SWV: 2017 bucket list? Try these wow-worthy “best of” winners

Fayetteville, “Best Adventure Town”

Launch your new year with the most popular attractions in Appalachia.

2 prestigious publications asked voters for their favorite destinations, and the Mountain State did really well — particularly Southern West Virginia. For 2017, add some award-winning towns, restaurants and outfitters to your itinerary!

WV Living’s “The Best of West Virginia”

Our region scooped handfuls of awards in this annual competition. We even won the coveted “Best Adventure Town” with Fayetteville. Whether you like whitewater rafting, climbing, hiking or biking, you’ll find it at this spunky community.

But that’s only the beginning. Take a peek; beloved Southern West Virginia mainstays and some newcomers won top honors in many different categories!

Spice up your weekend with cultural hits like:

  • “Best Hidden Gem Town”: Thurmond. In its heyday, this former railway town served as an artery for coal and timber. Now, just 6 locals call Thurmond home. Attractions include 19th-century brick buildings, artifacts and a dapper yellow depot.
  • “Best Place to Buy West Virginia-Made Products”: Tamarack. Ceramics, textiles, quilts, baskets, soap, candy — this enormous art center has lots of everything. You can even dine at the food court, where chefs prepare Appalachian cuisine.
  • “Best Tourist Draw”: Bridge Day. During this unique festival, hundreds of B.A.S.E. jumpers and rappellers step off the New River Gorge Bridge — an 876-foot drop.
  • “Best Festival”: Lewisburg Chocolate Festival. Bring your sweet tooth to West Virginia’s sweetest annual event! Sample desserts, shop from 40 chocolatiers, watch chef demonstrations and much more.

Or fire things up with some adventure at the:

  • “Best Resort” and “Place to Play Golf”: The Greenbrier. Since colonial times, this grand resort has been the retreat of presidents. Its historic greens attract top golfers, while folks visit for the storied FedEx Cup, falconry, spa and gourmet dining.
  • “Best Family Adventure”: ACE Adventure Resort. Voters loved its whitewater trips and Wonderland Water Park, which teems with dozens of enormous inflatable toys. On land, the fun continues with activities like zip lining, golf and mountain biking.
  • “Best Extreme Adventure”: Whitewater rafting at Adventures on the Gorge. Expert guides, tailored trips on world-famous rapids and sheer diversity of packages makes this outfitter a sure-fire favorite. No matter your experience, you’ll learn to ride waves on the New or Gauley rivers with confidence.

Starving? Get a bite (or sip) from these Southern West Virginia winners:

  • “Best Hamburger”: Secret Sandwich Society. There’s plenty to rave — and crave — about these gourmet sandwiches, all made with homemade ingredients. Pair your order with one of many beers on tap!
  • “Best Pizza”: Pies & Pints. Unless you’ve been here before, you’ve never had artisan pizza like this! Try the sweet-and-savory Grape & Gorgonzola, smoky Chicken Gouda or the tangy Cuban Pork.
  • “Best Distillery”: Smooth Ambler Spirits. Enjoy old-fashioned whiskey, bourbon, vodka and gin. Linger in the tasting room, go on a tour and find out how this classy distillery crafts everything by hand.

Blue Ridge Outdoors’ “Best of the Blue Ridge”

In the world of recreational publications, this one ranks fairly high. Its yearly competition is no slouch, either. 85,000 readers picked their favorite destinations for 2017, and the results are pretty staggering.

West Virginia not only won “Best State for Outdoor Adventure,” but many other categories. Of these, our region’s attractions did especially well. But don’t just take our word for it; find out why thousands of voters fell in love with Southern West Virginia— and the Mountain State.

For award-winning adventure, there’s the:

  • “Best Campground”: Greenbrier River Campground. The great outdoors comes with plenty of perks at this family-friendly resort: cabins, vintage trailer rentals, river trips, and rentals for tubes, boats, paddles and equipment.
  • “Rowdiest Outdoor Event”: Gauley Fest. Dam-released waves in autumn result in enormous rapids — and droves of whitewater fanatics from around the world. Watch the spectacle, jive to live music, shop and hang out with river rats.
  • “Best Luxury Outdoor Destination”: The Greenbrier

Looking for colorful small-town charm? Find it here:

  • “Best Bike Mechanic”: Andy Forron of New River Bikes. The next time you’re in Fayetteville, stop by one of the best cycling shops in town. Andy has bike tours, rentals and a full-service repair shop.
  • “Best Pizza”: Pies & Pints

While you’re at it, try these honorable mentions:

  • “Paddling River”: Gauley. The “Beast of the East” ranks as one of America’s foremost whitewater rivers.
  • “Climbing Crag”: New River Gorge. With more than 1,400 established climbs to choose from, this sandstone-rich destination is bliss for climbers.
  • “SUP Destination”: Summersville Lake. Marvel at turquoise waters and pale cliffs as you paddle the “Little Bahamas of the East.”
  • “Raft Guide Company”: ACE Adventure Resort and Adventures on the Gorge. Pick your favorite river, choose a trip that suits your level, and these outfitters will take you on a rumble-tumble river ride you’ll never forget.
  • “Climbing Event”: PsicoRoc. Without safety harnesses or equipment, athletes scale cliffs at Summersville Lake until they reach the top or let water cushion their fall.
  • “Paddling Event”: Gauley Fest. This grassroots event pays tribute to one of the world’s best whitewater rivers with extreme paddling, music, vendors and contests.
  • “Distillery”: Smooth Ambler Spirits. The old ways of creating rum, whiskey vodka and gin are on full display at this artisan distillery.
  • “Farm-to-Table”: The Station. Fayetteville’s newest restaurant makes each meal with seasonal ingredients. The results are imaginative, artistic and delicious.

Which award-winning attraction or business are you going to try this year?