New Zealand’s best pastry is hidden in a small South Island town


I have a confession. I spent thousands of dollars eating a single pastry. This wasn’t any old bread. It was a cronut. What is that? Well, let me explain how this devotion to dough cost me serious dough.

If you imagine a croissant and a doughnut had a baby, you’d be looking at a cronut. It has the fluffy, crunchy texture of a French pastry, combined with the gooey centre of a doughnut. To top it all off: it’s deep-fried. If you have a soft spot for this kind of thing, it quickly makes you a frequent fryer.

If you don’t believe me how good it is, ask TIME Magazine. It declared the cronut one of the best 25 inventions of 2013.

My obsession with these things goes deep. So deep, before Covid-19, I went to Japan to try the original. It was invented by French chef Dominique Ansel, who has a few bakeries dotted around the world – and one is in Tokyo.

READ MORE:
* Warehouse Precinct: Eat your way around Dunedin’s New York-style foodie district
* Travel bites: Hungry Hobos is home to the best cheese roll in Dunedin
* Ōamaru: This is the South Island’s most underrated town

Harbour Street Bakery is home to exceptional cronuts.

Brook Sabin/Stuff

Harbour Street Bakery is home to exceptional cronuts.

I couldn’t fit a visit into our original schedule, so I delayed our entire trip home to make sure I could devour his dough. When you include the extra hotel and change of airfares, that piece of pastry costs thousands. And until recently, I thought it was worth every cent.

Fast-forward a few years, and I’m deep in the South Island in the charming town of Ōamaru. The Victorian architecture takes me straight back to a small Italian village with narrow streets lined by ornate buildings.

Along the town’s Harbour Street – which is the epicentre of amazing architecture – I find a little European-style bakery. And there, sitting in a cabinet is a series of exceptional looking cronuts.

Harbour Street Bakery is found in Ōamaru’s most iconic street.

Brook Sabin/Stuff

Harbour Street Bakery is found in Ōamaru’s most iconic street.

Now, I was meant to be on a diet, but my resolve melted faster than you can say Jenny Craig.

Everything at Harbour Street Bakery is made by hand, with traditional tools where possible. I ordered a cronut, sat in the corner like a naughty school kid (cheating his diet) and fell in love.

The sweet, flaky pastry gave way to a softer chewy centre filled with passion fruit coulis and thick vanilla custard. I was taken back to my cronut in Japan – except this one was better. And it didn’t cost me a fortune.

Here’s a tip when the world opens: don’t worry about flying halfway around the globe to try the original cronut. Head to Ōamaru instead.

The pies at Harbour Street Bakery are also a hit.

Brook Sabin/Stuff

The pies at Harbour Street Bakery are also a hit.

More information:

Getting there: Ōamaru is one-and-a-half hours from Dunedin or three hours from Christchurch.

Staying there: A night in Ōamaru at Old Confectionery apartments starts from $295 for four people. See: oldconfectionery.co.nz

Staying safe: New Zealand is currently under Covid-19 restrictions. For the latest on travel advice, see: covid19.govt.nz.

The author’s trip was supported by Waitaki Tourism. See: waitakinz.com



Source link

Volcanoes, gelato and canals: Italy’s great small cities chosen by readers | Italy holidays


Winning tip: Happy wanderer in Puglia

A little piece of my soul was left in Polignano a Mare, a beautiful slice of real Italian life in Puglia. Pretty houses perching on clifftops overlooking emerald seas, a labyrinth of streets leading to a stunning old town, delectable gelato and a buzzy atmosphere as locals promenade and music plays, all combine to create a real gem. The contemporary art museum is worth a gander. It is the wandering, however, getting lost in delightful white-washed streets, stumbling across the poetry written on doorways and stairs, finding a clifftop bar beloved by locals, which is the key to enjoying this romantic town.
Vivienne Francis, Kent

Lovely Lucca

Lucca
Photograph: JM_Image_Factory/Getty Images

Lucca is the hidden jewel in the Tuscan crown of Italy, and September is the best time to visit. Just 20 minutes from Pisa, its medieval walls, cobbled streets and shaded squares create a calm, quiet atmosphere. Cars are absent inside the walls, so it’s great to stroll around at any time, and not uncommon to hear Puccini’s music playing from open windows or balconies – Lucca is the composer’s home town. Around mid-September a candlelit procession followed by fireworks and open-air festivities mark the climax of the Holy Cross festival – simply magic.
Yasmin, Cambridge

Venice without the hype

Great water view of Chioggia with vintage cabins and bridgeChioggia, little Venice in Italy
Photograph: LianeM/Getty Images

Chioggia is like Venice without the crowds and the high prices. At the southern end of the Venetian lagoon, it combines views of the snowcapped peaks of the Dolomites on a clear day and the Adriatic from its fine, sandy beach. The pastel-coloured houses create a colourful canvas to its waterways, as the fishing boats chug slowly along, dispensing their catch to local trattories. A medieval clocktower watches over the city and the Museum of Adriatic Zoology showcases the area’s maritime traditions. Sit at a cafe sipping your cappuccino with vistas of calm canals and chatting fishers.
Gonca, Birmingham

Baroque gems in Vigevano

Italy, Lombardy, Vigevano, Ducale Square
Photograph: AGF Srl/Alamy

Just 35km south-west of Milan and easily accessible by road and rail, the town of Vigevano is an architectural gem. Its centre is dominated by the Castello Sforzesco, now a museum which is closely linked to that of Milan: it is connected to the town’s outer fortifications by an amazing and unique 200 metre-long medieval, covered bridge and roadway which allowed horsemen to ride directly from the castle to defend the town. Alongside the castle is the breathtaking 15th-century porticoed Piazza Ducale, enclosed at one end by the baroque cathedral – it is one of the most breathtaking open spaces in Italy.
Ian Statham, Cardiff

Profile

Readers’ tips: send a tip for a chance to win a £200 voucher for a Sawday’s stay

Show

Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

Thank you for your feedback.

Artisanal Anghiari

alley in the medieval village Anghiari, Arezzo, Tuscany
Photograph: Getty Images

The vast, 13th-century defensive walls of Anghiari still loom high over the plain of the Valtiberina, location of the decisive Florentine victory over the Milanese in 1440, and celebrated annually by a colourful, viciously contested Palio. Hidden within, a flower-strewn labyrinth of winding alleyways reveals linen looms, artisans’ workshops and boutiques hewn from the bedrock. The Southbank Sinfonia performs in the piazza under the stars each July, and the town revels in seasonal celebrations of Tuscan gastronomy, culminating in the “Chequered Tablecloth”, in which local produce is served at candlelit, communal tables, accompanied by performances of folklore, poetry and song and dance.
Benedict Leonard, London

Roman Christian mosaics in Ravenna

Mosaic of the baptism of Jesus, in the Arian Baptistry of Ravenna.
Mosaic of the baptism of Jesus, in the Arian Baptistry in Ravenna. Photograph: Michael Honegger/Alamy

Go to Ravenna – it is perfect for a long weekend, and close to Bologna. The imperial capital in the dying days of the Roman empire, it houses the most amazing collection of early Christian mosaics you’ll ever see. The art mostly dates from the fifth and sixth centuries and adorns just a handful of ancient churches in the compact city centre. The imagery is a real shock. There are no crucifixions or other signs of Christ’s suffering, and everywhere you’ll see sheep. Yes, they took the idea of us all being a flock very literally 1,500 years ago.
Chris Wilson, Fife

Sunsets in Sicily

Taormina with Mount Etna at sunset.
Taormina with Mount Etna at sunset. Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images

The city of Taormina in Sicily has it all. It’s perched on a hilltop, therefore boasting amazing views of an active volcano, Mount Etna, while also having beautiful sandy coves, which can be accessed by a steep hike or via cable car. The town’s piazza is one of the best places to watch the sun set in Sicily and a visit to the ancient Greek-Roman theatre is not to be missed– you can even catch a show here today.
Rachel W, Cumbria

Blown away in Sardinia

The Roman amphitheatre of Cagliari
The Roman amphitheatre in Cagliari. Photograph: Luis Leamus/Alamy

Try a short break in Cagliari, a beautiful and bustling port city on the island of Sardinia – . Countless places to eat and drink, all fiercely proud of the local produce. Bombas, a modern burger restaurant, is nestled inside a cave within the stunning medieval city walls. Sightseeing includes La Torre dell’Elefante, an imposing 14th-century limestone tower, the sprawling ruins of the Roman amphitheatre and a host of museums and galleries. We visited not expecting much, but were blown away by what Cagliari had to offer.
Dom S, Accrington

Railway rapture in Genoa

funicular railway Genoa
Photograph: Roberto Lo Savio/Alamy

Genoa is steep, built into the Ligurian cliffs. But if you don’t fancy walking up and down the many staircases, there are a series of delightful funicular railways. The Zecca-Righi funicular gets you from the city centre to the high hills in minutes. But best of all is the cute and weird Ascensore Castello d’Albertis-Montegalletto – a delightful little carriage that trundles you 300 metres into the hillside, before boarding its own lift to leave you high up above the city, overlooking the port and just around the corner from the Museum of World Cultures. Journeys are €0.90.
Thom, London

Friuli had you fooled?

Piazza Libertà in Udine.
Piazza Libertà in Udine. Photograph: MassanPH/Getty Images

Italy but not Italy … That’s the feeling that strikes you as you wander the streets of Udine, in the lesser-known region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Sitting in the shadow of the castle, Piazza Libertà is considered to be the most beautiful Venetian square on terra firma, but it’s the people and food that hint towards a more unusual mix of influences. The local language, Friulian, and the hearty dishes of frico, cjarsons and gubana give clues to the city’s mountainous hinterland and its intoxicating Germanic and Slavic influences. Yet as your senses are filled with new sights, tastes and sounds, a glass of bianco from the Collio vineyards reminds you that, well, maybe this is Italy after all.
Steve Bassett, Exeter



Source link

Global Wake Up Call To Social Media Influencers, Small Businesses


It’s time to diversify away from Facebook products and any legacy social media app where you’re making money on content, or using it as a shingle to your business. Last week’s Facebook blackout serves as yet another reminder. It doesn’t matter where you are. These things go down, if you’re reliant on them for revenue, it’s a day off without pay.

It is unclear exactly how Facebook social media platforms went dark for around six (glorious) hours last week, but people from around the world lost money, not just billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

In India, small online businesses and re-sellers were amongst the worst affected, according to Judy Morris, a travel and lifestyle blogger quoted by India Express.

Neha Puri, CEO and founder of Vavo Digital, an influencer marketing company, said that businesses and social media influencers rely too much on single social media platforms.

“When a store is shut down for a particular period, the shopkeeper incurs losses, (just like) when a major social media platform going down,” Puri said. “Small businesses lost potential customers.”

Instagram is more famously known for its influencers. The risk associated with dependency on a single system that can either demonetize you, or cut your pay drastically at a moments notice, is risky business.

“I’ve always been very aware, especially since the collapse of Vine, that holding your business name and brand on an external social media platform is a risk,” Victoria MacGrath, fashion influencer at In The Frow, warned over a year ago. “To base your livelihood, income and brand on platforms you don’t own, is a huge gamble.”

There are at at least 500 million daily active Stories users on Instagram. Sixty per cent of them seek out and discover new products on Instagram. Brand collaborations have grown 44% between 2018 and 2019, according to Vuelio, a data solutions company serving the public relations and marketing industries.

Instagram’s ‘Creator’ accounts are where short, content creators do their thing as influencers. This is a huge business for some, worldwide. Creator accounts and influencer access to Instagram’s Checkout – in simple terms, Insta’s e-commerce solution — are aimed at keeping creators happy everywhere.

In 2019, even before Instagram’s blackout, influencer marketing expert Scott Guthrie, was saying that as growth flattens at Facebook, the company has been forced to look elsewhere for advertising revenue to prop up the business. “Eyes are now focused squarely on Instagram. The photo-sharing app contributed less than $5 billion to Facebook in 2017. Income nearly doubled in 2018. eMarketer has forecast revenue will exceed $25 billion in 2021,” he says.

“Creator accounts and branded content ads appear, on the surface, to be putting community first but it is surely more about cash than community. The next step will be to kill off organic reach,” Guthrie warns. “Just as Instagram’s parent, Facebook, did with brand pages. If branded content ads currently provide brands with an opportunity to boost influencer content to their pages, what if that opportunity becomes an obligation? What if the only way to reach your audience is by paying to boost your content?”

This sounds like evil genius level business planning. And should be a good reason why those making money off these platforms need to diversify.

“I think creators have many reasons to move over to new platforms,” says Melanie Mohr, Founder & CEO of BULLZ in Singapore. “One reason might be due to certain content restrictions, another reason one might be more innovative creator tools or content approaches. But the driving reason for most creators is going to be better monetization model.”

Regular content creators provide social media platforms with the most value.

Whether they have their own equivalent of a talk show on YouTube, and make money that way, or are selling their fashion sense on Instagram, thousands of creators worldwide are worried about their reliance on Instagram and YouTube.

“It is impossible to monetize solely from those platforms. You have to look out for brand deals or sponsored content to make a living,” says Mohr.

BULLZ is an app that allows for content creators to diversity into crypto, though it is geared to the true crypto gear heads to talk about crypto and new crypto-related startups in short videos. Users share videos of themselves, or others, talking about crypto and blockchain. BULLZ is in the Promote-To-Earn space, where users can find trending projects, discuss them together with other crypto enthusiasts and experts and get rewarded in crypto for their shares.

“Some crypto savvy YouTube creators call it a new TikTok for crypto,” Mohr says. “We have more platforms lined up to integrate the protocol.” They work with two I have never heard of. One is called YEAY. The other protocol is the WOM Authenticator. It’s for branded content promotion. BULLZ pays in WOM tokens.

Rofkin is arguably the pioneer social media platform that came with a crypto component. Content creators on Rofkin earn in the RAE token. Rofkin is for the long-content creator.

Another key alternative to YouTube is the Locals platform. That one pays in fiat. Greg Gutfield is on Locals. And Scott Adams has some of his shows on Locals in order to diversify away from YouTube and reduce demonetization risks for running afoul of the Google

GOOG
wrong-think police.

This summer, Twitter

TWTR
chief Jack Dorsey said cryptocurrencies would be “a big part” of the company’s future. Last month, they announced they will roll out a tipping feature in crypto (and fiat), which is another way to diversify income streams for influencers.

“We want everyone on Twitter to have access to avenues to get paid,” staff product manager Esther Crawford posted on September 23.

People can tip with Bitcoin using Strike – a payments application built on the Bitcoin Lightning Network that allows Twitter users to send and receive Bitcoin. Strike is extremely limited. Only El Salvador and the U.S. have it, and not all 50 states. (Hawaii and New York do not have it). People in the eligible markets will have to sign up for a Strike account and add their Strike username to receive Bitcoin tips over the Lightning Network. And Twitter users will need a Bitcoin Lightning wallet to send tips to someone’s Strike account, which might be more of a headache than it is worth.

Twitter’s foray is just another example of crypto becoming a payment alternative for creators.

And BULLZ’s foray is a crypto-centric solution for those looking to diversify income streams and escape the mainstream platforms. Maybe if they are crazy lucky, they become the Twitch of crypto videos. If you’re a fashion influencer, though, better get into fashion NFTs, if that’s a thing. It’s probably a thing. (Oh, God, I was right.)

“You are free to create any kind of content but based on blockchain projects that got you excited or wallets you use to store your assets or crypto exchanges you like,” says Mohr. “The only thing that matters is that the content is authentic, and has value to the audience.”

Instagram wants people piped in all the time, and wants its influencers to be more dependent on it. Last week’s blackout shows what that kind of centralization means.

Still, people are lazy, and idle when it comes to these things. Instagram blackouts would probably have to be a regular occurrence before people really diversified in large numbers.

“We think it is crucial that influencers diversify,” digital legal specialists TLT Solicitor’s head of digital future law, James Touzel, says. There’s just one major caveat. He added that content creators should keeping “using Instagram to their full advantage.”





Source link

Latest news updates: US small businesses say labour shortages worsened in September


UK house prices in September registered the biggest monthly gain in more than 14 years as the stamp duty discount came to an end while the “race for space” pushed buyers to look beyond London.

The average house price rose 1.7 per cent last month compared with August, the fastest monthly gain since February 2007, according to data from the mortgage provider Halifax.

Compared with the same month last year house prices were up 7.4 per cent, an acceleration from 7.2 per cent in the previous month, which pushed the average house to just over £267,500, the highest on record.

September’s spike in prices “shows the pandemic boom is still alive and well”, said Jonathan Hopper, chief executive of Garrington Property Finders.

Line chart of £ '000 showing UK average house price rise to a record high

The end of the stamp duty holiday in England and a desire among homebuyers to close deals at speed could have played some part in these figures, said Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax.

The fast rise reflects other factors as most mortgages agreed in September would not have been completed before the tax break expired, he added.

From October, thresholds up to which buyers in England and Northern Ireland could avoid paying stamp duty will decline from £250,000 to £125,000, the level before July 2020, when the tax holiday was introduced to stimulate the housing market following the first national lockdown. Until July 1, the threshold was £500,000.

“The ‘race-for-space’ as people changed their preferences and lifestyle choices undoubtedly had a major impact,” said Galley. Prices for flats rose 6.1 per cent, compared with 8.9 per cent for semi-detached properties and 8.8 per cent for detached.

Greater London remains the outlier, with annual growth of just 1 per cent and was again the only region or nation to record a fall in house prices over the latest rolling three-monthly period.

“The driving force [of the price rise] is now old-fashioned market fundamentals, and the chronic imbalance of supply and demand,” said Hopper.



Source link

Share a tip about a small city or town in Germany to win a £200 holiday voucher | Travel


We’d love to hear about your favourite city, town or village in Germany. We’d like to steer away from the huge draws like Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, and focus on smaller characterful gems that dot the country – places such as the Unesco world heritage town Goslar in the Harz mountains; or Bad Wimpfen in the Black Forest with its pointed spires and half-timbered houses; or Bremm in the Moselle Valley, home to Europe’s steepest vineyard.

Tell us what you saw and did that made it special – maybe it was a lovely place to stay, a brilliant family restaurant, the architecture or a local festival – with websites and prices where appropriate.

If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will win a £200 voucher to stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK and Europe. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe in the paper, too.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

The competition closes on 12 October at 9am BST

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Read the terms and conditions here

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here and privacy policy here.



Source link

Small Luxury Hotels of the World launches Considerate Collection | News


Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) has launched Considerate Collection.

A release described the new venture as a “community of actively sustainable luxury hotels going the extra eco-mile, proving that luxury is compatible with longevity”.

From the biodiversity-promoting Keemala in Thailand to the culture-preserving Gangtey Lodge in carbon-negative Bhutan, Considerate Collection debuts with 26 pioneering hotels in 16 countries.

SLH has collaborated with the most respectable sustainable travel and luxury hospitality players to create a trusted and transparent framework. 

These include Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) – the international, independent, not-for-profit body established by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO); and Greenview, whose platform is the only GSTC-recognised sustainable tourism management tool.

Daniel Luddington, vice president, development, SLH, said: “We have carefully curated the Considerate Collection to spotlight luxury boutique hotels exemplary in their sustainability efforts, making it easier for customers and the travel trade to make better-considered choices.

“Staying in small, independent hotels goes hand in hand with travelling sustainably and all SLH hotels are already steeped in the many facets of sustainable hospitality, so we haven’t had to look far outside of our portfolio for the launch collection.

“We also have an exciting pipeline of new hotels to add in the coming months.”

He added: “This is not about creating a new brand, but rather building on the strong brand values that have existed within SLH since inception – independent spirits, community-centric, questioners, storytellers and the ultimate belief that Small is beautiful and a better way to travel.”

Currently, with a luxury hotel portfolio of over 520 hotels in 90 countries, SLH has taken a holistic approach to sustainability to complement its long-term brand vision – a future where people explore the world with intention, experience its intensity, and protect its integrity.

Randy Durband, chief executive of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, said: “SLH has impressed us with their dedicated support of their member hotels, and we are delighted to collaborate with them to devise a robust framework, consistent with GSTC measures but uniquely matched for all luxury boutique hotels. 

“We are sure it will be a huge success.”





Source link

Share a tip about a small city or town in France to win a £200 holiday voucher | Travel


We’d love to hear about your favourite city, town or village in la belle France. We’d like to steer away from the huge draws like Paris, Lyon and Marseille, and focus on smaller characterful gems that dot the country – places such as Honfleur in Normandy, with its colourful harbour that inspired Claude Monet; or the hilltop village vibe of Aix-en Provence; or the cobbled streets and canals of Annecy.

Tell us what you saw and did that made it special – maybe it was a lovely place to stay, a brilliant family restaurant, the architecture or a local festival – with websites and prices where appropriate.

If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will win a £200 voucher to stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK and Europe. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe in the paper, too.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

The competition closes on 5 October at 9am BST

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Read the terms and conditions here

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here and privacy policy here



Source link

Share a tip about a small city in Italy to win a £200 holiday voucher | Travel


Now that the five-day quarantine has been lifted, we’d love to hear about your favourite city in Italy. Not big hitters like Florence or Naples, but the smaller, more idiosyncratic jewels that dot this country – Cremona with its violin history, Modena’s balsamic vinegar lofts or the ancient stones of Matera. Tell us what you saw and did that made it special – maybe it was a lovely place to stay, a brilliant family restaurant, the architecture or a local festival – with websites and prices if appropriate.

If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will win a £200 voucher to stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK and Europe. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe in the paper, too.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

The competition closes on 7 September at 9am BST

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Read the terms and conditions here

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here and privacy policy here



Source link

Share a tip about a small city in Spain to win a £200 holiday voucher | Travel


We’d love to hear about your favourite city in Spain. We’d like to steer away from the huge draws like Seville and Valencia, and focus on smaller characterful gems that dot the country – places like Burgos with its medieval architecture, Mérida and its Roman buildings or Santander’s amazing seafood. Tell us what you saw and did that made it special – maybe it was a lovely place to stay, a brilliant family restaurant, the architecture or a local festival – with websites and prices where appropriate.

If you have a relevant photo, do send it in – but it’s your words that will be judged for the competition.

Keep your tip to about 100 words

The best tip of the week, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will win a £200 voucher to stay at a Sawday’s property – the company has more than 3,000 in the UK and Europe. The best tips will appear on the Guardian Travel website, and maybe in the paper, too.

We’re sorry, but for legal reasons you must be a UK resident to enter this competition.

Have a look at our past winners and other tips

Read the terms and conditions here

The competition closes on 21 September at 9am BST

If you’re having trouble using the form, click here. Read terms of service here and privacy policy here.



Source link

11 Quaint Small Towns To Visit In West Virginia


Wild, Wonderful West Virginia, the Mountain State’s slogan, is a key to what’s in store as soon as you cross the state line. For years, some have either ignored the beauty of West Virginia or embraced it and kept the allure of its small mountain towns to themselves for safekeeping. 

Either way, with the New River Gorge becoming the 63rd park in the National Park System, it will gain many new visitors. Here are some quaint small towns to visit in West Virginia as shared by a local to enhance your visit. These are towns I have personally been to and raved about to others somewhere down the road.

Outdoor dining in Fayetteville.
Outdoor dining in Fayetteville (Photo Credit: Melody Pittman)

Fayetteville

Fayetteville was voted one of the Coolest Towns in America by Budget Traveler. Here, you’ll find a Bohemian spirit with oodles of outdoor opportunities. If you’ve ever wanted to go whitewater rafting, this is your chance. You’ll find some of the best rapids in the country and instructional teams at Adventures on the Gorge to ease your beginner fears or bring out the daredevil for experienced rafters. You can also find lodging (cabins, glamping, RV sites, campgrounds, and vacation homes) for every budget. Enjoy a fantastic gourmet sandwich from Secret Sandwich Society and a side of Pimento Cheese Fries. The Truman is my fave, with turkey, peach jam, blue cheese spread, and crispy onions.

Pro Tip: Views from Adventures on the Gorge’s pool are breathtaking.

The Billy Motel in West Virginia.
The Billy Motel (Photo Credit: Melody Pittman)

Thomas/Davis

I visited Thomas a few months ago after hearing some pretty cool things about it. Thomas is a charming little gem with one of the state’s best (if not the best) music venues, The Purple Fiddle, offering a house band that plays mountain and bluegrass sounds. Eat slow-cooked carnitas tacos or a bowl with rice, beans, queso fresco, pickled slaw, and a fried egg from Picnic, a takeout place with a massive lawn for picnicking. Bonus, there are 50 buildings in the area listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Three miles away in neighboring Davis is an adorable retro-chic motel that I didn’t have the chance to stay at, but not for lack of trying. The Billy Motel and Bar is highly popular and looks like it belongs on Route 66 rather than rural West Virginia. Have drinks at the bar and take in the cool ambiance. 

Shepherdstown

One of West Virginia’s oldest towns is Shepherdstown in the panhandle region of Jefferson County. Enjoy scenic views of the Potomac River or soak up the wonders of the town that was a runner-up for our nation’s capital. I enjoy staying at the Bavarian Inn Resort & Brewing Company, with award-winning German cuisine (think schnitzel, apple strudel, and sausages), comfortable, elegant rooms, and a fantastic infinity pool. Shepherdstown has a colonial feel to it, which you’ll notice at once. Stop in Dickinson & Wait Craft Gallery for your viewing and shopping pleasures, and O’Hurley’s General Store for a stroll down memory lane. 

Shepherdstown is 10 miles away from historic Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park, where one of the most precipitating factors of the Civil War took place. 

Boats at the lake in Summersville, WV.
Boats at the lake in Summersville (Photo Credit: Melody Pittman)

Summersville

Calling all you boaters and campers … Summersville (Nicholas County) is the place to be in West Virginia. You’ll be in awe of the beauty of this popular human-made (rock-fill dam) 327-foot-deep lake only 20 to 25 minutes from Fayetteville. Find yourself a quiet cove for fishing or relaxing, or you can get out on the vertical cliff-surrounded lake for ultimate boating fun. Summersville Lake has a full-service marina and public beach area.

Camp on your own or rent a cabin or yurt at Mountain Lake Campground, which is also pet-friendly and offers golf rentals. Sarge’s Dive Shop is open for paddleboard and kayak rentals as well as diving excursions. Pontoons and speedboats are also available for rent at Summersville Lake and make for a great day on the beautiful clear water. If you’ve ever considered getting scuba certification, Summersville is an excellent place to do it. 

White Sulphur Springs

White Sulphur Springs is a pristine community with my favorite resort in the country – The Greenbrier, America’s resort since 1778. This place will literally knock your socks off with its luxury accommodations, high-end shopping, gambling, historical tours, golf, and sprawling grounds with incredible pools. White Sulphur Springs itself is a picturesque town with adorable little shops and quite a few festivals. If fishing is in your wheelhouse, cast your line and be prepared to pull in some tale-worthy big ones. 

If you feel like more pampering (it’s been a rough year, right?), a few miles away is Salt Cave & Spa, where you can relax in the man-made cave lined with Himalayan salt. Follow up with lunch and a photo-worthy Bloody Mary from 50 East Casual Dining & Spirits.

Fun Fact: Jerry West graduated from my high school. Honoring the NBA legend and man’s silhouette that still graces the basketball, Prime 44 West at the Greenbrier is a top steakhouse in the state. 

A parade in Marmet, West Virginia.
A parade in Marmet (Photo Credit: Melody Pittman)

Marmet

A few minutes from Charleston, WV’s capital city, is Marmet, population 1,625. Besides having the best West Virginia hot dogs of all at Chum’s (you’ve got to try the yellow mustard slaw!), it is a town with a timeless annual tradition that is worth a visit. 

Join the locals and visitors in Marmet as they roll out the red carpet for the Marmet Labor Day festivities and parade. Gather around MacCorkle Avenue to watch a small-town American parade honor the labor workers with bands, nearby fire departments, politicians and labor party representatives, children’s organizations and church groups, candy-tossers, and much more. Following the parade are fireworks, carnival-style fun and games, music, and good home cooking at Ben Morris Field.

Pearl S Buck Birthplace Museum, WV.
Pearl S Buck Birthplace Museum (Photo Credit: Melody Pittman)

Seebert

One of my favorite towns in West Virginia is Seebert, in Pocahontas County. This friendly community is nestled around the Greenbrier River and Watoga State Park. Stop by Jack Horner’s Corner for kayak and tubing rentals, as getting out on the water is a way of life here. If you’ve not had the pleasure of river tubing, put on your swimsuit and water shoes and grab a tube to float down the river. You can also pick up groceries, pizza, and other convenience items. 

You can camp in the state park or stay in the charming waterfront Greenbrier River Cabins for lodging. Motorcycle touring is another popular way to see Seebert, with fantastic scenery and some of the curviest roads in the state. Nearby, in the town of Hinton, is the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Museum, though currently closed due to COVID. 

Ca crepe at Cafe Cimino.
A crepe at Cafe Cimino (Photo Credit: Melody Pittman)

Sutton

Located in Braxton County, Sutton is an adorable small town with the best restaurant in West Virginia, Cafe Cimino. Feast on a charcuterie platter, homemade pasta dishes, and mouthwatering steaks prepared by Chef Tim. Make an overnight of it and stay in the onsite Cafe Cimino County Inn situated along the scenic Elk River.

Nearby is the paranormal giant, the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Formerly the Weston State Hospital, this 160-year-old asylum is where countless lobotomies were performed. And if you hadn’t guessed, it is highly haunted and featured on several Ghost Network shows. I highly recommend a tour of this National Historic Landmark. 

Bingo cards in Dunbar, WV.
Bingo in Dunbar (Photo Credit: Melody Pittman)

Dunbar

Dunbar is a stone’s throw from Charleston, with the best bingo in the state. I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill bingo hall. The Dunbar Athletic Boosters Bingo Hall has hundreds of people cashing in on big jackpots, pulling tips (if you know, you know), and munching on homemade pies, cakes, and a wide array of dinner options. Saturday nights, you can play bingo for less than $35, which lasts several hours into the evening. Funny, this thrilling weekly entertainment and camaraderie is the one thing I miss most about living in West Virginia. 

For overnight accommodations, the vibrant Mardi Gras Casino & Resort is 10 minutes away. 

Lewisburg

The setting of downtown Lewisburg is about as American as you can get, with locally owned shops, restaurants, vibrant flower displays, whimsical street flags, and manicured parks lining the main drag amidst the Allegheny Mountains. Here you can enjoy high brow shopping for ladies apparel at Wolf Creek, shoes at Yarid’s, upscale kitchen items at Bella the Corner Gourmet, and eclectic gifts (and wine!) at Harmony Ridge Gallery. Visit Carnegie Hall or Greenbrier Valley Theatre for performing arts and concerts. Then, rest your head in a beautiful room at the elegant 1929 General Lewis Inn, serving amazing craft cocktails. 

Pro Tip: Don’t miss Lewisburg’s Carnegie Hall — one of the four remaining Andrew Carnegie centers in the world. 

The Palace of Gold in Wheeling, WV.
The Palace of Gold (Photo Credit: Melody Pittman)

Wheeling

Wheeling is well-known for Oglebay Resort, a year-round resort with cottages and a lodge that really comes to life at Christmas when the Winter Festival of Lights offers some of the best holiday displays in the country. Oglebay’s grounds are immaculate — you may not want to leave. A few miles away in Moundsville is the Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold (Hare Krishna devotees), easily one of the best religious wonders in the country. Wheeling is great for leaf peepers, a perfect Italian dinner at Undo’s, and playing the slots at the Wheeling Island Hotel Casino and Racetrack

Related Reading: 



Source link