(UPDATED ON April 20, 2020) West Virginia is surrounded by five states: Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland. The Mountain State offers great road trip destinations for people who live in those states or anyone driving through via I-77 or I-64. With warm weather on the horizon, you must add one (or more!) of these four fun West Virginia day trips to your road trip itinerary. Each day trip is to a cool town with plenty of things to see and do, plus offer spectacular mountain scenery along the way.
#1 Driving Route 60 (Kanawha Falls/Hawks Nest)
It is a tradition for my family as well as 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, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is right past the falls and a lovely place to spend the night or just have a look around.
Next up 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.
The Mystery Hole is my favorite, a quirky West Virginia attraction where water runs uphill due to a weird 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.
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.
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#2 Shepherdstown and Berkeley Springs
Shepherdstown is the oldest town in the state of West Virginia. It is only 90 minutes from the metro area of Washington DC. The activities calendar in Shepherdstown is full of fun things to do as well as historical sites to explore from both the Civil War and Colonial days. Shepherdstown is only five miles from Antietam National Battlefield and 12 miles from 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. 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 is a little town with a funky vibe, oh, and George Washington took many baths there. It was home to the first Spa in the entire country and 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, as well as historic inns. Do not miss the Bath Historic District in the middle of downtown with traditional offerings as well as 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 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 that so many cool people end up visiting Fayetteville. The crowds I encounter make me feel like I am in Haight-Asbury, not a tiny pocket of Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.
Fayetteville is a small town with big offerings, from the historic Fayette Theatre’s impressive productions, delicious restaurants, and fun shops, to the world-renowned New River Gorge Bridge, part of the National Park Service. Outdoor enthusiasts will love Fayetteville and chose it for world-class thrills in whitewater rafting, rock-climbing, hiking, and mountain biking.
As mentioned, dining is good in Fayetteville. My first choice for food would be pizza and craft beer at Pies & Pints. Try the Grape Pie (red grapes, rosemary, and Gorgonzola cheese) or the flavorful Pork and Pepper Nachos. Visit Fayetteville 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 kind of day!
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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 amid the mountainous Greenbrier Valley. Lewisburg, a town with a Civil War background, 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. Lewisburg’s specialty stores will astound you!Check out the mouth-watering Lewisburg Chocolate Festival in April and the TOOT (Taste of Our Town) Festival in October, both of which are worth attending.
The State Fair of WV takes place in August (on the outskirts of town in Fairlea) and typically features big-name entertainment. There are all sorts of fun carnival rides, which are just part of the numerous attractions. Delicious concessions and home, garden, equine, and livestock competitions are other big draws. Try the roasted corn-on-the-cob, fried green tomato sandwich, and West Virginia’s specialty, pepperoni rolls.
To me, 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 to “America’s Resort” as you enjoy every inch of this luxury resort.
The Greenbrier, opened in 1778, offers first-class golfing, a one-of-a-kind Christmas Shop, high-end shopping, a casino, delicious restaurants, world-class spa, and 55 other amenities. My favorites are the free afternoon tea and pastries, lavish indoor pool, and adorable theatre with first-run movies.
West Virginia: A Nature Lover’s Playground
West Virginia is a state you will want to visit again and again. The majestic mountains, friendly people, and natural beauty of the state are what many people are looking for to get back to nature. We hope you have a fantastic time taking our “Country Roads” with these four West Virginia day trips. Drive safe.
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