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Cool Town: Explore the Arts and Nature in Beckley, West Virginia

Though Beckley, West Virginia, is home to just 17,000, the town is a popular tourist destination for those looking to experience its vibrant art scene and natural wonders. Beckley is just a few miles away from New River Gorge National Park. So it offers breathtaking scenery, rugged hiking trails, and some of the best whitewater rafting in the world.

The town itself has a thriving fine art and culinary arts scene with multiple galleries that feature West Virginia's top artisans and a diverse collection of restaurants. Here are some of the top things to do in Beckley, West Virginia.

Things To Do in Beckley, West Virginia
Hiking to the Grandview Overlook

Grandview Overlook New River Gorge National Park and Preserve West Virginia

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Grandview, part of the New River Gorge National Park, is a must-see stop for anyone visiting Beckley. The Grandview section of the park contains six hiking trails ranging from easy to strenuous that skirt streams and weave through the woodlands. Keep your eyes open for fox, deer, wild turkey, and various raptors and birds as you hike.

Before leaving, hit the park's main overlook, which offers an incredible view of the New River Gorge 1400 feet below. In addition to its hiking trails, Grandview also has a picnic area and a small campground with ten tent-only sites.

Visit a Coal Mine

The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine is an excellent opportunity to learn about West Virginia's rich mining tradition, dating back to the mid-1800s. Former coal miners guide you through a vintage coal mine, providing a first-hand account of what it was like to work in the mines in the 19th century and today.

You can also visit a recreated coal mining camp, complete with a school, church, and coal company house. The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine operates from April 1 and November 2.

Go Whitewater Rafting

Lower Railroad rapid on the New River, just downstream from the Cunard access point in the New River Gorge.

Ken Thomas, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

RELATED: The Best Whitewater Rafting Spots in the US (For Newbies Or Enthusiasts)

For the more adventurous, the nearby New River Gorge offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the world. The Upper New River offers beginner-friendly Class I, II, and III rapids. Meanwhile, the Lower New River features Class IV and up rapids for advanced rafters or kayakers.

Head north on state road 19 for 10 miles and visit one of several whitewater rafting guide companies that line the banks of the New River.

Go Fishing

A fishermans pole hanging over a section of the New River in Raleigh County, West Virginia

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The New River is home to numerous fish, including bluegill, crappie, catfish, walleye, and bass. It's one of the coolest places to fish for smallmouth bass, as these river fish grow big and strong, and fishing for them while running the whitewater is a blast. Go in the spring or the fall when water temperatures are mild and the fish are most active.

Bring your rod and tackle, or visit one of several fishing outfitters that rent gear and offer full guided tours. Beckley's public river access points include Grandview, Sandbar, Mill Creek, and Glade Creek.

Grab Something To Eat

Despite being a small town, Beckley offers a surprisingly diverse list of dining options. Visit Dobras Zupa (which means good soup in Slovenian), which makes its house-made craft beers and serves various eclectic gourmet food. If pizza is your thing, don't miss Calacino's. They've served stone oven pizza for more than 80 years! For fine dining, head to The Char, known for its steaks and seafood.

Visit the Tamarack Marketplace

Tamarack marketplace, located off exit 45 just north of Beckley, is one of the nation's largest arts and crafts facilities. It showcases the works of 2,800 of West Virginia's top artists and artisans.

The facility features a large gallery that displays ceramic, paints, and photography from local artists and retail space with arts and crafts items. Tamarack is also home to five resident artists who teach classes on-site and give regular demonstrations.

Check out Beckley's Fine Art Galleries

Beckley has a long tradition of encouraging artists at The Beckley Arts Center, featuring ceramics, painting, and photography. The gallery, which has two locations in town, features rotating exhibitions of established and up-and-coming artists. It also offers private lessons and workshops for adults and children.

Stay In A Treehouse Or A Resort

If you're planning on staying in Beckley, the town offers rustic retreats and resort accommodations. Rent a treehouse in the Cabins at Pine Haven, just outside town. Though they may sound primitive, these treehouses are anything but that.

They feature modern amenities, including WiFi, central air and heat, a kitchen, full bathrooms, and even four-person hot tubs. In addition to its two treehouses, the Cabins at Pine Haven also offer one, two, and three-bedroom cabins and a four-bedroom lodge.

If you're looking for a resort experience, rent a room at The Resort at Glade Springs, located just 15 minutes outside of town. The sprawling 4,100-acre resort features on-site amenities, including an 18-hole golf course, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a bowling alley, and restaurants.

Go Skiing at Winterplace

Snow making machine and snow tubing runs at Winterplace Ski Resort, West Virginia

HalfGig, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located just 20 minutes outside Beckley is Winterplace, a ski resort with 26 slopes, ten ski lifts, and nearly 3,000 feet of base elevation. If skiing isn't your thing, Winterplace is also home to the state's largest snow tubing park. For more information, visit the Winterplace website.

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