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Tourism in West Virginia- A Detailed Guide

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Tourism in West Virginia is big business. But why is the tourism industry here so important and why do so many people visit this area each year? Read on to learn all about tourism in West Virginia…

Tourism in West Virginia 

Welcome to my article on the beautiful state of West Virginia and its thriving tourism industry! West Virginia, also known as the “Mountain State,” is a hidden gem in the eastern United States, offering breathtaking scenery, rich history, and a wealth of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy.

In this post, I’ll dive into the many reasons why tourism in West Virginia should be on your travel radar, including its stunning mountain landscapes, world-class outdoor recreation opportunities, and unique cultural experiences. I’ll also explore some of the top destinations and attractions that you won’t want to miss during your visit, from the historic towns of Harpers Ferry and Lewisburg to the wild and wonderful New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

Whether you’re an adventure seeker looking to hit the trails or a history buff interested in exploring the state’s storied past, tourism in West Virginia has something for everyone. So, grab your hiking boots and get ready to discover all that this beautiful state has to offer!

The geography of West Virginia 

West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region of the eastern United States. The state is bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, and Pennsylvania and Maryland to the northeast.

West Virginia has a total area of 24,230 square miles (62,755 square kilometres) and is the 41st largest state in the US. The state is known for its mountainous terrain, with over 75% of its land covered by forest. The highest point in West Virginia is Spruce Knob, which stands at 4,863 feet (1,482 meters) above sea level.

The state is also home to several major rivers, including the Ohio River, which forms part of the state’s western border, and the Kanawha River, which flows through the state capital of Charleston. Other major rivers in West Virginia include the Potomac, the Monongahela, and the Greenbrier.

West Virginia has a humid subtropical climate in the southern lowlands and a humid continental climate in the higher elevations. The state experiences four distinct seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. The mountainous terrain of the state also creates microclimates that can vary significantly from one region to another.

West Virginia has a diverse economy, with industries including coal mining, natural gas extraction, healthcare, tourism, and manufacturing. The state’s largest cities include Charleston, Huntington, Parkersburg, and Morgantown.

The tourism industry in West Virginia 

Tourism in West Virginia is an important industry, with visitors coming to enjoy the state’s natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, cultural attractions, and historical sites. Here are some statistics about tourism in West Virginia:

  • In 2019, West Virginia welcomed over 16.8 million visitors, who spent an estimated $4.5 billion in the state.
  • The tourism industry in West Virginia directly supports over 47,000 jobs and generates over $1.1 billion in employee compensation.
  • Outdoor recreation is a major draw for visitors to West Virginia. The state is home to 45 state parks and forests, as well as numerous hiking trails, whitewater rafting opportunities, and ski resorts.
  • In addition to outdoor recreation, West Virginia also has a rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the state’s historic sites, including the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the West Virginia State Museum.

Tourism in West Virginia is an important industry that supports jobs, generates economic activity, and showcases the state’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Tourism in West Virginia- A Detailed Guide

Why people travel to West Virginia 

There are many reasons why tourism in West Virginia is so popular. People travel to West Virginia for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Outdoor recreation: West Virginia is known for its beautiful natural scenery and offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation. Visitors can go hiking, biking, fishing, hunting, skiing, whitewater rafting, and more.
  2. History and culture: West Virginia has a rich cultural heritage, including Civil War sites, historic towns, and cultural events. Visitors can explore places like Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the West Virginia State Museum, and the Greenbrier Resort.
Tourism in West Virginia- A Detailed Guide
  1. Festivals and events: West Virginia hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, including the West Virginia State Fair, the West Virginia Wine and Jazz Festival, and the Mountain State Forest Festival.
  2. Family-friendly attractions: West Virginia has many family-friendly attractions, including amusement parks, zoos, and aquariums.
  3. Food and drink: West Virginia has a growing culinary scene, with local specialties like pepperoni rolls and ramp dishes, as well as craft breweries and wineries.
  4. Scenic drives: West Virginia is home to many scenic drives, including the Highland Scenic Highway, the Coal Heritage Trail, and the New River Gorge National River.

Overall, people travel to West Virginia for its natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, cultural heritage, festivals and events, family-friendly attractions, food and drink, and scenic drives.

West Virginia offers a wide range of types of tourism activities. Some of the most popular types of tourism in West Virginia include:

Outdoor Tourism

West Virginia is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. Popular activities for tourism in West Virginia include hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing.

Tourism in West Virginia- A Detailed Guide

Historical and Cultural Tourism

West Virginia has a rich history, and there are many historical sites and museums that showcase the state’s culture and heritage. Popular sites include Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Greenbrier Resort, and the West Virginia State Museum. This is an important part of tourism in West Virginia.

Adventure Tourism

West Virginia has a reputation as an adventure tourism destination, with many opportunities for adrenaline junkies. Adventure tourism in West Virginia activities include zip lining, ATV riding, bungee jumping, and skydiving.

Food and Beverage Tourism

West Virginia is known for its traditional Appalachian cuisine, which includes dishes such as pepperoni rolls, ramps, and biscuits and gravy. There are also many craft breweries and wineries that offer tastings and tours, making West Virginia a popular culinary tourism destination.

Ecotourism

West Virginia has a diverse ecosystem, and there are many opportunities for eco-tourists to explore the state’s natural beauty. Popular activities include bird watching, wildlife photography, and nature walks. Ecotourism is a great way for the area to make more sustainable with their tourism initiatives.

Tourism in West Virginia is what it is because of the attractions available here. Some of the most popular tourist attractions in West Virginia include:

  1. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve: This park offers outdoor recreation opportunities, including whitewater rafting, hiking, and rock climbing. Visitors can also explore the New River Gorge Bridge, which is the longest steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
Tourism in West Virginia- A Detailed Guide
  1. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park: This historic town was the site of John Brown’s raid on the federal armory in 1859 and played an important role in the Civil War. Visitors can explore the historic buildings, museums, and hiking trails.
  2. The Greenbrier: This luxury resort has been welcoming guests since 1778 and offers a wide range of amenities, including a spa, golf courses, and a casino. Visitors can also explore the resort’s historic Cold War bunker.
  3. Snowshoe Mountain Resort: This ski resort offers skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities, as well as hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor activities in the summer.
  1. Seneca Rocks: This landmark is a popular destination for rock climbers and hikers, offering stunning views of the surrounding area.
  2. West Virginia State Capitol: Located in Charleston, the state capitol building is an impressive example of Neoclassical architecture and houses the offices of the governor and state legislature.
  1. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum: This historic building was once a psychiatric hospital and now offers guided tours that explore the history of mental health care.
  2. West Virginia State Museum: Located in Charleston, this museum showcases the state’s history and culture, with exhibits on everything from the state’s geology to its music and art.

Types of tourists who travel to West Virginia 

Tourism in West Virginia attracts a diverse range of tourists with varying interests and travel styles. Some of the most common types of tourists who visit West Virginia include:

Outdoor enthusiasts

West Virginia’s natural beauty and diverse landscape make it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Hikers, campers, hunters, fishers, skiers, snowboarders, and rafters all flock to the state to enjoy its rugged terrain.

History and culture enthusiasts

West Virginia has a rich history and cultural heritage, with many historic sites, museums, and cultural events throughout the state. History and culture enthusiasts travel to West Virginia to explore places like Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the West Virginia State Museum, and the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

Tourism in West Virginia- A Detailed Guide

Adventure tourists

West Virginia offers a variety of adventure activities, including ziplining, canopy tours, ATV riding, and more. Adventure travelers are drawn to West Virginia for its extreme sports and adrenaline-pumping experiences.

Family vacationers

West Virginia has many family-friendly attractions, including amusement parks, zoos, and aquariums. Family vacationers come to West Virginia to enjoy quality time with their loved ones and create lasting memories.

Wellness travellers

West Virginia is a popular destination for wellness travelers, with its natural hot springs, spas, and yoga retreats. Wellness travellers come to West Virginia to relax, rejuvenate, and connect with nature.

Food and drink enthusiasts: West Virginia’s growing culinary scene and craft breweries and wineries are attracting food and drink enthusiasts who want to sample local cuisine and beverages.

Overall, West Virginia welcomes a diverse range of tourists who come to enjoy its natural beauty, history, culture, adventure, family-friendly attractions, wellness options, and food and drink experiences.

Crime and safety in West Virginia 

How does crime affect tourism in West Virginia? Well, West Virginia is generally considered to be a safe place to live and visit. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, West Virginia’s overall crime rate is lower than the national average. However, as with any state, there are some areas and situations that may pose a higher risk for crime.

Tourism in West Virginia- A Detailed Guide

In terms of violent crime, West Virginia has a lower rate than the national average, with most violent crime occurring in urban areas. Property crime rates in West Virginia are also lower than the national average. Visitors to West Virginia should take the usual precautions to ensure their safety, such as locking car doors and securing valuables, staying aware of their surroundings, and avoiding high-crime areas. Visitors should also be aware of the risks associated with outdoor activities, such as hiking and camping, and take appropriate precautions to stay safe.

It is also worth noting that West Virginia is prone to natural disasters such as floods, severe storms, and landslides. Visitors should stay informed about weather conditions and follow any warnings or advisories issued by local authorities.

Overall, while crime and safety are always a concern for travellers, visitors to West Virginia can generally expect a safe and enjoyable experience, as long as they take the necessary precautions and stay aware of their surroundings.

West Virginia Travel Budget

The required budget to visit West Virginia can vary widely depending on a number of factors such as the length of your stay, your travel style, the activities you plan to do, and your accommodation preferences. Here are some general estimates of what you can expect to spend in West Virginia:

  1. Accommodation: Depending on the type of accommodation you choose, you can expect to spend around £50 to £150 per night for a budget hotel, £150 to £300 per night for a mid-range hotel or resort, and £300+ per night for a luxury hotel or resort.
  2. Food and Drink: The cost of food and drink can vary widely depending on where you eat and what you order. A typical meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost around £10 to £20 per person, while fine dining can cost £50 or more per person. Alcoholic beverages can add to the cost, with a beer or glass of wine costing around £5 to £10.
  3. Transportation: The cost of transportation will depend on how you plan to get around. Renting a car can cost around £50 to £100 per day, while using public transportation or ride-sharing services can cost less.
  4. Activities: The cost of activities will depend on what you plan to do. Outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and camping are generally free or low-cost, while attractions like museums and amusement parks can cost £10 to £50 per person.

Overall, a budget traveller can expect to spend around £50 to £100 per day, while a mid-range traveler can expect to spend around £100 to £200 per day. Luxury tourists can expect to spend $300 or more per day.

Tips for visiting West Virginia 

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when visiting West Virginia:

  • Be prepared for the weather: West Virginia has a varied climate, with hot summers and cold winters. Depending on the time of year you visit, you may need to pack appropriate clothing and gear for outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, or snowboarding.
  • Enjoy the outdoors: West Virginia is known for its natural beauty, so take advantage of the many opportunities to explore the great outdoors. Hiking, fishing, and camping are popular activities, as well as skiing and snowboarding in the winter months.
  • Embrace the local culture: West Virginia has a rich history and cultural heritage, so take the time to explore the state’s museums, historic sites, and cultural events. Try the local cuisine, attend a music festival or a fiddling contest, or visit a craft fair to experience the unique culture of West Virginia.
  • Stay safe: While West Virginia is generally a safe place to visit, it’s always important to take precautions to ensure your safety. Lock your car doors and secure valuables, stay aware of your surroundings, and avoid high-crime areas.
  • Respect the environment: When visiting West Virginia’s natural areas, it’s important to respect the environment and practice Leave No Trace principles. Pack out your trash, stay on designated trails, and be mindful of wildlife and fragile ecosystems.
  • Plan ahead: With so many things to see and do in West Virginia, it’s important to plan ahead to make the most of your trip. Research attractions and activities ahead of time, and make reservations for popular attractions, restaurants, and accommodations.

Interesting facts about West Virginia

If you are visiting West Virginia you are surely interested to learn a little bit more about the area. So, here are 10 interesting facts about West Virginia:

  1. West Virginia is the only state in the United States that was formed by separating from a Confederate state during the Civil War. It became a state on June 20, 1863.
  2. The state is known as the “Mountain State” because of its scenic mountains and rolling hills.
  3. West Virginia is the largest coal-producing state in the eastern United States.
  4. The New River Gorge Bridge, located in Fayette County, is the longest steel arch bridge in the western hemisphere, and it’s a popular spot for BASE jumping and bridge walking.
  5. The state is home to the Green Bank Telescope, which is the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope.
  6. West Virginia is the birthplace of the first 4-H Club, which was started in 1908 in Randolph County.
  7. The state is known for its rich musical heritage, including the traditional Appalachian folk music and bluegrass. The annual Appalachian String Band Music Festival is held in Clifftop every August.
  8. The West Virginia State Capitol, located in Charleston, is one of the few state capitols in the United States to have a gold-plated dome.
  9. The state’s largest city, Charleston, is home to the West Virginia Power minor league baseball team.
  10. The West Virginia University Mountaineers have a popular football program and have won numerous bowl games, including the Sugar Bowl in 2006.

FAQs about tourism in West Virginia 

Last but not least, lets finish off this article about tourism in West Virginia but answering some of the most common questions that tourists have. Here are 10 frequently asked questions about tourism in West Virginia:

  1. What are some popular tourist attractions in West Virginia?

Some of the most popular tourist attractions in West Virginia include the New River Gorge Bridge, Seneca Rocks, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, the Greenbrier Resort, and the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

  1. What is the best time of year to visit West Virginia?

The best time to visit West Virginia depends on what you want to do. The fall is a popular time to visit for the beautiful foliage, while the summer is popular for outdoor activities like hiking and camping. The winter is a great time for skiing and snowboarding.

  1. What are some popular outdoor activities in West Virginia?

West Virginia is known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, camping, fishing, rock climbing, skiing, and whitewater rafting.

  1. What is the food like in West Virginia?

West Virginia has a rich culinary heritage, with traditional dishes like pepperoni rolls, biscuits and gravy, and ramp-based dishes. The state is also home to a growing craft beer scene and several wineries.

  1. What is the culture like in West Virginia?

West Virginia has a unique culture, with strong roots in Appalachian traditions. The state is known for its music, including bluegrass, country, and traditional folk music. The arts and crafts scene is also strong, with many artisans creating pottery, quilts, and other handmade items.

  1. What are some family-friendly activities in West Virginia?

West Virginia has many family-friendly activities, including visiting amusement parks like Camden Park or the Greenbrier Resort, hiking to waterfalls or scenic overlooks, and exploring museums like the Children’s Museum of West Virginia.

  1. What is the cost of living like in West Virginia?

West Virginia has a lower cost of living compared to many other states in the US. This means that visitors can generally expect to find affordable accommodations, dining options, and entertainment.

  1. What is the transportation like in West Virginia?

West Virginia is largely a rural state, and public transportation options can be limited outside of major cities. Renting a car is often the best way to get around and explore the state’s scenic highways and byways.

  1. Are there any festivals or events in West Virginia?

West Virginia has many festivals and events throughout the year, including the Mountain State Forest Festival, the West Virginia Strawberry Festival, and the West Virginia State Fair.

  1. What are some tips for driving in West Virginia?

Driving in West Virginia can be challenging due to the state’s winding roads and mountainous terrain. Drivers should use caution when navigating these roads, especially during inclement weather. It’s also important to be aware of wildlife on the roads and to yield to slower-moving vehicles.

Tourism in West Virginia: To Conclude

As you can see, tourism in West Virginia is big business. Tourism in West Virginia is popular amongst both domestic tourists and international tourists and there are many different tourism activities and services available for travellers.

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