Is West Virginia worth a trip?

Old May 19th, 2022, 12:31 PM
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Is West Virginia worth a trip?

I have some Southwest travel funds to burn in June (from Atlanta) and am looking to go somewhere new. I've never been to WV, been intrigued by it and especially pictures of Harpers Ferry. I was thinking of flying into Dulles, renting a car and driving through the area with my wife for a few days.

I guess my main question is - if you're not doing outdoor activities, is it worth going at all? Unfortunately my wife is not a hiker (I am, sigh) so our interests together would be in exploring small towns, some history, shops. And a general nice drive.

Last year, we travelled just up the road through Laurel Highlands and the Frank Lloyd Wright houses. Also recently been to Eureka Springs, AR in the Ozarks and the Great Smoky Mountains. So for those familiar, I'm wondering if WV is just more of the same?

Any recommendations for small mountains towns and sights along the way would be appreciated. Or just advice to go elsewhere, in my case.


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Old May 19th, 2022, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by cdominey View Post
I guess my main question is - if you're not doing outdoor activities, is it worth going at all? Unfortunately my wife is not a hiker (I am, sigh) so our interests together would be in exploring small towns, some history, shops. And a general nice drive.
I really like WV, but if you're excluding outdoor activities, I don't think it would be worth the trip.
It would be a shame not explore the newest national park (New River Gorge), go white water rafting, ect.

That said, you could probably string together a decent trip, despite your restrictions.
The Greenbrier (make sure to book a bunker tour), Hawks Nest State Park, Cass Scenic Railroad, Babcock State Park
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Old May 20th, 2022, 10:15 AM
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I think you could find enough to do for a few days, sure. I wouldn't fly to/from IAD just for a few days in WV, though. Because some of the things are in the far south part and while you could drive there, sure, then going all the way back to IAD seems like a lot of wasted time. I haven't been to the places you name anyway, so can't compare. I don't know what you want to shop for, I don't think of WV as any shopping mecca..

You have Harpers Ferry you are interested in. Other than that, if you were interested in Civil War history, you could go over to Shepherdstown near Antietam. That's a decent enough small town. Most of the towns I know about aren't mountain towns though, except around mountains generally, the towns I know of aren't in the mountains themselves but in the flatter areas near them. Lewisburg is supposed to be a cute smaller town towards the south. it says "amid the Allegheny Mountains" on their website. i think it's really to the west of them a bit, but nearby.

Home - City of Lewisburg

Then not too far away to the west is Beckley, which has a couple points of interest. It is known for its exhibition coal mine.

Also, it does have a area arts/crafts marketplace so maybe you'd like that., Tamarack Marketplace.

I could think of a few interesting things farther south and in the SW of Virginia, but maybe that's too far in only a couple days if you are heading back to IAD.
On the way back, there are Luray Caverns and the Skyline drive parkway, of course. You could enter it somewhere south (one entry near Elkton VA, and then get out at Thornton Gap to go to Luray, if you wants, or drive up to Front Royal.

On the other hand, there is Natural Bridge down farther not to far from where Lewisburg would enter near I81, you could visit that.

so you could do Harpers Ferry/Beckley/Lewisburg/Natural Bridge then go north to IAD or some combo.

I've never white water rafted in WV and never will and find plenty to do but I mainly go there to go skiing in winter. or combining it with things of interest in SW Va on the way to Bristol/Ashville by car.

Last edited by Christina; May 20th, 2022 at 10:18 AM. Reason: xx
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Old May 20th, 2022, 11:01 AM
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I donít think of West Virginia as having a strolling quaint towns vibe. Towns are pretty universally run down. Itís more gravel roads that dead end at someoneís trailer.

Harpers Ferry has lots of history, but info on the John Brown raid is buried under a plethora of remembrances of civil war battles fought there.
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Old May 23rd, 2022, 06:18 AM
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Thanks everyone for your feedback. I think I'll pass this trip - still want to go, but as a solo hiker.
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Old May 24th, 2022, 03:24 AM
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I opened this post because we, as well, want to extend our Northern Virginia outings into West Virginia and was curious as to what others have to say. That having been written, if you're into hiking and wine-ing and small town strolling, you can find all of that (plus history and great restaurants) in western Loudoun County, Virginia and the other Virginia counties between Harper's Ferry and Charlottesville, all of which can easily be enjoyed if you're flying into Dulles.

We recently returned to the area after a decade away and purchased an historic farm house "out there," and when we aren't painting or renovating something our weekends have been filled with hiking (including the AT); (farm-to-table) lunching and shopping in numerous charming small towns; and tastings at one of the hundreds of wineries in the region. The Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive would make for at least a full day, if not longer. Just something to consider.
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Old May 25th, 2022, 12:45 PM
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FYI, Lewisburg is one of America's great, quaint small towns, so don't believe that they are all run down. Harpers Ferry is great for scenery and history. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is a gem. New River Gorge has some very good drive-to locations for history, especially historic ghost towns. There is also an excellent auto tour of the gorge that the NPS puts out. And, in between walking and hiking, there are some nice long walks to take that aren't paved, so I am not sure at what point the wife will mutiny. That's for you to decide. Morgantown has a unique public transportation project, the PRT; saves having to walk up and down those steep streets (think San Francisco).
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