Cool Springs – it sounds great already, doesn’t it? Cool Springs Park (and restaurant and gas station and hardware store and souvenir shop) is the best place to pull off the road on your way to many of the state’s beautiful state parks or just a fun partial-day trip. Established in 1929, it is located near Rowlesburg, WV off of US 50 (George Washington Highway) in Preston County.
As a native north-central West Virginian, I visited Cool Springs on many a family trip. This is the perfect stop for all ages. Inside, you can get their famous footlong hot dog or buckwheat cakes along with a long list of diner foods. Sit at the lunch counter or in a bright red booth. Prices here are absurdly low; you can get a full meal and pay the tip with a ten dollar bill. You can also purchase some local produce, or there are always beautiful potted plants.
The other parts of the one-room building consist of a souvenir shop with everything from mini license plates to pickled beets. The other side of the lunch counter includes camping and hunting gear — they even have generators.
What makes Cool Springs a park is the “explore on your own” yard and small farm outside. Here there are chickens and ducks pecking about, goats and llamas grazing, and usually some kittens hopping around the lazy dogs. An unkempt tractor museum sprinkles the yard along with wagon wheels, and other old farm parts. There’s a bridge across a stream often populated with fish and picnic tables scatter the main yard. You never know what you’ll come across on these grounds from wild mint to turkeys to a rusty model-T.
Last fall, I got a bag of Grimes Golden Apples, one of two apples native to West Virginia. WV honey is also popular here as well as jellies, jams, and other canned goods. Cool Springs is quite charming. You won’t only hear about it from West Virginians, but also mentioned by travelers, including a great story about how Cool Springs inspired Nate Damm to keep walking in his book Life on Foot: A Walk Across America. Currently, Cool Springs is stocked with some great garden plants. Stop on by!