Over the last few months I have spent more time in the Alleghany Highlands than in my previous 22 years in Virginia combined. About six months ago the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism chose us to develop a tourism brand and the website, visitors guide and ad campaign to promote it. We had to get to know the region very well in order to develop top-notch marketing materials. I have concluded that it is the coolest part of Virginia that most Virginians don't even know exists.
I have had other business in the region over the years and have driven through many times on my way to West Virginia, but this branding project has really opened my eyes to the true personality of the region. The people who live and work there have enormous pride in their community. With good reason, I might add. There are a number of factors that combine to create a wonderful quality of life in the Alleghany Highlands.
• It's amazingly beautiful with unspoiled mountain views, and clear rivers, streams and lakes.
• The mountains are more than scenery. They are a massive playground providing year round recreation opportunities including fishing, hunting, paddling, camping, cycling and hiking. If you’re not into active outdoor fun, it’s nice to sit on a rocking chair on the porch of a B&B and just enjoy the view. One way or another, the mountain are a key part of the Alleghany life.
• It's far enough from any big city that there are no megamalls and only a handful of chain or fast food restaurants. When you shop or dine you’re likely going into an establishment owned or run by a neighbor.
• Small towns are friendlier than larger cities. It’s just that simple. At a coffee shop or restaurant or even the post office or hardware store, you may find yourself engaged in conversation with old friends or making some new friends.
The people of the Alleghany Highlands so love the region’s quality of life that they want to share it with visitors. There are no amusement parks, water slides, outlet shops or other kitschy tourist traps. There are, however, some historic and natural sites that are “Uniquely Alleghany” and a small town charm that makes visitors feel welcome. It’s an undiscovered gem. Until now.