- West Virginia
Picturesque West Virginia is both naturally beautiful and historically significant.
Amid its soft-peaked mountains and vast forests – nearly 75 percent of the state is covered in them – are charming Appalachian towns full of Southern character. Add in West Virginia’s Civil War history and noteworthy museums, and history and culture buffs will have plenty to explore.
Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park
Built in 1798, the mansion of Harman Blennerhassett, an Irish aristocrat, stands on Blennerhassett Island in the middle of the Ohio River. Take the riverboat from Parkersburg to the island, where you can walk the scenic grounds, tour the mansion and take a horse-drawn carriage ride. The park is open from May to October. Journey back across the river to enjoy the museums, historic sites and outdoor activities in the Parkersburg area.
Costumed actors stroll the grounds at the Harmen Blennerhassett mansion
The Carnegie Hall in small-town Lewisburg – population 3,800 – is one of only four Carnegie Halls in the world. This historic building serves as a performance hall for world-renowned stage events, including plays, dances, musicals and concerts. After the show, walk the quaint, historic streets of downtown Lewisburg, known for its abundance of art galleries and antique shops.
Downtown Lewisburg in the fall
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park is where abolitionist John Brown tried to incite a slave revolt in 1859, contributing to the start of the American Civil War less than two years later. The park preserves the historic, picturesque streets and buildings – some dating as far back as 1782 – as well as hiking trails and museums. You can also learn about old-fashioned trades like metalworking and traditional baking at living-history workshops.
Aerial view of Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
The founding of Huntington dates to 1775, but the city flourished with the development of the C&O railroad and coal mining. Its location on the Ohio River made it an important inland port. Today, Huntington has developed into a foodie haven and cultural center. Discover Appalachian art and history at the Huntington Museum of Art or the Heritage Farm Museum & Village. Catch a show at the circa-1929 Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. Watch glass blowers at work at Blenko Glass, in operation since 1893. For entertainment, special events, shopping and dining, head to Pullman Square in downtown Huntington.
Watching the glass blowers mold glass at Blenko Glass
West Virginia’s capital city is both historic and modern, offering an array of activities, including museums, concerts, festivals and sports. Visit the Culture Center at the State Capitol Complex, which includes the West Virginia State Museum and showcases the state’s history and artistic contributions. Tour a seventh-generation salt mine at J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works. Play with hands-on science exhibits or catch a concert at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences. Taste inspired fare at Charleston’s trendy restaurants on Capitol Street. The popular Capitol Market is the perfect place to find artisanal specialty foods, wine and gifts.