West Virginia is more than a neighbor, bound by geography. West Virginians are fiercely proud of their state’s natural resources, the basis of some of the best outdoor adventures around, from rock climbing, to fishing, to whitewater rafting.
It’s one of a few states that received a tourism boost from a pop song. The late John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which describes West Virginia as “almost heaven,” became an unofficial anthem, even showing up on the state’s license plates.
West Virginia is home to Snowshoe Mountain Resort, 10 Snowshoe Drive, Snowshoe (snowshoemtn.com), which attracts skiers from all over the world, and the historic Greenbrier Hotel, 101 W Main Street, White Sulphur Springs (greenbrier.com), which has welcomed American presidents and other guests since 1778.
Located in Cacapon State Park, Berkeley Springs (berkleysprings.com) is home to one of the country’s first spas.
In November and December, people from across the country travel to West Virginia to see the Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights at the Oglebay Resort (oglebay.com) in Wheeling, a tour featuring one of the largest Christmas lighting displays in the world. The tour is free, but be warned—visitors can expect to wait up to two hours. Donations are appreciated.
Minden is home to the Mountain Music Festival (mountainmusicfestwv.com), May 30 through June 2, located at the ACE Adventure Resort (aceraft.com) in the Appalachian Mountains. The festival features 25 bands and offers camping, workshops, crafts, food and more.
West Virginia is home to the New River Gorge National Park (nps.gov/neri/index.htm), where you’ll find the longest steel span bridge in the western hemisphere. Built in 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge is featured on the state’s official quarter. In 2013, the engineering marvel was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
For history buffs, West Virginia has plenty to keep you busy. The state, which broke off from Virginia during the Civil War in support of the union, is home to Harpers Ferry (historicharpersferry.com), where a bloody clash between federal troops and abolitionist John Brown helped spark the Civil War.
The Battle of Blair Mount in Logan County was the site of one of the nation’s largest labor strikes ever, involving 10,000 coal miners in the 1920s.
Some of West Virginia’s most famous residents are the Hatfields, a family whose decades-long feud with the McCoys of Kentucky, is now the stuff of legend.