West Virginia is surrounded by five states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland. The Mountain State offers excellent road trip destinations for people who live in those states or anyone driving through via I-77 or I-64. With gas at an all-time high, you may want to add these fun West Virginia day trips to your radar. Each day trip is to a cool town with plenty of things to see and do, offering spectacular mountain scenery.
1. Driving Route 60 (Kanawha Falls/Hawks Nest/New River Gorge)
It is a tradition for my family and my favorite drive in the entire state to cruise Route 60. Gas up your car, charge your camera or phone, and head south on Route 60 from Charleston. In Smithers, 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.
Hop back in the car and continue driving to Kanawha Falls, a natural landmark along the Kanawha River. Enjoy the photo-ops of the gorgeous waterfall cascading across the river, crashing over the rocky terrain. The Glen Ferris Inn is right past the falls and a lovely place to spend the night or just look around. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Next is Hawks Nest State Park, an excellent area for 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 and steep hills. You probably will not exceed 35 mph for quite some time. Driving this road is like playing your own video game course.
The Mystery Hole in Ansted is a quirky West Virginia attraction where the laws of gravity are defied. Water actually runs uphill due to a mysterious gravitational force. Take the tour to be amazed, but if not, at least enjoy the cheesy gift shop and photo-op of the VW stuck in the side of the building.
Fayetteville is a small town with extensive offerings, from the historic Fayette Theatre, delicious restaurants, and fun shops, to the world-renowned New River Gorge Bridge, America’s newest member of the National Park Service.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love Fayetteville and choose it for world-class thrills in whitewater rafting, rock-climbing, hiking, and mountain biking. Grab a cold beer and slice of Pies & Pints pizza, or come for Bridge Day in October when you can watch BASE jumpers leap 800+ feet into the New River Gorge.
Pro Tip: Try Pies & Pints’ Grape Pie—unlike anything you’ve ever had and lip-smacking good.
2. Shepherdstown and Berkeley Springs
Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia. It is only 90 minutes from the metro area of Washington DC and five hours from Charleston. The activities calendar in Shepherdstown is full of fun things to do and historical sites to explore from both the Civil War and Colonial days. Shepherdstown is only five miles from Antietam National Battlefield (the Bloodiest Day in American History)and 12 miles from the site of Abolitionist John Brown’s 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry.
My daughter, Peyton, and I spent the night in the European-style chalets at the famous Bavarian Inn. We loved the lavish furnishings of the alpine inn. Our room featured a cozy gas fireplace, luxurious linens, and elegant furnishings. The food was the real reason we chose the Bavarian Inn as it came highly recommended. I thoroughly enjoyed the Chesapeake Benedict for breakfast, and Peyton raved about the blueberry pancakes. Try the fantastic German dinner menu items, too.
Berkeley Springs (4 hours northeast of Charleston) is a little town with a funky vibe. Oh, and George Washington took many baths there. Berkeley Springs was home to the first spa in the country and is one of the oldest health resorts dating back to the 1750s. In 1748, George Washington spent much time in Berkeley Springs’ warm 74-degree mineral springs, which are reputed to have healing powers. The mineral waters are fed from nearby lakes and supply approximately 1,000 gallons of water per minute.
Berkeley Springs has a charming and unique bed and breakfasts and historic inns. Do not miss the Bath Historic District in the middle of downtown with various spas and adorable shops. Treat yourself to a day of pampering for a reasonable price. There is also a George Washington Heritage Trail for history lovers like myself.
Driving two hours northeast of Charleston will bring you to Elkins. This adorable mountain town in the Monongahela National Forest has a top-notch passenger railroad. Start your visit with a meal at C.J. Maggie’s, where you’ll find the best fried zucchini (with honey mustard). Don’t skip the sweet or unsweet tea—it’s heavenly. Then, visit Delmonte Market to see local artisan offerings in the cute shops and have a tasty cup of coffee. Pay attention to the vibrant murals throughout downtown Elkins.
Pencil in your visit around a ride on the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad. You’ll meet for your train ride at the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. The center has oodles of travel brochures inside, plus great souvenirs commemorating your visit to West Virginia and train ride.
The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley trains do several weekly runs and offer meals, snacks, and sightseeing time. There is also time for taking beautiful photographs of the spectacular scenery. I recently rode the diesel-powered Tygart Flyer for a four-hour scenic ride, including lunch. Our train turned around at High Falls of Cheat, and boy, is it picturesque! If you can afford the splurge, choose a parlor car.
Outside of downtown Elkins are Dolly Sods, where the thickets of trees include Red Spruce, Sugar Maple, and Quaking Aspen. You can drive to the top of Dolly Sods. I haven’t been there for a while, but I remember that the trees grew one-sided from my youth in West Virginia.
While I haven’t been to The Forks Restaurant & Inn, it looks and sounds sensational. The six-course gourmet meal Thursday through Sunday evenings must be incredible from what I’ve heard, though it is a bit spendy.
Lewisburg, nestled amid the mountainous Greenbrier Valley and home to the West Virginia State Fair, is one of the best cities to visit in the state. It was voted “America’s coolest small town” by Frommer’s Budget Travel. With a Civil War background, Lewisburg is flanked by a few blocks of cool, hip bars and restaurants with a vibrant town culture.
I like to visit the art galleries and local events at Carnegie Hall. Specialty stores in the downtown Lewisburg area will astound you! Check out the mouth-watering Lewisburg Chocolate Festival in April and the TOOT (Taste of Our Town) Festival in October; both are worth attending.
To read more about how to spend more time in beautiful and historic Lewisburg, check out this post.
The State Fair of WV takes place in August on the outskirts of town in Fairlea. There is typically big-name entertainment. For 2022, look for Foreigner, Flo Rida, and Walker Hayes. There are all sorts of fun carnival rides, which are just part of the numerous attractions.
Other big draws include delicious concessions and home, garden, art equine, and livestock competitions. Try the roasted corn-on-the-cob, fried green tomato sandwich, and West Virginia’s specialty pepperoni rolls.
Lewisburg is around two hours southeast of Charleston.
The most incredible thing West Virginia offers is the fabulous award-winning Greenbrier Resort, fifteen minutes from Lewisburg. Once you park your car, you’ll never have to leave “America’s Resort” as you enjoy this luxury resort.
The Greenbrier opened in 1778. Today, it offers first-class golfing, a wonderful Christmas Shop, casino, high-end shopping, delicious restaurants, world-class spa, and 55 other amenities. Things that top my list are:
- The complimentary afternoon tea and pastries
- Lavish indoor pool
- Adorable theatre with first-run movies
- Snowmobiling and sleigh rides
West Virginia: A Nature Lover’s Playground
West Virginia is a state you will want to visit again and again—especially after discovering the majestic mountains and friendly locals. You will be in awe of the natural beauty of the state and opportunities to be at one with nature. We hope you enjoy taking our “Country Roads” with these four West Virginia day trips.
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