Beckley, West Virginia, is a city in the southern part of the state and amid the Appalachian Mountains. Beckley has ties to the lucrative Mountain State coal mining industry, regional basketball champs, and excellent eateries. It is near a ski resort, a luxury resort, and offers great state parks. Beckley holds special memories for me because as a child, it was a real treat to shop Hills (for all you 50+ who may remember the chain store), go to movies, watch excellent holiday fireworks, and swim at Stephens Lake (though I see it is now Lake Stephens). There was always something to do in Beckley. I was thrilled to visit recently as a tourist this time and see what Beckley had to offer. Here are the best things to do in Beckley, WV, that I found to be noteworthy.
Two of Beckley’s best-known restaurants have been in business 50 years or more: Pasquale’s and The Char, owned by the same family. The Char is an upscale steakhouse with melt-in-your-mouth steaks, chops, delicious side dishes, and decadent desserts.
Pasquale’s serves Sicilian Italian food and has lovely indoor and outdoor seating, plus patio dining and an extensive wine list. I love the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs from Pasquale’s, with a hearty and flavorful sauce, noodles cooked al dente, and a basket of hot baked bread to go with it. If you need a starter, the antipasto, with Italian meats, olives, cheese, and cornichons, is fantastic.
Tudor’s Biscuit World, known to locals as Tudor’s and visitors as Biscuit World, bakes up mouthwatering biscuits that are the foundation for creative breakfast sandwiches. My family’s favorite biscuit sandwich is the Peppy, with melted cheese and slices of zesty pepperoni, but the biscuits are equally as good with sausage gravy. It is a West Virginia tradition. Pictured below is the Little Tater Breakfast with scrambled eggs, bacon, cheese sauce, and potatoes. Mmm, mmm, good.
A pleasant surprise on my latest Beckley visit was dinner from The Dish Cafe in Daniels. Nearly every item served at Dish Cafe is scratch-made, and the restaurant offers both a casual dining room or bar area to dine in. Starters include tasty options like Pimento Cheese and Pretzels, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, and Fried Pickles.
For lunch (or dinner), the Hey Jack Burger is excellent. Pimento cheese, cherry pepper slaw, habanero cheese, and a perfectly fried egg top the burger, which sits on a house-made bun.
I chose the macaroni and cheese for my side item, which my waitress informed me was the second-best in the whole state. I’m not sure what is first, but The Dish Cafe’s was exceptional.
Visit the Exhibition Mine
Coal mining is in our blood here in West Virginia, and one place to learn more about the trade and economic contribution it has had on the Mountain State is at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. The state-of-the-art center is so gorgeous and offers hands-on learning and education about the black gold, a far cry from the dirty and dusty entrance to the earth when I visited here as a school kid many years ago. Still, it is all the same 1889 facility that was once a drift mine.
Bring the entire family and learn about the dangers and positives of the coal mining industry in the underground portion of the restored mine via “man cars”. Veteran coal miners provided guided detail on your tours. There is also a fudgery and gift shop (stocked with West Virginia products) and Youth Museum on the property and the Coal Company House, Superintendent’s Home, Helen Coal Camp School, and Pemberton Coal Camp Church buildings.
Meanwhile, you’ll find an amphitheater, planetarium, and pioneer settler buildings (a barn, restored log cabin, general store, moonshine still, and blacksmith shop) on the outside that feature costumed interpreters at the Youth Museum. The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine is on the National Register of Historic Places and houses mining artifacts, geological specimens, and nostalgic photos. Admission is $22 for adults and $12.50 for children.
Shop Local in Beckley, West Virginia
In this case, shopping local refers to the amazing Tamarack facility, showcasing West Virginia’s best in the odd-shaped building you’ll see off exit 45 from I-77. Housed in this amazing complex are sprawling shops, a restaurant, snack areas, and often artists in residence in the Fine Art Gallery. Tamarack collects the best of the best in the art world to house only the finest glassware, jewelry, paintings, books, sculptures, baskets, beer, and much more. You could literally stroll around the galleries for hours.
Come to Tamarack hungry and enjoy all the wonderful food that is served all day long. I am particularly fond of the daily specials, such as the homestyle meatloaf with green beans and mushroom saute and glazed baby carrots, but the pinto beans and cornbread and WV hot dogs are popular choices, too. Save room for Tamarack’s signature Peach Bread Pudding, perhaps the best you’ll ever taste.
Tamarack’s COVID hours are Wednesday through Sunday 10 AM to 6 PM.
Stay in a Luxury Resort
The Resort at Glade Springs is Raleigh County’s premier luxury resort. The lovely 4,100-acre property sits in a gated area that also encompasses hundreds of high-end homes, rustic grounds, and beautiful landscapes. The Resort at Glade Springs offers some of the best golfing in West Virginia, a center for swimming, basketball, tennis, and basically any sport you can think of, as well as billiards, bowling, and cinema.
Stables allow for horseback riding and or lessons, while Bunkers Sports Bar, Glade’s Grill & Bar, Small Talk Cafe, and The Rotunda provide options for breakfast, dinner, lunch, and drinks. I like breakfast at Small Talk Cafe, with pastries, muffins, breakfast sandwiches, cinnamon rolls, and great espresso. Thursday through Saturday nights, allow Executive Chef, Jamie Henderson, to prepare a memorable meal to pair with the impressive listing of wines at Glade’s Grill & Bar.
Guest rooms at Glade Springs (The Inn) are spacious and comfortable, with modern touches and pale earth tones. Granite bathrooms with large showers are one of my favorite features. The resort also has a gift shop with logo apparel, sundries shop, conference, and meeting facilities.
Besides the main inn, there are also lodging choices at the villas, Manor House, and Chestnut Hill Lodge, ranging from one to six bedrooms. Conventions, weddings, and meetings occur at Glade Springs, a year-round resort with dozens of amenities.
Ride Bikes or Hike
Beckley offers the Beckley Rail Trail for a paved place to get outdoors on your bike. This 6.9-mile trail is geared for all skill levels and can be used for nature hikes, walking, and running. Leashed dogs are also allowed. The McManus Trail portion has creative art sculptures, many made from recycled materials, making it even more fun to explore. You can ride this trail from the Beckley Crossing Shopping Center to S. Railroad Avenue and City Avenue. Use caution on this portion since it involves tunnels and dark spaces.
Little Beaver State Park is my favorite place to get outdoors in the Beckley area. There are always people fishing and reeling in impressive catches on the 18-acre lake, plus you can walk, hike, bird-watch, or ride your bike on the 562-acre property. A lovely waterfall ushers you into the state park, and the photogenic landscape will keep you there.
Tip: You can camp at Little Beaver State Park, too.
Get Your Drink On
Beer drinkers will definitely want to visit Weathered Ground Brewery, a craft brewery in Ghent. Though I didn’t get to visit the brewery on my trip (it was closed that day), Weathered Ground draws you in from the road with the inviting arched sign and massive property. Two of their popular beer choices are Haggard (IPA) and #Camplife (Pale Ale).
Daniel Vineyards is another Beckley crowd-pleaser, producing red, white, and sweet wines since 1990. This winery and tasting room has a spectacular setting and beautiful patio. I can only imagine how magical it is when live music is playing during the summer months. Daniel Vineyards is a conservation grape farm and serves a weekly lunch dish to complement your wine tasting. I enjoyed the non-traditional Reuben with broccoli soup. You are sure to love this hidden gem nestled in the Appalachian Mountains with self-guided vineyard tours and $5 tastings.
There is no better place to get your non-alcoholic drink on than the Chocolate Moose, an eclectic coffee shop that has one of the coolest coffee, smoothie, and drink menus that I’ve ever seen. The branded merchandise gets a nod, too. I’m a straight-up cold brew drinker, so imagine my surprise when I saw the enticing cold brew menu that featured flavored cold foams. I tried the Toasted Almond on one visit (sweet almond cold foam) and the Orange on another (dark chocolate cold brew with orange cream foam), and I am hooked. I can’t wait for this to catch on around the country.
Besides enjoying your treats from Chocolate Moose, you can also enjoy mini-golf and a climbing gym at this multi-functional Beckley attraction. Cool off with hand-scooped ice cream after your workout.
Ski or Snowboard
Winterplace Ski Resort is minutes from Beckley and offers skiing and snowboarding, lessons, and ski school. There are 27 trails to choose from, with the longest being 1.25 miles. Snow-tubing is super popular at Winterplace as it is the state’s largest tubing park. A Super Carpet ride takes you to the top of the hill for racking up more and more slides down the hill in the fourteen lanes. Winterplace offers free night skiing when you purchase an all-day lift ticket.
If you prefer to hang out and enjoy a meal or just watch, the Mountainhouse is the perfect location with panoramic views and a huge stone fireplace. Need equipment? No worries, Winterplace has bib and helmet rentals, as well as skis and snowboards.
Explore Downtown Beckley, WV
It had been years since I’d ventured into downtown Beckley, and I liked what I saw. The patriotic streets are lined with locally-owned shops, the Raleigh Playhouse & Theatre, murals, statues, and impressive 911, Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion memorials. Pop into Main Street Tavern for a bite or to wet your whistle, Top Knot Coffee for a tasty cup of Joe, or photograph the beautiful Raleigh County Courthouse. Shoemaker Square is another place of interest when exploring downtown Beckley.
And speaking of theaters, Grandview (now referred to as only Theatre West Virginia) is about 30 minutes away in the town of Beaver. This outdoor gem with around 1,200 seats has provided musical drama, laughs, and entertainment for 60+ years. I remember taking my Girl Scout Troop there years ago to see Wizard of Oz, and you can’t go wrong seeing Hatfields & McCoys, a West Virginia classic. The theatre has excellent views of the magnificent New River Gorge.
My lodging was fully hosted at the Resort at Glade Springs and two meals were covered by Visit Southern WV. Opinions and reviews in this post are 100% mine and unbiased.
To learn more about Southern West Virginia, please visit the tourism website for more suggestions and itineraries.
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