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West Virginia was established as a separate state in 1863 during the American Civil War. It played a significant role in the industrial development of the United States. Rich in natural resources, particularly coal, the state contributed to the nation’s growth by providing essential energy for industries and railways. The coal mines of the Mountain State were pivotal in shaping the country’s economic landscape during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. West Virginia’s contributions to U.S. history extend beyond its industrial significance. The state’s Appalachian culture has left a lasting impact on American music, influencing genres such as bluegrass and country.

The diverse landscape and outdoor recreation opportunities of the state make it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts. Visitors can explore national parks like the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. The state offers a range of outdoor activities, including whitewater rafting, hiking, and rock climbing. These bucket list attractions are a combination of the most popular and most unique to West Virginia. After visiting all of them, you’ll have a better understanding of the state’s vibe and local perspective.

10. Pies and Pints

Front of Pies and Pints building in Charleston, West Virginia(image via Pies & Pints)

Come see why WV Living Magazine voted Charleston’s Pies and Pints the best pizza in the state. Their artisan pizzas are as delicious as they are good for you. Made with fresh, locally-grown ingredients, you always know what you are eating. The pizza pairs well with the craft beers on tap.

9. Capitol Street

View of tree-lined Capitol Street in Charleston, West Virginia(“Capitol Street Shops”/Richie Diesterheft/CC BY 2.0 DEED/Flickr)

Running through one of the oldest districts in Charleston, Capitol Street is perfect for an evening stroll. The street is home to many interesting shops, including Ivor’s Clothes, Taylor Books, and Ellen’s Ice Cream. Because the street is so well maintained, many of the restaurants offer outdoor dining.

8. Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit System

Yellow train car in the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit System in West Virginia(Michlaovic, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The only one of its kind, the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit System allows riders to hop on and off as they wish without having to make any unnecessary stops. The small cars allow for an individualized trip, so you are able to more efficiently get to your destination.

7. Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum

White churchhouse Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum in West Virginia(“Company Town Exhibition Coal Mine Beckly WV 8539″/bobistraveling/CC BY 2.0 DEED/Flickr)

A relic of the town’s past, Beckley has preserved its coal mine, giving tours in authentic mining cars 1,500 feet underground. The tour guides have a history in the industry, so they can provide first-hand accounts of working in a coal mine. Be sure to bring a jacket, as the chilly temperature in the mine doesn’t change with the season.

6. Daniel Vineyards

Mouthwatering food with wine from Daniel Vineyards in West Virginia(image via Daniel Vineyards)

Daniel Vineyards is a must for your West Virginia bucket list. Experience their stunning Appalachian mountain setting and exquisite wines. Don’t miss the $5.00 wine tasting and self-guided vineyard tour, available Wednesday through Saturday. Whether solo or in a group, savor the beauty and farm-to-table experiences offered by this family-owned gem since 1990.

5. Blackwater Falls

Wooden steps leading down to Blackwater Falls(“Winding Blackwater Falls”/Nicolas Raymond/CC BY 2.0 DEED/Flickr)

One of the most beautiful attractions in West Virginia, Blackwater Falls offers an array of year-round outdoor activities. These include hiking, fishing, and camping. Many guests enjoy staying in the park’s cabins and lodges. Be sure to check out the museum and historical center, as well, near Davis, West Virginia.

4. Whitewater Rafting on the Gauley River

Group of people Whitewater Rafting on the Gauley River

One of the most popular whitewater rafting spots in the Eastern United States, the Gauley River stretches for 105 miles. With the release of the river’s dams, the rapids can reach exciting peaks. There are several notable rapids on the Gauley River, including a group of Class V runs known as the “Big Five.”

3. Mothman Museum

Entrance and window of Mothman Museum

Point Pleasant saw its share of strange phenomena in the 1960s, as was chronicled in the 2002 thriller The Mothman Prophecies. The Mothman Museum was established to document these occurrences and serve as a monument to the movie, including many props and souvenirs from the film.

2. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

View of long driveway to Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Established in 1864, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum was an operating psychiatric hospital for 130 years in Weston, West Virginia. As you tour the facility, you will learn some of the unnerving secrets of the history of mental health. Ghost tours are also offered at night, as the building’s past history helped make it onto this list of the 13 Most Haunted Places in the U.S.

1. Harpers Ferry

People walking across a historic railroad over a bridge at Harpers Ferry(“Harpers Ferry, West Virginia”/Doug Kerr/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED/Flickr)

Visiting Harpers Ferry, which feels like you are stepping into the past, proves that you can blend entertainment and education. Whether you are visiting a museum or hiking through the national park, you are never far from something amazing, which is why the town brings in half a million visitors annually.


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