Best Things to Do in West Virginia: 12 West Virginia Attractions

by Jen
Best Things to Do in West Virginia
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Are you planning a trip to West Virginia? Here are some of the most fun, exciting, and adventure-filled things to do in West Virginia. These breathtaking landscapes, national parks, and charming towns are sure to make for an unforgettable trip.

Considering a trip to the Appalachian region? If so, you’re in for a treat! West Virginia, often referred to as the “Mountain State,” is a hidden gem in the United States that offers unique and exciting experiences. From its rich history and culture to its stunning natural landscapes, West Virginia is a destination that promises an unforgettable journey with an incredible array of things to do for everyone to enjoy.

West Virginia is renowned for its outdoor adventures. Its rugged mountains, lush forests, and rushing rivers provide the perfect setting for hiking, biking, rafting, and even rock climbing. But that’s not all. The state’s history as a pivotal player in the coal industry has left a legacy. This can be explored in its fascinating museums and historic sites.

From the charming streets of Harpers Ferry to the awe-inspiring beauty of the New River Gorge, there’s no shortage of things to do in West Virginia. To help you plan your trip, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to visit in West Virginia. So, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a history buff, or someone who simply appreciates the beauty of nature, there’s something for you in the Mountain State.

West Virginia is a destination that deserves to be on every traveler’s bucket list. So let’s get ready to discover the best things to do in West Virginia!

The top places to visit in West Virginia right now
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Best Places to Visit in West Virginia

Are you ready to discover the best things to do in West Virginia? As previously mentioned, there’s something for all to enjoy in West Virginia. Keep reading to discover why it’s one of the most underrated states to visit in the United States.

If you’re looking for the best nature spots and exciting outdoor activities, West Virginia can cater to your desires. Additionally, if you’re searching for family-friendly attractions and picturesque towns, the state has plenty to offer. Here are all the best places to visit in West Virginia that you should know about!

1. Explore the New River Gorge National Park

Nestled in the heart of West Virginia, the New River Gorge National Park is one of the best things to do in West Virginia for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is home to the New River, one of the oldest rivers on the continent. The river has carved a spectacular gorge renowned for its white-water rapids and rugged cliffs.

For those seeking adventure, the park offers a plethora of activities. You can set up camp under the stars, cast a line in the river, or embark on a hiking trail that winds through the lush landscape. If you’re a thrill-seeker, you can even try your hand at white-water rafting.

The crown jewel of the park is undoubtedly the New River Gorge Bridge. This marvel of engineering stands 876 feet above the river. It is the most photographed site in all of West Virginia. The bridge offers phenomenal views of the surrounding landscape. As a result, it is one of the best places to visit in West Virginia.

Whether you’re looking for adrenaline-pumping activities or just want to soak in the natural beauty, New River Gorge National Park is a destination that should not be missed when visiting West Virginia.

Don't miss West Virginia's most photographed site - the New River Gorge Bridge.
Don’t miss West Virginia’s most photographed site – the New River Gorge Bridge.

2. Relax in nature at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Steeped in history and surrounded by natural beauty, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is another must-visit destination in West Virginia. The park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Therefore, it offers stunning views and a variety of outdoor activities.

Harpers Ferry is best known for its rich history. It was the site of a famous abolitionist uprising led by John Brown in 1859. This event played a significant role in sparking the Civil War. Today, you can explore the historic district. It features well-preserved 19th-century buildings, museums, and exhibits that tell the story of the town’s past.

But history isn’t the only draw here. The park’s location offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The Appalachian Trail also passes through Harpers Ferry, making it a popular spot for long-distance hikers.

With its blend of history and natural beauty, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park offers a unique and enriching experience for all visitors. It’s easy to see why this attraction is one of the best places to visit in West Virginia!

Discover Harpers Ferry National Historical Park - where history meets nature in West Virginia!
Discover Harpers Ferry National Historical Park – where history meets nature in West Virginia!

3. Discover the beauty of Blackwater Falls State Park

Named for the amber-colored waters of the Blackwater River, Blackwater Falls State Park is a sight to behold. The park’s main attraction is the Blackwater Falls, a cascading waterfall that plunges five stories into the river below. The “black” water is a result of tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. This gives the falls a unique and mesmerizing appearance.

For nature lovers, the park offers a network of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. Some trails lead to vantage points offering stunning views of the falls. Others wind through the park’s diverse landscape of wetlands, forests, and high-altitude bogs. In the winter, the park transforms into a snowy wonderland, with opportunities for cross-country skiing and sledding.

For those who wish to extend their stay, the park offers a lodge and cabins for overnight accommodation. With its awe-inspiring natural beauty and array of outdoor activities, Blackwater Falls State Park is one of the best places to visit in West Virginia that nature lovers won’t want to miss.

Witness Blackwater Falls - a unique cascading waterfall with "black" water, a mesmerizing sight at the park!
Witness Blackwater Falls – a unique cascading waterfall with “black” water, a mesmerizing sight at the park!

4. Climb the famous Seneca Rocks

West Virginia offers some of the best places to visit in the United States for outdoor enthusiasts, and this destination is no exception. Towering above the North Fork River, Seneca Rocks is one of the best-known landmarks in West Virginia. This imposing formation of Tuscarora quartzite is a sight to behold, rising nearly 900 feet above the surrounding landscape.

Seneca Rocks is a paradise for rock climbers, offering over 375 mapped climbing routes. The South Peak is particularly notable. It is the only peak east of the Rockies that is accessible only by rock climbing.

However, if rock climbing isn’t your thing, you can still enjoy the beauty of Seneca Rocks from the ground. There’s a 1.3-mile trail that leads to an observation platform with stunning views of the rocks and the surrounding valley.

The nearby Seneca Rocks Discovery Center offers exhibits on local history and nature, and the area is also popular for fishing, with the North Fork River known for its excellent trout fishing.

Whether you’re an experienced climber, a fishing enthusiast, or just a lover of natural beauty, Seneca Rocks is one of the best places to visit in West Virginia.

For climbers, anglers, and nature lovers alike, Seneca Rocks is a top West Virginia destination.
For climbers, anglers, and nature lovers alike, Seneca Rocks is a top West Virginia destination.

5. Discover the Beautiful Monongahela National Forest

Spanning over 900,000 acres, the Monongahela National Forest is a vast expanse of natural beauty that offers a wealth of recreational opportunities. The forest is home to some of the most diverse flora and fauna in West Virginia, making it a haven for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

The forest offers over 800 miles of trails, catering to hikers of all skill levels. These trails wind through scenic landscapes, from high-altitude wetlands to spruce forests. The forest is also home to several wilderness areas, offering a more rugged and remote hiking experience.

In addition to hiking, the Monongahela National Forest offers opportunities for fishing, hunting, and camping. The forest’s rivers and streams are teeming with trout, while its vast landscape is home to deer, turkeys, and other wildlife.

If you’re looking to embark on a challenging hike, cast a line in a pristine stream, or simply immerse yourself in nature, the Monongahela National Forest is one of the best places to visit in West Virginia that promises a memorable outdoor adventure.

Monongahela National Forest is your gateway to challenging hikes, fishing, and nature immersion.
Monongahela National Forest is your gateway to challenging hikes, fishing, and nature immersion.

6. Explore the Charming Town of Lewisburg

Named “the Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel, Lewisburg is a charming town that offers a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Located in the Greenbrier Valley of the Allegheny Mountains, Lewisburg is known for its vibrant arts scene, historic landmarks, and friendly community.

Downtown Lewisburg is a delight to explore, with its well-preserved 18th and 19th-century architecture, unique shops, and local restaurants. The town is also home to Carnegie Hall, one of only four Carnegie Halls in the world, which offers a variety of cultural events and art exhibits.

History buffs will appreciate the town’s rich past, which can be explored at the North House Museum. For nature lovers, the nearby Greenbrier River Trail offers hiking, biking, and bird-watching.

With its small-town charm, rich history, and beautiful surroundings, Lewisburg offers a unique and enjoyable experience for all visitors. If you’re looking for the coolest things to do in West Virginia, a trip to Lewisburg is a must for your itinerary!

Lewisburg is your go-to spot for the coolest things to do in West Virginia.
Lewisburg is your go-to spot for the coolest things to do in West Virginia.

7. Enjoy a scenic train ride at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park

Calling all train lovers! Step back in time with a visit to the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. This historic park is home to the Cass Scenic Railroad, a former logging railroad that has been converted into a heritage railway.

The highlight of a visit to the park is a ride on the historic steam-driven locomotive. One of the best things to do in West Virginia, the train takes passengers on a scenic journey up to Bald Knob, the third highest point in the state, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

The park also features the company town of Cass, which has been preserved as it was in the early 20th century. Visitors can explore the historic homes, the company store, and the museum, which offers insights into the town’s history and the logging industry.

With its historic charm and scenic beauty, the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park offers a unique and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best places to visit in West Virginia!

Step back in time at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park - a must-visit heritage railway for train enthusiasts.
Step back in time at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park – a must-visit heritage railway for train enthusiasts.

8. Discover the Mysteries of the Mothman

Looking for unique things to do in West Virginia? Head to the town of Point Pleasant to explore the mysteries of the Mothman. This legendary creature, said to be a harbinger of disaster, was reportedly sighted in the area in the 1960s.

The Mothman Museum offers a deep dive into this local legend, with exhibits featuring newspaper clippings, photographs, and eyewitness accounts. You’ll also find a wide range of Mothman merchandise and memorabilia.

Just a short walk from the museum, you’ll find the Mothman Statue, a stainless-steel sculpture that stands over 12 feet tall. This impressive statue is a popular photo spot for visitors.

Whether you’re a fan of folklore, a lover of mysteries, or just looking for a unique experience, the Mothman Museum and Statue are worth a visit on your next trip to West Virginia.

See the Mothman Statue, a 12-ft tall stainless-steel sculpture near the museum - a top photo spot for visitors.
See the Mothman Statue, a 12-ft tall stainless-steel sculpture near the museum – a top photo spot for visitors.

9. Explore the Depths of Seneca Caverns

Delve into the depths of the earth with a visit to Seneca Caverns. Located in Riverton, these caverns are one of West Virginia’s most popular natural attractions. The caverns were discovered in 1742 by German settler Laven Teter, although they were used by the Seneca Indians long before that.

A guided tour of the caverns takes you through a series of chambers, where you can marvel at the stalactites, stalagmites, and other mineral formations. The caverns maintain a constant temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit, making them a cool escape on a hot summer day.

Above ground, the caverns offer gemstone mining, where visitors can sift through mining rough to find gemstones and fossils. There’s also a picnic area and a gift shop, making it one of the most fun and educational places to visit in West Virginia for families.

Explore cool caverns on guided tours, and witness stunning mineral formations.
Explore cool caverns on guided tours, and witness stunning mineral formations.

10. Visit the Cultural Oasis of the Huntington Museum of Art

For a dose of culture during your West Virginia visit, make sure to stop by the Huntington Museum of Art. As the largest art museum in the state, it houses an impressive collection of art and artifacts.

The museum’s collections span a wide range of art forms and periods, from American and European paintings and sculptures to glass pieces, antique firearms, and folk art. The museum also features a conservatory with a tropical and subtropical plant collection.

In addition to its permanent collections, the museum hosts rotating exhibitions, art classes, and special events. Whether you’re an art aficionado or a casual visitor, the Huntington Museum of Art offers a rich and diverse cultural experience. As such, I recommend this thing to do in West Virginia to everyone I meet.

Experience art and culture at the Huntington Museum of Art - the largest of its kind in West Virginia.
Experience art and culture at the Huntington Museum of Art – the largest of its kind in West Virginia.

11. Journey into the Past at Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

If you’re looking for unique things to do in West Virginia, this attraction is one of the best. To truly understand West Virginia’s history, a trip to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine is a must. This historic coal mine offers a fascinating glimpse into the state’s mining history and the life of coal miners.

A highlight of the visit is the underground tour, where you’ll board a mine car and journey back in time. Guided by veteran miners, you’ll learn about the mining methods, the machinery, and the daily life of the miners.

Above ground, you can explore the coal camp, which includes a school, a church, and miner’s homes, each furnished to represent a different decade in the 20th century. The site also features a museum with exhibits on coal history, mining artifacts, and a collection of coal-related art.

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine: A must for history enthusiasts - a unique glimpse into mining life in West Virginia.
Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine: A must for history enthusiasts – a unique glimpse into mining life in West Virginia.

12. Experience the Charm of the State Capital, Charleston

As the capital and largest city of West Virginia, Charleston offers a blend of urban charm, southern hospitality, and rich history. Nestled along the banks of the Kanawha River, Charleston is known for its vibrant arts scene, historic landmarks, and outdoor recreational activities.

The city’s downtown area is a hub of activity, with a variety of shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions. The Capitol Market, a year-round farmer’s market, is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike.

Charleston is also home to several notable landmarks, including the gold-domed West Virginia State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion. The city’s cultural offerings include the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences, which houses a concert hall, a planetarium, and an art museum.

Whether you’re exploring the city’s history, enjoying a performance, or simply strolling along the riverfront, Charleston is one of the best places to visit in West Virginia for families and couples.

Explore Charleston's charm with iconic landmarks - the gold-domed West Virginia State Capitol and Governor's Mansion
Explore Charleston’s charm with iconic landmarks – the gold-domed West Virginia State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Best Things to Do in West Virginia

Looking for more information on the best things to do in West Virginia? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to West Virginia:

What is the most visited place in West Virginia?

The most visited place in West Virginia is the New River Gorge. Designated as a National River in 1978, it’s celebrated for the New River Gorge Bridge, which is one of the longest steel span bridges in the world and the centerpiece of the annual “Bridge Day” festival. Every third Saturday in October, the bridge becomes a hotspot for BASE jumping, rappelling, and other adrenaline-pumping activities, attracting thousands of spectators.

Beyond the iconic bridge, the New River Gorge offers many other recreational activities. The New River itself is a popular location for white-water rafting, boasting both gentle flows and challenging rapids. Rock climbing, hiking, camping, fishing, and bird watching are other beloved activities in the area. The gorge’s stunning vistas, dense forests, and diverse wildlife make it a prime destination for both adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts. I first visited there back in 2020 before it became a national park. Today, it is more popular than ever before! What’s not to love about WV!

What is West Virginia known for?

West Virginia is known for its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and outdoor recreational activities. It’s often referred to as the “Mountain State” due to its location in the Appalachian Mountains. The state is famous for its coal mining history and is also home to several notable landmarks, including the New River Gorge Bridge and the historic town of Harpers Ferry.

What outdoor activities can you do in West Virginia?

West Virginia offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, white-water rafting, and rock climbing. The state’s numerous state parks, forests, and rivers provide the perfect setting for these activities. In the winter, areas like Snowshoe Mountain Resort offer skiing and other winter sports.

What is the best time to visit West Virginia?

The best time to visit West Virginia depends on what you want to do. For outdoor activities, the spring and fall seasons offer mild weather and beautiful scenery. The fall foliage in West Virginia is particularly stunning. If you’re interested in winter sports, the best time to visit is from December to February.

Vibrant autumn leaves in West Virginia showcase the stunning fall foliage of the region.
Vibrant autumn leaves in West Virginia showcase the stunning fall foliage of the region.

Is WV worth visiting?

Absolutely! West Virginia, often referred to as “Almost Heaven,” has a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and outdoor activities. This makes it a worthy destination for a variety of travelers. Here’s why:

  1. Stunning landscapes: West Virginia is renowned for its breathtaking mountains, dense forests, and picturesque rivers. The state offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of urban areas.
  2. Outdoor adventures: For those seeking adrenaline, the state is a haven for white-water rafting, especially in the New River Gorge. Additionally, there are ample opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, and camping.
  3. Rich history: The state played a pivotal role during the Civil War and has deep coal mining roots. Places like Harpers Ferry, with its preserved historic buildings, tell stories of significant moments in U.S. history.
  4. Cultural festivals: West Virginia hosts a myriad of festivals that celebrate its unique Appalachian culture, including music festivals, arts and crafts fairs, and heritage events.
  5. State parks and forests: With dozens of state parks and forests, including Blackwater Falls State Park and Seneca Rocks, there are countless natural wonders to explore.
  6. Thermal springs: The town of Berkeley Springs is renowned for its warm mineral springs, offering a rejuvenating experience for visitors.
  7. Scenic drives: Routes like the Highland Scenic Highway provide captivating views, especially during the fall when the leaves change colors.
  8. Cave exploration: With numerous caves, including the Organ Cave and Seneca Caverns, spelunkers and curious travelers can delve into the underground beauty of the state.

In all, West Virginia offers a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty that can appeal to history buffs, nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those simply looking for a peaceful retreat. It’s definitely a state worth adding to your travel itinerary.

What are some of the best places to visit in West Virginia?

Some must-visit places in West Virginia include the New River Gorge National Park, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, Seneca Rocks, the Monongahela National Forest, and the state capital, Charleston.

What unique experiences does West Virginia offer?

West Virginia offers a range of unique experiences, from exploring historic coal mines and riding on a heritage railway to rock climbing at Seneca Rocks and white-water rafting in the New River Gorge. The state’s rich history and culture can be experienced through its museums, historic towns, and cultural events.

Discover the Mountain State: Wrap Up Your West Virginia Adventure

West Virginia, with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and friendly people, is a destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a history buff, or someone who simply appreciates the beauty of nature, you’re sure to find something to love in the Mountain State.

So why wait? Start planning your West Virginia adventure today and discover why it’s one of the best places to visit in the United States!

The top things to do in West Virginia for all types of travelers
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