If you're a fan of beautiful nature, Civil War history, or Southern hospitality, West Virginia is an unparalleled place to take a few day trips. The Snowshoe ski resort offers excellent skiing in the winter, but there are plenty of excellent summer destinations as well, including the majestic New River Gorge National River, Coopers Rock State Forest, and the Gauley River National Recreation Area. However, it's not all about the nature; the state is also home to unique sites like the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, the Grave Creek Mound, and the Greenbrier resort, which houses a decommissioned bunker from the Cold War. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Grave Creek Mound
Located in the Ohio River Valley, the Grave Creek Mound was built by the Adena people between approximately 250 BC and 150 BC. The mound stands 69 feet tall and was made by moving more than 60,000 tons of dirt, making it the largest conical burial mound in the entire country. While here, visitors can also stop by the Delf Norona Museum to see its interpretive exhibits and the large collection of artifacts that have been discovered at the site. The museum and the mound are open Tuesday through Saturday year-round, and interpretive lectures can sometimes be arranged in advance.
801 Jefferson Ave, Moundsville, WV 26041, Phone: 304-843-4128
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Surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Beckley is a lively small town with a vibrant arts scene. If you're interested in the local art and culture, the best spot to go is Tamarack, a unique store selling artisan Appalachian goods and gourmet food. Another unmissable spot is the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, where visitors can ride a cart through the old mining tunnels while they learn about the work that used to be done here. Thanks to the town's location in the mountains, it also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures like swimming, hiking, and even whitewater rafting.
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3.Blackwater Falls State Park
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Established to protect a spectacularly beautiful stretch of land along the Blackwater River, Blackwater Falls State Park is the most popular park in the state. Its centerpiece is the iconic 62-foot Blackwater Falls, whose amber tannin-colored water crashes down a rugged cliff and into a natural pool below. A short trail leads from the parking lot down to a viewing platform overlooking the falls, and there's also a steeper section that leads right to the pool at the base. If you have some extra time, you can also fish in the river, hike on the park's beautiful trails, or visit the nature center.
1584 Blackwater Lodge Rd, Davis, WV 26260, Phone: 304-259-5216
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Bluefield was one of the biggest and busiest cities in the state during the coal boom, and although it experienced some troubled times during the Great Depression, it's been reborn as a charming small town known for welcoming visitors with open arms. The weather tends to be quite cool because of the surrounding mountains, but if you're here on a scorching hot day when the temperature climbs above 90 degrees, you'll be able to get free lemonade from any local store. Free lemonade or not, make sure to visit the Bluefield City Park to take a ride on the Ridge Runner Train.
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5.Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
Steam-driven locomotives were a fundamental feature of everyday life for years and years, and if this part of history appeals to you, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is the perfect place to step back in time to the days of yore. The railroad was built in 1901 to haul lumber to the local mill, and today, visitors can hop aboard a refurbished lumber flat car to take a trip up to the Bald Knob lookout area. The tour includes a packed lunch, and the gift shop and restaurant at the train station are open daily.
242 Main St, Cass, WV 24927, Phone: 304-456-4300
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Originally established as a humble frontier town, Charleston is the cosmopolitan capital of West Virginia, and it's a great place to visit if you want to get a taste of the state's history and culture. The impressive gold-domed state capitol building should be your first stop; not only is it the most beautiful building in the city, but it's also where many of the city's other major attractions can be found, including the outdoor Capitol Market, the Cultural Center, and the historic Capitol Street. Seven miles outside town is the Kanawha State Forest, where visitors can hike, bike, and birdwatch to their heart's content.
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7.Coopers Rock State Forest
Named after a local legend about an outlaw who made the forest his home, Coopers Rock State Forest encompasses almost 13,000 acres of land, including the awe-inspiring Cheat River Gorge. People primarily come here for the views, and the most popular spot in the park is the Coopers Rock overlook, which provides spectacular 360-degree views of the canyon below. However, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation as well; the park is an excellent rock-climbing destination, and it boasts approximately 50 miles of hiking trails, including a three-mile loop trail that leads out to Cheat Lake.
61 County Line Dr, Bruceton Mills, WV 26525, Phone: 304-594-1561
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Perched on the rim of the New River Gorge, Fayetteville is a true outdoor paradise. The New River is only a few minutes away, offering incredible opportunities for fishing and whitewater rafting, but visitors who would rather stay on dry land can also head into the surrounding mountains to hike and mountain bike. However, if you'd prefer to stay in town, you certainly won't be bored. You can browse the local boutique shops, take a walking tour of the charming historic district, or settle in at the local brewery with a pint of craft beer.
9.Gauley River National Recreation Area
Created to protect a 25-mile stretch of the Gauley River, the Gauley River National Recreation Area is a remote park primarily known for its incredible whitewater rafting, which is widely considered to be some of the best in the world. The upper portion of the river requires rafting experience, but the lower portion is tamer, and there are many local outfitters offering rafting tours for people of all experience levels. If you're looking to do something a little tamer, the river also offers excellent fishing, and visitors can bring their own fishing equipment or book a tour with a local company.
36 Fayette Station Rd, Victor, WV 25938, Phone: 304-465-0508
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Sitting at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, Harpers Ferry is a historic little town that played a crucial role in the Civil War. The entire town has been designated a National Historic District, and it looks much the same as it did during the 19th century when it was an important transportation hub. Whether you're interested in history or nature, it's easy to spend an entire day here; the park's twenty miles of hiking trails lead across battlefields and up mountains, and visitors can also take guided tours or participate in fascinating living history workshops.
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The quaint little town of Lewisburg isn't as well-known as some other West Virginian towns, but it's one of the most picturesque and walkable towns in the state. The main street is overflowing with art galleries and antique stores, and on the first Friday of every month, many of the shops stay open late and offer complimentary refreshments. The town also boasts cultural attractions like the Greenbrier Valley Theatre and one of only eight Carnegie Halls still in continuous use, and if you're more interested in nature than culture, you can't miss the chance to tour the Lost World Caverns.
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12.Lost World Caverns
© Lost World Caverns
Discovered in 1942, Lost World Caverns is a magical wonderland full of stalagmites and stalactites hidden away 120 feet under the surface of the earth. A half-mile trail leads through the main parts of the cave system; the path is dotted with informative signs, and it takes approximately 45 minutes to walk the trail on a self-guided tour. If you're feeling more adventurous, you can take a four-hour Wild Cave Tour instead, which takes visitors deep into the back reaches of the cave system where they can expect to get muddy as they clamber and crawl through tiny caverns.
907 Lost World Rd, Lewisburg, WV 24901, Phone: 304-645-6677
13.New River Gorge National River
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Stretching all the way from the city of Hinton to Hawks Nest State Park, New River Gorge National River is one of the oldest and most majestic rivers in North America. Start your visit at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, where you can watch an informative video and stroll down a boardwalk to the New River Gorge Bridge, then go up to the Grandview lookout point for some breathtaking views. If you have a bit more time, you can also hike the Endless Wall Trail, take a whitewater rafting trip down the Lower Gorge, or visit the coal town ruins at Nuttallburg.
Glen Jean, WV 25846, Phone: 304-465-0508
14.Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge
The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge protects more than twenty islands scattered along a 392-mile stretch of the Ohio River, and it's home to a diverse range of plants and animals, including endangered freshwater mussels. Hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting are among the most popular activities here, and the best trails start near St. Marys and Williamstown. Before exploring the refuge, visitors are advised to stop by the Refuge Visitor Center in Williamstown to learn about the landscape and the creatures who call it home, but interpretive signs can be found along some of the hiking trails as well.
St Marys, WV 26170
Set on the lovely Guyandotte River, Pineville was named for the peaceful pine forests that surround it. The town offers an inviting blend of Southern hospitality and exciting opportunities for outdoor recreation, and visitors come from all over the state to ride their ATVs on the wonderful Hatfield-McCoy Trail System. If you'd rather explore the area by foot, you can walk along the trail that starts at the 165-foot sandstone cliff known as Castle Rock or hike the trails in Twin Falls State Park. Other attractions in the area include the petting zoo at Pioneer farm, and the 630-acre R.D. Bailey Lake.
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Hidden underground in the Germany Valley, the Seneca Caverns are limestone caves full of spectacular stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone formations. The caves were discovered by humans as far back as the 1400s, when they were used for ceremonies by the Seneca Indians, and they've been open for commercial tours since 1930s. The standard guided tours lead visitors through the cave on a well-lit mile-long path, but if you have an adventurous spirit, you can take the Stratosphere Cavern tour instead, which goes through an unlit portion of the cave. After your tour, you can mine for gems, browse the gift shop, or enjoy a picnic.
17.Seneca Rocks and Monongahela National Forest
Protected by the Monongahela National Forest, the Seneca Rocks are easily one of the most iconic landmarks in West Virginia. Your visit should begin at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, which offers stunning views of the Rocks and interpretive tours on a seasonal basis. This is also where you'll find the trailhead for the steep 1.3-mile trail that leads up to an observation platform near the top of the Rocks. Experienced rock climbers can also explore the hundreds of mapped climbing routes on the Seneca Rocks themselves, and if you like fishing, catch and release fishing is permitted near the visitor center.
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Chartered in 1762, Shepherdstown is the oldest town in West Virginia, and it offers an appealing blend of Old-World charm and modern sophistication. Several of the town's restaurants specialize in gourmet contemporary cuisine, and the downtown shops sel everything from local artwork to used books. The town also has a reputation for being haunted, and you can learn about its dark and mysterious past by taking the Shepherdstown Mysteries Walk. If you'd rather learn about the less spooky side of the town's history, you can also visit the Shepherdstown Museum, which features Civil War artifacts and an elegant dining room with period furnishings.
Boasting more than 250 acres of skiable terrain, Snowshoe is a wonderful ski resort with two distinct mountains for visitors to choose from. There are trails for skiers and snowboarders of every level, including two black diamond trails with a 1500-foot vertical drop. Unlike many other ski resorts, the village is located at the top of the mountain rather than at its base, but it still offers an excellent selection of shops and restaurants. The resort is much more popular in the winter than in the summer, but the warmer months still brings opportunities to hike, mountain bike, and golf.
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20.Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park
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Encompassing more than 1700 acres around the pristine Stonewall Jackson Lake, Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park is a relatively new state park with plenty of modern amenities for visitors to enjoy. The Visitor's Center is full of interesting exhibits full of information about the area, but the real reasons people come here are to fish and paddle on the lake, hike along the park's 16 miles of trails, and hunt on the public hunting lands. The 18-hole golf course is another big attraction, and if you're missing big city comforts, the park also offers a full-service spa and three wonderful restaurants.
149 State Park Trail, Roanoke, WV 26447
Nestled on an incredibly beautiful 11,000-acre property in the Allegheny Mountains, the Greenbrier is a luxurious 5-star resort that dates all the way back to 1778. It's a wonderful place to spend the night if you have time, but many of its amenities are open to day guests as well, including the retail shops, the restaurants and lounges, and the casino. Visitors will also have the unique opportunity to tour the declassified Bunker carved into the mountainside under the hotel, which was constructed during the late 1950s to serve as an emergency shelter for Congress during the Cold War.
101 W Main St, White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986, Phone: 844-837-2466
22.The WV Farm Museum
If you'd like to learn about the lives of the early pioneers who settled West Virginia, the WV Farm Museum is the perfect place to visit. Visitors are welcome to take a self-guided tour of the property's 32 buildings, which include an old doctor's office, a rustic log church, and a country store. There is also a small collection of farm animals, some of whom are proudly named after museum staff. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday between the beginning of April and mid-November, and guided tours can be arranged with enough advance notice.
1458 Fairground Rd, Point Pleasant, WV 25550, Phone: 304-675-5737
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23.Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Also known as the Weston State Hospital, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is a psychiatric hospital that was in operation between 1864 and 1994. The building it's housed in is the largest hand-cut stone building in the country, but this isn't why visitors come. The asylum has a dramatic history that includes Civil War raids and a terrible period of overcrowding, and visitors can learn all about its fascinating past by taking a guided history tour. If you're at all curious about the building's haunted past, you can also take a spooky two-hour paranormal tour.
71 Asylum Dr, Weston, WV 26452
Although its best known as the home of the infamous Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, the city of Weston has much more to offer. There are two distinct national historic districts for visitors to explore, one downtown and one in the city's residential area, and the childhood home of General Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson can be found just a few miles outside of town. Another major attraction is the nearby lake that was named after General Jackson, and if you're in the mood for visiting a museum, you can check out the Mountaineer Military Museum or the Museum of American Glass in West Virginia.
The largest community in Mingo County, Williamson is a peaceful riverside town situated along the Tug Fork River. It boasts several surprisingly unique attractions, including a building constructed entirely from 65 tons of coal and a museum dedicated entirely to the feud between the Hatfield and McCoy families. If you want to learn even more about the feud and the town's history, you can also take a narrated airboat tour down the Tug Fork River. The town is also home to a large portion of the famous Hatfield-McCoy Trail, a popular destination for ATV riders and off-roaders.
25 Best Day Trips & Small Towns in West Virginia
- Grave Creek Mound, Photo: aceshot/stock.adobe.com
- Beckley, Photo: Ania Zakrzewska/stock.adobe.com
- Blackwater Falls State Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Bluefield, Photo: M. Schuppich/stock.adobe.com
- Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Photo: abemos/stock.adobe.com
- Charleston, Photo: abemos/stock.adobe.com
- Coopers Rock State Forest, Photo: steheap/stock.adobe.com
- Fayetteville, Photo: steheap/stock.adobe.com
- Gauley River National Recreation Area, Photo: Francisco/stock.adobe.com
- Harpers Ferry, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Lewisburg, Photo: Alexandar Iotzov/stock.adobe.com
- Lost World Caverns, Photo: Lost World Caverns
- New River Gorge National River, Photo: Kenneth Keifer/stock.adobe.com
- Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Photo: phototrip.cz/stock.adobe.com
- Pineville, Photo: chaphot/stock.adobe.com
- Seneca Caverns, Photo: Jenny Pierce Photo/stock.adobe.com
- Seneca Rocks and Monongahela National Forest, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Shepherdstown, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Snowshoe, Photo: digidreamgrafix/stock.adobe.com
- Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park, Photo: Syda Productions/stock.adobe.com
- The Greenbrier, Photo: Angelique/stock.adobe.com
- The WV Farm Museum, Photo: pimmimemom/stock.adobe.com
- Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, Photo: StockVizions/stock.adobe.com
- Weston, Photo: JackF/stock.adobe.com
- Williamson, Photo: Nomad_Soul/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: avmedved/stock.adobe.com
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