2021 West Virginia Visitors Guide
The scenic mountains and rivers of West Virginia lure scores of tourists. The Monongahela National Forest covers 909,000 acres in the Allegheny Mountains—its saturated beauty attracts adventurers. Outdoor enthusiasts conquer ski slopes, rock climb, hike, bike or experience river sports. In Southern West Virginia on the flats of the Ohio River Valley sits the state capital, Charleston, home of the gold-domed Capitol State Building. In the Eastern Panhandle at the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah river is the popular historic town of Harpers Ferry. The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park features a site that figured significantly in both African American history and the history of the Civil War. For outdoor enthusiasts, Northern West Virginia has the outstanding North Bend Rail Trail with 72 scenic miles of trails dotted with bridges and tunnels. The John Henry Museum in Morgantown reveals the life and times of one of America’s most recognized folk heroes, the steel-driving man, John Henry.
Northern West Virginia
Bordered by the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania to the north, Virginia on its eastern edges and marked by distinctive geography shaped by the Appalachian Mountain Range, Northern West Virginia is replete with recreation and leisure. Outdoor adventures in unspoiled nature await at every corner, including mountain biking, hiking, sport fishing and hunting in the mountain, lakes and river regions of the north. On its southeastern boundary lies Monongahela National Forest, a year-round draw for its ample recreational and back-country opportunities.
Encompassing a range of small towns and larger urban centers, including the northern panhandle hub of Wheeling, the valley river city of Parkersburg and the quaint city of Morgantown, the region offers historical and modern influences reflective of the state’s colorful coal mining, logging, and musical heritage. History buffs of all ages will be delighted to uncover local heritage at historic sites, interpretive centers, and museums. Mountain culture, Victorian influences and small-town Americana create an eclectic mix of experiences to please all the senses, whether it’s exploring one of the region’s artisan glass studios, immersing in nature on the North Bend Trail, sampling local and international delicacies at a charming eatery or taking in pure Appalachian sounds at a jamboree event. The state’s capital and largest city, Charleston, sits in Southern West Virginia and is an ideal urban diversion from the relaxed and rural pursuits of the north.
Southern West Virginia
Strong ties to coal mining, picturesque rural countryside, and distinctive Southern culture exemplifies the Southern West Virginia region of the state of West Virginia, a geographically diverse area sitting on the borders of Kentucky and Virginia in the heart of Appalachia. All-season recreation and a mix of adventure and relaxation are available to visitors, who can explore impressive waterways on an adrenaline-filled rafting tour or uncover local heritage at unique historic sites and museums.
The city of Beckley, considered the gateway to the region, is a major transportation, cultural and economic hub. Visitors flock here for two renowned attractions: the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine & Youth Museum and the Tamarack, Best of West Virginia, a cultural complex showcasing art, crafts and food representing the mountain state. Flowing through the impressive gorges and valleys running between Fayetteville and Hinton, the New River Gorge National River is a state treasure and home of the world’s longest steel span arch bridge. Winter visitors will appreciate the wonders that await at Winterplace Ski Resort in Flat Top, located midway between Beckley and the quaint town of Princeton.
Charleston, WV Visitors Guide
With its big-city attractions and small-town atmosphere, Charleston offers the amenities of a state capitol just minutes away from the outdoor river and mountain adventures. The grounds of the Capitol Complex along the banks of the Kanawha River make for a scenic stroll, with the famed West Virginia Capitol Building open for guided tours from Monday to Friday. Head to the city’s glass art studios to see examples of the world-renowned West Virginia glass industry. In the evening, theaters such as the West Virginia Cultural Center present live entertainment by local and touring performers. Charleston also makes a good base for exploring the wilds of West Virginia, with numerous opportunities for outdoor sports enthusiasts including whitewater rafting and downhill skiing. Befitting a state capital, a wide variety of accommodation is available for visitors from budget motels to all-suite hotels.
Morgantown, WV Visitors Guide
Situated a mere 10 mi (16 km) from the West Virginia-Pennsylvania border, Morgantown is central to a number of attractions in Northern West Virginia. Home to West Virginia University and found along the Monongahela River, Morgantown is able to support year-round activities for a gamut of interests, including sport, theater and outdoor adventures. From the late 1800s into the early 1980s, this area supported a thriving glass-making industry, which continues to be visible today at the Morgantown Glass Museum, the historic Seneca Center (one of 14 former glass factories in the area) and the Riverfront Museum. Green spaces are found at the Coopers Rock State Forest, the Core Arboretum, Cheat Lake and at dozens of parks and golf courses. Morgantown’s location is also ideal for sightseeing drives, especially during the fall when the foliage decorates the area in a multitude of colors.