West Virginia is famous for its scenic mountain ranges, outdoor recreation options, and being home to some of the nicest people in the country. The state of West Virginia has nearly 2 million people and is known as the Mountain State. It is located in the eastern portion of the United States. It is also the only state entirely within the area served by the Appalachian Regional Commission. If you enjoy the outdoors and things like fishing, rafting or hiking then you might want to spend a vacation or two here. If you’re looking to beat the crowds and experience a uniquely American destination make sure to add these great places to visit in West Virginia to your bucket list.
10 Best Places To Visit In West Virginia
1. New River Gorge
The New River provides many outdoor opportunities in West Virginia and the New River bridge is an iconic site in the state. It is really the postcard image that represents what the countryside here looks like.
The bridge is located close to the city of Fayetteville and is the longest steel span bridge in the hemisphere. It stands 876 feet above the ground.
The national park service maintains nearly 70,000 acres of parks along the river. There are a lot of fun activities to do depending on what you’re interested in.
White water rafting, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and camping are all very popular in this area and the mountain views just being on the river are incredible. You’ll find many state parks along the new river that you can visit and a good starting point would be the new river bridge.
2. Seneca Caverns
The scenery in West Virginia is amazing. The mountains seem to touch the sky and the countryside on the ground is very inviting and welcoming. But there’s a whole other aspect of natural beauty just below the ground.
Underneath the famous Seneca Rocks, there are the Seneca Caverns. These caverns are believed to be almost 500 million years old.
They’re 1-hour guided tour available that will bring you 165 feet below the ground through a winding trail deep into the caves where you can explore all the different chambers. The heights of the ceilings vary as you go through and get as high as 60 feet tall.
As long as you’re not claustrophobic, Seneca Caverns is a great place to visit and see.
3. West Virginia Penitentiary
West Virginia Penitentiary was opened in 1876 and was in use until 1995. It was one of the most violent prisons to have ever existed. Holding over 1,000 prisoners at a time, it was the site of fires, escapes riots, and almost 100 executions.
The conditions there were considered inhumane and prisoners spent up to 23 hours per day in a 5×7 foot cell. Today, the facility is used by local law enforcement for training and is available to tour for enthusiasts who are interested in it.
During the tour, you’ll see notable sites like the original electric chair, cells, mess hall and various blocks that house the inmates. The penitentiary is noted for having a lot of paranormal activity and is also the site of many investigations.
Whether you are looking for something extremely unique or are interested in the history of the facility this is a very interesting attraction in West Virginia that you won’t find in every other state.
4. Seneca Rocks
One of the most scenic spots in West Virginia is Seneca Rocks. Located in Pendleton county, it’s also one of the most well-known and visited spots for outdoor enthusiasts looking to go hike and rock climb.
The rock formations stand 900 feet above the North Fork river and they look amazing from the ground. The view from the top is equally as impressive if you can make it.
There are over 375 different rock climbing paths that cater to different skill levels. It’s about a 3-mile hike that will bring you to an observation deck that overlooks the valley and mountains below it and is perfect for taking pictures.
At this point, you have the choice of heading back down or continuing up the rocks at your own risk. Seneca Rocks is a famous tourist spot, so expect a lot of people there when you visit.
5. West Virginia State Museum
If you want to experience West Virginia of the past and how it transformed into a modern-day state, the West Virginia State Museum is the place for you. Located in downtown Charleston, this is the place to learn about the state’s culture, history, art, geology, and archaeology.
There are more than 60,000 artifacts documenting the start and progress of all things related to West Virginia. Exhibits showcase the advancements and achievements made here and include everyday items along with one-of-a-kind artifacts like a telescope used by George Washington that was used to survey land in the state.
There are items that you won’t see anywhere else and all have contributed to the history of the state. There is no better way to learn about history than spending a few hours looking around here.
It was named Best Gallery Or Museum In West Virginia By American Art Awards in 2018. State museum is among the most visited places to visit in West Virginia from the list.
6. West Virginia State Capitol
The capitol building is one of the most impressive sites you will see in Charleston. The 293-foot golden dome sits five feet higher than the US capital building in Washington DC.
With construction ending in 1932, it took more than 700 train carloads of Indiana limestone and white marble from Vermont to construct much of the interior. It reflects the classic Greek and Roman architecture that was the standard for the early part of the century and is really something special to see.
The capitol building is open to the public to tour and walk the halls and seeing the architecture. There is magnificient 4,000-pound chandelier in the rotunda. When you are finished inside then the park-like grounds offer great views of the city, the river and also have war memorials to check out.
7. Babcock State Park
Babcock state park is located along the new river gorge in Fayette county just about 20 miles from the new river bridge. The park has 4120 acres and is made up of rugged natural beauty.
The Glade Creek Gristmill is the main attraction here and is heavily photographed. It is how many know and identify Babcock. There are numerous cabins that you can rent along with campsites that make staying here a nice option.
There is a lake for great fishing and plenty of hiking trails to utilize. This place is for those who really enjoy being somewhere quiet in the woods with access to a river.
8. Cass Scenic Railroad
Cass Scenic Railroad state park offers train rides that will take you back in time to relive an era where steam-driven locomotives were a common sight in West Virginia.
Departing from Cass depot, the rides are full of narrated stories and history as well as great views of the countryside as you go through the mountains and valleys. You can take a 2-hour round trip to Whitaker station, a 5-hour round trip to Bald Knob or another 5-hour round trip to Spruce, a ghost town.
Operational from May through October, this is the perfect summer destination. The weather will be great, the mountains will be green and the views will be nice and clear.
It doesn’t matter if you love Locomotives or just want to see the countryside, this place will never disappoint you.
As the name suggests, summer is the best time to visit this small town located in Nicholas County. The town has a beautiful lake and is a perfect place to take day trips from.
This Central West Virginia town has a picturesque downtown area and is a must-visit town for nature lovers. The town offers you a lot of fun activities. White river rafting, scuba diving, boating, and fishing are some of the activities that Summersville offers.
If you love swimming, Summersville Dam is the place for you. A potato festival is held every year in Summersville. You can also visit Mystery Hole (a 30-minute drive) and feast your eyes with displays that defy gravity.
10. Harper’s Ferry
If you only had time to visit one town in West Virginia and wanted to get a feel for all that West Virginia is Harper’s Ferry would be a great choice. It is located only an hour and a half from cities like Baltimore. It is just across the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers from Maryland.
It’s a picturesque little town of just over 200 people and is full of civil war history and outdoor recreation. Being close to the rivers there are tons of outdoor activities available like kayaking, paddle boarding and white water rafting.
If hiking is your thing you’ll be happy to know that there are 22 miles of trails. Throughout the town, there are historic parks and battlefields. There is a civil war museum that tells us about the role it played and what happened in the area.
Just looking at Harper’s Ferry, you can tell that it’s got a story and it encompasses just about everything that West Virginia is known for whether it’s the outdoor recreation or its history you’ll be happy that you discovered this little town.
Alright everybody that was our list of best places to visit in West Virginia. If you enjoyed reading this blog, please share this article with your friends who are planning to visit West Virginia. Feel free to read other articles on our website. Happy Travelling!!