We believe that every small town is like a precious gem — all are unique and the closer you look, the more mesmerized you become.
Virginia’s Western Highlands boasts several wonderful towns, each with charm, history and hospitality, yet each with their own distinct personality.
The town of Monterey is located along Route 250, which is part of the historic Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike that linked the Shenandoah Valley with the Ohio River. At an elevation of 2,894 feet, its streets are lined by numerous grand Victorian homes built by timber barons between 1875 and 1920. Along with shops and restaurants like The Curly Maple, Monterey is home to the historic Highland Inn, the Highland Center’s Retreat-Conference facility, and a variety of lovely Bed & Breakfast spots.
Also located along the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike approximately 10 miles east of Monterey, the village of McDowell is rich in Civil War history. The scene of a major clash between Union and Confederate forces, it is host to a well-preserved battlefield and hiking trail with interpretive signage. To learn more about the battle or other events in county history, be sure to stop in at the Highland County Historical Society & Museum. You’ll find Stonewall Grocery and the charming Sugar Tree Country Store nearby as well.
Famous as the location of The Omni Homestead Resort and Spa, the village of Hot Springs is a unique mix of “resort” and “rural”. In addition to shops and restaurants, this quaint village includes a post office, market and apothecary, which have been fixtures for over a century. Nearby Garth Newel Music Center offers world-class chamber music, jazz and blues performances.
Just a few miles down Route 220 from Hot Springs is Warm Springs, the county seat and arts district for the County of Bath, with several unique galleries to browse. The community grew up around the courthouse and the famous Jefferson Pools. Built in 1761, the Gentlemen’s Pool House is the oldest spa structure in the United States. The spa is fed by a 98°F mineral spring. The pools were known as the Warm Spring Pools until recently, when they were renamed in honor of Thomas Jefferson who frequented the waters.
The town of Clifton Forge features a picturesque, pedestrian-friendly downtown where the streets are lined with locally-owned shops and restaurants. The town embraces both its arts and culture and railroad heritage. Clifton Forge is home to the Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center, the beautifully restored Masonic Theatre and several independent art galleries. It’s also home to the C&O Railway Heritage Center. It’s fitting that visitors can arrive in downtown Clifton Forge via Amtrak.
The wonderfully unique personality of the City of Covington is forged from various historic influences. First, is its location in the beautiful Allegheny Mountains along the banks of the Jackson River. Second, as the county seat and a center of commerce in the Alleghany Highlands, Covington is located on the historic Midland Trail National Scenic Byway. Third, the largest employer in the region is MeadWestvaco, whose plant in Covington produces paperboard and packaging material. Today, Covington is a welcoming community with exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities, a charming farmers market and plenty of terrific restaurants.
Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains of northern Craig County, the historic railroad town of Paint Bank offers travelers from all over the world great accommodations, award winning dining, eclectic shopping and “sweet as southern tea” hospitality. Once bustling with mining and timbering operations, Paint Bank is now an ‘experience destination’ with awesome recreation opportunities just minutes away. Hollow Hill Buffalo Farm raises champion American buffalo, available at Swinging Bridge Restaurant, and the state Fish Hatchery is just down the road.
Tour log cabins, the 1850’s era county courthouse and the Old Brick Hotel. Do family research in the new Genealogy Library. Shop and dine in eclectic home-grown businesses. Play at Lions Park or the fairgrounds where local artists perform and demolition derbies draw hundreds. New Castle is conveniently centered in Craig County, where Virginia Scenic Byways meet and there’s something for everyone.