The Most Beautiful Towns in West Virginia, USA

Shepherdstown’s charming German Street is perfect for strolling
Shepherdstown’s charming German Street is perfect for strolling | © Charles O. Cecil / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lani Seelinger
20 May 2021

West Virginia is one of the least-visited states in the USA, which is a shame. The Mountain State boasts miles and miles of stunning landscapes, in addition to adorable small towns and some of the warmest hospitality you’ll find anywhere. Take a trip up through the mountains, and check out these beautiful towns.

Charleston

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia, on a sunny autumn afternoon.
© Francisco Blanco / Alamy Stock Photo

If you’re driving on the interstate through West Virginia, it will eventually lead you to a densely forested break in the mountains, with a huge golden dome rising out of the trees. That dome belongs to the West Virginia State Capitol, and the city surrounding it is Charleston (not to be confused with Charles Town, which we’ll get to later). As the state’s capital and biggest city, it hosts numerous cultural events throughout the year and has many impressive historical structures and beautiful parks.

Lewisburg

Historical Landmark
Map View
The beautiful city of Lewisburg
© Brenda Kean / Alamy Stock Photo

Established less than a decade after America’s founding, Lewisburg takes very good care of its historical buildings and great pride in celebrating its heritage. It’s a perfect place to visit if you’re interested in acquiring a greater knowledge of American history, and the charming town center will make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. The Greenbrier Valley Theatre draws people in from all around to see spectacular plays and musicals. If you’re looking for something adventurous, other nearby attractions include the unique Lost World Caverns.

Buckhannon

Historical Landmark
Map View
West Virginia Wesleyan College Buckhannon WV. Image shot 08/2016. JF23RG
© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

One of West Virginia’s many coal-mining towns, Buckhannon lies in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in the northeastern quadrant of the state. While it was settled in the mid-18th century, the city itself wasn’t founded until 1816. After a fire damaged the original courthouse in the early days of electricity, the town built a new one in the Classical Revival style, and it’s still standing. The whole town center hearkens back to an earlier period of America’s history. If you happen to be nearby in May, you can swing through Buckhannon to check out the West Virginia Strawberry Festival.

Barboursville

Historical Landmark
Map View
The 1852 Miller House in Barboursville_2A3TJ27
© Alpha Stock / Alamy Stock Photo

Named after the governor of Virginia, which West Virginia was a part of at the time of the town’s founding in 1813, Barboursville is near the state’s western border. The town’s historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places, and there’s a trail that will lead you to must-see buildings. A great time to visit is in autumn when the town hosts Fall Fest, complete with a parade and carnival. The rolling hills are a beautiful sight to behold, and the red-brick buildings in the town center offer a striking contrast to a blue sky on a sunny day.

New Martinsville

Historical Landmark
Map View
Bridge that connects New Martinsville, West Virginia and Ohio S37TM2
© focalpointpro / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo

New Martinsville is on the northwestern edge of West Virginia. This pretty little city was founded in 1838, and it sits right on the banks of the Ohio River, offering lovely views. It has a strong familial character, which you can gather as you walk around the town center. Also, you’ll want to check out the New Martinsville Downtown Historic District; it’s home to some beautiful buildings, such as the tan sandstone Wetzel County Courthouse, which is almost reminiscent of a Medieval castle.

Shepherdstown

Historical Landmark
Map View
139-141 West German Street, Shepherdstown_HTGABP
© Mark Summerfield / Alamy Stock Photo

Founded in 1762, Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia. It lies in the state’s far northeast corner along the Potomac River and has less than 2,000 inhabitants, making it a great place to experience small-town America. There are some unique rock formations along the river to check out if you’re into geology, but if you prefer the more cultural aspects of traveling, you can visit German Street downtown, where you’ll find plenty of shops and cafes. Shepherdstown is home to Shepherd University, so there’s some college liveliness here, even with such a small population.

Spencer

Historical Landmark
Map View
Downtown block that includes the Robey Theatre in Spencer, West Virginia
© Alpha Stock / Alamy Stock Photo

Spencer, the county seat of Roane County, is in the heavily forested center of West Virginia and has several points of interest, such as the Albert S Heck Mansion, also known as the McIntosh Mansion, the Robey Theatre and Charles Fork Lake. Although it’s in one of the poorest counties in the state, it’s a wonderful place to experience the warm hospitality that is so typical of people in West Virginia. You’ll find family-friendly parks, quiet streets and roadside diners where you can get delicious Southern and Appalachian food.

Summersville

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Pleasureboats moored on Summersville Lake in West Virginia, USA
© Nick Maslen / Alamy Stock Photo

Summersville, also in central West Virginia, has a charming downtown area with old storefronts and a beautiful courthouse building. It’s also a sought-after destination for nature lovers who want to try their hands at whitewater rafting on the Gauley River or take a relaxing boat ride around Summersville Lake. The latter, which was created by a dam in the 1960s, offers gorgeous views of the forested landscape. Perhaps the best time to visit is in fall when all the trees take on autumnal hues. If you can, you should try to time your visit to coincide with the annual Nicholas County Potato Festival.

Hinton

Historical Landmark
Map View
Hinton in Summers County West Virginia. Image shot 11/2016. Exact date unknown.
© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Hinton, established shortly after the Civil War in 1873, is of great interest to history buffs, as it’s home to several museums. Military history is particularly well represented at the Veterans Memorial Museum, while those who like trains will enjoy the Hinton Railroad Museum. It also has a train station that dates back to 1905. Notably, if Lassie (1994) was one of your favorite childhood films, you might recognize parts of the city, as it was largely shot in Hinton.

Charles Town

Historical Landmark
Map View
Charles Town Library & Jefferson County Museum, 200 East Washington Street, Charles Town, West Virginia_EGP8P0
© Mark Summerfield / Alamy Stock Photo

Because of its founder, Charles Washington, Charles Town is intimately connected to the very beginnings of the United States; he was the youngest brother of George Washington. He built an estate here, Happy Retreat – which hosts festivals and various events throughout the year – and donated the land that would become the town center. From here, abolitionists led a raid on a federal armory in nearby Harpers Ferry, while during the Civil War, the area saw a lot of action and changed hands many times. While the historical buildings and the general surroundings are beautiful, it’s the history that makes this city an absolute must-see.

These recommendations were updated on May 20, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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