Beckley is one of those places that will immediately get you singing the words of Take Me Home, Country Roadsand thinking the place could be “almost Heaven”. Don’t be alarmed, there is really no avoiding it. The place is absolutely stunning.
Founded in 1838 by Alfred Beckley, the town existed mainly on paper until the 1850’s. Evidently Beckley’s friends teased him mercilessly about this. Yet the town he named after his father eventually came to be in these beautiful hills. It was the coal beneath those beautiful hills that really brought the village to life.
Known as “The City of Champions”, Beckley’s coal heritage is brought vividly and smokelessly to life in its Beckley Exhibition Coal Museum. The Beckley mine operated from 1906 to 1953, when it was opened as a museum in 1962. Plunge into the immersive history of the underground mine, restored coal camp, and gift shop. There is a Youth Museum as well and the ole coal camp church and a mountain homestead.
Which is not to say that Beckley isn’t loaded with the things that make modern culture pop. Tamarack, with its innovative design, puts art galleries under the same peaked roof as a year-round craft fair where you can buy one of a kind pieces, as well as watching artisans at work. With food that, honestly, is a lot more like a ‘gallery’ than a ‘crafts fair.’
TheTheater West Virginiais an amphitheater in the mountains that stages performances from mid-June to late August with an outdoor backdrop far more dramatic that anything on stage – and the performances are award-winning.
While there is certainly good fast and casual food to be had in Beckley, sometime you want a little more. The Char, a perennial favorite specializing in steaks served in view of the glorious pond and woods behind it. To loosen up a bit, try Pasquale’s, the go to place in Beckley for Italian if you are looking for pizza or something a little different. Then there is the evolving menu at Dobra Zupa – an interesting name that mean “Good Soup” in Slovenian – a nod to the heritage of its owners. But this is not Slovenian cuisine. House in a residential neighborhood, Dobra Zupa boasts American craft food and craft beer on it’s changing menu – featuring favorites from filets, Mediterranean dishes and crab risotto.
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