Where to make top holiday memories

This Christmas, take your family on an Appalachian tour.

Southern West Virginia is full of with culture. Share our stunning state parks, historic mines and unique Mountain State attractions with your friends and relatives.

Here’s how you can get started:

1. Babcock Scenic Trail

Leann Arthur/The Register-Herald Cathedral Falls, located near Gauley Bridge, was raging on Wednesday as a result of the area's recent rainfall. Cathedral Falls drops over 100 feet and is a tributary to the New River.

Leann Arthur/The Register-Herald
Cathedral Falls, located near Gauley Bridge

First up: Ansted. Start walking along the Hawks Nest Rail Trail, and keep your eyes peeled for bridges and an abandoned mine. While you’re in the area, stop by Cathedral Falls. This elegant cascade is right off Route 60.

Next, drive to Babcock State Park. It’s one of West Virginia’s most photographed attractions, thanks to the historic Glade Creek Grist Mill. Forest groves, towering boulders and a brook make the scene magical. Try to stop in after a recent snowfall or frost; you’ll swear you’re in a winter wonderland.

If you have time, stop into Prince. Its historic Art Deco Amtrak stop is a unique piece of rail history. Then pack everyone into the car for an end-of-the-day cocoa in Beckley or Fayetteville.

2. Bramwell

Bramwell is a remarkable example of the extravagance of the coal boom era. At one point, more millionaires lived here than anywhere else.

Wander the sidewalks, where grand Victorian mansions line up one after the other. Each home is an architectural sculpture, with touches like ornate woodwork, stained glass windows, indoor pools and copper roofs. During the holidays, Christmas lights and greenery make them even more glamorous!

The Corner Shop is another Bramwell delight. This old-fashioned diner has a working soda fountain, homemade ice cream and plenty of nostalgia. Eat spoonfuls of sundaes, banana splits and floats! You can also treat the kids to “millionaire” burgers and mac n’ cheese.

Before heading home, swing by the Bramwell Depot. This replica train station is also an interpretive center, miniature museum and gift shop.

Note: Several of the shops close Sunday, so you might want to visit earlier in the week.

3. Lewisburg— America’s Coolest Small Town in 2011

This artsy, distinctive place has an appeal all its own. From boutiques and theaters to natural wonders, Lewisburg has plenty going for it.

Start your trip in the downtown district, where shops, cafes and restaurants line the pavement. At the beginning of every month (January excepted), businesses have extended hours during “First Fridays after Five,” with snacks, drinks and discounts!

Carnegie Hall has musical performances, plays, author discussions and art galleries all year. Or stop into the Lewis Theater, which specializes in special movies and live performances.

Wander on your own from chamber to chamber at Lost World Caverns— there’s plenty to explore, since it’s one of the largest caves in America! You can also sign up for “Wild Cave Tours.” Go on a muddy crawl with a guide through nooks and crannies! You’ll see rooms and formations that aren’t on the regular route.

As you leave Lewisburg, make a short detour to Smooth Ambler Spirits. This upscale distillery produces gin, vodka and whiskey, which you can sample or purchase. Take a tour, too!

Where do you make holiday memories in Southern West Virginia?