No matter where you look in the United States, you’d be hard pressed to find a greater variety of vacation possibilities than those available in West Virginia. No ocean beaches, it’s true, but plenty of lakes with sandy shores and even a lighthouse. No chain theme parks here, but there are real frontier forts and even a coal mine you can explore. No parched deserts either, but unique natural areas such as the Dolly Sods Wilderness and Cranberry Glades instead.
Whether it’s a family road trip or a romantic retreat, West Virginia can fill the bill, and now’s the time to get out and play in the Mountain State. From mild activities like nature walks, birding, and wildflower pilgrimages to the wilder mountain biking, zip lining, and whitewater rafting, there’s somebody doing it in the Mountain State and you can tag along.
State parks and more
West Virginia’s famous state park resorts are convenient and affordable, with Canaan Valley, Blackwater Falls, and Cacapon in the northern tier, Stonewall Resort mid-state, and Pipestem and Hawk’s Nest among those in the south. You can choose comfortable lodge accommodations, cabins, and campsites and enjoy exploring nature on a hike, in a boat, on horseback, or from a golf course. (wvstateparks.com)
Spring is the time to marvel at earth’s bounty and a great family trip includes the West Virginia Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon. Later in the year, there’s the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival in Martinsburg or the Pumpkin Festival in Milton.
You can experience the frontier at Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park along the Ohio River or farther north in Fort New Salem and Prickett’s Fort State Park. Living history and demonstrations bring everyday frontier tasks to life. West Virginia is the only state born of the Civil War and is home to many special Civil War sites, such as Carnifax Ferry and Independence Hall, which recall the military and political battles that carved out what is now West Virginia.
There are four major scenic excursion train systems to enjoy: The Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad, Cass Scenic Railroad, Durbin and Greenbrier Valley, and the New River Mystery Train. You can choose from short trips to full excursions and can even ride from one system to another.
On the wild side
A world class whitewater experience may be your personal goal and West Virginia can serve up the New, Gauley, Cheat, Potomac, and Shenandoah rivers. But there’s plenty of fun for the family, too, with some trips rated for 6-year-olds. There are plenty of outfitters to get you in the water, whether it’s on a raft, kayak, canoe, or tube. Some outfitters offer complete adventure resort amenities with loads of activities, including zip lining and canopy tours, and a variety of accommodations.
Mountain bikers regard the state as a world-class destination because of its abundant trails, beautiful scenery, and variety of terrain.
There are miles of mountain biking trails in the 900,000-acre Monongahela National Forest and hundreds of additional miles throughout the state’s rail trail system. Off-roading in ATVs is another source of exhilaration, but imagine doing it on the classic Hatfield-McCoy Trail system.
You can combine that secret geek with a bit of outdoor adventure by tackling one of the state’s geocache trails. Take on a high-tech version of an old-time scavenger hunt that uses Global Positioning System, or GPS, devices. You can find caches hidden in all corners of the state and in several state parks.
If all this activity means you require a little tender loving care and rejuvenation, West Virginia has you covered there, too.
All you need to do is head to one of the state’s luxurious resorts and spas for a perfectly relaxing getaway.
Invigorating spa treatments and massages can be arranged in places ranging from the premier
Greenbrier Resort to many of the
individual rental cabins throughout the
The weather is warming up. Get out and play!
For more information
West Virginia Tourism: wvtourism.com