This NYE, how about a little something different for your list?
You only live once, so why not make this year your most fulfilling, adventurous ever?
Use that resolution list to be footloose and fancy free in Almost Heaven, West Virginia! From award-winning restaurants to colorful towns to crazy adventures, there’s something fascinating around every corner.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
1. Paddle some of the world’s best rapids
Some of the best whitewater rapids in the world roar through the New River Gorge. The family-friendly Upper New River has calm pools and some playful ripples, while its wild Lower section revs up to Class IV waves. In the fall, the nearby Gauley River swells to one of the top whitewater destinations in the world.
2. Climb “by way of iron”
Ascend new heights— literally. Via Ferrata at NROCKS treats you to astounding mountaintop views after a vertical climb up the cliffsides, but it’s easy enough for beginners! You’ll scramble up jagged double-fin rocks on ladder-like iron footholds, and even trek across a 150-foot-high suspension bridge.
3. Put your year in 4-wheel drive
Bring your dirt bike, ATV or UTV and see how much ground you can cover on the massive Hatfield-McCoy Trails system’s more than 600 miles of trails. It’s is open year round, so there’s no need to wait for spring.
New to the world of off-roading? Local outfitters can share guided instruction and tours. Pull off at the host of ATV-friendly communities whenever you need a break, fuel or place to spend the night.
Unique West Virginia
4. Meet homemade mummies
More than 100 years ago, a local named Graham Hamrick invented his own embalming fluid, seemingly for the heck of it. It worked.
See the fruits of his labor at the Barbour County Historical Society Museum, where 2 mummified corpses rest under glass. Interestingly, no one knows how Hamrick did it. Not even the Smithsonian Institution could get the recipe. It’s a secret for the ages.
5. Hunt the Mothman monster
People say a 7-foot-tall, winged creature with glowing red eyes lurks in the shadows of Point Pleasant. Locals pay homage to the creepy creature with his own museum, statue, diner and annual festival, and you can tour the places he’s been spotted to try to get a glimpse for yourself.
6. Explore a one-of-kind museum
This attraction is a little odd, but charming. Learn about a Civil War abolitionist “from cradle to the grave” through room after room of dioramas in the John Brown Wax Museum. Life-sized figures are accompanied by music and narration for a dramatic retelling that’s over-the-top, but engaging. Afterward, explore the rest of the old-time village and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
“Overseas” in Appalachia
7. Visit “America’s Taj Mahal”
The stunning Palace of Gold in Moundsville is so intricately crafted, CNN named it one of “8 Religious Wonders in the U.S.” Built for the founder of Hare Krishna, it glitters with stained glass, semi-precious stones, gold leaf and crystals. Stroll around the grounds’ lotus pond and lush gardens, dotted with peacocks.
8. Set off to a second Switzerland
Transport from the Mountain State to mountains halfway around the world in the Alpine village of Helvetia. Swiss immigrants established this community in 1869, and the rugged landscape preserves its old-country culture. Explore authentic cuisine and shops around town, or join the community for traditional celebrations like Fasnacht, where everyone wears giant masks to scare away Old Man Winter, then burn him in a massive bonfire.
The finer things
9. A Taste from one of the “Best Chefs in America”
At Cafe Cimino’s classy mansion, Chef Tim Urbanic brings Old World decorum to the table. His “slow-food” philosophy means flavors are coddled in the kitchen, never rushed. Everything is made with fresh local ingredients, and Urbanic even grows his herbs on the estate. He’ll dazzle you with masterful interpretations of European and Appalachian cuisine.
The Colonial Revival mansion doubles as a gourmet B&B, so indulge in a long weekend. Sip wine and admire the stars at weekend bonfires, stroll along the Elk River, get a soothing massage— now that’s a way to welcome the new year!
10. Take the ultimate Victorian-era escape
No room is the same at The Blennerhassett, thanks to its historic bones. Their signature suites have lavish bedrooms, and the gourmet plates at Spats Restaurant and Lounge pair perfectly with their award-winning wine list and craft beer collection.
After your luxurious sleep, stroll the Julia Ann Historic District’s streets to marvel at the beautifully preserved Victorian architecture. And hop on the majestic sternwheeler for a trip to Blennerhassett Island. Inside its sprawling mansion and garden grounds, you’ll uncover a rich history— and a treasonous secret.
11. Sink into America’s first Spa Town
If you’re from the D.C. area, you’re a day trip from a luxurious treat: Berkeley Springs, America’s first spa town, which was one of George Washington’s favorite vacation spots. Bathe in the pristine natural mineral waters, or get completely pampered at a selection of local spas.
What wild, wonderful adventure will you try?
This post was last updated on November 26, 2018