Ripley, in the Mid-Ohio Valley region, is perfectly positioned as a halfway point between Charleston and Parkersburg. Visit this western city for soul-satisfying cuisine, countless Fourth of July fireworks and genuine Appalachian moonshine.


The Downtowner is locally famous for comfort food, specials and attentive, friendly employees. It’s family owned and every meal has that homemade touch. Typical dishes include meatloaf, cheesy potato soup and — a customer favorite — pulled pork barbecue. Downtowner fans also rave about the peanut butter and graham cracker pies. Ambitious and inventive, the Fairplain Yacht Club ranks as one of West Virginia’s most unique dining places. Appetizers are anything but humdrum: coconut shrimp with tangy marmalade; spicy “Rings of Fire” jalapeno rings with ranch dip; and pizza quesadillas, to name a few. Pete’s Hotdogs hits the spot if you’re a lover of all things Americana. It’s a no-frills drive-through and diner, and Pete’s genuine West Virginia dogs (steamed bun, sausage, chili “sauce,” slaw, onions and mustard) attracts aficionados from all over.


This city may be small, but it definitely has spunk. Locals claim the Ripley Fourth of July is America’s largest small-town Independence Day celebration. Experience a carnival, many flea markets and a grand parade that lasts for 2 hours. Entertainers and bands perform on a stage by the Jackson County Courthouse, too. Even President George W. Bush paid his respects several years ago. It’s a marvellous event that reaches back to the late 19th century, so take a look. Another cherished mainstay is the Alpine Theatre, an attraction that’s been around since 1936. Its pilasters and a flat modern roof make a refreshing contrast to today’s utilitarian buildings. Locals still flock to the Alpine for movies and seasonal entertainment. If you’re in the area, drop by for a music act or tribute show.


Now here’s a West Virginia treat: moonshine! Appalachian Distillery, one of Ripley’s top attractions, produces traditional white lightning “from the cornstalk to the bottle.” You can also get exotic flavors like paw paw, strawberry lemonade, blackberry and peach. Lovers of home decor will enjoy Farmhouse Market Finds, home to both antique and new finds. Lucky visitors will stop by on a day when food trucks or a local cafe are at the market with delicious dining options as well.


Bring your kayak to Mill Creek Water Trail, a tranquil journey that takes you from Ripley to Cottageville. It’s a little more than 20 miles long from beginning to end. Cedar Lakes Conference Center makes an ideal vacation spot, too. Play some putt putt, start a campfire or explore some trails. There’s also a basketball and volleyball court. Cedar Lakes even has cottages and lodges, so why not spend the night? When it comes to traditional recreation, Ripley City Park covers just about everything you’d want. There’s an Olympic-size pool with a water slide, skateboard park, lit tennis courts, picnic shelters, playground and gazebo. In nearby Ravenswood, the Kevin Clegg Trail System also provides six miles of hiking and mountain biking trails for visitors along with 170 acres making up their city park and for boating.


Ripley’s downtown district certainly has its own look and feel. Most buildings date from the 1930s, but a few 19th-century homes round out the collection, too. Altogether, it’s distinctive enough to earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. One standout is Clerc-Carson House, a fine Italianate specimen. Its hipped roof, cornice dentils and asymmetrical design have character that modern homes lack. As a locally significant building, this 1880s dwelling also belongs to the National Register of Historic Places. The 1887 Staats Mill Covered Bridge is another Ripley treasure. When a flood control project threatened its existence at Mill Creek, locals moved the 97-foot structure to Cedar Lakes.


Make Cedar Lakes Conference Center your home base during your visit. Offering various lodges and quaint cabins, you’ll have just what you need to feel right at home. The Lakeview Dining Hall and Covered Bridge Cafe will make sure you never go hungry. Nearby Ravenswood Inn Bed and Breakfast offers comfortable rooms and exquisite design and landscape. The bed and breakfast is a restored late Victorian Era Folk Style house.

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