Top 5 Places to Visit in West Virginia

West Virginia is sometimes called the “Mountain State” because it’s the only state in the USA completely on top of a mountain range. Located atop the mighty Appalachian Mountains, West Virginia is a perfect tourist destination for anyone interested in hiking, nature, and Southern hospitality. Interestingly, it wasn’t until 1863 that West Virginia was founded as a separate state from now neighboring Virginia. Residents of West Virginia were staunchly opposed to the Confederacy and split from Virginia in order to become a part of the Northern Union.

If you are planning on visiting this fantastic state, then you’d best take a quick peek at our list of the top five places to visit in West Virginia. Whether you’re into mountaineering, sports, or history, you’ll certainly find someplace on this list to satisfy all your desires.

Top 5 Places To Visit In West Virginia

1. Charleston

Charleston, West Virginia

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The capital city of Charleston is an obvious pick for our list of the best places to visit in West Virginia. As you walk down the historic Capitol Street, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported into 1950s America. Take awhile to admire the well-preserved buildings, novelty shops, and ice cream vendors. History buffs will really love a tour in the city’s Capitol building with its famously large dome.

For more information on West Virginia’s history and culture, take a tour of the West Virginia State Museum and admire the various statues of major figures dotted around the city. Anyone interested in nature can easily take a trip to the nearby Kanawha Forest or drive down the Midland Trail, both of which offer some of the best scenic views in all of West Virginia.

So, whether you’re into history, nature, or both, you owe it to yourself to visit Charleston on your excursion to West Virginia.

2. Bluefield

Bluefield, West Virginia

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Another one of the places to visit in West Virginia is the city of Bluefield. Located some 2,655 feet above sea level, Bluefield earns the distinction of being the highest elevation city in the highest elevation American state. Most people visit Bluefield to take a hike up to the summit of East River Mountain. The overlook at the top of East River Mountain gives visitors a tremendous view of the area.

People interested in this state’s long coal mining heritage can take a trip to the Eastern Regional Coal Archives or the nearby National Coal Heritage Area to learn more about this extremely important West Virginian industry. As you drive around the center of Bluefield, be sure to take in all the architecture here, some of which dates back to the 1920s.

Film fanatics may already know that this city was home to John Forbes Nash Jr., the inspiration for the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. Unfortunately, the town doesn’t have any specific tourist draws for A Beautiful Mind yet, but there are rumors that locals are attempting to convert Nash’s boyhood home into a museum.

3. Harpers Ferry

Panoramic view of Harpers Ferry

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The historic Harpers Ferry area is in the northern Shenandoah Valley area of West Virginia. The main reason travelers come to Harpers Ferry is to visit the National Historic Park. Here you’ll learn all about the 1859 battle between abolitionist John Brown and General Robert E. Lee, a battle which many historians consider a pivotal moment in Antebellum American history.

Anyone not interested in history could sign up for a spot on one of the many river raft and/or ziplining tours all around Harpers Ferry. There are also a few scenic trails around Harpers Ferry like the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Armory Canal Trail. A trip to the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is definitely one of the top places to visit in West Virginia for history buffs.

4. Morgantown

Morgantown, West Virginia

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Believe it or not, Morgantown takes the top spot on TripAdvisor’s list of the best places to visit in West Virginia. Not only is Morgantown praised by TripAdvisor users, many business leaders consider Morgantown to be the best small city in the entire USA. Well known as the home of West Virginia University, Morgantown has tons of museums to explore.

A few of the main museums located here include the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum, the Monongalia Arts Center, the Morgantown Glass Museum, and the Cook-Hayman Pharmacy Museum.

Nature lovers should start off their tour of Morgantown with a visit to West Virginia University’s Core Arboretum and walk along its 3.5-mile trail. You can then climb up to the top of Dorsey’s Knob to get some spectacular views of Rolling Hills.

While you’re in town, try to get a few tickets either to a West Virginia Mountaineers game or a live performance at one of the many public theaters.
There are many reasons why Morgantown is often considered one of the best places to visit in West Virginia. However, the only way you’ll truly know why so many people love it here is to visit Morgantown for yourself.

5. New River Gorge

New River Gorge, East Virginia

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Travelers who are only interested in hiking, rafting, and climbing in West Virginia should visit New River Gorge National Park. This 70,000-acre park has plenty of activities for the nature enthusiast in all of us. You can rock climb, go whitewater river rafting, hike, or go on a guided tour of this pristine natural area.

Even if you don’t feel like spending more than a day here, you could take one of many suggested scenic drives around the park. Just take a peek at the park’s website online, or, better yet, talk with one of the park ranger’s at New River Gorge’s main office. Anybody with even one iota of appreciation for nature really should visit New River Gorge National Park while in the “Mountain State.”

Summing Up

While there are many more cities and parks to explore in this rugged state, the five places to visit in West Virginia listed above are well worth your consideration. All of these destinations are extremely popular and full of some of the best natural and historical tourist draws in the state. So, the next time you’re headed down to wonderful West Virginia, keep our list in mind. You won’t be disappointed.