The best of Beckley: 11 places you can’t miss

Artsy, lively Beckley is the place to go for entertainment and unique dining.

Funky old-time drive-ins, eccentric stops and Appalachian-style fine arts: get ‘em here! Beckley’s always thriving, so bring an appetite for zesty dishes and adventure!

Here are the can’t miss stops:

1. Tamarack

No worthwhile trek through Beckley can miss “the best of West Virginia.”

Tamarack is your one-stop-shop for top West Virginia artistry. You’ll find woodwork, textiles, pottery, jewelry, musical instruments, glassware and more.

Tamarack also serves up gourmet Appalachian dishes. Some of the fan favorites are fried catfish sandwiches, custom burgers and country desserts like cobbler and The Greenbrier peaches. You can also buy local honey, salsa, jam, preserves and candy.

Catch the art in action, too: marvel as potters and glassblowers create sculptures during live demos, or listen to live music on Sundays.

2. Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre

The Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre has live plays and classic older flicks all year.

Come for performances like “Abomination on Bolt Mountain,” the redemption story of a crippled miner, or catch old-time favorites movies like Jaws and National Lampoon’s Vacation. Who knows what’s playing?

You can also head downstairs for craft beer and live entertainment at Sir Walter’s Tavern. The wood paneling and low illumination make it feel like an English pub. Stop in on the weekend for live music and occasional art shows and poetry recitals.

3 & 4. Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum

What was it really like to work in a mine? Discover for yourself, hundreds of feet below Southern West Virginia!

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine immerses you in the gritty world of mining. Board a mantrip with a veteran

miner and delve below the ground. As the cart goes through old tunnels, your guide will share astonishing anecdotes about working in the darkness. See historic accessories, like feeble helmet candles, canary cages and “rat-proof” lunch pails.

Above ground, tour a recreated coal camp. The single-room schoolhouse has rows of tidy 1940s desks (complete with inkwell holes!), books, mimeograph machines and a dunce cap. Squeeze into the miner’s shanty and poke through the supervisor’s spacious house. The size discrepancies— and perks— will surprise you.

Kids will definitely get a kick out of this immersive experience, but don’t forget the Youth Museum, either. Its hands-on natural science galleries are made from 4 boxcars!

5. Theatre West Virginia

Join the award-winning Theatre West Virginia for a performance as the sun sets. Though historical dramas are the troupe’s specialty, they have music tributes and classic favorites on the schedule, too.

Get tickets to popular performances like “Hatfields and McCoys,” which recounts the famous 19th-century family feud, and “Honey in the Rock,” the tale behind West Virginia’s founding. It’s the oldest continuing Civil War drama in existence!

The 2016 season ends July 30th but it’s never too early to plan your next year’s adventure under the stars.

6. Dobra Zupas

The owners’ Slovenian heritage colors Dobra Zupas‘ menu and craft beer selection— some of which they brew themselves!

Try the regional and ethnic dishes, like homemade hummus, fried green tomatoes, catfish po’boy sandwiches, loaded burgers and fried goat cheese. You can also order sophisticated salads, chef’s special pasta and rich risotto.

Enjoy a lengthy selection of featured brews, beer on tap and house creations. Standouts include Dobra Zupas Vanilla Bean Oatmeal Stout and Dobra Zupas Hopped Up IPA, a peppy, citrusy ale.

You can also order up other local West Virginia brews and in-house concoctions like Ace Pineapple Cider.

7. The Dish

This restaurant is all about healthy but zesty cuisine.

Every recipe relies on local, fresh ingredients. Whenever it can, The Dish avoids artificial stuff like dyes, sweeteners and genetically-modified sources. Even the beef comes from an organic farm in Lewisburg.

While the ingredients don’t mess around, everything else about this place is easygoing. The Dish’s offbeat decor pairs perfectly with its enormous menu. Pick options like firecracker shrimp, homemade flatbreads (like BBQ Chicken, Hawaiian and Caprese) and stuffed burgers. You can also try delicacies like quinoa-crusted quiche, roasted porketta and Cajun shrimp over polenta.

Even kids have an array of choices. The Dish has little sirloins, artisan grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese.

8-9.One-stop entertainment spot

This unique putt putt course, artisanal cafe and climbing gym reflects Beckley’s outlook: why settle on just 1 thing, when you can have it all?

Start off with Mountain State Miniature Golf, which USA Today calls “one of America’s most unique golf courses.” s definitely eccentric, stocked with West Virginia themes and challenges, like the New River Gorge Bridge and Seneca Rocks. They also claim it’s one of the most difficult miniature golf courses around, including a notorious Par-5 hole!

Inside, you can grab an after-game treat from Chocolate Moose artisanal cafe. Order house-roasted and handcrafted espresso drinks, cold-brew coffees, hot chocolate, fresh lemonade and 100% fruit smoothies. You can also laze around on their tiered outdoor decks. Make the afternoon completely indulgent with a custom ice-cream sundae!

Or pop into the Outside-In Climbing Gym. It’s unmistakable with its rust-red climbing tower, which rises 3 stories above the ground with everything you’ll need to tackle bouldering, rock climbing or rappelling. Even if you’re a total newbie, Outside-In’s staff is more than happy to show you the ropes.

10. The Char

This steakhouse has been here since 1965, so you know they’re doing something right.

The Char has everything for a fine evening out: polished service, valet parking and romantic candle-lit tables. Even the scenery is gorgeous. Wide windows overlook a pond, complete with a fountain and lush forest.

The menu is just as impressive. Treat yourself to homemade Italian bread and gourmet dishes like swordfish, filet steaks, twice-baked potatoes and decadent desserts.

11. King Tut Drive-In

This casual joint has been a Beckley mainstay since the 1940s.

Drive up to King Tut for all the comfort food you can handle: homemade treats like stuffed baked potatoes, fried chicken boats, hush puppies and onion petals with special sauce are just the start.

You’ll also be tempted by salads, loaded burgers and sandwiches, wraps and pizzas. But save room for their thick milkshakes and homemade pie! It’s hard not to splurge with Tut’s affordable prices and from-scratch recipes.

What’s your must-see stop in Beckley?