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25 Best Places to Visit in West Virginia
West Virginia is a mountainous tree-covered state with beautiful natural mountain scenery, outdoor activities, and a deep historical and cultural heritage. The area surrounding the New River as well as the state’s other national and state parks offer a wide range of destinations to choose from. The historic town of Harpers Ferry lives on as a historical park with several living history museums. Here are the best West Virginia destinations.
Charleston is both the largest city and the capital of the state. The city of Charleston is still somewhat small and retains a small-town feel. It has a robust arts and performance scene. The city has had a permanent settlement since 1788, giving it a long and interesting history. Visitors can visit and tour the Charleston State Capitol, learn about state history at the State Museum, or enjoy a performance at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences.
The city also boasts several public parks, including Coonskin Park, Cato Park, and the Kanawha State Forest, which is a large public state park with a pool, campsites, multi-use trails, picnic areas, and plenty of recreational space. Things to Do in Charleston, Things to Do in West Virginia
Morgantown is a city in north-central West Virginia. It is a college town and home to West Virginia University. The city is located in a valley along the Monongahela River. Morgantown features a large variety of outdoor activities, including the West Virginia Botanic Gardens and the Cheat Lake Trail, which is a hiking trail near the lake that is beautiful throughout the year. Dorsey’s Knob Park is a 71-acre park with beautiful views of the river.
The park features hiking trails, panoramic views, and other outdoor activities. The Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system, which is a people mover system connecting the three campuses of the university and the downtown area, is a unique and interesting attraction. Things to Do in Morgantown
Huntington is a city in the western part of the state that is home to Marshall University as well as several notable tourist attractions. Visitors can catch a concert or athletic competition at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena or shop at over 150 retailers at the Huntington Mall.
The city is also home to the Heritage Farm Museum and Village, which is a living history museum that teaches guests about the culture and history of Appalachia. Like much of Appalachia, the area has a strong art tradition and this can be seen at the Huntington Museum of Art or the Birke Art Gallery on Marshall’s campus.
Parkersburg is small, historical city in the northwestern part of the state that offers several interesting attractions for tourists. Several museums call Parkersburg home, including the Henry Cooper House, the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History, the Sumnerite African-American History Museum, the Veterans Museum of Mid-Ohio Valley, and the Artcraft Studio.
The town hosts several annual festivals and events, such as the Mid-Ohio Valley Multicultural Festival, the Taste of Parkersburg, and the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival. Outdoor activities in the area include several parks, including Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, Fort Boreman Historical Park, Bicentennial Park, Southward Park, and several others.
The City of Wheeling is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the Ohio River. The town was the first capital of the state and has historically been located along several major trade and transportation routes such as the Ohio River, the B&O Railroad, and the National Road.
The city has many historical buildings, including the West Virginia Independence Hall, where the state of West Virginia was legally created, Shepherd Hall, Centre Market, and many historical homes. The town has several city parks such as the Oglebay Resort and Conference Center and Wheeling Park. Additionally, the surrounding county has six golf courses.
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6. Places to Visit in West Virginia: Bluefield
Bluefield is a city in southern West Virginia that has a long history in the coal-mining industry. The city’s location in the Appalachian foothills lends itself to a wide selection of outdoor activities. The East River Mountain Overlook offers a scenic observation deck with views of the city and surrounding mountains as well as a concession stand. Lotito City Park features a peaceful walking trail and leisure activities.
The Bluefield City Park has an inexpensive train ride called the Ridge Runner Train, which travels a loop around the park and is perfect for kids and adults alike. Additionally, Bluefield is home to several unique shopping opportunities such as the Bluefield Yarn Company, restaurants, and pubs.
Martinsburg is a city in the Eastern Panhandle region of the state. The town and surrounding area played a vital role in many historic events, including the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. Several significant historical buildings are still in existence, including Aspen Hall, which is the city’s oldest house, and some remaining structures of Mendenhall’s Fort.
Many of the town’s historical homes can be visited and/or toured, including the Belle Boyd House, the Adam Stephen House, and more. The Baltimore and Ohio and Related Industries Historic District features many interesting buildings, sites, and shops related to the history of industry and the railroad.
Princeton is a town in southern West Virginia. It is historically a coal-mining and railroad town and the Princeton Railroad Museum is one of the town’s biggest tourist attractions. The museum features exhibits about the city’s railroading history as well as different types of trains and artifacts from the railroad.
The Those Who Served War Museum memorializes and tells the stories of the many men from the area who have served in various conflicts throughout US history from the Civil War until current times. The Chuck Mathena Center is a performing arts center in the town that frequently hosts a variety of shows and special events.
9. Places to Visit in WV: New River Gorge
New River Gorge is a national park and large protected wilderness area. The park comprises well over 70,000 acres along the New River, which is a rugged whitewater river that flows through deep, scenic canyons.
The park features a wide range of recreational opportunities. The gorge boasts some of the best whitewater rafting in the United States, features several popular climbing areas with over 1,400 established trails, and is one of the most popular places on the East Coast for rock climbing. The park has more than 50 miles of hiking and multi-use trails and two visitors centers to help orient and inform guests. Other popular activities at New River Gorge include canoeing, fishing, birdwatching, camping, hunting, and more.
10. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park preserves the historic town of Harper’s Ferry, which is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. The town is notable for being a center of industry in the 19th century as well as being the site of John Brown’s abolitionist uprising.
The park is located in a very scenic location with rivers, mountains, and beautiful railroad scenes. The town’s buildings are home to several historical museums as well as shops selling food, souvenirs, and local crafts and products. In addition to the park’s historical and cultural buildings, there are extensive recreational opportunities within the park and nearby, including hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail, whitewater rafting, fishing, and boating.
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11. Blackwater Falls State Park
Blackwater Falls State Park is a park in the Allegheny Mountains that features ample recreational activities as well as lodging and conference facilities. The park’s name comes from the falls that occur on the Blackwater River, located in the park. The Blackwater River offers superior fishing opportunities and is stocked weekly with trout for part of the year. Fishing is also permitted at Pendleton Lake.
There are 20 miles of hiking trails within the park with a variety of difficulty levels. Winter activities include the Blackwater Falls Sled Run, which includes a conveyer belt to return riders to the top as well as a large fire ring and a warming hut that serves refreshments.
1584 Blackwater Lodge Road, Davis, WV 26260, Phone: 304-259-5216
12. West Virginia Attractions: Ritter Park
Ritter Park Historic District is the heart of downtown Huntington and home to a municipal park of the same name. The city park is located on Huntington’s Southside and features a range of activities. The park’s 75 acres include a crushed limestone walking, jogging and biking trail, a dog park, and a rose garden with over 3,000 award-winning roses.
The park additionally features large picnic shelters, playgrounds, and plenty of open space. The American Planning Association has included Ritter Park on its list of 10 Great Public Spaces for its design and amenities. The park is a popular location for summer weddings as well as family gatherings and other events.
13. West Virginia points of interest: Grandview State Park
Grandview State Park is a beautiful park offering a range of outdoor and wilderness activities. The park is part of the New River Gorge National River. The park is located along the New River near the town of Grandview and features scenic views of the river, the canyon, and the surrounding mountains.
Several river overlooks are accessible via five hiking trails. Main Overlook offers views of the town of Quinnimont and an active railway. The flowers that bloom in the park are breathtaking and include rhododendrons that grow to nearly 20 feet tall. Theatre West Virginia hosts outdoor drama presentations at Grandview during the summer.
14. Coopers Rock State Forest
Coopers Rock State Forest preserves an area of forest and recreational facilities. The park gained its name from a fugitive who hid from the law near the park’s overlook. The park features rustic picnic structures as well as other structures that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression and are now recognized as historic places.
The park’s land is available for a wide range of recreational activities as well as forestry research. Hunting in the forest and fishing at the stocked pond are both permitted. The park features numerous scenic overlooks along the Cheat River Gorge, offering views of the gorge and surrounding areas. Visitors may have the opportunity to spot wildlife, including squirrels, owls, turkeys, fox, and deer.
15. Places to Visit in WV: Berkeley Springs State Park
Berkeley Springs State Park is located in the center of a town with the same name and was developed around a historical mineral spa. The park’s bathhouse first opened in 1930 and has seen thousands of visitors since then. The warm mineral springs flow at a constant temperature of 74.3 degrees Fahrenheit. The park features a variety of baths and spa services, including the largest, the Roman baths.
The baths boast 750 gallons of mineral water in a private ceramic-tile tub. Additionally, there are a Jacuzzi tub, massage services, a swimming pool, and saunas. The park is often used as a host site for concerts and other events.
16. West Virginia Attractions: Babcock State Park
Babcock State Park is located along the New River Gorge about 20 miles from the New River Gorge Bridge. The park features a re-created grist mill called the Glade Creek Grist Mill, which is fully operable and allows visitors to experience a historical mill. Babcock State Park offers many amenities and facilities to visitors, including paddle-boats, canoes, and rowboats, which can be used on the park’s 19-acre Boley Lake.
Fishing is permitted both in Boley Lake and the park’s stream. Babcock features more than 20 miles of multi-use trails with several scenic overlooks. Park guides offer nature tours, talks, movie presentations, and other activities during the summer.
486 Babcock Road, Clifftop, WV 25831, Phone: 304-438-3004
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17. West Virginia points of interest: Hawks Nest State Park
Hawks Nest State Park is a 276-acre park located on a backcountry section of the New River. The park is known for panoramic views of the river, which is one of only 14 National Heritage Rivers in the United States. The park features a 31-room lodge that rests above the Hawks Nest Lake, which is formed by a section in the river.
The river leading into the lake is one of the most challenging whitewater rafting sections in the United States. Hawks Nest Overlook offers visitors a scenic look at the river and lake as well as the surrounding hills and valleys. The park features a nature center, hiking trails, swimming, an aerial tramway, and jet boat rides.
49 Hawks Nest Park Road, Anstead, WV 25812, Phone: 304-658-5212
18. Tu-Endie-Wei State Park
Tu-Endie-Wei State Park preserves the history of the Battle of Point Pleasant, which occurred at the junction of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers in 1774. The Point Pleasant Battlefield Monument was dedicated to the 100th year anniversary of the battle and stands within the park.
The centerpiece of the 4-acre park is an 84-foot obelisk that memorializes Virginians who died in the battle. Several other monuments and memorials are located within the park as well. The park is also home to the Mansion House, which is the oldest log home in the Kanawha Valley and which now exists as a museum featuring artifacts and antiques.
1 Main Street, Point Pleasant, WV 25550, Phone: 304-675-25550
19. West Virginia Attractions: Kanawha Falls
Kanawha Falls is a series of wide water falls on the Kanawha River and the largest waterfall in the state. The falls are only about 15-20 feet high but are impressively wide. The waterfalls are best seen by boat; however, visitors can gain distant views on foot. The falls are made up of several sections and have water all year round.
However, the waterfalls are not as wide during dry seasons as some of the water is diverted to a nearby power plant. The area has several other falls, including two side falls located along US Route 60, one on Riggs Branch, and another along an unnamed side stream. Cathedral Falls, Mill Creek Falls, and Sandstone Falls are all located nearby as well.
20. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a marked hiking trail that travels through 14 states, including West Virginia. The trail is approximately 2,200 miles long and extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Most of the trail passes through forest or wild lands, although some sections border farms and towns.
The trail claims to be the longest hiking-only trail in the world. West Virginia only has about 4 miles of the trail passing through it and most of the state’s sections are located in the historic town of Harpers Ferry, a popular stop on the trail. There is no camping on the Harpers Ferry section, but there are hiker-friendly accommodations in town.
21. West Virginia points of interest: Cathedral Falls
Cathedral Falls is a more than 60-foot-high waterfall on Cane Branch, a small tributary leading into the New River. The falls are one of the highest waterfalls in the state and are known for their impressive height and natural beauty. The creek flows from Gauley Mountain through a steep canyon into the river.
The falls are located just off of US Route 60, a National Scenic Byway that weaves its way from Charleston to the state line. Cathedral Falls is popular with nature photographers and offers a scenic example of West Virginia’s natural beauty. For those who enjoy waterfalls, other nearby falls include Kanawha Falls, Mill Creek Falls, and the falls on Laurel Creek.
Gauley Bridge, WV 25085
22. Monongahela National Forest
Monongahela National Forest is located in the north-central highlands of the state and includes some of West Virginia’s highest points. The forest is made up of approximately 900,000 acres of scenic wilderness and hundreds of miles of multi-use trails and scenic roads. The forest is home to a wide range of recreational activities.
Accommodation options include several back-country camping areas as well as developed campgrounds. Day hikes within the forest are quite popular and offer amazing views and a variety of difficulty levels for practically any hiker. Other popular activities include mountain biking, fishing, and stargazing.
200 Sycamore Street, Elkins, WV 26241, Phone: 304-636-1800
23. The Greenbrier River Trail
The Greenbrier River Trail is a 77-mile former railroad that has been converted into a multi-use trail. The rail trail is available for use for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Much of the trail is wheelchair accessible. The trail is paved with packed, crushed rock and has a gentle grade that is easy to cycle or walk.
The trail follows the Greenbrier River, which has many swimming and fishing holes. The trail passes through some very remote wilderness, including the Monongahela National Forest, Watoga State Park, and the Seneca State Forest. Hunting is common in the nearby forests and it is recommended for trail users to wear orange during hunting seasons.
4800 Watoga Park Road, Marlinton, WV 24954, Phone: 304-799-7416
Thurmond is a town on the New River and a popular put-in for whitewater rafting. The river coursing near the town provides many other recreational activities such as boating and fishing. Numerous hiking trails are easily accessible from the town as well. The town is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having held the longest game of poker and has been voted one of the coolest ghost towns in the country.
The city hosts the Thurmond Triathlon, which is a beginner level triathlon. Thurmond was historically a coal mining and railroad town and the historic Thurmond Depot, which is still a working train depot, is a popular destination.