If your kids have enough “stuff,” here’s a gift idea.

Technology is wonderful. But the truth is we all need time to unplug— especially kids.

With access to their favorite television shows and movies just a click away, limiting screen time for kids can be easier said than done. But how many people have cherished memories about the day they spent inside, alone, watching television? Probably not many, so let’s give our kids experiences instead.

West Virginia is chock-full of family friendly adventures. In fact, unlike cruises or extended beach trips, many of these Mountain State vacations can be booked on a budget.

The New River Gorge region has whitewater rafting, rock climbing, mountain biking, and more. Though these activities may initially seem intimidating, the sense of accomplishment upon completion is second to none. There aren’t many other ways for a family to truly bond the way they do while participating in outdoor adventure.

If the slopes are more your style, Winterplace Ski Resort has a ski school where youngsters can learn the technical aspects of skiing. In 2013, Winterplace was voted the “Best Place to Learn to Ski” in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. Snowshoe Mountain also has lessons, as well as the Coca Cola Tube Park and Kids Night Out, which gives parents a date night while the kids enjoy pizza parties, arts & crafts, and more.

One of the most important things we can pass on to the next generation is a sense of history. West Virginians are very proud of their heritage and love sharing it with others. Visit the Exhibition Coal Mine in Raleigh County to learn about the state’s rich coal past. Explore one of the many historic resorts including the famous Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs and The Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg. One of the most notable historical events to happen in West Virginia occurred in 1869 when abolitionist John Brown raided the United States Armory and Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry. Today families can visit the John Brown Wax Museum with life size figures, music, and animation.

Arts and culture broaden our perspectives and allow creativity to flow. Children can see this first-hand with artisan demonstrations at Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia. Catching a live performance at either Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg or the Keith Albee Theater in Huntington is a one-of-a-kind experience. The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences offers Family Fun Days full of exhibits and entertainment while the Culture Center, located on the grounds of the state capitol, houses the West Virginia State Museum.

Unlike “stuff,” activities are the foundation to a happy childhood, especially when the family participates. They promote communication skills, healthy lifestyles, and, perhaps above all else, curiosity. This holiday season, give the gift of real memories. Give the gift of West Virginia.

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This post was last updated on July 16, 2020