Fun things to do in West Virginia

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Most Viewed Things to Do in West Virginia

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    Reserve

    by Fullmoonfever Updated Aug 14, 2006

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    If you go, you should call and reserve a spot for you and your party. If just one or two people are going, you might not need to do this. But in Spetember I highly recommend doing so. Especially if you are driving a great distance to get there. Nothing would be worst than getting there and not being able to go rafting!!!

    I use Appalachian Wildwaters. See link.

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    Visit Tamarack--the Best of West Virginia

    by kevanrijn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Tamarack exists to showcase the best in arts & crafts from West Virginia. All of the more than 2,500 artists/craftsmen who sell there must be selected by going through a jury process. They submit samples of their work which are judged by a team of experts & evaluated as to whether or not the work is of a quality to be sold/exhibited at Tamarack (which is a world-class arts and crafts center).

    You can shop, dine, watch craft demonstations, attend theatre performances & look at exhibits in the gallery. You will see stunning items for sale, including textiles, agricultural products, glass, pottery, wood, metal, jewelry, quilts, & wearable art. There are things available in a wide variety of price ranges. For example, Tamarack has coffee tables for sale which ring up at a mere $18,000--I've seen some of them--they are truly works of art! But there are more reasonably priced items too. There are six artisan studios at which resident artists pursue their craft. Currently they have a blacksmith, potter, woodworking husband/wife team who make musical instruments, a glassblower and a texile artisan in residence.

    If you are hungry, the food court is called "A taste of West Virginia." This is no fast-food type food court--it's managed by the world famous Greenbrier Resort & is staffed with true chefs. The menu features regional specialties. A sample of the menu offerings and prices: "Appalachian Mountain Burger with Red Eye Country Ham, Fried Green Tomatoes, Swiss Cheese, and Real McCoy Mustard Sauce. Served with Golden French Fries and Dill Pickle Spear.....$7.95 Sandwich Only.....$6.95" Or how about "Pan-Fried Fillet of West Virginia Rainbow Trout with Your Choice of Two Side Dishes.....One Fillet $8.95..Two Fillets $13.95" You can get less expensive meals than these--the two fillets of rainbow trout are the only thing I've seen on the menu priced over $10.

    This is a wonderful place to buy souvenirs of West Virginia. Check out the website listed below for current exhibits and events and further information.

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    Visit Parkersburg--a City of Surprises

    by kevanrijn Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    There's so much to do and see in Parkersburg, I have a separate travel page for it. Check out my Parkersburg pages for tips on where to eat, things to do, etc. No matter what your interests, you can find something to enjoy in Parkersburg & the surrounding areas.

    Have daughters? They will probably enjoy a tour of the Middleton Doll Factory, just across the river in Belpre, Ohio. Sons? They might enjoy a visit to the People's Mortuary Museum in Marietta, Ohio or a visit to the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg. Interested in glass? Fenton Glass Factory is 10 miles north of Parkersburg--and 2007 is their 100th anniversary year so they will be having special events and sales. Into woodworking? Woodcrafters has a shop in Parkersburg. Like to cycle? North Bend rail trail begins/ends in Parkersburg.

    If you like history--tour the Blennerhassett Island, mansion & museum. If you are into architecture, Parkersburg has several historic districts, and one of them, Julia-Ann Square, has the largest concentrated grouping of Italianate, Second Empire, and Queen Anne mansions in the entire state of West Virginia. Interested in ghost hunting? Parkersburg has active ghost hunting groups and a large number of haunted buildings/locales.

    I've just scratched the surface...I could keep going but you have probably already quit reading! There are festivals galore: the Mid-Ohio Cultural Festival in June; West Virginia Interstate Fair & Exposition in July; the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival August 16-17, 2007; West Virginia Honey Festival on August 25-26, 2007; Harvest Moon Arts & Crafts Festival in September; and, of course, Holiday In The Park, Parkersburg's holiday season light display in City Park.

    Then there's the shopping: Grand Central Mall with over 100 stores, theatre and food court; Coldwater Creek's clearance outlet, near the Mineral Wells area; the Middleton Doll factory outlet, Fenton glass factory outlet...and so on. There are lots of local merchants with boutiques and specialty shops that will well repay a visit too.

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    New River Gorge Bridge

    by Florida999 Updated Aug 10, 2009

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    The New River Gorge bridge is the second highest in the U.S. I very much dislike driving over some bridges, and I was sort of afraid of this one, but it is really no big deal when you are driving over it. Why? You can't SEE how high you are from the top! We didn't realize how high up it is until we went to the Canyon Rim visitor center on the north side of the bridge. It looked really large from there . But it didn' t stop us from driving down to the bottom to look at the river! The road is a one-way road that has some very sharp turns. I am used to driving mountain roads, but I was worried about making the turns at a few places. We did make it down, went over the old bridge on the bottom , back up, and over the bridge again a second time to keep going .

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    Blackwater Falls State Park

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jun 29, 2006

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    Blackwater falls is one of the signature landmarks in the state of West Virginia, and for good reason. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls you will find anywhere. The Blackwater River and Falls gets its name from the dark amber-colored water which is the result of staining from fallen spruce and hemlock trees. At the falls the river plunges and cascades about 50 feet, before twisting and winding its way for eight miles through a picturesque canyon.

    The falls is surrounded by a State Park with a modern 54 room lodge, rental cabins, a campground, restaurant, indoor swimming pool, two gift shops, and picnic shelters. Hiking trails lead to two other waterfalls, Pendleton Falls and Elakala Falls, both within a half mile of the lodge. There are also several scenic overlooks along the gorge of the Blackwater River.

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    Coopers Rock State Forest

    by traveldave Updated Apr 10, 2009

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    Located about 13 miles (21 kilometers) east of Morgantown, Coopers Rock State Forest is one of the most popular attractions in the northern part of West Virginia. The 12,713-acre (5,145-hectare) park is bisected by Interstate 68, making for easy access. The area north of the interstate is leased by the West Virginia University Division of Forestry for research and teaching. South of the interstate is the main recreation area.

    Legend has it that the park got its name from a cooper (barrel maker) who was a fugitive from the law and hid out near the Cheat River Gorge. There, he continued to make barrels and sell them to people in the local communities.

    Coopers Rock State Forest offers many outdoor activities for visitors. Most people come to visit the several overlooks above the spectacular Cheat River Gorge. Other activities include picnicking, camping, hiking on the 50 miles (80 kilometers) of trails, cross-country skiing, and fishing in a six-acre (two-hectare) pond that is frequently stocked with trout.

    During the Great Depression, between 1936 and 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed numerous structures in the park, such as a lodge, overlooks, and picnic shelters. Eleven of those structures are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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    LEARN GLASSMAKING!

    by kevanrijn Updated Feb 19, 2007

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    This year is the 100th anniversary of Fenton glass in Williamstown, WV (10 miles north of Parkersburg). To mark their centennial, Fenton is having a festival, August 3-5, 2007. They are also having a glassmaking school. Call or email for details; reservations will be available beginning April 1st. There will be a fee, of course, and you will need to register in advance for the glassmaking school.

    Fenton Art glass is one of the last family owned glass factories and the largest handmade glass factory in the United States. They make handblown and pressed glass both. Fenton offers free factory tours (highly rated) and has a gift shop and glass museum on site at their Williamsburg factory. Even if you aren't interested in actually learning to make glass yourself, Fenton is still a fascinating place to visit.

    Contact Jena L Blair at 1-800-319-7793 extension 311 or jena@fentongiftshop.com for details on the Festival or on the glassmaking school. Visit my homepage and view my personal photo album on Fenton glass for more details on this delightful place.

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    Pay your respects to the Father of West Virginia

    by kevanrijn Updated Feb 21, 2007

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    West Virginia is unique among all of the states of the United States in that it was the only one to be formed by Presidential proclamation and it was the only state to be born out of the Civil War. And the President who issued that proclamation and thereby made West Virginia a state was none other than Abraham Lincoln. Francis H. Pierpoint, the first governor of West Virginia and a prime mover and shaker behind the severing of western Virginia from Old Dominion, is usually called the Father of West Virginia. So perhaps it might be more accurate to think of Abe as the Godfather of West Virginia. ;)

    A statue honoring Abraham Lincoln and telling of his role in the making of the state is placed outside the West Entrance to the Capitol in Charleston. Titled "Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight" it portrays Lincoln in his bathrobe, pacing the floor (No, I am NOT making this up!) and is based on a poem written by Vachell Lindsay. Go see the statue...you get a real sense of him as human being and not such as sense of him being a giant magisterial presence (such as you feel after seeing the statue of him at the Lincoln Memorial).

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    Spruce Knob, highest mountain in West Virginia

    by Florida999 Updated Aug 10, 2009

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    We added another U.S. Highpoint to our list of mountains we have been to. This one, as many in the Eastern U.S. you can drive to the top. The road is narrow , has lots of curves and takes a while, but is not too bad. The view from on top was awesome. There were several other groups of people on the top even as isolated as this mountain was!

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    Climbing Stairs, Not My Favorite!

    by lmkluque Updated Oct 28, 2011

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    Climbing the steps up to St. Peter's Church in Harper's Ferry was not really what I wanted to do, but I did and was glad for making the effort. It was a lovely church and the view more breathtaking than the climb!

    This was not the first location of this church. Seems it was originally the first parish of Jefferson County and was a log cabin type building that washed away by flood, before even being used,

    That's when the decision was made to rebuild on top of the hill. It was the only church to survive, not only John Brown, but also the Civil War. In 1896 it was again rebuilt and has since become a mission of the parish of St. James the Greater.

    Tourist Mass is said on Sundays at 11:00 am and the church is open Saturdays and Sundays for doecent lead tours.

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    Cathedral State Park, Preston County, WV

    by Stephen-KarenConn Updated Jul 23, 2006

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    Cathedral State Park, in the northeastern corner of West Virginia, contains one of the last remaining tracts of virgin timber in the state. Towering trees up to 90 feet in height and 21 feet in circumference provide a shady canopy for hiking, picnicking and nature study in this day-use park. Throughout the woods, eastern hemlock is the dominant species.

    While passing through West Virgina on a road trip I stopped and hiked four of the six marked trails in this 133 acre park. The longest of the trails is just over one mile in length. Even though the eastern United States was in the grip of a heat wave at the time of my visit, the forest was relatively cool, being shaded and at an elevation varying from 2460 to 2620 feet.

    More than 170 species of flowering plants have been catalogued in the park. I took photos of several, including hemlock trees, ferns and flowering rhododendron. More than 50 species of wildflower have been recorded here, plus numerous birds and animals. It is a great place to study nature in a setting so beautiful that it is called a Cathedral.

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    Mining town museum

    by Florida999 Updated Aug 10, 2009

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    Along with the mine itself, if you visit the coal mine in Beckley you get to visit the rest of the museum, which includes a rebuilt old mining town, some old farmhouses, and a youth museum. It was worth the trip. We spent half a day there.

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    Coal Mine in Beckley

    by Florida999 Updated Aug 10, 2009

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    We visited the Exhibition Coal mine in Beckely. I don't think I would have wanted to be a coal miner 100 or even 50 years ago!!! They led a very difficult life. We went on a tour of the underground mine, and the tour guide was a former miner who told us all about what life as a miner had been like. The miners were treated like slaves. They were allowed to leave, but they really could not because all of their wages was paid in "money" that could only be used in the mining town ( owned by the mine owner) for shelter, food and supplies, and they did not earn any more money than was necessary to get those minimal things. So basically, they were "free" in name only, but stuck there just like the slaves at the time in Virginia. Yet the 2 States split up.
    One warning: don't take small children (maybe under 2?) into any mine. They tend to scream the entire tour.
    The coal mine was interesting, plus you get to see the old buildings after the mine tour.

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    New River Gorge National Park

    by grandmaR Updated Nov 5, 2007

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    The New River (which is in reality among the oldest rivers on the continent) is the site of a relatively new kind of National Park which encompasses the whole of a river. One of the Visitor's Centers is near Sandstone WV. The park contains over 70,000 acres of land along the New River.

    The park is open year-round. Canyon Rim and Sandstone Visitor Centers are open daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Thurmond Depot and Grandview operate seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Thurmond Depot's seasonal hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Grandview is open seasonally from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM.

    You can see some of the park from the AMTRAK Cardinal which travels through New River Gorge on its route from New York, and some of the park is accessible from the road, but the majority of the river scenery and wildlife is only viewable from a boat. New River Gorge National River includes 53 miles of free-flowing New River, beginning at Bluestone Dam and ending at Hawks Nest Lake

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    Harper's Ferry

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Feb 18, 2009

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    Harper's Ferry, at the border of Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia, and at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, was a strategic Civil War location with lots of history. Long before the war, Harper's ferry was established as a manufacturing and transportation center, as the US Armory and Arsenal was established in 1799. In the 1830s, this town hosted the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, the Winchester & Potomac Railroad, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.

    Before the war, John Brown's raid was a key event in the history of Harper's Ferry as his band of abolitionists attempted to seize the weapons at the armory to fight a guerrilla war in the south to free slaves. Once the war started the Federal troops destroyed the Harper's Ferry armory and weapons manufacturing machinery.

    During the war, the town changed hands 8 times, leaving much of the area in ruins. One key battle in September 1862 left 12,500 Union prisoners in the hands of Stonewall Jackson, allowing his forces to join the battle at nearby Antietam and prevent an even worse defeat.

    Today Harper's Ferry National Park is a popular tourist destination. It offers a unique historic village with shops and restaurants alongside historic buildings and ruins, all in a beautiful scenic location.

    Entrance fee for vehicles is $6, but you can park at the park headquarters outside of town and ride the bus. Each time I have visited, there was no parking town, so the bus is recommended. The battlefields are located outside of the central, historic town and have plenty of parking.


    In July 1859 John Brown, two of his sons, and others met in Maryland about seven miles from Harpers Ferry to begin creating an army and drafting plans to attack Harpers Ferry. They intended to seize the 100,000 rifles at he armory, then use them to arm lsaves throughout Virginia. On October 16, 1859, Brown and his 21-man "Provisional Army of the United States" took over the US Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry in an effort to create an uprising among the slaves. Militia units and federal troops responded from surrounding areas, some led by future Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and JEB Stuart. For the next two days several of John Brown's raiders along with numerous townspeople were killed as the raiders were gradually pushed from the Armory and Arsenal into the small firehouse in the far corner of town. Finally, on the morning of October 18th, twelve US Marines broke down the door of the Armory's firehouse, capturing Brown and the remaining raiders. In all, 17 people died including 10 of Brown's men.

    The 45-minute trial took place on November 2nd 1856, as Brown was charged with murder, conspiring slaves to rebel, and treason against the state of Virginia. He was sentenced to a public execution that took place on December 2nd, and was attending by VMI cadets led by Major Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. John Wilkes Booth also witnessed the execution.

    It is said that the John Brown's failed raid raised tensions between the North and South the led to secession and the American Civil War.

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West Virginia Things to Do

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