Events you’ll only get in West Virginia

How can Bridge Day be gone already? Bummer. But never fear— winter is right around the corner, which means even more wild, wonderful experiences in West Virginia.

Look forward to:

Winter adventure 3-4 hours from Charlotte, NC

Home to Bridge Day, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing, the New River Gorge is an adventure hotspot. It’s also a prime destination for dining. Could life get any better?

Where to play
If you loved standing on the New River Gorge Bridge, guess what? You can tour the catwalk all year! Bridge Walk outings cross the entire 3,030-foot span, 850 feet above the river. Guides strap you in, tell engaging facts, and provide lots of time for photos.

West Virginia Tourism Office

For even more above-the-ground drama, try winter ziplining! ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill has an award-winning course, complete with sky bridges. It’s a real treat to speed above frosty forests. River Expeditions, another outfitter in Oak Hill, has guided treetop tours. Its aerial course has a cargo net, rappel station, zip lines, and platforms. You can also try Adventures on the Gorge in Lansing; the TreeTops canopy tour features 10 ziplines, 5 skybridges, and a rappel line.

You’re not far from snow sports, either. Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent has 27 slopes, 2 terrain parks, and the state’s largest snowtubing area. You can also take lessons. Other peakside perks include rentals, lift tickets, and lodging.

Ready to catch your breath? The Tamarack art gallery in Beckley has an enormous selection of West Virginia crafts that you can take home. Ceramics, quilts, soap, sculpture, and candy are just some of the temptations on display. It’s a great place to search for Christmas gifts. But be warned: you’ll probably snag some bowls and treats for yourself, too! Tamarack also has a gourmet food court and cafe.

West Virginia Tourism Office

Where to eat
No visit to the New River Gorge should go without food. Fayetteville is dining central, with Secret Sandwich Society and the beloved Cathedral Cafe. There’s also Pies & Pints. Stop by for delicious, creative pizzas and craft beer.

The city of Beckley is just down the road. Its diverse collection of restaurants includes the King Tut Drive-In, a local favorite; Dobra Zupas, which serves sophisticated, seasonal cuisine and craft beer; and the Chocolate Moose Coffee Shop, a casual hangout with espressos, smoothies, and ice cream.

Winter adventure 3 hours from Washington, D.C.

Whether you’re into skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing, the Potomac Highlands has a mountain for you.

Where to play
Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County boasts 60 slopes and almost as many activities. The resort also has convenient, affordable lodging. Some places— like the Village— are next to ski lifts.

West Virginia Tourism Office

Davis is another popular destination for winter sports. The high-altitude town features the rustic, comfortable Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Timberline Four Seasons Resort. Both have dozens of slopes for skiing and snowboarding, plus family-friendly amenities.

Prefer cross-country skiing? Check out White Grass in Davis, which has more than 30 miles of maintained trails. The casual venue also has rentals and a cafe. Another option is the Elk River Touring Center in Slatyfork. It’s right next to the wild Monongahela National Forest— an enchanting backdrop during winter.

West Virginia Tourism Office

Where to eat
The Potomac Highland’s quirky towns are a delight to visit. Drive to Thomas for homemade wraps and craft beer at the Purple Fiddle. If you arrive by dinnertime, you’ll probably get some live music, too. The artsy town also has charming antique shops and galleries. Maybe you’ll get some Christmas shopping done between meals or sets.

Davis is a feast for the eyes and stomach as well. If the family is up for Mexican fare (with an Appalachian twist), check out Hellbender Burritos. Otherwise, there’s Sirianni’s Cafe— a former steamship office that serves Italian classics.

Winter adventure 2 hours from Columbus, OH

Elegant and mysterious, the Mid-Ohio Valley isn’t your typical trip. Encounter an 18th-century conspiracy, tour an island and dine at a majestic Gaslight Era hotel!

West Virginia Tourism Office

Where to play
Did former Vice President Aaron Burr use Blennerhassett Island as a base for a treasonous mission? No one knows for sure. Make your own conclusions when you visit! The island is located right outside Parkersburg. There’s a recreated 18th-century mansion, trails and horse-drawn wagon rides. The Trees of Our Heritage Holiday Kick-off event on Nov. 12 adds Christmas spirit to the mix, too.

Wheeling— the “birthplace of West Virginia” — dates to colonial times. Elegant yet lively, the city knows how to entertain. Need proof? Check out the Oglebay Resort’s Winter Festival of Lights, one of America’s best Christmas displays. More than a million bulbs illuminate a 6-mile course! It’s spectacular.

Where to eat
The Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg isn’t just a luxurious place to sleep; it’s also a delightful place to dine. Spats specializes in upscale Continental and American cuisine, prepared by an award-winning chef. The hotel also has a casual lounge and Starbucks coffee bar.

West Virginia Tourism Office

The Blennerhassett’s Gingerbread Festival (Dec. 11-27) shouldn’t be missed, either. Marvel at dozens of intricate, edible creations— just the thing for some Christmas magic.

Speaking of candy, Holls Chocolate in Vienna really hits the spot. Treat your lucky friends and relatives to homemade truffles, made in the Swiss tradition. You can make custom selections or buy packaged chocolates. Luxurious and conveniently boxed, they’re the perfect Christmas present.

Where will you go next?

These adventures are just the tip of the Mountain State. From camping to resorts, from eccentric to glamorous, your favorite vacation is waiting for you. It’s only a country road away!

For more vacation ideas and inspiration, visit GotoWV.com.

The post Events you’ll only get in West Virginia appeared first on Bridge Day.

An insider’s guide to the New River Gorge

Find out what visitors really think!

Exquisite natural scenery and exhilarating adventures: that’s the New River Gorge! It can be tough deciding what to do next. Hopefully, these reviews help you narrow down that to-do list.

WaterwaysGauley River in WV

The New River Gorge ranks as one of America’s top whitewater destinations. It’s also stunningly wild and wonderful. Whether you prefer to play with a camera or plunge into rapids, there’s a memory waiting for you that’s just your speed— guaranteed.

Here’s what folks on TripAdvisor think about the New River Gorge National River area:

  • I have gotten up at 4 and driven to Fayetteville and Gauley Bridge to be there when the trees were in their autumn splendor and the sun was just coming up. Valleys are filled with fog that gently lifts and the light of the morning sun plays out on the trees giving an interesting mixture of greens, golds and reds. — LKNCHOWHOUND
  • We visited the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and walked down the boardwalk steps to the overlook. It’s unbelievable. Imagine the Grand Canyon full of lush trees. — lecollye
  • Grandview: Had heard of “wild & scenic rivers,” but never a “national river,” so this was a first for us. A short walk through the woods was rewarded with an overlook of the meandering river, and hillsides covered with trees. Lovely. Be careful driving around curves, lots of deer roaming about in late afternoon. — MosbyScout

The Gauley National Recreation Area is a highlight, too— particularly if you know a thing or two about rapids. In fact, dam releases every autumn make it one of the world’s best whitewater destinations.

Check out these TripAdvisor visitor comments:

  • Visiting the Gauley is a must, especially for those interested in whitewater action! The scenery is amazing and the sound of the roaring rocks is mesmerizing. — ELFDUDE
  • Some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen. We were impressed with the depth of the gorge, the history of coal in that area, the history of the rivers in the area, the fact that it has world-class whitewater rafting and much more. — Barbara T.
  • From the first rapids to Sweets Falls there’s barely time to organize your thoughts and fears before you’re tossed into another whirlpool of adrenalin. But just because this is serious white water don’t be afraid to try. — Hawkeye2001a

Air

Horizons of unspoiled forests, jagged canyons, foaming rivers— the best place to see it all is from the sky. Fortunately, you can do just that!

First up: Wild Blue Adventure Company, where you can tour the Gorge miles above the earth … in a WWII-era Stearman biplane:

  • Amazing views of the New River Gorge within minutes of takeoff. Live a little and have [the pilot] do some aerobatics, it will be an experience of a lifetime and make you want to come back again! — waltdisneygeek, TripAdvisor guest
  • We chose a 40-min flight that went along the New River Gorge. The flight showed the twists and turns of the river, the famous bridge and a waterfall. — RoyNYC, TripAdvisor guest
  • From the cadet check in-desk, the correct music [for the era], to the finishing touches in the restroom, Chris [the pilot] has done this the right way. Upon your arrival Chris comes out in era correct attire, looking like he just landed from a mission or barnstorming through the mountains. — nitro g, TripAdvisor guest

Next: Take a Bridge Walk under the iconic New River Gorge Bridge! At 3,030 feet long and 876 feet high, it’s one of the world’s most impressive structures.

Take a look at these TripAdvisor reviews:

  • Halfway across [the bridge] the rain moved in (you do not get wet) and we could see the rain and the clouds and the fog (which is haunting at that height) and even a rainbow. Pictures are taken in abundance, the guide makes sure of that. — bthomas28
  • Our timing was perfect in that we saw several kayakers and rafters going down the rapids. There was also a train that came through on the tracks below— and just as Jay [the guide] had told us, it shook the catwalk! — Jmo523
  • The highlight of the trip, for me, was stopping in the middle of the bridge to sit with our legs kicked over the edge. — Joe C.

Land

The devil’s in the details. Get closer to the Gorge with a bike ride, quirky tourist pitstop, and fairytale visit— like hundreds of folks before you.

Here’s what reviewers on Singletracks thought about the Arrowhead Trails, a stacked loop system that’s ideal for families and competitive riders alike:

  • For first time riders I recommend a to visit to Arrowhead Bike Farm. You will get all [the] info you need and more. Don’t forget to stop by on your way back for beer and food. — Radar84
  • I am not an exceptional mountain biker by any means, and this trail system had enough climbing, descending, rocks and roots to be fun but not overwhelming. We covered most of the trails and it was a blast! Very well marked. — drazilnc
  • Super flowy. An amazing ride on trails that were built specifically for bikes. Best marked trails I’ve ever ridden. — fatadkins

If you crave some kitsch, head to the Mystery Hole! Your mind will be blown by all the oddities— and the incredible river views:

  • We came on it suddenly around a bend and doubled back because we got a good laugh at the structure. The staff was great and the presentation was fun. Well worth the time and the admission charge! — Fanglin64, TripAdvisor guest
  • It was a fun trip back to childhood, where science appeared to be magical. You get caught up in the moment. It is a marvelous recreation of childhood road trips. — JillDonnellyBennett, TripAdvisor guest
  • In the midst of all the scenic grandeur surrounding the New River Gorge, you have this old-school tourist trap completely at odds with its surroundings. And I think it’s that that makes this place even more ridiculous and fun. — Scott W., Yelp reviewer

Grist-Mill

One of West Virginia’s most photographed sites is the Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park. It’s a scene worthy of an illustrated children’s book: creaking wood, smooth boulders, and gurgling water.

Here’s what TripAdvisor guests think:

  • Absolutely beautiful. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more beautiful state park and my cell phone pics turned out so wonderful, I’m having them blown up to hang in my house. — myjenyoung
  • The photos [of the mill] have been seen and sold all over the world. Found it kind of funny when I visited a flea market in Atlanta that a vendor had a made-in-China picture of the Babcock State Park. It is a beautiful sight at any season. — momofscooby
  • Very picturesque setting with the mill on the creek. If you have mobility issues, not to worry. The mill is very easy to get to. You can drive right up to it. — AAHolt

Even more insider tips

Stop by the visitors’ center for travel suggestions, brochures, and information. It’s a place no adventurer should go without!

What advice or comment about the Gorge would you share with tourists?

The post An insider’s guide to the New River Gorge appeared first on Bridge Day.

Adventure’s on the Gorge’s best summer family trips

Looking for a one-stop family vacation? Paddle, soar and explore with one of West Virginia’s most popular resorts.

Adventures on the Gorge (AOTG) in Lansing has summer thrills for folks of all ages. Just pick your element: water, air or earth. Then plunge in and make those family memories!

The wet zone

Adventures on the Gorge rafting

Did you know that the New River Gorge is a top whitewater destination? Whether you’re a beginner or confident rafter, the New and Gauley rivers have the diversion you crave.

So does AOTG. Their professional guides can take you on trips like:

  • Upper New River: an easy family outing with Class I-II rapids. Kids 6 and up are welcome!
  • Lower New River: a more dramatic section. Kids 12 and up are welcome to try the Class IV rapids on this full-day expedition.
  • Family Lower New: if your family has rafted before, sign up for this rambunctious trip. Kids 9 and older can join the fun if water levels are just right.
  • Dueling Rivers 2-Day: tackle the Lower New then gear up for the untamed Gauley! Rapids go from Class III-V, so you must be 15 or older.

AOTG has many more river trips, including overnight experiences.

The resort also has relaxing jaunts to the “Little Bahamas of the East.” AOTG’s Lake Multi-Sport Adventure in Nicholas County takes you to the clearest, bluest water east of the Mississippi. Against this stunning backdrop, you can kayak and even go rock climbing.

stand-up paddleboardingStand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a tranquil alternative to rafting. AOTG has delightful lessons for the whole family at Summersville Lake and— for more experienced folks— the New River. Imagine paddling your way through West Virginia rapids!

Flights through the forest

These aren’t your ordinary zip lines. AOTG sweeps you high above treetops— acres of them, as far as your eye can see.

TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tour lets you explore the old growth hemlock forest canopy from a series of zip lines, sky bridges, hikes and a rappel.

Gravity Zip Lines bullets you along at highway speeds 200 feet above the ground. The tour highlight is Adrena-Line, a ride that often hits 65 mph. But that’s just one of many. Altogether, you’ll cover 1.5 miles of airspace. Sounds more fun that running a mile, right?

Timbertrek Adventure Park is a blast, too. It’s an aerial obstacle course that advances in difficulty as you progress. Shaky bridges and sky-high platforms are just some of the challenges you’ll face. Not everything is what it appears to be, either. Use your smarts to find the most efficient way through the course! Or play at night if you’re especially daring.

Land roving

There’s casual pedaling through the neighborhood, and then there’s mountain biking. Let AOTG show you the difference.

A Fat Kat electric tour combines traditional pedaling with mechanical oomph. Quiet but powerful, these motorized bikes are a fun way to blast through the wilderness.

Of course, AOTG also has traditional mountain bikes. The 2-hour evening ride is an easy but scenic tour through the New River Gorge. For something more intense, sign up for the Half-Day Guided Mountain Biking trip. It’s a longer tour, but not necessarily difficult— unless you want to to test out those demanding single-track trails.

Want to make the most out of the Mountain State? Sign up for AOTG’s rock climbing packages. Professional instructors will introduce you to the area’s world-famous sandstone. Classes include evening climbs, full-day trips, and rappelling.

Then, there’s the most traditional way to explore: on horseback. AOTG’s trail rides penetrate the Gorge’s most romantic areas. Ramble to Glade Springs or, better yet, sign up for the blissful evening ride. Summer doesn’t get any better than that!

How do you like to spend vacation time with your family? For more trip ideas and inspiration, visit Adventures on the Gorge for anything from cabins to caving.

The post Adventure’s on the Gorge’s best summer family trips appeared first on Bridge Day.