West Virginia is the state I was born and raised in and spent 44 years of my life. Having recently moved to Florida, there are times I still get homesick for the beautiful mountains and wonderful scenery. I believe that every state in the United States has something special to offer and for West Virginia, the outdoor activities are second to none. We do not have beaches, thriving metropolitan cities, or famous landmarks, but do not let that hinder your visit. You will be pleasantly surprised. Here are 10 Things in West Virginia that I encourage you to see or do.
My Top 10 Things To Do in West Virginia
1. Visit the Greenbrier Resort– The Greenbrier is known as “America’s Resort” and is a first-class resort designed by Dorothy Draper/Carlton Varney. It is located in White Sulfur Springs and first opened its doors in 1778. Luxury abounds with an exquisite landscape, impeccable service, and old Southern charm with activities including: golf, tennis, horseback riding, cooking school, shopping, fine dining, first run movies, spa services, casino events, bunker tours, falconry, croquet, carriage rides, afternoon tea, bowling, and theatre. You will never have to leave the grounds!
2. Spend the day on West Virginia’s river and lakes– Enjoy time on the water nearly anywhere you go as West Virginia is chock full of rivers and lakes (Summersville is my favorite). The Kanawha River (pronounced kah-NAH-Wah) runs through Charleston and it is a great place to drop anchor and wet a line, go boating, jet skiing, kayaking, or water-skiing.
3. Do something unique to only West Virginia– I recommend the following three. How about a tour of the Mystery Hole, in Ansted, which is a gravity-defying wonder. Here, you will witness water run uphill and a few other mind-blowing things. Explore a new religion as you tour the Palace of Gold at New Vrindaban. Reminiscent of an Indian Kingdom., this beautiful palace, lotus ponds, and rose gardens are the central shrine of the Hare Krishna community.
West Virginia is Chock Full of Outdoor Adventures
Maybe you love a good fright and are in the mood to take a paranormal tour with lobotomy and electro-shock therapy devices and audio accounts of the barbaric situations? Then the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is just for you. Come witness for yourself this mid-1800’s sanctuary for the mentally ill with a Civil War history and the site for more lobotomies than anywhere in the world, besides the Kremlin. The architecture alone is worth the visit. Caution: this tour is not for the faint of heart.
4. White water rafting– West Virginia is legendary for kick-ass white water rafting. From the easiest family-style class I and II rapids, to the thrill-seeking class V and sometimes VI, you will find it all here. People come from all over the country to paddle through our rapids. I recommend the Gauley River. Check it out!
I Love It When Favorite Things Are Free
5. Scenic Route 60 Drive– My favorite West Virginia activity involves driving from Charleston to Hawks Nest via US Route 60. Our trip includes a stop for lunch at the Burger Carte, a local icon, and stopping to take photographs of the mystical Kanawha Falls. The trip continues through lots of curvy roads, some you will have to drive for yourself to believe, before encountering views from Hawks Nest State Park, great for a hike and more photography. You can also go to the lodge and take the aerial tram down the mountainside to the marina.
6. See the gorgeous West Virginia state capitol building and perhaps have a picnic on the grounds. Be sure to include some peanuts for the hoards of squirrels that come to visit you. The West Virginia State Capitol is said to be the most beautiful in all of the United States. You be the judge. Possibly tour the West Virginia Culture Museum and while you are there, say hello to my friend Charles, the Museum Director.
7. Explore Downtown Charleston– Charleston has some great eateries and cute shops, but the pride of our city lies in the two locations, the Clay Center and Appalachian Power Park. The Clay Center is an art and science museum, as well as the premier performing arts center that is nothing short of spectacular. The acoustics are divine in the concert hall and the performances schedule is very diverse, offering something for everyone. Appalachian Power Park is home to the West Virginia Power minor league baseball team that is the class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bragging rights come from the first-class stadium.
8. Visit Lewisburg– Lewisburg was voted one of the coolest small towns in America by Frommer’s. Main Street offers upscale shopping, innovative, gourmet cuisine, savvy art galleries, sidewalk cafes, and antiques galore. Make sure to stop by for a glance of Carnegie Hall, one of only four in the world. Maybe you will get lucky and hear some live Bluegrass music.
9. See the New River Gorge Bridge– Fayetteville is home to one of the wonders of the state as well as a fun little town that has great food and a quaint local performing arts theater. The New River Gorge Bridge is a 3,030 feet long steel arch bridge, and was once the world’s longest steel single-span arch bridge. Once a year, thrill seekers travel to Fayetteville for Bridge Day, where they can repel and BASE jump off the bridge. Back in my youth, bungee jumping off this bridge was all the rage, but it has since been banned. There are also some great hiking trails in the area and local restaurants.
10. Gamble the night away– Visit the 90,000 sq ft. Mardi Gras Casino & Resort and you will feel like you have stepped into a Las Vegas casino. The Dog Track, as referred to by locals, has live greyhound dog racing as well as a full casino, and multiple dining options. Options include high-tech video and reel slots, progressive jackpots, roulette, craps, and table games. On the weekends, the casino has live entertainment and a delicious seafood buffet.