West Virginia

Meet the Appalachian state.
John Denver considered it “almost heaven;” tourism folks have tagged it “wild and wonderful.”

By Hope S. Philbrick

West Virginia wants to be your friend. How else to explain the fact that it’s billed as the northernmost Southern state, southernmost Northern state, easternmost Western state and westernmost Eastern state? No matter where you live in the U.S., West Virginians want you to think of their state as your neighbor.

Earlier this year, I visited West Virginia for the first time to attend a conference. I’m sure it won’t be my last visit. The state is within a day’s drive of more than 75% of the U.S. population—and, once you arrive, winding country roads lead to some unexpected finds. The Appalachian Mountain terrain is breathtakingly, ruggedly beautiful.

West Virginia may be a small state, but it’s got a lot to offer grownups, whether you crave heart-pumping adrenaline rushes, relaxing world-class resorts, or hands-on opportunities to explore nature, learn about our nation’s history, create or purchase art, feast on local foods, listen to music and much more.

Here’s some of what awaits discovery in West Virginia:

WV 150th celebrationWest Virginia is the only state that became a state by presidential proclamation, and the only one formed during the Civil War. It’s 150 years old!

West Virginia is home to the only Fiestaware factory.

Tamarack is the crowning glory of West Virginian arts and crafts: It’s where to see and shop for the best handcrafted works by artists from across the state all in one place.

New River Gorge BridgeWest Virginia boasts the longest single-arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

Both Lewisburg and Fayetteville have been crowned “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel.

The Monongahela National Forest boasts some of the world’s best opportunities for hiking and backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horseback riding, water sports, winter sports, fishing and hunting.

Fayette Station Rapid New RiverThe New River Gorge National River is renowned for both mild and wild whitewater rafting. (A fan of irony? The New River is actually one of the oldest rivers in North America.)

Berkeley Springs State Park boasts 1930 Roman Baths—and, yes, you can soak in them.

American Mountain Theater in Elkins presents variety shows that blend country, gospel, pop, patriotism and comedy.

The National Radio Observatory and surrounding quiet zone are in Pocahontas County. It’s the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. Astronomers from around the world use it to investigate the cosmos. It’s open to the public (just keep quiet).

Cass RR State Park WVThe Cass Scenic Railroad offers adventurous trips along the turn-of-the-century logging railway. A steam engine pulls past wilderness up to 4,700 feet plus sites like a logging camp with a Lidgerwood tower skidder (one of only two remaining in the world).

The Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad offers five Mountain Rail Adventures. Choose to ride the highest mainline railroad east of the Mississippi, tackle two of the sharpest railroad curves east of the Rockies, or hop aboard a unique train.

The Opera House in Pocahontas County was built in 1911 as a Vaudeville venue and is now used as a meeting hall and stage for live performances of all kinds.

The roots of mountain music run deep in West Virginia. Listen to a live steam. (Let us also introduce you to Jake Krack.)

Pepperoni RollsPepperoni rolls are the official “state food” of West Virginia. (Click on the photo at the left for a recipe plus information about where they were first made in Marion County.)

Morgantown is listed as the No. 1 best walking city in West Virginia and the 34th best walking city in the U.S. by Prevention Magazine and the American Podiatric Medical Association. It also ranks as one of the Top 10 places to retire for under $100 a day by AARP Magazine.

WV musiciansThe Mountain Music Trail presents traditional music, dance and folkways of the Allegheny Mountain region.

In Beverly a wall in an antique shop in a former hospital bears signatures of Civil War soldiers.

The Pearl S. Buck birthplace is in Hillsboro.

More Information…

West Virginia Tourism

West Virginia Music Hall of Fame


Babcock State Park in Fayette County, WV.WV scenic drives
-Photos courtesy West Virginia Tourism

Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.

HopeP_144Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. She became a freelance writer and editor because she believes that work and fun should not be mutually exclusive. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.

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