The Mountain State of West Virginia is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts who come here for the mountains, forests and the outdoor recreation opportunities the state is famous for. But West Virginia has a rich history too, with museums, Civil War sites, and historic mansions to explore. Whatever you want from your family vacation, you’re sure to find it in West Virginia.
Whether you’re into hiking, biking or rock climbing, West Virginia is perfect for those who have a little bit of adventure in their soul. Its beautiful scenery and outdoor pursuits mean you can camp under the stars, or hike to the top of mountains. It’s a great place to be at one with nature and take the kids fishing or camping, but it also boasts its fair share of fascinating history, cultural attractions and museums too. There’s something for everyone on West Virginia vacations.
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park – This is West Virginia’s most popular tourist destination. A major Civil War site, where John Brown’s abolitionist uprising took place in 1859, today you can step back in time at this historic community. With trades workshops, exhibits, museums and battlefields, there’s plenty for the whole family to see.
Seneca Rocks – If it’s outdoor adventure you’re seeking then this is the Holy Grail for rock climbing enthusiasts. One of the state’s best known scenic attractions, this large crag has 375 major mapped climbing routes of varying degrees of difficulty. Don’t worry if you’re a newbie or inexperienced - there are two climbing schools offering training and guide services.
Avampato Discovery Museum, Charleston – No West Virginia vacation is complete without a trip to this science museum, packed with interactive exhibits and a planetarium that the kids will love.
1. Charleston – The state capital is a great place to spend a few days or a longer vacation with the family. While you’re here, check out the state capitol building, the largest in the United States, visit the Avampato Discovery Museum, or go hiking or mountain biking in Kanawha State Forest. Just outside the city you’ll find the Carriage Trail leading to former Governor William MacCorkle’s mansion.
2. New River Gorge – The New River Gorge National Park covers over 70,000 acres and is a premier destination for whitewater rafting. Here you’ll find the Appalachian Mountain forests, spot endangered Virginia big-eared bats, and enjoy rock climbing, canoeing and fishing as well as miles of hiking trails for all abilities.
3. Allegheny Mountains – Part of the Appalachian Mountain Range, the Allegheny Mountains rise to around 4,862 feet and are home to the Monongahela National Forest. The highest mountain peaks in the state are here, the highest of which is Spruce Knob at 4,863 feet. You’ll find a 25-acre lake for trout fishing, campgrounds, picnic areas, and 825 miles of trails for hiking and biking. There’s also the opportunity to spot black bears, white-tailed deer, and coyotes.
Spring is one of the best times to come to West Virginia, as the weather is warm and there are fewer crowds than during the summer months. Summers here are pleasant, with average temperatures of around 84°F in July, the hottest month. Night time temperatures in July rarely drop below 63°F but tourist attractions can be busy at this time of year. If you’re planning on vacationing here in the winter months, be aware that it’s ski and winter sports season and a popular time of year, so hotels tend to book up fast.
You’ll need a car if you want to see the best of what West Virginia has to offer, and car rental is available at most airports and in the major cities as well as some more rural locations. West Virginia has three main interstates: I-79 which runs from Charleston to Pennsylvania, I-69 crossing the lower third of West Virginia, and I-77 which runs up the state’s west side from Virginia, through Charleston and into Ohio.