This West Virginia County Is The Ultimate Summertime Destination
From blueberry picking to drive-in movies, these are the best ways to experience summer in Mercer County.
Located in the heart of Appalachia on the southern border of West Virginia, Mercer County is a warm-weather dream. In summer, the area is awash in every shade of green thanks to its abundant farmland and lush forests. Whether you want to cruise through the rolling hills or lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails, there’s ample opportunity for outdoor adventure. Mercer County’s four historic towns—Bramwell, Bluefield, Princeton, and Athens—each have their own character and personality, so make one home base, then take your time discovering what each have to offer. With average daily high temperatures in the low 80s and nighttime lows hovering around the high 50s, summer is one of the best times to visit Mercery County. From blueberry picking to stargazing to ATV riding, here are the best ways to spend summer in Mercer County, West Virginia.
Sip on a Free Glass of Lemonade
Summertime is all about simple pleasures, and one of our favorites is an ice-cold glass of lemonade on a hot day. In the historic town of Bluefield, nicknamed Nature’s Air-Conditioned City, summer temperatures often hover in the mid to low 70s—and hardly ever creep beyond 80. So if ever things do begin to heat up, the town has a tradition of keeping its residents cool with free lemonade. Since 1939, the town’s chamber of commerce and local businesses have vowed to provide citizens with free lemonade should the thermometer ever read 90 degrees. Since lemonade days are typically few and far between, Bluefield has supplemented the celebrations with an annual Lemonade Festival in late August.
Take a Hike
With three state parks that boast unique rock formations, secluded waterfalls, and scenic overlooks, Mercer County is the ideal place to take the entire family on an outdoor adventure. Camp Creek State Park features 6,000 acres of forests and more than 35 miles of trails, including a quick 1.5-mile trail to Campbell Falls. At Pinnacle Rock State Park, the kids will love climbing to the top of the 3,100-foot sandstone rock formation for which the park is named. For an easier walk in nature, head to Brush Creek Preserve and Falls, where you can meander along a tranquil river path to Brush Creek Falls and White Oak Falls.
Go Blueberry Picking
Head to the largest U-Pick farm in West Virginia for a day of blueberry-flavored fun. There are 15 acres of blueberry bushes to pick through, so you can fill as many buckets as you please. The season starts in June and typically runs through end of July, so if you’re counting on having a fruitful experience, plan your trip with those dates in mind.
Watch America’s Favorite Pastime
Mercer County encompasses several peaceful mountain communities, but its baseball rivalries are up there with the great feud between the Red Sox and Yankees. With historic stadiums and a hometown rivalry that goes years back, a game between the Bluefield Ridge Runners and the Princeton Whistlepigs (two local baseball teams now in the Appalachian League) shouldn’t be missed.
Attend the Bramwell Tour of Homes
In the late 1800s, Bramwell was known for having the largest number of millionaires per capita in the country. Today, you can see the grand homes built by wealthy coal barons during this time period on the Bramwell Tour of Homes. The twice-yearly, self-guided tour takes place on the second Saturday of every June. Attendees will have the chance to see inside four to six magnificent Victorian homes on Millionaire Row.
Take the Bluefield Garden Tour
See more carefully curated spaces at Through the Garden Gate, a summer garden tour that happens every two years in Bluefield. The tour includes walkthroughs of the gardens of some of the most beautiful homes in southern West Virginia. The event also includes a garden party at the final tour home, Southern tablescapes displayed in outdoor spaces, music, and complimentary wine and cheese. Many of the homes and gardens involved are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Spend an Afternoon at Mercer Street Grassroots District
Find a lively downtown neighborhood in Princeton’s Mercer Street Grassroots District. The area is known for its giant, colorful murals, as well as a fun lineup of local boutiques, galleries, art shops, and restaurants. When you need a break in your wanderings, stop into Sophisticated Hound Brewing Company for an artisan ale or WILD ROOTS Coffeehouse for an iced joe.
Trek the Mountain Terrain via ATV
Did you know one of the longest systems of ATV trails in the world just so happens to pass through Mercer County? The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System covers more than 1,000 miles in southern West Virginia, but the scenic and family-friendly portion of the system, in particular, runs through Mercer County. Ready to get rolling? Hook up with Eagle ATV Tours for a rental or guided tour.
Watch a Drive-In Movie
Summer nostalgia is alive and well at Pipestem Drive-In Theater in Athens. The five-acre outdoor theater has been welcoming guests of all ages since 1972. For a classic experience, grab a bucket of popcorn and your favorite candy, settle in with lawn chairs and blankets, then enjoy the double feature. Movies are shown on Fridays through Sundays from mid-May until when the weather gets too cold.
Milky Way Season runs from March through September, which makes summer the ideal time to stargaze. With hilly country, the perfect amount of tree cover, and plenty of land away from bright lights, it’s easy to find a spot to view the constellations. Lay out a blanket and watch the night sky or pitch a tent to sleep under the stars in Mercer County.
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