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Anatomy of a Cool Small Town

So what makes up a ‘cool’ small town? Well in our humble opinion it’s a combination of many things. It has to be both scenic and historic and MUST be close to some really fun things to see and do. Good eats and unique shops are another thing a town cannot be cool without and last and probably most importantly, you have to have some friendly folks that love rolling out the red carpet to guests.

We invite you to escape the sprawl of the big city and visit southern West Virginia. Why? Well, read on:

In the past few years alone, our small towns have racked up a collection of awards and honors for their cultural and entertainment offerings, as well as their charm.

Southern WV Small Towns

Southern WV Small Towns

Fayetteville, ”Coolest Small Town” in Budget Travel 2006 – For its world-class rafting, vast forests and artsy and adventurous townsfolk, this recreation hub earned the crown

Lewisburg, “Coolest Small Town” in Budget Travel 2011 – Home to one of only four Carnegie Halls in the world, Lewisburg’s eclectic arts scene made the top pick

Beckley, named to The Smithsonian’s “20 Best Small Towns 2012″- Celebrating its coal heritage roots and Appalachian traditions earned this town a spot on the list.

Why Think Small?

Are you ready to give in to a ‘small-town’ vacation? Just because the towns are small that doesn’t mean the offerings are – here’s a few reasons our small towns are so swoon-worthy:

1. Culture
Southern West Virginia embraces not only the Appalachian heritage it comes from, but also the modern arts and culture that it’s cultivating. Beckley’s Exhibition Coal Mine explores the early lives of West Virginians, while right down the road at Tamarack, today’s artisans congregate to create and share. Lewisburg’s Carnegie Hall draws in artists of every medium, from performers to painters.

2. Adventure

With outdoor playgrounds like the New River Gorge in your back yard, it’s hard not to heed the call of the wilderness. With some of the best rafting in the entire world for beginners and experts alike, an array of rock climbing cliff faces, and thousands of acres of forest to bike, hike, zipline and explore, Fayetteville is easily a top destination for recreation of all sorts. Rustic mountain trails weave throughout southern West Virginia, and much of it still remains “Wild and Wonderful.”

3. Charm

What’s a small town without brazenly unique independent shops? And what are those shops without hospitable shopkeepers to welcome you when you walk in? We couldn’t tell you, because we’re only aware of entrepreneurs who care about their businesses, from experimental culinary locales like Secret Sandwich Society to quirky storefronts stocked with primitives and crafts, like the Harmony Ridge Gallery. You can also sit down in our cozy coffee shops and restaurants  and make new friends. We like people, and we love to chat.

4. Celebration

This love of people means we, southern West Virginians, do a lot of gathering. We find hundreds of reasons to get together and pack as many people as we can into these tiny towns, from the BASE jumping extravaganza on Bridge Day that draws worldwide crowds, to the decadently sweet dessert tastings at the Lewisburg Chocolate Festival to the hot and spicy offerings shared and judged by thousands in Beckley at Chili Night in October.

We take a lot of pride in our small towns, which small southern West Virginia town is your favorite?

 

Where Locals Go – Raleigh County (Part 1)

The locals always know the best ‘hang-out’ spots. Whether it’s a neat place to hike or an out-of-the-way place to eat, locals know where to find the little hidden gems where they live.

This week we will look at some local favorites in Raleigh County.

Things to Do

Raleigh County is full of businesses and activities that are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. There are plenty of great

Little Beaver Lake @ Little Beaver State Park

spots to enjoy nature and lots of historical areas to visit.

One of those favorite nature spots is Grandview, part of the New River Gorge National River. It’s located just a few miles east of Beckley off of I-64. With hiking trails, sweet overlooks that provide spectacular views of the New River, and plenty of picnic and play areas, Grandview is a must-see. Grandview is also the home of Theater WV, which hosts summer outdoor dramas. This is definitely a place to spend a day.

Just a hop, skip, and jump from Grandview is Little Beaver State Park. Almost 600 acres of recreation awaits you at Little Beaver. The onsite lake offers great fishing, and you can rent row boats or paddle boats for some water sport fun. Hiking, biking, camping, and plenty of places for the family to enjoy the day make this a wonderful spot to hang out and play.

Both Grandview and Little Beaver are accessed from exit 129 off  I-64. Grandview is 4 miles north and Little Beaver is 2 miles south.

Places to Go

Raleigh County has tons of great places to dine, but a few are most definitely local favorites.
The King Tut Drive-In has been a Beckley landmark since the 1940s and owned by the same family since 1955. King Tut is a unique throwback to days gone by. With fresh-baked bread and homemade pies made daily, you’ll be hard pressed to find another drive-in like this anywhere.

And like any good drive-in, at King Tut’s they’ll deliver right to your car.  They are located at 301 N. Eisenhower Drive.  King Tut’s is closed on Wednesdays.

Calacino’s Pizzeria was Beckley’s first pizza joint, and it has been serving that pizza at the same location since 1934. Dishing up appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and some of the best homemade pizza in the area, Calacino’s has been a local favorite for decades. Remodeled and expanded a few years ago, Calacino’s is ready to feed many more generations of locals and tourists alike.

Visit Calacino’s at 3611 Robert C. Byrd Drive and try out Beckley’s oldest pizzeria. You’ll be glad you did.

Check back soon for more local Raleigh County favorites!

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