Set within the tree-covered Appalachian Mountains, the leafy state of West Virginia is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, and the state’s mountainous terrain provides a wealth of activities to enjoy from hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, caving, whitewater rafting, and wildlife watching. West Virginia also has a rich history dating back to the Civil War and the state capital, Charleston is a great place to explore the state’s history. Head to the town of Harpers Ferry, which is surrounded by a national historical park and still looks like it did in the 19th century, with many of the buildings being open to the public as living museums.
1.Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum
The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum, also known as the Phillips-Sprague Mine, is a well-preserved historic coal mine at New River Park in Beckley, Raleigh County. One of the largest coal heritage destinations in the region, the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, delves 1,500 feet beneath the hillsides of New River Park. Visitors can explore the mine on guided daily tours on authentic mine cars which travel into original working areas of the coal mine, as well as walking tours through the grounds which feature beautifully restored buildings like Miner's Shanty, the Coal Company House, Pemberton Coal Camp Church, and Helen School. A Visitor’s Center is designed to replicate a company store and boasts informative indoor and outdoor exhibits, and a gift shop. Located next to the Exhibition Coal Mine is the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia, which features a range of railroad-related presentations.
513 Ewart Ave, Beckley, WV 25801, Phone: 304-256-1747
2.Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park
Situated on a small island in the Ohio River, Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park is a unique state park that features beautifully manicured grounds and a replica of a Palladian Mansion once owned by Harman Blennerhassett, which is now a museum. Built on the foundations of the original mansion, which burned to the ground decades ago, the Blennerhasset mansion resembles George Washington's Palladian-style Mount Vernon. Accessed by a traditional sternwheeler riverboat from Point Park, the island and mansion-museum can be explored on guided tours, and horse-drawn carriage rides when the park is open from May through the last weekend of October. The park also has picnic shelters, bicycle rentals, hiking trails, and a gift shop.
137 Juliana Street, Parkersburg, WV 26101, Phone: 304-420-4800
3.Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park
Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park, also known as Burning Rock Off-Road Park, is a family-friendly adventure park that offers a variety of outdoor activities. Located a few miles from the town of Sophia, the park is set on 10,000 acres of untamed landscapes that feature over 100 miles of off-road trails for dirt bikes, Jeeps, 4x4s, and ATVs. Trails range from family-friendly and novice tracks to adventurous trails for professional off-roaders. Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park also features a campground with RV and tent sites, glamping and platform tents, rustic overnight cabins, a pavilion, restrooms facilities, a general store, and an ATV wash rack.
171 Burning Rock Drive, Sophia, WV 25921, Phone: 304-683-9242
4.Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
The Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in Cass, Pocahontas County, is home to the 11-mile-long Cass Scenic Railroad, which takes people on a journey back in time to the steam-driven locomotive era. The heritage railroad features a logging locomotive with converted log cars and travels on a standard gauge track laid by immigrant workers in 1901 and traverses the steep Back Allegheny Mountain on three different tours beginning and ending at Whittaker Station. Other attractions in the park include refurbished former railroad company houses, the Company Store and gift shop, and the Last Run Restaurant and Soda Fountain. The Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is one of the only authentic operating museums of lumber railroading in the country.
242 Main St, Cass, WV 24927, Phone: 304-456-4300
5.Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia
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The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston celebrates and promotes the performing arts, visual arts, and the sciences. The 240,000square-foot facility features the Avampato Discovery Museum, the Juliet Art Museum, and the Maier Foundation Performance Hall, which the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra calls home. Established to inspire creativity, curiosity, and learning through unique arts, crafts, and science-based experiences, the Center’s Juliet Art Museum features an incredible permanent collection and traveling exhibits from artists around the world. The Avampato Discovery Museum offers three floors of interactive, hands-on FUN for the whole family, and state-of-the-art Caperton Planetarium and ElectricSky™ Theater takes visitors to the stars.
1 Clay Square, Charleston, WV 25301, Phone: 304-561-3570
6.Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park
Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park is located on Droop Mountain in Pocahontas County, which was the site of the last major battle of the American Civil War in West Virginia. The Battle of Droop Mountain occurred in 1863 and saw Confederate Forces losing the state to Union troops. The 276-acre park honors the casualties of the battle and features a wooden observation tower and a small Civil War museum with exhibits and displays telling the story of the fight. The park also features family-friendly hiking trails, guided tours of the battlefield site, and other exciting and educational experiences.
683 Droop Park Road, Hillsboro, WV 24946, Phone: 304-653-4254
ExploreWV GeoChallenge offers various Geocaching trails and challenges throughout West Virginia. Geocaching is a world-renowned game that combines outdoor recreation and location-based technology. Gamers use GPS-enabled devices and the Geocaching® app to find hidden containers called geocaches. Organized by the WV Division of Tourism, the WV Department of Education and the Arts, and the WV Division of Culture and History, ExploreWV GeoChallenge offers a fantastic way to see the state’s top historical sites, museums, Main Streets, and tourist spots. Geocachers receive documentation about the challenge through an official ExploreWV Playbook before using clues to find the hidden cache.
8.Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
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Nestled at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet, the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is a vast protected area that spreads from the Shenandoah Valley in Jefferson County to Washington, Maryland, and Loudoun Counties in Virginia. Based in and around Harpers Ferry, the national historical park spans 3.5 square miles and is famous for being the place that abolitionist John Brown raided in 1859, expediating the American Civil War. The fort as which the raid took place can be explored in the quaint town of Harpers Ferry, which is part of the National Historical Park and boasts beautifully preserved 19th-century buildings and a Civil War Museum. Visitors can also soak up scenic views where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, and the Appalachian Trail Visitor Center features exhibits on the world-renowned long-distance hiking trail.
171 Shoreline Dr, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
9.Hinton Railroad Museum
The Hinton Railroad Museum in Hinton celebrates the history of the area’s railroad and boasts an array of fascinating exhibits relating to railroading. Established to preserve the history of the railroad and teach visitors more about one of the most critical developments in the nation, the museum has an informative collection of railroad memorabilia. Displays include artifacts from the early days of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, uniforms, model trains, equipment, and tools that were used during the time of the ‘Steel Drivin' Man,’ John Henry, and a John Henry Woodcarving exhibit with works by a local artist.
206 Temple St, Hinton, WV 25951, Phone: 304-466-6100
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10.Hovatters Wildlife Zoo (West Virginia Zoo)
Hovatter's Wildlife Zoo, also known as the West Virginia Zoo, is a zoo in Kingwood that is home to over 30 different species of native and exotic animals from all over the world. Open seasonally from April to October, and on weekends in November, the zoo is home to a variety of animals, including cougars, black bears, deer, baboons, and tigers, among others. The Hungry Bear Café serves a selection of light fare and drinks; a pavilion can be rented for special events and private functions.
291 Wagner Ln, Kingwood, WV 26537, Phone: 304-329-3122
11.John Brown Wax Museum
© John Brown Wax Museum
The John Brown Wax Museum tells the story of abolitionist John Brown and his raid on Harpers Ferry. Established in 1961 and based in a building on High Street that dates back to the time of John Brown’s attack, the unique wax figure museum documents the story of John Brown and his hatred of slavery and features 87 stark, haunting life-size figures, dioramas and displays of his violent exploits and surprise attack on the federal armory. Audiovisual and animated presentations depict scenes from his daring raid on the quaint riverside town and his ultimate demise. Visitors are taken back to 1859 with re-enactments by National Park Service guides who wear period clothing and do craft demonstrations.
168 High St, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, Phone: 304-535-6342
12.Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum
The Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Wheeling is home to a fantastic collection of classic toys and operating model trains. The nostalgic spot has several rooms with different exhibits such as a miniature room filled with tiny toys; a transport room with all types of transport toys such as trains, cars, boats and planes; a doll room with dollhouses, baby dolls, and Barbie dolls; a games room with board games, and pinball-type games; and train room with all kinds of toy trains and operating model trains. The museum also offers guided tours, and a unique gift shop selling all sorts of vintage toys and other childhood memorabilia.
144 Kruger St, Wheeling, WV 26003, Phone: 877-242-8133
13.Lost World Caverns
Located just outside Lewisburg, Lost World Caverns is an underground natural series of caverns that features a vast and magical wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites. The caves were discovered in 1942 boast spectacular terraced pedestal-like stalagmites, dome pits, curtains, flowstone, rimstone, and waterfalls. The designated National Natural Landmark caverns can be explored on self-guided tours that descend 120 feet below the Earth’s surface into a magical underground world of geological formations and follow paths with interpretive signs that explain the structure and the history of the caves.
907 Lost World Rd, Lewisburg, WV 24901, Phone: 304-645-6677
14.Museum of Radio and Technology
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The Museum of Radio and Technology documents the development of electronic communication and entertainment. Located near the western end of Ritter Park in Huntington, the 10,000 square foot museum is the largest antique radio museum in the country and features a collection of over 400 radios dating from 1924 through 1970, telegraph items, windup phonographs, military radios, and early televisions. Unique items include an A.C. Gilbert toy display, a World's Fair TV camera, and a William Wrigley (chewing gum maker) radio. A section of the museum is dedicated to the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame and celebrates the people who were involved in the development of radio broadcasting.
1640 Florence Ave, Huntington, WV 25701, Phone: 304-525-8890
15.Oglebay Good Zoo
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The Oglebay Good Zoo is an accredited animal sanctuary that is home to more than 50 species of animals, 20 of which are rare or endangered. Established to honor the late Philip Mayer Good, the Good Zoo features a variety of habitats and exhibits, ranging from the Outback Exhibit and Lorikeet Landing to the Wonders of the Wetlands, and the iconic red barn which houses friendly, domestic animals such as donkeys, goats, and llamas. Visitors can explore the zoo grounds on an enjoyable 1.5-mile journey on the historic C.P. Huntington Train.
345 Zoo Cir, Wheeling, WV 26003, Phone: 304-243-4100
16.Oil and Gas Museum
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The Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg is a nationally recognized multi-site museum that documents the history of the oil and gas industry in the Appalachian Basin and the impact of wealth from oil for the state of West Virginia. The museum focuses on the Appalachian Basin, which is the largest reserve of oil and gas in the world and features a growing collection of gas and oil-related artifacts, exhibits showcasing the growth of the industry, and some Civil War memorabilia relating to the region. The museum also explores the ever-changing oil and gas business, national policy, the influence of technology, and the impact on international relations from geopolitical changes.
119 3rd St, Parkersburg, WV 26101, Phone: 304-485-5446
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Prickett's Fort State Park is a 188-acre state park north of Fairmont that commemorates life on the Virginia frontier during the late 18th century through a living history style of interpretation. Located near the confluence of Prickett's Creek and the Monongahela River, the park aims to preserve, document, and exhibit the past and features a recreation of the original 18th century Pricketts Fort, which was famous for providing a place of refuge from Native American attack. Other attractions in the park include the original 19th century Job Prickett House, the Prickett Cemetery, a modern visitor center with several exhibits, and a gift shop.
88 State Park Rd, Fairmont, WV 26554
18.River Riders Inc.
River Riders Inc. is an outdoor adventure company that offers a variety of adventure sports on the beautiful Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers such as white-water rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle-boarding, canopy tour and zip-lining, mountain biking and fishing adventures. The company also offers land-based activities such as aerial forest adventures, canopy tour/zip-lining, hiking, mountain biking, and camping, and professional, personable guides conduct all trips. Overnight accommodation available in the form of tent and RV camping, waterfront cabins, vacation rental homes, and several bed-and-breakfast-style inns.
408 Alstadts Hill Road, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, Phone: 304-535-2663
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19.Beech Fork State Park
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Nestled in the hills of southwestern West Virginia, Beech Fork State Park is a state park on the tailwater shores of Beech Fork Lake in Cabell and Wayne Counties. The 3,144-acre park offers an array of outdoor and recreational activities from water-based fun on the 720-acre lake such as boating, fishing, swimming, canoeing, and kayaking to camping, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and wildlife watching. Other facilities include a boat launch, four campgrounds, an Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts, volleyball courts, softball fields, picnic areas, paddleboat, and canoe rentals, and a 100-yard rifle and pistol range.
5601 Long Branch Rd, Barboursville, WV 25504, Phone: 304-528-5794
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20.Berkeley Springs State Park
Based in the center of Berkeley Springs, Berkeley Springs State Park is a 3,144-acre park that is set on land that has been used as a health resort since the late 1700s. The park is best known for its historic Roman bathhouse, which is built in the Federal style and offers visitors an opportunity to soak in the medicinal and therapeutic waters that are at a constant temperature of 74.3 degrees. The Museum of the Berkeley Springs can be found on the second floor of the bathhouse and exhibits various historical items of natural and cultural significance to the springs and town. The town of Berkeley Springs is home to charming shops, restaurants, cafés, and boutique stores, as well as a range of accommodation from hotels to self-catering guesthouses.
2 S Washington St, Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
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21.Bluestone State Park
Bluestone State Park is a 2,154-acre park located along the western shore of Bluestone Lake in Summers County. The lakeside retreat is nestled along the shores of the state’s third-largest body of water just five miles south of Hinton and offers a variety of outdoor and recreational activities from water-based fun on the lake such as boating, tubing, fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking and whitewater rafting to camping, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and picnicking. Facilities in the park include a marina and boat launching site, a swimming pool, canoe, and kayak rentals and a picnic pavilion that can be rented out for special celebrations from mid-April through November.
78 HC, Hinton, WV 25951, Phone: 304-466-2805
22.Three Rivers Avian Center
Three Rivers Avian Center (TRAC) is dedicated to wild bird conservation and teaching the public about the importance of maintaining and preserving the ecosystem. Founded in 1990, the 100-acre facility is situated between Sandstone and Hinton in Summers County along the southern part of the New River Gorge National River. The avian center rescues, rehabilitates, and releases back into the wild a variety of non-game and endangered wild birds from hummingbirds to eagles, soaring, and wading birds. If birds cannot be released into the wild after rehabilitation, they are cared for at the center. Three Rivers Avian Center is open seasonally on the first Saturday of every month from May through October and offers free tours for visitors by appointment only.
Brooks Mountain Rd, Brooks, WV 25951, Phone: 304-466-4683
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23.Coopers Rock State Forest
Situated along the edge of Cheat Lake and the steep canyons of the Cheat River, Coopers Rock State Forest is a 12,747-acre state forest in the Monongalia and Preston counties that offers a variety of outdoor recreation. Located 13 miles from Morgantown, the wood is home to numerous hiking trails, historical sites, and rock-climbing sites among the forest’s enormous boulders and cliffs. The Cheat River provides some of the best whitewater rafting rivers in the eastern United States, and other facilities include camping, mountain biking, fishing, geocaching, and seasonal hunting.
61 County Line Dr, Bruceton Mills, WV 26525
24.Holly River State Park
Situated on the Left Fork of the Holly River in the Mountain Lakes region, Holly River State Park is an 8,294-acre park, most of which is made up of dense forests. The park is surrounded by densely forested mountains and not only offers spectacular natural scenery, but also provides a wealth of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and camping. The second-largest in the West Virginia state park system, Holly River State Park features picnic shelters and corrals for campers with horses, and the park is home to a wide range of fauna and flora, including ferns and wildflowers.
680 State Park Road, Hacker Valley, WV 26222, Phone: 304-493-6353
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25.Blenko Glass Factory Tours
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The Blenko Glass Company is famous for its magnificent handblown glassware. The two-floor factory has a visitor center, a museum, and a Designer's corner. The center’s first floor features a factory outlet area where visitors can see examples of the skilled craftsman's art, and the second floor has a Designer's corner, which boasts nine leading American stained-glass studios on display. Blenko Glass Company has a museum that exhibits some of the most beautiful glassware pieces, ranging from original Williamsburg® stemware, U.S. Capitol lighting globes, Presidential Gifts, and a Country Music Award trophy. Visitors can explore the factory on guided factory tours and observe the various steps in handcrafting glass from a special observation deck.
9 Bill Blenko Dr, Milton, WV 25541, Phone: 304-743-9081
25 Best Things to Do in West Virginia with Kids
- Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum, Photo: eunikas/stock.adobe.com
- Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park, Photo: virgonira/stock.adobe.com
- Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park, Photo: Nomad_Soul/stock.adobe.com
- Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Photo: abemos/stock.adobe.com
- Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia, Photo: peter kirchhoff and EyeEm/stock.adobe.com
- Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, Photo: Genevieve/stock.adobe.com
- ExploreWV GeoChallenge, Photo: creatix0470/stock.adobe.com
- Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Hinton Railroad Museum, Photo: spyrakot/stock.adobe.com
- Hovatters Wildlife Zoo (West Virginia Zoo), Photo: Wirestock/stock.adobe.com
- John Brown Wax Museum, Photo: John Brown Wax Museum
- Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum, Photo: Jay/stock.adobe.com
- Lost World Caverns, Photo: Giulio/stock.adobe.com
- Museum of Radio and Technology, Photo: Dieter Hawlan/stock.adobe.com
- Oglebay Good Zoo, Photo: susan flashman/stock.adobe.com
- Oil and Gas Museum, Photo: Victor Moussa/stock.adobe.com
- Prickett's Fort, Photo: arbalest/stock.adobe.com
- River Riders Inc., Photo: DZiegler/stock.adobe.com
- Beech Fork State Park, Photo: Robert Kneschke/stock.adobe.com
- Berkeley Springs State Park, Photo: Natt/stock.adobe.com
- Bluestone State Park, Photo: dobok/stock.adobe.com
- Three Rivers Avian Center, Photo: Michael/stock.adobe.com
- Coopers Rock State Forest, Photo: steheap/stock.adobe.com
- Holly River State Park, Photo: Rob/stock.adobe.com
- Blenko Glass Factory Tours, Photo: Karen Perhus/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Jim Vallee/stock.adobe.com