Kids’ summer bucket list: 7 must-have adventures

Kids may be heading back to school soon, but there is still time to make some memories.

You might choose to beat the heat underground by splashing around in a swimming hole, or maybe spend a day learning about our state and different species of animals.

Here are 7 things to do with the kids in West Virginia before summer comes to a close:

1. Visit a zoo or wildlife center

At the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in Buckhannon, you can meet some of our state’s native and introduced wildlife, like wolves, bears and even bison. Who knew?

If you’re looking for something more exotic, check out The Good Zoo at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, where you can have personal encounters with lemurs, red pandas and more. Or head up the Hovatter’s Wildlife Zoo in Kingwood and spend the day with tigers, giraffes, monkeys and even lion cubs!

West Virginia State Museum, Charleston

2. Learn about our history and culture

Travel back in time for a day to learn some of our state’s history. The State Capitol Complex is a great place to start! Stop into the West Virginia State Museum. Its state-of-the-art exhibits have thousands of artifacts from different aspects of our state life and culture, from geology to art.

3. Go geocaching

Go on a real treasure hunt. The basic idea of geocaching is that people all over the world set up caches, and post the coordinates online. Then, you can put the coordinates in a GPS-enabled device, and follow them to the spot.

When you discover it, you will find an assortment of rewards. But bring an item to leave in the cache if you’re going to take something.

This exciting adventure could be your family’s new hobby! Explore the Hatfield-McCoy GeoTrail, or download the app to search for caches and track their hunts.

Young girl and a horse at a fair, West Virginia

4. Spend a day at a fair or festival

Livestock, funnel cakes, bloomin’ onions, Ferris wheels and artisan crafts— fairs and festivals are the perfect way to get the full experience of West Virginia summer, all in one place! For one of the grandest bashes, check out the State Fair of West Virginia in Lewisburg Aug. 12-21.

5. Explore underground

West Virginia is known for its coal, and at the Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley, you can tour a real underground coal mine with an experienced miner guiding you.

Boy and girl playing in water hole, West Virginia

6. Cool off in a swimmin’ hole

It can get hot during summer in West Virginia. Thankfully, we have a lot of old-fashioned swimmin’ holes for the whole family to enjoy!

Audra State Park’s swimming hole is a state favorite thanks to its flat rocks and shallow areas. If you’re exploring Seneca Rocks, take a dip in the water at the base of the rocks and prepare for amazing views! High Falls near Glady gives you a chance to swim at the base of a small—but beautiful—waterfall.

7. Climb high on an outdoor ropes course

Burn off some energy on an obstacle course hanging from the trees? The Aerial Forest Adventure Park at Harpers Ferry has 9 courses with varying difficulties (one is specifically designed for 4-6 year olds), and a kids’ tree house.

In the New River Gorge, TimberTrek Adventure Park covers 4 acres with platforms and obstacles up to 50 feet above the ground. Kids 7 and up, and adults of all ages, can challenge themselves high up in the trees.

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This post was last updated on January 11, 2023