4 Fun Day Trips in West Virginia
West Virginia is completely surrounded by five states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, & Maryland. With summertime on the horizon, you must add one (or more!) of these 4 fun day trips in West Virginia to your road trip itinerary They are each unique and feature easy drives with spectacular mountain scenery along the way.
#1 Driving Route 60 for Kanawha Falls and Hawks Nest State Park
It is just tradition for my family as well as my favorite drive in the entire state. Gas up your car, charge your camera batteries and head South on Route 60 from Charleston. In Montgomery, you will pass the retro Burger Carte, a local eatery serving yummy burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Enjoy your meal outside on one of their picnic tables.
Head back to your car and continue driving until you come to Kanawha Falls, a natural landmark along the Kanawha River. Here you can take pictures of the gorgeous waterfall cascading across the river, crashing over the rocky terrain. The Glen Ferris Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is right past the falls and a nice place to spend the night or just have a look around. Next up is Hawks Nest State Park, a great place to take a hike or visit the scenic overlooks for beautiful panoramic views. You can also take the aerial tram down the mountain to the bottom of the gorge or go on a Jetboat ride.
Hawks Nest has a gift shop with unusual souvenirs and another shop across the street from the scenic overlook parking area. When you get back in your car, hold on tight because you are about to enter some dangerous “s” shaped curves, steep hills, and you probably will not exceed 35 mph for a few minutes. The driving is awesome; like your own video game course.
#2 Shepherdstown and Berkeley Springs
Shepherdstown is the oldest town in the state of West Virginia and located only 90 minutes from the metro area of Washington DC. The activities calendar is full of fun things to do as well as historic sites to explore from both the Civil War and Colonial days. Shepherdstown is located only five miles from Antietam National Battlefield. Lying 12 miles away is the site of Abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 raid in Harper’s Ferry.
My daughter, Peyton, and I spent the night in the European style chalets at the famous Bavarian Inn and loved the lavish furnishings of the alpine inn as well as the impeccably manicured grounds. Our room featured a cozy gas fireplace, luxurious linens, and fine furnishings. The food is the real reason we chose the resort as it came highly recommended. It was splendid and I loved the Chesapeake Benedict for breakfast, bursting with jumbo lump crabmeat and rich, delicious hollandaise sauce while my daughter raved about the blueberry pancakes. Try their wonderful German dinner menu items, too.
Berkeley Springs is a little town with a funky vibe, oh, and George Washington took many baths there. In fact, Berkeley Springs was home to the first Spa in the entire country and one of the oldest health resorts dating back to the 1750’s. In 1748, George Washington spent much time in the warm 74-degree mineral springs, which are reputed to have healing powers. The mineral waters are fed from nearby lakes and feed approximately 1,000 gallons of water per minute.
Berkeley Springs is full of charm and it is best exhibited at some of the quaint and unique B&Bs and historic inns. Do not miss the Bath Historic District in the middle of downtown that has historic offerings as well as various spas and adorable shops to visit. Get yourself pampered here for a decent price. There is also a George Washington Heritage Trail for the history lover, like myself.
#3 Fayetteville and the New River Gorge Bridge
Having lived in West Virginia for over forty years, I am always surprised when I visit Fayetteville that so many cool people ended up here in our little pocket of the state. The crowds I encounter make me feel like I am in Haight-Asbury or somewhere much more well-known. Fayetteville is a tiny town with big offerings, from the historic Fayette Theatre’s impressive productions, trendy and delicious restaurants, fun and vintage shops, to their world-renowned New River Gorge Bridge. Outdoor enthusiasts love Fayetteville and chose it for world-class thrills in whitewater rafting, rock-climbing, hiking, and mountain biking.
A must stop would be to have pizza and a draft beer at Pies & Pints. I recommend the Grape Pie topped with red grapes, rosemary, and Gorgonzola cheese. The Pork and Pepper Nachos are noteworthy, too. Visit in October for the famous Bridge Day, where crowds can watch BASE jumpers leap 800 or more feet into the New River Gorge, as well as see repelling and skydiving. It is a do-not-miss day!
Home to the West Virginia state fair and voted “America’s coolest small town” by Frommer’s Budget Travel, Lewisburg sticks out like a sore thumb nestled in the midst of the mountainous Greenbrier Valley. Lewisburg is flanked by a few blocks of cool, hip bars and restaurants with a vibrant town culture. I like to visit all the art galleries and local events at Carnegie Hall. Their specialty stores will astound you! This is another town with a historic Civil War background. Check out the mouth-watering Lewisburg Chocolate Festival in April and the TOOT (Taste of Our Town) Festival in October.
The WV State Fair takes place in August (on the outskirts of town in Fairlea) and features this year’s entertainment, The Marshall Tucker Band and Three Doors Down. I enjoy all the fun carnival rides, which are just part of the numerous attractions, along with interesting and scrumptious concessions, and home, garden, equine, and livestock competitions. Try the roasted corn-on-the-cob, fried green tomato sandwich, and West Virginia’s specialty, pepperoni rolls.
In my eyes, the most amazing thing our state has to offer, besides its fabulous gold-domed capitol building, is the opulent and amazing award-winning Greenbrier Resort, referred to as “America’s Resort“. Park your car once you arrive and enjoy all the amenities; you’ll never have to leave, well, until the money runs out. The Greenbrier Resort opened in 1778, features first-class golf, shopping, casino, restaurants, spa, and literally 55 other activities.
A visit to the Greenbrier Christmas Shop, located across the street at the train station outside the main entrance, is a fun place to visit any time of the year. Check their website for off-season discounts but realize that you will be entertained morning, noon, and night at the resort itself. My favorite activities include the free afternoon tea & pastries with live music, the lavish indoor pool, and their adorable theatre featuring first run movies. The Greenbrier is located 14 minutes from Lewisburg.
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