bluefield is home to over 600,000 lights on 40 acres. This light display is a destination for folks from near and far. Special music, hayrides, and fun are on the agenda at this holiday spectacle. Open nightly through December 31, 6-9pm Sunday through Thursday and 6-10pm Friday and Saturday. Click here to view the Holiday of Lights brochure online in a .pdf format.
45th Annual Lacey’s Lights and Maples Display
Another great Christmas light display with a long history is located at the Fayette County Park in Beckwith. This is, by far, one of the longest running celebrations of Christmas lights in the area. Two displays were brought together, combining over 300,000 lights, continuing the tradition started by Lacey Smith and Elwood and Betty Maples over 45 years ago. Take a drive through the park or check it out on foot. This presentation will take place December 1-30 from 6-10 pm nightly.
Appalachian Coal Town Christmas
Back after a two-year hiatus, this celebration of Christmas at the Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley is a light display and a whole lot more. There are underground mine tours, marshmallow roasts, horse drawn carriage rides, caroling, and ornament workshops. Taking place on November 30 and December 1 from 5 to 9pm, this event is a great way for folks of all ages to kick off the Christmas season. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children. All decorations and lights will be above ground.
There are a few other places you can experience Christmas lights throughout the local area.
Make your Christmas more festive and fun by getting out and seeing these wonderful displays of the holiday season.
What’s your favorite place to see lights in our area?
The holiday shopping season has arrived, and the next few weeks are all about finding gifts for everyone on your list. No matter how long or short your list may be, finding the right gift can sometimes be tough. We’ve got the solution for you, though. Give gifts made right here in West Virginia.
This state is full of talented folks who create special, unique products. What could make a better holiday gift than a handcrafted West Virginia made item? Here are some items to look for.
Pottery can be a very special gift. Each piece of handmade pottery is unique in its own way; no two pieces will ever be identical. Mugs, bowls, plates, vases and so many other creative pieces can be found at shops throughout the local area. Gauley River Pottery in Lookout is one place to find great pottery pieces and supplies.
Jewelry is another item that makes a great gift. Handmade necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings can bring great joy to that special someone when they realize you got them a unique, one-of-a kind piece. Harmony Ridge Gallery in Lewisburg has a great collection of handmade jewelry as well as many other handcrafted offerings.
Other WV gifts
There are so many great local craftspeople creating items that would make wonderful gifts. From hand-blown glass and paintings to homemade food products and sculptures, local artisans pour their creativity and skill into these gifts. Check out our shopping page for a list of places to find great WV gifts.
This is your can’t-miss holiday shopping spot in southern West Virginia. All of the artisans that sell at Tamarack have been specially selected, so you know you’re getting some of the best of West Virginia. This place literally houses thousands of hand made items, from specialty foods to hand blown glass. You’ll find an amazing assortment of art, ceramics, textiles, ironwork, books, music, and more. Plan to spend a couple of hours browsing here, and have lunch at the on-site café.
Are you shopping for locally-made gifts on Small Business Saturday? What WV made item would you suggest to a visitor? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
Sweet potatoes can be traced back at least 5,000 years to Central America. They were on the menu for even the earliest Thanksgivings.
Thinking about your Thanksgiving plans? Consider spending it here in southern West Virginia.
Whether southern WV is ‘coming home for the holidays’ or a great place to ‘meet in the middle’ with family and friends, this area doesn’t stop being fun just because summer is over. You’ll find plenty to do to make a holiday visit a great getaway.
Plenty Of Play
Right now there are still plenty of activities for both the occasional adventurer and the dedicated outdoor enthusiast. November weather in West Virginia can be very mild or incredibly wild, but either way you won’t be disappointed in all there is to do. Here are just some of the activities that can become part of a new Thanksgiving tradition.
A Hunting Tradition
West Virginia is known for its hunting tradition, and the week of Thanksgiving means one thing to local hunters: buck season! The firearm season for antlered deer kicks off the Monday of Thanksgiving week. The woods will be full of both local and out of state hunters. West Virginia has over 70 public hunting areas and many of those are close to one of our state parks. That means you can plan a family getaway for hunters and non-hunters alike.
Shop Until You Drop
Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday shopping season. And we’re lucky here in southern West Virginia, because we’ve got a lot of great craftsman and artists that sell their unique offerings in local shops and stores.
Tamarack is one of our most popular shopping spots. It has an amazing selection of handcrafted items and gifts. But there are plenty of shopping options in this area. From glass and ceramics to handmade quilts and preserves, you’ll find a special gift for everyone on your list.
Great Reason to Stay
Now that you know that we still have plenty of things to do and see in the winter, there’s no reason not to spend your Thanksgiving vacation here. Concerned about lodging? Don’t worry! From State Parks like Pipestem and Twin Falls to resorts like Glade Springs, you’ll have a hard time choosing where to stay during your holiday visit here. For something a little more private, check out one of the many cabin rentals in the area.
Do you visit southern West Virginia during Thanksgiving? Tell us what’s on your agenda when you’re here for the holidays?