We recently enjoyed a road trip that included a day exploring Davis and Thomas, West Virginia. We had a great time shopping and exploring these cute small towns.
But before diving into our favorites, here’s a few tips for exploring the Mountain State:
- Bring a map- you can’t rely only on GPS in Wild Wonderful West Virginia. There are quite a few dead zones where your cell phone just won’t work. Print out directions ahead of time and bring a West Virginia road map or a good ol’ Road Atlas.
2. Pack for the outdoors-West Virginia is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. So, bring your hiking boots, kayak, mountain bike, fly rod, or whatever gear you need for your sport of choice. Remember sunblock, bug spray, and hydration. Be prepared with an emergency kit too.
3. Fuel up when you can. If you see a gas station, stop and get fuel. You may not see another station for a while. It’s a good idea to have roadside kit and some basic tools too. Tow trucks and mechanics can be few and far between in rural areas.
4. Watch for deer! West Virginians joke that saying “watch for deer” is another way to say I love you. We say it anytime anyone leaves our homes at night. From dusk to dawn, deer are roaming. They will run right out in front of your car without hesitating.
Now, let’s talk about Thomas, West Virginia. There is a small downtown area with great shops. Here are our favorites:
230 East Ave.
We usually aren’t art gallery kind of people. But, we both really enjoyed browsing this place. There were some really neat prints, a lot of them nature themed.
Ella & Co.
250 East Ave
This store sells antiques, outdoorsy and nature inspired decor, candles, and more. I literally liked everything in this store. I’m a sucker for anything National Park related and they have a lot. There’s so much to see. We browsed in this shop for quite a while.
Happy & Moore Bakery and General Store
172 Spruce Street Suite A
The woman running this store is so kind. There were neighborhood kids milling around and she was so sweet to them. I hear she is known for her cinnamon rolls. But, I had her homemade gluten-free snickerdoodles and they were AMAZING!
15 East Avenue
Small store packed with local handmade items. I got this hairclip there and I just love it.
When we were heading through town, we were between lunch and dinner. But, when we go back, I plan to eat at Picnic in Thomas. They serve tacos. The prices are fantastic and it smelled so good.
If you want some entertainment, check out the Purple Fiddle, also on East Ave. They have ice cream, an extensive beer and wine menu, and live music several times a week. Every weekend, they have free concerts. It’s a family friendly environment and a staple in the community.
Just up the road from Thomas is Davis, West Virginia.
The shops here are fun too.
Wild Ginger and Spice has an eclectic mix of things. But, I liked their pajamas and collection of soaps, lip balms, and other natural beauty items made in house (there’s literally a lab in the back of the store) by Annie Mac Naturals. All of this is in a gorgeous historic building that was formerly the Bank of Davis. You can even shop in the original vault.
The Davis Depot has camping and hiking gear and t-shirts. We liked checking out the racks in the consignment corner.
We also had a good time looking around in the WV Highlands Artisans Gallery. The lady behind the cash register was really friendly and nice to talk to. There’s photography, fiber art, pottery, and impressive baskets- all West Virginia made.
Now, I wanted to chase some waterfalls. So, we drove to Blackwater Falls State Park. (5484 Blackwater Falls Drive) We’ve been to this park several times and have always done the Blackwater Falls Boardwalk trail. It’s a doozy. Drive to the Trading Post and walk 200 steps down to the observation deck next to the falls. Then, you guessed it-turn around and walk back up those 200 steps to get back to the trail head. I did this trail while pregnant with my twins over a decade ago. While I don’t recommend it as a maternity exercise, it is a very dramatic viewpoint. The cascade is 57 ft. tall. It’s a noteworthy place in June when both the mountain laurel and rhododendron are in bloom. It’s also remarkable in the winter when it’s frozen and surrounded by ice and snow. We discovered on this trip that there is a gentle trail option too. It’s rated beginner. It’s short, accessible, paved, and has a resting bench at the halfway point. It’s an out and back trail with an observation deck overlooking the falls. So, whether you choose the hard way or the easy way-everyone can enjoy the view.
On this trip, we decided to check out one of the less famous waterfalls in Davis- Elakala. The trail head is located near the south side of the lodge. It is marked with a red blaze. Follow it a 1/2 mi. to see Elakala falls. You’ll actually walk over a boardwalk bridge right over the top of the falls. Keep walking a bit further and then look back to get the best views and pictures. This trail is covered in roots and would be a bit treacherous in the rain. If you aren’t sure-footed or have trouble with balance, this probably isn’t the right trail for you. After snapping pictures, you have some options. You can turn around at this point and follow the trail back up to the lodge or you can continue. The trail is a 1/2 mile in length. It drops you on the main park road. Either turn left and walk back to the lodge on the pavement or connect here to the Balanced Rock trail with an orange blaze.
On our next visit, I’d like to come back in the Winter. Blackwater Falls State Park has a quarter mile sled run and a “magic carpet” or conveyor belt that you can ride back up to the top. There’s warming huts with hot chocolate. There’s ten cross-country ski trails in the park that can also be used for snowshoeing. Canaan Valley Ski Resort and Timberline Mountain offer downhill skiing just a few miles away. White Grass is a cross country skiing facility in Davis. There are lots of cabins in the area to rent inside and outside the state parks. I just did a quick search and found quite a few with fireplaces and hot tubs.
If you are visiting in the Summer, check out The West Virginia Waterfall Trail. experience.wvtourism.com There are over 200 waterfalls in the Mountain State. This guide through the West Virginia Department of Tourism, includes a “passport” to check in at over two dozen sites. One that we didn’t catch on this trip was Falls of Pendleton which can best be seen from a roadside overlook. There are others that would make nice day trips from Davis to see as well.
Anytime you visit, West Virginia is a truly majestic place. The people here are famous for being outdoorsy and skilled artisans. It’s a very friendly place where nature really is “Wild and Wonderful.”