Share the simplest joys of mountain summer

Before video games, Wifi and hi-def TV, there were tents on the lawn, fireflies and stone skippin’. This season, take time to enjoy summer the old-fashioned way.

Read on for some simple ways to soak in all that fresh mountain air:

1. Get to pickin’

West Virginia’s fertile mountains are covered in wild berries, fresh fungi and beautiful flowers. Do some foraging and hit the hills in search of edible mushrooms (like coveted morels or chanterelles), native blackberries or pawpaws (sometimes called the “hillbilly banana”).

Practically every county has a “pick-your-own” farm, where you spend the day filling up a basket of whatever goodness they’re growing.

Ridgefield Farm & Orchard in Harpers Ferry even lets you raid their flower garden, bursting with Zinnias and other seasonal beauties. They provide the scissors, and you leave with a beautiful custom bouquet.

2. Get some ice cream

West Virginia’s country roads and small towns are still chock full of good old-fashioned ice cream parlors.

Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream in Charleston churns out all-natural homemade ice cream daily. The eclectic Poky Dot in Fairmont is a great place for a sweet treat (but you’ll definitely want to bring a friend to share their humongous banana split— it’s 9 POUNDS!)

Austin’s Homemade Ice Cream in Kenova has been a hometown staple since 1947, serving up an unusual but delicious grape pineapple ice cream. And if soft serve is your thing, The Custard Stand boasts more than 40 flavors.

3. Chase fireflies

Did you know some people have never been lucky enough to witness the blinking neon lights of a firefly? The critters we so fondly know as “lightning bugs” are rarely seen west of the Rockies.

No matter how old you are, there’s just something magical about a glowing glass jar with holes poked in the lid. Head out under the stars and enjoy the harmonious blinking of these extraordinary bugs across the rolling mountain valleys.

4. Learn to love those pesky dandelions

These little suckers are one of the most common “weeds” in nature. But there was a time for all of us when dandelions were not resilient weeds, but rather pieces of a flower crown or a magical ball of fluff that freed itself into the wind.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the bright yellow blossoms dotting your backyard. One way is to wait for them to dry up and turn to whispy seed pods. Go on! Pick ‘em and send them flying in the wind, just like when you were a kid.

Did you know that dandelions are also a superfood? Yep, that’s right! These little lawn squatters are bursting with vitamins and minerals. Their tender leaves can be used as greens in a salad, while the flower portion can be fried and eaten or used as a tea.

5. Watch a flick in the great outdoors

There are only a handful of drive-ins still open in West Virginia.

One of those is the Pipestem Drive-in in Athens, which opened in 1972. Traditional pole speakers provide the sound, in addition to radio, and there’s even a snack bar.

Throw the lawn chairs in the back of the truck and drive right up to the screen for an old-fashioned double feature.

6. Go to the fair

The clink-clink-clink of the ring toss. The shrill laughter spilling from Scrambler riders. The scent of fried food. There’s nothing more nostalgic than the soundtrack of a summer fair.

There’s something for everyone at the West Virginia State Fair. Relive the country’s glory days with star-studded mountain music shows. There are tummy-turning rides to last for days, but if flips and dips aren’t your thing, there’s a sea lion splash, an alligator show, bull ridin’ and fresh-squeezed lemonade around every corner.

What’s your favorite simple summer joy?

Find more summer bests >


This post was last updated on July 24, 2020