The Best Things to Do in West Virginia

The 25 Best Things to Do in West Virginia

West Virginia is a scenic state in all seasons – where country roads, densely-forested wilderness areas, and charming small towns offer the perfect blend of sublime scenery and centuries-old Appalachian history. It’s truly one of the most underrated states in the US, embodying the “Almost Heaven” John Denver described in his American classic “Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

Not only is West Virginia home to America’s newest national park, but adventure can be found around every corner of the Mountain State. It’s a playground for outdoor adventures, from adrenaline-filled whitewater rafting excursions to scenic hiking trails and world-class ski slopes. 

It’s the only state situated entirely in the Appalachian Mountain region, which means you’ll find plenty of reasons to get outside. But it’s also home to fascinating sites like The Greenbrier, a luxury hotel that’s hosted US presidents, as well as former battlefields at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.  

There are so many things to see and do in the Mountain State, whether you’re an outdoor lover, culture seeker, or history buff. To help narrow down your vacation itinerary, we’ve compiled a list of the best things to do in West Virginia for all types of travelers. 

Our West Virginia bucket list includes the best nature spots, family-friendly attractions, charming towns, and hiking trails so that you can make the most of your visit to this wild, wonderful state! 

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25 Fun and Unique Things to Do in West Virginia

1. Take a Bridge Walk Tour at New River Gorge National Park & Preserve

Best Things to do in West Virginia: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

Boasting over 70,000 acres of land, New River Gorge National Park & Preserve is a must on your West Virginia bucket list if you’re a fan of nature and epic views. It’s the country’s newest national park (established in 2021), and it encompasses the mighty New River, which carves through the Appalachian Plateau to create a striking gorge. 

One of the park’s most notable features is the large bridge that cuts right through the dense forest. It’s the Western Hemisphere’s longest steel arch, and if you’re feeling brave, you can cross it on one of the park’s guided tours. 

Cool Things to do in West Virginia: New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

It’s an adventure you won’t soon forget as you walk across the towering landmark and take in the panoramic vantage point at 876 feet over the river. Thrill seekers will love the park’s other adrenaline-filled activities on offer, which include zip lining, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. Adventures on the Gorge is an award-winning adventure and outfitter resort offering half and multi-day excursions. 

Alternatively, you can opt for a more leisurely experience at New River Gorge. Bring your rod and reel and lure in a variety of fish, or keep your eyes peeled for a variety of birdlife among the foliage. Sandstone Falls is worth the trek, cascading 15 to 25 feet around a series of islands. A fully accessible boardwalk leads to the observation decks. 

2. Explore the Charming Town of Harpers Ferry

Unique Things to do in West Virginia: Harper's Ferry

Set within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Harpers Ferry is one of the top travel destinations in West Virginia. The charming town is small, but it played a big role in the Civil War, while must-see sites here include where the Shenandoah River meets the Potomac. 

Outdoor activities like hiking and biking are popular within the park, while the historic town is dotted with top West Virginia attractions like fascinating museums and battlefields. If you want to learn more about the picturesque 19th-century town, take a guided tour of the Battle of Bolivar Heights and make sure to visit John Brown’s Fort, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

If you’re the adventure type, Harpers Ferry is home to the Appalachian Trail Visitors Center. Take a hike along the renowned trail for photogenic views of the rivers and town, then visit a local outfitter to join tubing excursions on the river. 

Some of the best views can be found along the five-mile Maryland Heights Loop, while the Loudoun Heights Trail also offers spectacular city and river views and leads to Split Rock. Add the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park to your itinerary for a chance to bike along the towpath.

3. Enjoy Canyon Overlooks at Coopers Rock State Forest

Must do Things in West Virginia: Coopers Rock State Forest

Coopers Rock State Forest is an outdoor lover’s dream, as this top-rated recreation hub near Morgantown offers a long list of activities. You can try mountain biking, rock climbing, or hiking along the popular Raven Rock Trail, then get up close to one of West Virginia’s most spectacular gorges. 

It’s one of the best places to go in West Virginia for scenic views, with the Cheat Canyon overlook being one of the biggest highlights. You can even drive up to the viewpoint to take in the scenery, which includes views of the Cheat River and Morgantown in the distance. 

Founded in 1936, this historic park also boasts more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails. You can catch a glimpse of some of the unique natural features, like sandstone cliffs and large boulders, or try your hand at cross-country skiing in the winter. 

In the summer, locals flock to Coopers Rock State Forest to enjoy its central lake for fishing, swimming, rafting, and other water sports. There are also picnic shelters for day trips and camping sites for overnight adventures available. 

4. Hike to Waterfalls at Blackwater Falls State Park

Unique Things to do in West Virginia: Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park is one of the coolest things to do in West Virginia if you love nature, as this unique park is home to a powerful waterfall with “black” waters. It’s one of the most photographed wonders in the state for a reason, while scenic hiking trails offer a full day of adventure. 

The park is named after the pristine falls that plunge into the Blackwater River. Its amber-colored waters fall five stories over cliffs from the Canaan Valley into Blackwater Canyon. What makes it unique is the naturally dark water, which is caused by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles.

To get the perfect photo souvenir, follow the park’s Blackwater Falls Boardwalk Trail and come face-to-face with this spectacular wonder. The best time to see the falls is from spring to fall, as it’s often frozen in winter. 

The park is also home to multiple hiking trails and a boating lake, as well as camping. Other popular sites in the park include Lindy Point Overlook, Elakala Falls, Pendleton Point Overlook, and the on-site nature center that offers more insight into the park’s natural history. 

5. Paddle Summersville Lake

Must do Things in West Virginia: Summersville Lake

Dubbed the “Little Bahamas of the East,” Summerville Lake is loved for its bright turquoise waters and dramatic sandstone formations. It’s the largest clear water lake in West Virginia, with 2,700 acres of water and over 60 miles of shoreline. 

The quiet town offers endless summer watersports activities, and it’s the perfect spot for fishing, boating, snorkeling, and scuba diving, while the undeveloped lake surrounded by miles of cliff line is also a prime location for lake kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. In the fall, thrill-seekers from across the globe travel to West Virginia to raft the Gauley River. 

You can spend an afternoon swimming at Battle Run, a sandy beach where you can soak up the sun, or get out on the water and explore the coves and inlets that make this natural wonder so unique. You can even paddle under the waterfall that plunges into Pirate’s Cove for a mountain water shower! 

Scuba diving is also popular due to the lake’s incredible visibility, with Sarge’s Dive Shop the top place to rent or buy equipment. If you prefer to stay dry, tackle the rock climbing at Orange Oswald or follow the Long Point Trail, which leads to a scenic overlook of the lake.

6. Try Whitewater Rafting on the Gauley River

West Virginia Things to do: Gauley River

For the ultimate outdoor adventure, test your limits on a whitewater rafting excursion on the Gauley River. It’s one of the best things to do in West Virginia if you love high-octane activities, with its Class V rapids nicknamed the “Beast of the East.”

While there are several rivers that offer world-class rapids in the state, the Gauley River is the most famous. Located between Summerville and Fayetteville, the 25-mile river carves through striking gorges and valleys at high speeds.

In fact, it’s one of the top-ranked rivers in the world, praised for its technical rapids and scenic beauty. Dropping more than 650 feet, it features over 100 rapids and includes two distinct 12-mile sections (the Upper Gauley and Lower Gauley) with peak rafting flows after Labor Day.

However, it’s best to hire an experienced guide (like the folks at River Expeditions, New and Gauley River Adventures, and Adventures on the Gorge) who know the river and can find the best places to suit your experience level. For less experienced rafters, the Tygart River, Cheat River, and Potomac River are good options, as well as the Upper New River, which is suitable for families and first-timers. 

7. Ride Vintage Locomotives on Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad

Best Things to do in West Virginia: Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Trail

Calling all train enthusiasts! Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad is one of the must-do things in West Virginia for all ages. Along with incredible scenery, you’ll get to ride in historic steam-driven locomotives and vintage diesel-powered passenger trains at this popular attraction. 

A remote destination in Pocahontas County, it offers you a glimpse of some of the most untouched natural areas in the Mountain State. You can kick back and cruise past the Monongahela National Forest and along the picturesque banks of the Greenbrier and Tygart Valley and Shaver’s Fork rivers. 

There are a number of train journeys to pick from, including the steam-driven locomotive that takes you to Bald Knob, the third-highest point in West Virginia. Savor the panoramic Appalachian vistas on this 4.5-hour round-trip excursion, or opt for the shorter two-hour route to Whittaker Station, a former logging camp, if you’re traveling with the kids. 

The Durbin Rocket is another family favorite, where you can ride in authentic 1920s-era coaches and vintage wooden cabooses to the free-flowing Greenbrier River. However, if you’re a super train fan, you’ll love the four-hour New Tygart Flyer, which offers climate-controlled passenger coaches and unspoiled mountain views as you climb along the cascading Shavers Fork of the Cheat River to the High Falls of Cheat.

8. See the Stars at Green Bank Observatory

Must do Things in West Virginia: Green Bank Observatory

West Virginia’s Green Bank Observatory is one of the few places in the world that can research wavelengths throughout outer space. It’s set in Eastern West Virginia, which is home to the largest “quiet zone” in the United States.

Thanks to the state’s low inferences and pollution, it’s the ideal location for observation and research, making this observatory an internationally recognized leader in education. While it’s known for having the ability to pick up radio transmissions from outer space, it’s also a fun spot for both adults and kids to discover more about astronomy and radio telescopes. 

You can take a guided tour of the observatory grounds and facilities for a chance to see some of the restricted areas and some of the most technologically advanced telescopes up close. They also offer educational overnight trips called “Radio Astronomer for a Day,” where science lovers can learn how to use the telescopes. 

Public tours are also available, while it’s free to take an outdoor self-guided tour of the site. The Green Bank Science Center is open year-round and contains hands-on displays in its Catching the Wave Exhibit Hall, a 150-seat auditorium, a gift shop, and an on-site cafe.

9. Join a Special Bunker Tour of the Historic Greenbrier Hotel

West Virginia Things to do: Greenbrier Hotel

If you’re looking for things to do in West Virginia, The Greenbrier is one of the most iconic hotels in the United States. Built in 1778, the lavish hotel is a National Historic Landmark set on a mineral spring, offering a special bunker tour where you can explore a declassified Cold War fallout shelter built into the mountainside. 

It’s a must-see experience that takes you behind the scenes through the resort’s history, where you can re-live American history that was once a top-secret US government relation facility for Congress. You can also learn more about this landmark, which once served as a hospital for wounded soldiers during the Civil War and World War II. 

Known as “America’s Resort,” it’s hosted the likes of US presidents, royalty, and celebrities. With this, the 5-star hotel offers a wealth of amenities. Splurge for a stay overnight to take advantage of endless luxury perks, including fine dining, a posh spa, a casino, and outdoor activities like archery, swimming, tennis, golf, and horseback riding. 

10. Travel Underground at Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

Unique Things to do in West Virginia: Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine
Images courtesy of West Virginia Department of Tourism

The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine is one of the coolest things to do in West Virginia with the kids, as you’ll have the chance to travel underground into what was once an operating coal mine. Located in the small town of Beckley, the unique attraction is open from April to November and offers a fascinating insight into West Virginia’s rich history. 

Veteran miners take the lead and guide you through the history of mining in the Mountain State at this former coal mine, which dates back to 1890. Fun for the whole family, you’ll hear captivating first-hand stories and ride underground in a comfortable vintage mine train as you travel deep underground on this interactive journey. 

After exploring the tunnels and getting a glimpse of daily life for miners in the coal mine’s dark passages, you can visit the on-site Coal Camp above ground to see the collection of restored original buildings, including the Coal Company House, Superintendent’s Home, and the Helen Coal Camp School. 

If you’ve got extra time, you can add the Youth Museum of Southern Virginia to your itinerary. It features a family-friendly planetarium and recreated Appalachian frontier settlement from the late 19th century that features trained interpreters. 

11. Hit the Slopes at Snowshoe Mountain

Fans of winter sports will love Snowshoe Mountain, as this action-packed ski resort has everything you need for a cold-weather getaway. Along with cozy lodges, it features 60 slopes that cater to a wide range of skill levels that are perfect for skiing and snowboarding. In fact, Snowshoe is your safest bet for the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast’s best ski conditions!

It’s no surprise that this scenic state is a popular destination for wintertime fun, and Snowshoe Mountain is worth the addition to your West Virginia bucket list. Set in the Allegheny Mountains, the resort at the top of the mountain offers a winter wonderland setting for five terrain parks, night skiing, snowmobiling, and tubing.

While winter typically gets all the love, Snowshoe Mountain is also a great place to visit in the warmer months. In the summer, it’s equally as picturesque and offers mountain biking, stand-up paddleboarding at the lake, ATV excursions, and other all-terrain mountain adventures. 

If you want to stay overnight, you’ll be treated to luxury on-site amenities like a mountaintop restaurant and a lavish spa. There’s also a Gary Player-designed golf course and a variety of retail shops in its European-style mountaintop village. 

12. Marvel at Dinosaur Bones in the West Virginia State Museum

Fun Things to do in West Virginia: West Virginia State Museum
Images courtesy of West Virginia Department of Tourism

History buffs can’t miss a trip to the West Virginia State Museum, as this exhibit-filled attraction highlights every aspect of the state’s history, culture, and art – representing the people, land, and industries. Get up close to dinosaur bones and explore natural history exhibits related to early cultures, then admire paintings, sculptures, crafts, and jewelry. 

Located in Charleston, there are enough fascinating artifacts in this museum to cater to all interests, with the family-friendly destination covering everything from technology to paleontology. Some of the most notable pieces of its 60,000 artifacts include a pair of Billy the Kid’s leather chaps, a pair of dressed cleats from a 19th-century flea circus, and George Washington’s former telescope. 

It will take you a few hours to browse the impressive state-operated museum (which is free to enter!). As you travel from room to room through the centuries, you’ll discover audio features, illustrations, and descriptions that enhance your overall experience. 

13. See a Wonderland of Stalactites at Lost World Caverns

West Virginia Things to do: Lost World Caverns
Images courtesy of West Virginia Department of Tourism

Go off the beaten path and descend 120 feet below the Earth’s surface at Lost World Caverns. It’s a world of remarkable stalactites and stalagmites at this top-rated family attraction, where you can get up close to unique formations that stand up to 80 feet tall. 

Discovered in 1942, this magical place offers self-guided tours so you can explore the underground trail on your own. Information signs provide more details about the different formations found along the half-mile loop. Afterward, you can visit the gift shop to pick up geodes, minerals, replica fossils, and other geologic souvenirs. 

For an immersive look at the deepest, darkest corners of the cave, sign up for the Wild Cave Tour. You’ll crawl, climb, and traverse through the muddy chambers and passageways on the guided four-hour adventure. 

If you’re interested in visiting more caverns, the Seneca Caverns in Riverton are also worth a visit. Used for hundreds of years by the Seneca Indians for tribal ceremonies, it features a cave full of stalactites and stalagmites, and gemstone mining is also available!

14. Soak in the Natural Springs at Berkeley Springs State Park

Cool Things to do in West Virginia: Berkeley Springs State Park
Images courtesy of West Virginia Department of Tourism

Offering the ultimate in relaxation, Berkeley Springs State Park boasts natural hot springs nestled in the West Virginia mountains. Set in the quaint town of Berkeley Springs, the mineral spa is a popular wellness destination that dates back to colonial times, now attracting visitors from across the globe.

Located only 90 minutes west of the Washington/Baltimore metro area, it offers a tranquil escape from the bustle of city life. It was once a health hotspot for Native Americans and European settlers in 1730, while George Washington is said to have visited the springs regularly due to their therapeutic healing properties. 

There are five main springs and several smaller ones, with the warm spring water flowing at a constant 74.3 degrees. You can get pampered at the park’s Old Roman and Main bathhouses, which offer a wide selection of rejuvenating spa services. Choose from massages, saunas, and private bathing tubs.

15. Follow Scenic Hiking Trails in Monongahela National Forest

Fun Things to do in West Virginia: Monongahela National Forest

The Monongahela National Forest is bursting with stunning scenery, as this nationally protected region in West Virginia spans more than 919,000 acres. With elevations that range from 1,000 to nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, there is a variety of terrain where you can get out and explore on foot. 

Two of the most notable areas of the national forest include Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, which boasts the highest peak in West Virginia and spans about 100,000 acres of the park. The Dolly Sods Wilderness area is also popular, particularly the Bear Rocks Trail. Both of these hiking destinations offer some of the best views in the state.

With over 800 miles of trails, it’s one of the coolest things to do in West Virginia if you love nature. The remote landscape can also be seen at Cranberry Glades Botanical Area, where a half-mile accessible boardwalk offers a glimpse of local wildlife, while the Williams River is one of the best trout fishing streams in the state and features rustic campsites near the water. 

Adventure is around every corner in the Monongahela National Forest, and you’ll find a long list of hiking and biking trails, scenic driving routes, and destinations for wildlife watching, swimming, boating, fishing, and horseback riding. And if you’re visiting in the winter, you can try snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing!

16. Climb Famous Formations at Seneca Rocks

West Virginia Things to do: Seneca Rocks

Located in the Monongahela National Forest, Seneca Rocks is one of the most famous natural West Virginia attractions. Rising nearly 900 feet above the North Fork River, it’s a hotspot for rock climbers and hikers who want to take in the gorgeous views of the valley below. 

On the bucket list for many rock climbers, the unique rock formation offers 375 climbing routes that range in difficulty, all with rewarding views at the top. Non-climbers can enjoy a wealth of other outdoor activities here, too, as river and stream fishing, observing wildlife, and camping are also popular. 

Nature enthusiasts can head to the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center at the base of Seneca Rocks to browse the range of artifacts and exhibits that highlight the history of the natural wonder. The center is the start of the three-mile interpretive trail, which leads to parts of the rock and scenic views. 

17. Tour Historic Cells at West Virginia Penitentiary

West Virginia Bucket List: Penitentiary
Images courtesy of West Virginia Department of Tourism

It might not be the first activity you think of to add to your “things to do in West Virginia” list, but the West Virginia Penitentiary is a popular historic site. An operating prison from 1876 to 1995, it now offers public ghost tours as one of the most haunted places in the state!

This eerie prison in Moundsville has a storied history of riots, homicides, and executions, including public hangings. In 1995, former prison guards began offering tours for a chance to see its spooky interior that is said to be haunted by former inmates. 

Fun Things to do in West Virginia: Penitentiary

The 90-minute guided tours walk you through the prison’s Gothic-style structure, and the route focuses on the main level of the facility. You’ll get to see the recreation yards, visitation rooms, and cafeteria, as well as “The Alamo” cell blocks that housed the most dangerous and violent inmates. 

If you’re feeling brave, you can also visit the prison overnight on the Public Ghost Hunt Tour, which allows you to roam the halls, cells, and haunted hotspots like the psych ward on your own. The West Virginia Penitentiary also offers escape games and an annual paranormal convention called Para-Con in August.

18. Visit the Huntington Museum of Art & Ritter Park

Cool Things to do in West Virginia: Huntington Museum of Art and Ritter Park
Images courtesy of West Virginia Department of Tourism

If you want to appreciate art, the Huntington Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the state of West Virginia. The nationally accredited art museum in the Park Hills neighborhood above Ritter Park in Huntington occupies over 60,000 square feet.

Come to appreciate the museum’s collection within its 10 exhibition spaces, which features more than 16,000 objects that span American and European paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings, as well as glass pieces, American folk art, and Chinese and Japanese decorative objects. The museum also hosts traveling exhibitions with rotating displays. 

You won’t get bored here, as the museum is also home to an interactive education gallery, an auditorium, a conservatory for tropical and subtropical plants, a coral reef aquarium, and two outdoor sculpture gardens. There are even two miles of hiking and nature trails for those who prefer to explore outside, with a quarter-mile paved accessible Sensory Trail for the visually impaired. 

After exploring the museum, head to Ritter Park to stop and smell the roses. Its rose garden has been voted the country’s best rose garden numerous times and features thousands of roses in its award-winning space. For the best viewing, full bloom status is typically from late May to mid-June.

19. See the Aurora Borealis at Calhoun County Park

Calhoun County Park is considered one of the darkest places in West Virginia, offering stargazers the chance to catch a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights. This secluded scenic gem is nestled away from the city lights, making it a perfect spot for marveling at the night skies. If you’re looking for West Virginia bucket list activities, this should be at the top of your list!

Located 1.5 miles south of Grantsville, the park’s dark night skies are a favorite location for astronomers and photographers. It boasts 200 acres of land for public recreation, and there are a number of daytime activities available, including a walking/biking trail, a ball field, volleyball and basketball courts, playgrounds, picnic shelters, and ponds. 

However, this dark sky site is famous for its Milky Way views, as it’s one of the few places east of the Mississippi you can see it. Due to this, the park’s calendar is packed with annual Dark Skies Parties, and amateur stargazers venture into the park to set up telescopes beneath the sky. 

The park even has campsites available so you can stay overnight. On a clear evening, you might catch an impressive view of the constellation of stars and a colorful, ever-changing view of the Northern Lights phenomenon. 

20. Go Off-Roading on the Hatfield McCoy Trail System

Cool Things to do in West Virginia: Hatfield McCoy Trail System

The Hatfield McCoy Trail System boasts some of the best ATV, UTV, and dirt bike trail riding in the world, featuring miles of winding and twisted roads in West Virginia’s backwoods. It’s been dubbed the “best motorized trail system in the United States,” where you can enjoy adrenaline-filled adventures among stunning untamed landscapes. 

Get a trail permit, then choose a trail that accommodates your riding style. There’s a trail for every skill level, from novices to pros, with plenty of distance between trails among the hundreds of miles the trails span across Southern West Virginia. 

Best Things to do in West Virginia: Hatfield McCoy Trail System

Bear Wallow is known for its single track and is one of the most difficult trails, located near the ATV-friendly town of Logan, while the Buffalo Mountain Trail System is popular with dirt bike enthusiasts. On the Cabwaylingo Trail System, ATV, UTV, ORV (such as Jeeps), and dirt bike riders will find nearly 100 miles of new trails to explore.

Located near Ashland, the Indian Ridge Trail System offers a nice variety of trails of all difficulty levels, but the Ivy Branch Trail System is located just 20 minutes from Charleston and offers real adventure for riders of full-sized, off-road vehicles like Jeeps and Land Cruisers along with ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes. 

Lastly, the Rockhouse Trail System is popular with riders who are looking for an “extreme” riding experience.

21. Go Snow Tubing at Canaan Valley Resort

Unique Things to do in West Virginia: Canaan Valley Resort

Canaan Valley Resort is a hub for winter sports, where you can get your shred on along its 47 trails that accommodate all ages and experience levels. While skiing and snowboarding are popular, it’s the tubing park that will get the kids excited!

At 1,200 feet long, the multi-lane tube park is one of the longest in the Mid-Atlantic. You won’t even have to worry about getting too tired to climb back up, as a magic carpet lift will whisk you back to the top for another ride. 

Sessions are two hours long, but if you need a break, the on-site Bald Knob Haus offers a relaxing ambiance to recharge. In addition to an outdoor fire ring, you can come inside and warm up by the crackling fireplace. 

If you want to master your figure eights, rent skates and head to the ice rink behind the main lodge. Covered and next to an outdoor fireplace, it boasts stunning views of the Canaan Valley and Allegheny Mountains. Those looking for a lengthier adventure can try cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, as this winter wonderland offers over 20 miles of marked and ungroomed trails. 

22. Spend Time in The Capital City

Must do Things in West Virginia: Capital City

West Virginia’s capital city of Charleston is the perfect destination for history buffs, home to fascinating museums and historical sites as well as leafy parks to enjoy the city’s beautiful scenery. Nicknamed “Charlie West,” this scenic riverside city has plenty to explore, nestled in the Allegheny range of the Appalachian mountains at the junction of the Elk River and Kanawha River.  

Learn about the city’s history at the West Virginia Museum, a free attraction with a collection of interesting artifacts, or get a glimpse of the state’s politics and history at the West Virginia State Capitol. Packing a punch, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia is a hub for arts, culture, and science with three museums in one. 

If you’re a fan of architecture, visit the East End neighborhood to see at least a dozen examples of architectural styles (it’s also listed on the National Register of Historic Places). You can also enjoy the outdoors at Kanawha State Forest, a popular spot for nature lovers with its well-kept trails that are just a few minutes away from the city’s main streets. 

Take a stroll along Capitol Street to browse the quaint cafes, galleries, bookstores, and boutique shops. Located in a renovated 19th-century freight station, the year-round Capitol Market offers some of the best shopping in Charleston with fresh produce, locally made products, flowers, seafood, and more. 

23. See West Virginia University in Morgantown

Cool Things to do in West Virginia: West Virginia University in Morgantown

Morgantown is one of West Virginia’s most charming small towns, most notably home to West Virginia University. It’s also a favorite with outdoor lovers, as the university town and its natural surroundings run parallel to the Monongahela River, or “The Mon.” 

You’ll see the state’s Appalachian culture embraced with school pride throughout the town, as the state colors of gold and blue can be seen on flags, storefronts, and banners. Immerse yourself by attending a football game at Mountaineer Field in Milan Puskar Stadium, where touchdowns are celebrated with a cheer of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Basketball games are also popular in the WVU Coliseum! 

For a quieter experience, head to the West Virginia Botanical Garden to stroll among the brightly colored gardens and trails. Some of the best views can be found at the overlook at Coopers Rock, a hiker’s paradise only 20 minutes from downtown. 

Snap a selfie next to the famous Don Knotts statue downtown, then step inside the Art Museum of WVU to see paintings, sculptures, and ceramics or learn about Indigenous Monongahela at Morgantown History Museum. After a day of sightseeing, the Morgantown Brewing Company is a delightful spot for a cold beer. 

24. Photograph the Cascading Waters at Cathedral Falls

Fun Things to do in West Virginia: Cathedral Falls

Not only is Cathedral Falls one of the most beautiful waterfalls (and tallest) in the Mountain State, but it’s also one of the most accessible. Featuring a roadside viewing area, this nature spot is worth a pit stop on Route 60, just one mile east of the town of Gauley Bridge. 

Cane Brook joins New River, but before that, the water cascades more than 100 feet from the mountain above. You can see the lower 60 feet of the waterfall’s plunge from a designated roadside stop, which features a small parking lot with a short, easy trail leading up to the base of the falls. 

West Virginia Bucket List: Cathedral Falls

It’s a photogenic natural wonder, where the water cascades down the canyon and cuts through the forested mountainside. The result is a long series of falls that splash at each level, creating a powerful water flow that spills over the sandstone edges. 

It’s a popular destination for photographers, particularly in fall when the area is at its peak autumn colors, with the surrounding foliage bursting with reds, oranges, and yellows. For more waterfall viewing, Kanawha Falls, Mill Creek Falls, and Laurel Creek are all just a short drive away. 

25. See the Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park

Must do Things in West Virginia: Babcock State Park

Located about 20 miles southeast of New River Gorge Bridge, a visit to Babcock State Park is one of the most fun things to do in West Virginia. Offering over 4,000 acres of rugged scenery, the park’s star attraction is the Glade Creek Crest Mill, which is a fully functional replica of Cooper’s Mill, the original mill that once stood on its grounds. 

While Babcock State Park is popular with photographers and artists who want to get the perfect shot of the mill, it also has plenty of outdoor recreation, with hiking, fishing, and mountain biking all popular activities. Some of the most incredible trails in the park include the Island in the Sky Trail, which takes you through large boulders, or the Skyline Trail, which offers scenic valley views. 

Make the most out of your visit and stay overnight, as Babcock State Park features tent and trailer campsites as well as log cabins nestled near Glade Creek. Some cabins are so close to the mill that you can almost hear its wood frame churn, while all cabins have Wi-Fi and modern appliances. A few are pet-friendly if you want to bring your furry friend along! 

There you have it! The 25 best things to do in West Virginia. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Mountain State?

Planning a trip to West Virginia? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!



  • Charity De Souza

    Born and raised in Florida, Charity moved to London after college and caught the travel bug. She then traveled full-time as a digital nomad for over a decade, living in the UK, New Zealand, China, and Thailand.

    With around 60-ish travel stamps in her passport, her favorite memories include skydiving in Switzerland, eating sushi in Japan, island hopping in the Philippines, and camping overnight in the Sahara Desert.

    She’s now a freelance writer living in Portugal with her husband and son.

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