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 that will make you want to visit West Virginia.
1. Visit the Greenbrier Resort
The Greenbrier Resort, “America’s Resort“, is a first-class resort with interior decor by Dorothy Draper/Carlton Varney. It opened its doors in 1778 in White Sulfur Springs. Luxury abounds with the Greenbrier’s exquisite landscape, impeccable service, and old Southern charm. Resort activities including golf, tennis, horseback riding, a 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 to have an amazing vacation here!
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 Lake is my favorite and a fun place for boaters, jet skiers, and swimming. The Kanawha River (pronounced kah-NAH-Wah) runs through the capital city, Charleston, and it is a great place to drop anchor and wet a line. Fishing is primo in West Virginia as well as kayaking and canoeing.
3. Do Something Unique to West Virginia
How about a tour of the Mystery Hole, in Ansted, which is a gravity-defying wonder. Here, you will witness water running 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.
Maybe you love a good fright. Take a paranormal tour of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum which still has the lobotomy tools, electro-shock therapy devices, and audio accounts of the barbaric situations that took place here. The mid-1800’s sanctuary for the mentally ill has a Civil War history and was 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. World-Class 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 rapids, you will find it all here in the Mountain State. People come from all over the country to paddle through our rapids. I recommend the Gauley River for the real daredevils. Check it out!
5. Scenic Route 60 Drive
My favorite West Virginia activity involves driving from Charleston to Hawks Nest via US Route 60. Our trip typically includes a stop at the Burger Carte for lunch and 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
Explore the gorgeous West Virginia State Capitol building and perhaps have a picnic on the pristine grounds overlooking the Kanawha River. Be sure to bring some peanuts for the hoards of squirrels that will visit you. The West Virginia State Capitol is said to be the most beautiful in all of the United States. You be the judge. If time permits, tour the West Virginia Culture Museum and see some of the wonders of our amazing state. Did you know that Mary Lou Retton, Chuck Yeager, and Don Knotts were from West Virginia? While you are at the Cultural Center, say hello to my friend Charles, the Museum Director.
7. Explore the State Capitol of 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 for Charleston that is nothing short of spectacular. The acoustics are divine in the concert hall and the performance 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. Lewisburg’s Main Street offers upscale shopping, gourmet cuisine, savvy art galleries, sidewalk cafes, and antiques galore. It is definitely a town that makes the state proud. Make sure to stop by Carnegie Hall of Lewisburg, one of only four in the world. Maybe you will get lucky and hear some live Bluegrass music while you are there.
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 3,03 feet long steel arch bridge that 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 Mardi Gras Casino & Resort has live entertainment and a delicious seafood buffet.
West Virginia: A State for Making Memories
West Virginia is a natural paradise full of scenic beauty and plenty of fun things to see and do. What is your favorite West Virginia activity or attraction?