Town guide: Williamson
This riverside town winds past miles of Hatfield-McCoy family history and adventure.
34:Ate’s menu bursts with imaginative salads, entrees, and daily desserts. There are specials, too — like Chicken-and-Waffle Wednesday!
Its wraps and sandwiches are especially imaginative. “Hawaiian Ham & Bacon” mimics the classic pizza, while “Grown Up Bologna” jazzes up a childhood class with onions, banana peppers, and your choice of chipotle mayonnaise or mustard. You can also try something sweeter, like “Sweet & Gooey”: grilled peanut butter on a croissant with chocolate, marshmallows, and fresh fruit.
Sazon, a Mexican-American restaurant, makes a worthy choice, too. Menu choices range from fajitas, flour burritos, and specialty nachos to pollo loco — grilled chicken tips with melted cheese, sauce, guacamole salad, and a side-dish of rice and beans.
There’s also Starters, a sports bar and restaurant. Its menu encourages you to “warm up” with appetizers like Italian meatball samplers and quesadillas. The “starting line-up” comes next; pick from an assortment of burgers, wraps, and hot sub sandwiches, or go “on the green” for salads.
If you’re especially ravenous, order “19th-Hole” entrees like New York strip steak, prime rib filets, and spaghetti with meatballs.
Another Williamson attraction is Daddy’s Girls 2, a boutique bakery. Daily specialties include flaky cream horns, warm cinnamon rolls, and pastries. The cupcakes are especially impressive; devour one right there, or order an artistic “rose” bouquet for a special occasion. The masterful icing on these treats looks so realistic, you’ll almost believe they are real flowers!
Elma and Etsye saves you a trip to New York’s fashion district. At this boutique, you can shop for the latest purses, blouses, and kids’ clothes. The owners also have casual workshops about design and cooking.
Williamson locals also favor Melisa’s Baskets Galore. This cheery gift shop racks of perky sweatshirts and tops, plus upbeat home decor. If a holiday is coming up— like Valentine’s Day, for example — you can get appealing gift packages, too.
When it comes to off-roading, Williamson’s backyard is hard to beat. That’s because the Hatfield-McCoy Trail — the largest system of its kind — runs through Mingo County.
Start your engines at Buffalo Mountain Trail System, Williamson’s major trailhead. It boasts the largest portion of singletrack (31 percent) of all the Hatfield-McCoy paths. Routes are clearly marked, and beginners and advanced riders have plenty to discover. With more than 600 miles of territory to explore, no trip is the same!
While you drive, keep a lookout for historic spots, too. Buffalo Mountain skirts past the Matewan Massacre area and several Hatfield-McCoy family feud sites.
A former high school now stars as the Hatfield-McCoy Country Museum, America’s largest collection of feud memorabilia. You’ll come across artifacts owned by “Devil Anse” Hatfield, Henry Ford, and other influential figures.
There are several immersive displays, too. Visit the interior of a coal camp house and the atmospheric Underground Theater, which resembles a mine!
One of the most striking Williamson attractions is the Coal House — a structure made entirely of coal, all 65 tons of it. Built in 1933, the peculiar building now serves as the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce. Stop by for brochures, road trip advice, and incredible photo opportunities!
Hatfield-McCoy Airboat Tours in Matewan isn’t far from town, and you might want to hop aboard. After all, history has never been so thrilling! You’ll power down the Tug Fork River on a 550-horsepower watercraft, all while your guide chats about the infamous family feud that rent the region more than a century ago. Along the way, you might spot herons, turtles … even a goat!
Places to stay
What did Hank Williams, Jr., JFK, and Earl Scruggs have in common with Williamson? The Mountaineer Hotel, a venerable inn that’s been around since 1925.
This historic building feels like it’s been preserved from time. Retro charm abounds, from the pale exterior brickwork to the airy mezzanine, lounge chairs, and chandeliers. Guest rooms bear plaques that tell you which celebrity slept there, too. No wonder The Mountaineer Hotel belongs on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1905, the Tug Valley Inn also has plenty of character. Sleep in restful powder-blue rooms with warm lighting, then wake up to a filling meal. The owners serve continental breakfasts during the week (hot breakfasts available upon request), country meals on Saturdays, and homemade pancakes on Sundays.
Tunnel Drive-In and Suites is a longstanding Williamson institution. It’s a no-frills joint with all the comforts of home. Spend the night and you’ll get a modern room with Wi-Fi, TV, living space, and a private bathroom and kitchen.
Best of all, your room is right next to a diner! Order classics like cheeseburgers, chicken strips, funnel cakes, and fries. Tunnel Drive-In also serves treats like banana splits, milkshakes, and root beer floats. Dine inside your car for a nostalgic American experience (curb-side service!) or finish your slaw at the picnic area.
This post was last updated on March 17, 2022