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Off the Beaten Path – Activities for Keeping Your Distance

As things slowly return to normal, we know taking precautions against COVID-19 are top of mind as we go out again. Here are some ideas for activities in #PutnamWV that are a little more off the beaten path to help you avoid crowds.

Esther and Norman Walter Memorial Nature Park | Red House, WV
This 25-acre nature preserve with a one mile loop trail is a great place to spot native species of trees and other plants. Located on Wilkie Road off W.Va. 34 northeast of Red House, the trail is an easy hike with plenty of marked species of trees. Insider tip: the parking lot can get pretty muddy so be mindful if it has recently rained. The trailhead is on the left just down the gravel road past the parking lot.

Eleanor Park Hiking/Biking Trails | Eleanor, WV
Featuring an 18-mile loop, the trails at Eleanor Park offer terrain for beginners and more than 1,800 feet in climbing elevation. The entrance is next to the picnic shelter near the front of the park. A kiosk at the trailhead features a trail map. A newly constructed comfort station is next to the shelter as well. The trail can be ridden either direction but was designed to be traveled counter-clockwise.

City of Hurricane Meeks Mountain Trails | Hurricane, WV
The newly constructed trail system has five completed miles of trails open to the public for hiking or biking. The Red/White loop is an easy 1-mile trek, with the Green/White loop featuring a more challenging five-mile trail. Entrance to the trails is beside the caboose at Hurricane City Park.

Winfield Boat Launch Ramp | Winfield, WV
With warmer weather the boat launch ramp at Winfield offers clean, easy access for both paddle and motor boating activities. Located just beside the Winfield Bridge, there is plenty of parking and a dock for fishing. Barge traffice is typically on the opposite side of the river from the launch ramp, and the water is just upriver from the Winfield Dam providing near-still water perfect for learning to kayak, canoe, or paddleboard.

#PutnamWV At Home

While we’re staying home and healthy as best we can, we wanted to share some businesses and organizations offering at-home classes and activities to keep you engaged and connected.

Note: Some online activities are free and some require payment – check listings to learn more. 

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Children

Putnam County Library – Online storytime and programming online. Their digital library is also full of free audiobooks, ebooks, and more.

Putnam Princess Parties – Schedule a FaceTime chat with your favorite character.

The Grove – Storytime for children and bible studies for adults

 

Exercise & Wellness

Pilates Plus – Online yoga, pilates, and more.

Revved Up CrossFit – Offer WODs for home

Trinity Yoga – Online yoga classes for $55 / month

Power Up Sports & Wellness – Online classes – dance workouts and more

 

Art & Music

The Doodlin’ Roo by Lisa Harrison – Online art videos.

Neill Curry Guitar – Guitar lessons.

 

Shopping

Aloma’s – Live Facebook sales and specials

Bear Wood Company – Online shopping available

Gritt’s Farm – Offering curbside pickup at Capitol Market or at the farm in Buffalo. Order online here.

Gritt’s Midway Greenhouse – Offering grab-and-go flowers and vegetables. Check Facebook page for daily offerings.

Oodles – Specials on Facebook, and ordering by phone available

The Putnam Market – Offering specials on delivered wrapped flower bundles

Runway Couture – Live Facebook sales and specials

Sweetly Salvaged – Taking online and phone orders

Yeager Design & Interiors – Live Facebook sales and specials

48 Hours in Putnam County

One of West Virginia’s best kept secrets isn’t so much “off the beaten path” as it is along the beaten path. Putnam County sits alongside I-64 between Huntington and Charleston and is a perfect spot if you want easy access to those cities, but to experience small town charm with lots of can’t-miss activities. Here’s our 48 Hour Guide to some of Putnam County’s unique offerings.

 

Day 1

Morning

Explore Eleanor Park Biking/Hiking Trails & Valley Park

Is there any better way to start your day than with a long, relaxing walk or bike ride? Get that blood pumping before a packed day around Putnam County on the gorgeous Elanor Park biking and hiking trails. Located in the town of Eleanor, there are 18 miles of excellently maintained bike trails just waiting to be explored by you and your family.  The trail is appropriate for all levels of riding from beginner to expert, but as a note, they do require a moderate skill level for the most technical areas. The trailhead is located by the shelter near the front of the park. A kiosk beside the trailhead contains a map of the entire course, along with signage instructions. It’s not all hiking and biking at Eleanor Park though, there is also a playground and an 18-hole frisbee golf course ready to be enjoyed.

 

Hurricane also has a wonderful area for recreation, Valley Park, which has a 1 mile walking trail, tennis courts, baseball fields, soccer pitch, and picnic areas for rental. When the weather is warm, check out the wave pool, which is a perfect (and cheap!) way to beat the heat. It’s $10 for adults, $8 for children 5-11, and free for children 4 and under. Valley Park also boasts an 18-hole disc golf course designed by PDGA 3-time world champion Johnny Sias.

 

 

Afternoon

Gritt’s Farm Visit

What would a trip to gorgeous, green Putnam County be without a little agritourism? Gritt’s Farm is more than the Fun Farm, a fall funland of delights open in September and October. Gritt’s Farm is 400 combined acres in Buffalo and is open year-round. The farm has seasonal produce, shrubbery, and flowers. The farm has been operating in the Kanawha Valley since 1927 and is currently owned by the fourth generation of the Gritt family. Once a month from April until September, Gritt’s hosts a farm to table culinary event. These farm to table events feature fresh ingredients from the farm prepared by local chefs and are an absolute must if you’re lucky enough to be in town for one. Check their website for dates and times.

In the off season, you can explore the north side of the county by following the Rivers to Ridges Scenic Byway, highlighting cultural and historic stops along Rt. 62 from Nitro to Point Pleasant.

 

Evening

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Putnam County is located along the banks of the Kanawha River, which also provides a lot of recreation opportunities. Stand Up Paddleboarding is one of the best ways to get up and down the river, and an evening trip on the river is hard to beat. We recommend using Appalachian Boarding Company, where you can get a guided tour and rent all the equipment you’ll need. Evan Young is a great guide, whether you’re a first timer or an experienced SUP’er. Our class had a mix of veterans and newbies, and everyone was free to get around at their own pace and paddle wherever their fancy took them. 4 hour guided tours are $70 per person and children under 12 years old are $55. 4-hour board rentals are $45. Appalachian Boarding Company also offers 8 hour tours as well as overnight board rentals, and rentals on other equipment like wet suits.

 

 

Day 2

Morning

Explore Main Street Hurricane Shops/Restaurants

After a good night’s rest, make your way over to charming, quaint downtown Hurricane for some handmade, local products at one of the shops in town. Be sure to check out Bear Wood Company which has wood art from reclaimed pieces and have a large variety of pieces, including beer flights shaped like states. If they don’t have your home state, they do take special orders and will make one for you.

 

If you’re looking for some new clothes, accessories, or household items, check out Hidden Creek Mercantile, located in a building dating back to 1890. Hidden Creek is a hub for local artisans and they have a wide selection of shirts, jewelry, and paintings. The assortment is varied and you’ll just have to stop in to check out the wide variety of pieces. The perfect item is waiting for you!

 

Afternoon

Blenko Glass Tour

Since you’re spending a little hard-earned money, venture over to neighboring Milton in Cabell County and tour the Blenko Glass Company. William J. Blenko founded the glass making company back in 1921, and pieces are still being handblown to this day under the supervision of John W. Blenko, the company’s president and William’s great grandson. You can peek in on workers handmaking vases, decanters, bowls, along with other pieces. You can also walk around the property and see thousands of Blenko pieces on display and for sale in the gift shop. Blenko Glass Company is open for tours Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm and is closed on major holidays.

 

 

Evening

Pallet Bar

Any good trip needs a proverbial nightcap, and the perfect spot to savor your last few hours in Putnam County is the Pallet Bar in Teays Valley. Pallet Bar offers a wide variety of beers on tap, many of which are brewed in West Virginia. It’s a friendly space with a bar and plenty of tables no matter how big your crew is. On top of a rotating tap of tasty brews, Pallet Bar also hosts live music, comedy, trivia, and plenty of other events. Check out their Facebook page for a list of upcoming happenings. It’s a great atmosphere with a wide selection of beers to try. You may not want to leave!

 

Whew. That is two action-packed days of outdoor adventure, exploring, shopping, and learning, so you’ll work up quite the appetite. Don’t worry —- Putnam County has an abundance of dining options, which you can read about here.

 

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Written by Tyler Phillips

Putnam County Dining Guide – Fall 2019

Putnam County has a wide variety of wonderful restaurants just waiting to be sampled. Whether you’re in the mood for biscuits, barbecue, burgers, tacos, or curry, there’s no shortage of options. Here’s a list of a few of our favorite spots that range from mind-blowing bar food to terrific Thai dishes and everywhere in between. Let’s dive in!

 

Bridge Café & Bistro

It’s the most important meal of the day, and it can also be the most delicious. Bridge Café and Bistro serves up some of the finest brunch and breakfast food in Putnam County. Menu items include farm to table forward dishes like Hurricane Hash, which combines sweet and white potatoes with bacon, sausage, pepper, onions, an egg, and it’s all topped with Hurricane red sauce. Absolutely breathtaking. They also offer up pun named items like the Ome-Lette You Decide, which, as you might guess, is a build your own omelette option. One of the more unique offerings on the breakfast menu is the pulled pork and sweet potato pancakes which are actually stuffed with pulled pork and served with siracha-infused Cedar Run Farm maple syrup.

 

Bridge Café & Bistro is more than just a brunch spot, however. They also serve up a delicious lunch and dinner, which is heavy on fine dining options like steak, pasta, and a braised beef with polenta, which makes our mouths water just typing it out.

 

Farley’s Hot Dogs

It doesn’t get much better than a good old-fashioned hot dog, and it doesn’t get much more charming than Farley’s Hot Dogs. Farley’s is offering a blast from the past with curb service, steamed buns, and house-made floats that harken back to a simpler time. There are a lot of great options at Farley’s including burgers, barbecue, and cheese sticks, but if you’re not sure what to order —- the classics never go out of style. A chili dog with coleslaw, a side of fries, and a root beer at Farley’s is good enough for John Cougar Mellencamp to write a song about, and it’ll have you addicted. We warned you!

 

Mountain Que

We have no shortage of places that specialize in barbecue and are serving up smoked delights. First there’s Mountain Que, which you can find on Main Street in Hurricane. Start off with an appetizer at Mountain Que —- specifically the jalapeno pork poppers which are fresh jalapenos stuffed with cream cheese and pork, wrapped in bacon, and baked. Finally, they’re topped with homemade barbeque ranch and green onions. Don’t fill up on those, though, because there are lot of options to choose from as a main dish. The most unique offering at Mountain Que is the original Porkey Pie. It’s pulled pork, Que sauce, and mac & cheese layered in a sundae cup. It’s an item you won’t find anywhere else, and it’s extremely tasty.

 

L&R

Not to be outdone, L&R is also smoking their own brand of pork, beef, and chicken as well. Located on Teays Valley Road in Hurricane, L&R excels at the barbecue sandwich, including the best beef brisket sandwich you can find outside of Texas. It’s going to be difficult, but save some room and don’t eat too much creamy mac & cheese, tangy potato salad, or too many savory green beans. You’re going to want to try one of the delicious desserts like bread pudding and mixed berry cobbler are two of our favorites.

 

FireSide Grille

Bar food doesn’t have to be greasy or low-quality, and FireSide Grille is the perfect example of upscale, well-constructed bar bites. There’s a large selection of appetizers so mouth-watering, you could make a meal entirely out of them. Valley friend pickles, potato skins, and, of course, Putnam pepperoni rolls are a few of the shareable items you can find at FireSide. There’s a wide variety of entrees as well, with several types of burgers and sandwiches and more fine dining options like sweet heat yellow fin tuna steak. Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the delicious flatbreads (try the pistachio crusted chicken on cauliflower crust!) which are perfect enjoyed alone or shared with a friend.

 

Thai Valley Kitchen

If you want authentic Thai food, Thai Valley Kitchen in Hurricane is the spot for you. The chefs at Thai Valley all hail from Thailand and all servers are of Thai descent and are extremely knowledgeable about Thai cuisine. Thai Valley has a variety of classic dishes like pad Thai, pad see ew, fried rice, and lo mein. Take a look at the Thai Valley specials though, for a spin on some of these classics. The Bangkok Duck is particularly good, and is fresh duck cooked with broccoli, onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms in a basil sauce. If you’ve never had Thai tea, get a glass. It’s a mixture of strong iced tea, milk, and sugar. It’s especially tasty if you’re a sweet tea fan.

 

Fairways

Fairways in Hurricane specializes in high-end culinary dishes and a wide selection of wines. Fairways offers charcuterie and cheese trays as you sip wine and prepare for dinner. When it’s time to order a main dish, the most unique entrée is the lobster mac & cheese which is rich, creamy, and so delicious. Fairways also has a variety of pasta and seafood plates like Maryland-style crab cakes, penne with creamy tomato vodka sauce, and spicy cheese ravioli. The real star of the show at Fairways, however, is on the dessert menu. The petite brown butter cake which is a moist cake, topped with maple bourbon ice cream, caramel, and whipped cream. It is, perhaps, the finest dessert in all of Putnam County, which is really saying something. It is magical mixture of crunchy, smooth, hot, and cold. It’s exquisite and would couple great with an espresso. Happy dining!

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Written by Tyler Phillips

Gritt’s Fun Farm 2019 Season Is Here

Brad Gritt, the general manager at Gritt’s Farm, told us, “you don’t end up out here by accident.” It’s true, you don’t find yourself standing on hundreds of acres of Gritt’s Farm property without intention, but, as with most things in life, the effort is well worth the payoff. Located in Buffalo (within an hour’s drive of both Charleston and Huntington) Gritt’s Farm has been in operation since 1927 growing various produce, trees, shrubs, flowers — if you can name it, they can likely grow it. As growing season turns to harvest season, crisp air blows over the hills of the Kanawha Valley and the farm transforms into Fun Farm, an autumn wonderland with pumpkins, corn mazes, and plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

Fun Farm begins every September and runs through early November, but we got a sneak preview of this year’s offerings on a warm September day. One of the first sights you’ll see as you enter the farm is a plentiful pumpkin patch sitting on the side of a hill near the entrance. You can roam the patch in search of the perfect carving pumpkin —- just the thing to get you into a spooky fall spirit. Another great way to get into an autumn state of mind? Corn mazes. Fun farm has both a Jr. Corn Maze and a Big Corn Maze. The theme of the Big Corn Maze this year is about the Gritt family history, which traces back to Italy.

Also, what trip to the pumpkin patch is complete without a wagon ride? Wagon rides will take you deeper into Gritt’s Farm land where you’ll find a number of attractions you cannot walk to. One of the newer, more unique experiences for kids this year are the jump pillows. These give a similar experience to a bounce house, but the jump pillows are partially buried in the ground and inflated. This means there’s no danger of the jump pillows blowing away and the Fun Farm has 2 sets —- one for smaller children, and another for the older crowd. Also new this year is a throwing station where you can practice throwing a variety of balls at targets including footballs and baseballs. Another fun attraction that sets Gritt’s Farm apart are their apple cannons, which, as the name would imply, shoot apples out into a field. You can practice your skills on wooden targets scattered throughout the field, and the cannons are so easy to use that even small children can operate them safely. The kids will also love the variety of other activities and attractions on the farm. Thre are slides, a corn bin, multiple play areas, and animals — including goats and rabbits. Kids can ride a zipline, practice archery, go pumpkin bowling, race rubber ducks, and try to find their way out of rope and hay mazes. It’s all sure to provide hours of fall fun for the entire family.

After all that playing, you’re going to be starving. Thankfully, Fun Farm has an excellent selection of tasty food made fresh to order. The menu includes savory items like cheeseburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, chicken tenders, chili, and fries. Be sure to try out the variety of homemade pork rinds they have cooked up for a salty, decadent snack while you’re exploring the farm. There are also seasonal sweet treats for anyone with a sweet tooth. Pumpkin rolls, pumpkin pies, and a variety of caramel apples and kettle corn are available to purchase. Our personal favorites, however, are the pumpkin cake doughnuts. Calories don’t count while you’re enjoying Gritt’s Farm! (FYI they also serve salads if you want to make up for all the sugary snacks you’re eating.)

Fun Farm 2019 is underway now and is open Thursday and Friday from 12 pm to 7 pm, Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm, and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Fun Farm is free for children 2 and under, $6.50 for any “gramps and grannies,” $10.75 for everyone else on weekdays, and $12.75 weekends. You can also get a season pass for $32.00. School groups and organizations must schedule trips in advance, and the link to do that can be found here. Have a great trip!

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Written by Tyler Phillips.