small towns in west virginia

17 Charming Small Towns in West Virginia You Need to Visit (2023)

It’s a state famed for its beautiful scenery, a place of thickly wooded gorges and mountain peaks that spiral out around the landscape, offering up some of the best hiking and outdoor activities in the country. 

Known as The Mountain State, it’s easy to see why people are drawn out into the wild here, away from the city lights of Charleston, and the small towns in West Virginia are the places to be to find the true culture of the state, with access to the best outdoor recreation and small town charm that you could ask for. 

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1. Lewisburg

Image: Lewisburg, West Virginia. Justin Brockie. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Lewisburg once received the accolade of ‘Coolest Small Town’, and its charms haven’t dimmed over the years.

It’s a unique place that combines gorgeous nature with a thriving, artsy downtown area.

There’s an eclectic mix of restaurants serving up everything from West Virginia classics to more modern takes, the world-class music of the Carnegie Hall (one of only four in the world), and a bustling community of local artists that keep the place filled with color and life. 

And outside the town, there’s all the stunning scenery that you’d expect from one of the best small towns in West Virginia, with the tree-decked peaks of the Allegheny Mountains signposting the way to some of the best fishing, hiking, and, when the snows come, skiing in the state. 

2. Charles Town 

Image: Charles Town, West Virginia. Doug Kerr. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

A true community-led place, Charles Town is a perfect slice of quiet West Virginia life.

There’s a neighborly feel to the place that comes from generation after generation living here, knowing each other, caring about this beautiful place that has raised them.

Its historic downtown (watched over by the beautiful Jefferson County Courthouse) is a charming mix of quirky architecture and independent businesses that comes to life with the regular festivals and events that are hosted throughout the year. 

The picks of the bunch are the Charles Town Heritage Festival, a celebration of the town’s long history, and the West Virginia Wine and Arts Festival, a riot of color and festivities that shows the state’s thriving present.

With all of this going on and one of the lowest crime rates in the state, it’s one of the best small towns in West Virginia to live in.

3. Thomas 

Thomas is a tiny little town of around 600 people that flourished with the arrival of coal mining in the area.

Its thickly wooded, rugged surroundings meant it took a while to first be settled but once people put down roots here the town began to grow and grow, booming as industry carved out its space in the mountains. 

Today, the coal has gone, and a flourishing little town has been left in its place.

The historic buildings that were left behind have become a beautiful variety of local businesses that give the town a vivid, community-based feeling.

Case in point, the great beer and regular live music that bring the historic building of the Purple Fiddle to life every night down by the riverside. 

There are beautiful trails that wind along that riverfront and more that head out into the mountains to satisfy any need to explore or to walk off any lingering effects of the previous night spent dancing along to the bluegrass rhythm.

All in all, it’s one of the best little towns in West Virginia.

4. Fayetteville 

Image: New River Gorge and Bridge – Fayetteville, West Virginia. Jim Trodel. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

This charming small town is located in the heart of the New River Gorge and is known for its outdoor recreational opportunities, including rock climbing, white water rafting, and hiking.

Visitors can also explore the town’s historic downtown, which features a variety of shops and restaurants.

If you want to bring some adrenaline to your time in the great outdoors of West Virginia, you need to be in Fayetteville.

It is perched at the edge of the beautiful, wild space of the New River Gorge, immediately recognizable for the stunning bridge that spans across it. 

It’s the state’s best location for white water rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, and any kind of outdoor activity that gets the pulse racing.

Of course, not everything has to be full throttle, and the region is also home to some of the best fishing and meandering hikes in the state. 

5. Marlinton 

Marlinton excels at being a small town.

It has everything that you would think of, from the stunning mounting backdrop to the cozy eateries, the feeling of wide open space to breathe, and that close-knit community that is always there for you.  

It has an old-school charm about it, there in the historic buildings like the restored Pocahontas County Opera House, the place to bring some high culture into your small town getaway. 

And when you want to head out into the wild, it is perfectly located to access multiple state parks ad the unique ecosystem of the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area. 

6. Romney 

Image: Welcome to Romney (WV) — Establsihed on December 23, 1762.Ron Cogswell. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Romney is one of the oldest towns in the state, a place where deep history mixes with stunning scenery and quirky small-town living.

It’s up in the Potomac highlands with panoramic views of the beautiful Allegheny Mountains, offering all the opportunities for hiking, fishing, and outdoor exhilaration that you can expect from West Virginia. 

It’s particularly special in fall, when canyons and mountainsides turn every shade of amber, red, and gold, a whole landscape turned to color.

The best way to experience all of this is the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad.

A historic train takes you on a beautiful route through the mountains, letting you watch out for bald eagles flying around the peaks, and providing delicious meals in the dining car.

It’s a perfect piece of old-world luxury and an unmissable experience if you’re in the area. 

7. Helvetia 

Helvetia Creamery
Photo credit: Helvetia Creamery Facebook Page

Helvetia is the smallest place on this list by some distance, a tiny settlement of fewer than 100 people.

But it is a special place.

It was settled by a mixture of German and Swiss immigrants and its remote location has meant that the culture and traditional ways of life that these settlers brought with them still flourish here. 

Whether it’s traditional alpine-style cheese from Helvetia Creamery, or authentic holiday celebrations like Fasnacht, there are so many parts of this unique place that make it stand out among even the best-known of the other quaint towns in West Virginia

8. White Sulphur Springs 

White Sulphur Springs
Image: GOLF COURSE – “THE GREENBRIER” – WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, WEST VIRGINIA, USA. H. W. McC. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

You’re likely able to tell what the big draw is here, the rich mineral springs that you can find throughout the area and that have made it a destination town for centuries.

They were first reported as being able to help heal and calm back in 1778 and have been bathed and soaked in ever since. 

The area around the town is a soft, green landscape of undulating hills that rise into tree-covered mountains, and there are some brilliant hiking routes to explore.

You can understand why people would come here to relax, unwind, and soak in the space and the springs. 

For a truly gourmet experience, book yourself into the Greenbrier Resort, a world-class facility that continues the town’s spa tradition in a glitzier setting, with some great golf, beautiful food, and a real feeling of luxury. 

9. Harpers Ferry 

Harpers Ferry
Image: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Doug Kerr. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

This charming town is where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers come together to form The Point which looks out to Maryland and Virginia.

It has a long history, having played a part in the abolition movement, seeing the first actually functioning American railroad, and being the site of pivotal events in the Civil War. 

You can learn all about these events at the museums of the town, like the unique John Brown Wax Museum, or the numerous really well-preserved historic buildings that make up the town. 

10. Berkeley Springs 

Berkeley Springs
Image: Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Doug Kerr. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Another town famous for its natural springs, Berkeley lays claim to being America’s first spa.

It’s the perfect place to combine small-town living with some natural luxury, the ultimate stop-off if you’re looking for a few days of rest and recuperation. 

The water that bubbles up to the surface is a steady 74 degrees, warmed by molten lava deep, deep below the surface, and anybody can book a half-hour slot at the Roman Bath House in town to kick back and soak it all, breathing in some lush mountain air and letting the mineral water work its magic. 

11. Snowshoe 

Snowshoe
Image: morning snowshoe. Mark Bonica. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

If you’re looking for mile after mile of pristine slopes, beautifully maintained runs, and some of the best facilities in the country, snowshoe is the place to be.

It is the perfect West Virginian ski town and it comes to life over the winter, offering unparalleled access to some of the best runs in the state. 

But despite its name, it’s a treat all year round, when the snow melts to reveal over 100 hiking and cycling trails, feeding the rivers and lakes that become perfect opportunities for tubing and swimming.

If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, not many of the other cute towns in West Virginia can compete. 

12. Seebert

Seebert
Image: D7K_1723-1. Mark Levisay. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Seebert is an oasis of calm along the banks of the tranquil Greenbrier River.

It’s the perfect place to get away for awhile, living a rural life, eating good food, and watching the sunset over the river banks.

To really immerse yourself in nature, try out the Greenbrier River Cabins. 

It can be a serene place, but if you want to add some adrenaline into the mix there are water sports to choose from as well, whether it’s a leisurely kayak or some tubing. 

13. Elkins 

soda shop
Image: Soda shop. ted. [CC by 2.0] via Flickr

Nestled at the border of the Monongahela National Forest is the charming town of Elkins.

It’s a heady combination of a lovely town and gorgeous scenery that offers up some of the best restaurants and recreational activities in the area.

If you’re looking to grab something to eat you can’t miss out on the seasonal menu at the vintage restaurant and Wine Bar, a cozy spot that serves up some of the best food in town made with local ingredients. 

And once you’ve eaten your fill, either meander around the historic downtown or take a trip on one of the historic trains that chart their way out of the town and into the lush landscape that surround it, taking in the sites of the forest or heading to Seneca Rocks for some world-class hiking and rock climbing. 

14. Shepherdstown

Shepherdstown
Image: Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Doug Kerr. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Shepherdstown is perched on the banks of the Potomac River and is within easy distance of major cities like Baltimore and Washington D.C., making it the perfect small town to head to for a weekend break. 

Life moves at the leisurely pace of the river here, people drifting through the charming stores and independent restaurants that make up the old-school downtown area, soaking in a quieter pace of life than you’ll find in the hustle and bustle of the cities that are only an hour and a half away. 

15. Philippi 

West Virginia
Image: Tygart Lake W VA 2_8-13-08. Jim Brickett. [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr

There are historic buildings, like its famous covered bridge and the lovely Barbour County Courthouse, scattered throughout the town. 

And once you’ve settled into the steady rhythms of rural life here, head out into the surrounding hills to hike, hunt, and fish, relishing the wide open space of this remote corner of the state. 

16. Sutton 

Nestled deep in the Monongahela National Forest, spending time in this tiny town of fewer than 1,000 people is a complete immersion in nature.

It’s a feast of scenery and wildlife, sometimes literally, with some of the state’s best hunting going on in the surrounding area. 

The town itself has a rich culture that comes to life in the events that are scattered throughout the year, such as the Sutton Heritage festival, a celebration of the people, landscape, and rich history that make this quaint town so special.

17. Buckhannon 

Buckhannon West Virginia
Image: Buckhannon, West Virginia. Doug Kerr. [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Buckhannon is one of the lesser-known jewels of the Allegheny Mountains, a place of pristine nature and famous hospitality.

It’s the perfect base to explore the landscape, spending your days out tracing the hiking trails that wind by river and mountain before heading back into town to the classic Southern hospitality of the town. 

It’s a real community-focused place, with families flourishing here over generations, revelling in the mix of charming small town and glorious wide open landscapes, and makes the perfect small town to head out to for the weekend and soak in some serenity. 

Hey! Want more ideas on the best small towns in the USA? Check these out!

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