The totally last-second guide to a great family vacation in WV

 

Escape any time with a spontaneous mountain trip the family will never forget.

The best vacations are the ones where you stumble across odd attractions along the way. Take to the road in West Virginia to meet animals, trains and mysteries for the whole family!

These 8 vacation ideas will point your car in the right direction:

1. WV State Wildlife Center, French Creek

Who doesn’t like seeing animals? Meet West Virginia creatures (both native and introduced)— like bison, elk, a cougar, birds of prey, wolves, a boar and more— in spacious, natural habitats along easy paths.

The wildlife center also has picnic areas and grills near a peaceful pond. Cook up some lunch and watch for waterfowl and fish! It’s easy to spend an entire afternoon in this wallet-friendly place.

 

Crushed VW car at The Mystery Hole, Ansted, West Virginia

2. Mystery Hole, Ansted

Kids love unusual spectacles, like the wonky Mystery Hole. The kitschy hut—with its gigantic gorilla statue and squashed VW— promises adventure: “See the laws of gravity defied!” What will the kids tell their science teacher?

Then, drive 15 minutes to Fayetteville, “America’s Coolest Small Town.” Your family can devour imaginative dishes at local spots like Pies & Pints, the Secret Sandwich Society and Gumbo’s. Vandal’s Kitchen and Cathedral Cafe make creative meals and crafted espresso drinks, too.

If you need to burn some energy, the New River Gorge is right outside! Take a peek at the famous bridge or take a hike through the woods. You can also go rafting, climbing and horseback riding.

 

Blacksmith at Heritage Farm in West Virginia

3. Heritage Farm Museum, Huntington

Here’s an attraction you don’t normally see: a “historic” Appalachian village! Costumed actors will show you around this recreated town, which paints a portrait of frontier life.

Country stores, a tiny schoolhouse, blacksmith shops and several museums immerse you in the past. Plus, you’ll see one of the most complete doll collections in America, a belt-powered machine shop, all kinds of vintage vehicles and more.

You can even spend the night! Choose from 5 cozy, rustic inns or sleep in a refurbished caboose.

 

Waitress preparing a milkshake at The Corner Shop in Bramwell, West Virginia

4. The Corner Shop, Bramwell

The kids will get a kick out of this old-fashioned ice-cream parlor.

Waiters with pillbox hats pour drinks from an antique soda fountain and craft traditional delights like ice-cream splits, cones and milkshakes. You can also order comfort food like boneless pork chops with mashed potatoes, fries, fried green tomato sandwiches and lots more.

Take your cones on a stroll through town. Check out the intricate Victorian homes along Millionaire Row, or stop into the train depot and coal heritage interpretive center, where you can learn more about the region’s unique history.

 

Artisan working on a loom, West Virginia

5. Pricketts Fort State Park, Fairmont

Take your family back to the 18th century! This recreated fortress, with its 12-foot-high walls and stockade, lets you relive frontier life.

Costumed actors wander through the fort and demonstrate traditional skills and crafts like spinning, blacksmithing and carpentry. You can also try your hand at special events throughout the season, like militia drills and colonial children’s games.

Nearby, explore woodsy paths or go fishing and boating at Tygart Lake State Park, where Apple Annie’s serves homemade comfort food.

 

Locomotives at Cass Scenic Railroad, West Virginia

6. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, Cass

All aboard! Take an unforgettable mountain tour on an authentic Shay steam locomotive!

Start off in quiet little Cass. It hasn’t changed much since logging trains ran past in the early 1900s. Its sleepy cottages, depot and unspoiled scenery seem like something out of a novel.

Then it’s time to board the train. The huffing, chuffing machine will carry you up mountain switchbacks and steep ascents. You’ll eventually stop at Whittaker Station, a recreated 1940s logging camp. In town, order packed lunches at Last Run Restaurant and explore artisan shops downtown. Look for local artwork, quilts, soaps and more.

You can also sleep right there in Cass. Just reserve a refurbished company house, which comes with modern furnishings, wi-fi and TV.

 

Woman getting a facial at a spa, West Virginia

7. Creekside Resort and Spa, Greenville

Whisk your family into the country. Creekside Resort and Spa sits on 200 acres of rolling hills, forests and a broad pond stocked with fish.

At this rural retreat, your family can really get in touch with nature. You might spot minks and kingfishers along the trails or among the flowers. The resort also has a vegetable garden and a creek.

When it’s time for bed, pick from an assortment of country cottages or a farmhouse. Some of them are dog friendly, too. From there, you can quickly head off and hike on the Allegheny and Appalachian trails, or visit Hanging Rock and local state parks.

8. Breath of Heaven B&B, Petersburg

Surround your family with miles of wilderness at this picturesque retreat. The Monongahela National Forest forms part of Breath of Heaven’s backyard, so you’ll have acres to roam.

The main house has a spacious deck, and each rental has restful, homey decor. And there are tons of adventures just outside. Hike through arctic landscapes at Dolly Sods or poke around Seneca Caverns. Breath of Heaven isn’t too far from the local golden trout hatcheries, Blackwater Falls or NROCKS, either.

Where are you going to take your family?

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This post was last updated on October 19, 2017