Spring Break on a ramen noodle budget

We know how it is– you’re a student on a budget and you’ve already spent way too much money on books, tuition and food. But wait– spring break is coming up? You’ve got to get away to somewhere cool! The Mountain State has plenty of coolness to offer for students on a budget.

West Virginia is accessible to a huge chunk of the eastern U.S., and we’ve got adventure, intrigue and fun at affordable rates.

Want to see West Virginia on the cheap? Here are some ideas.

1. Ride the rails

No, we’re not going to condone illegal train-hopping. But a passenger train route cuts right through some of West Virginia’s prettiest country, including the scenic New River Gorge. There are special events that charge hundreds of dollars for a train ride along the New River, but regularly-scheduled Amtrak trains showcase the same breathtaking scenery at a fraction of the cost.

If you’re in any major city on the East Coast and want to do a car-less trip, getting to West Virginia by train is easy. Factor in student discounts, and a round-trip ticket from NYC or DC to West Virginia can be less than $100. Combine this awesome journey with seeing the sights in Charleston or Huntington, and you’ll have yourself an unforgettable spring break.

Brews on tap at Black Bear Burritos, WV

2. Visit our college towns

It might seem silly to make your spring break destination another college town, but ours are so much more than that. With amazing restaurants, nightlife, museums and outdoor recreation just out of town, this is a really fun place with none of the big-city prices. There are three major college towns: Charleston, Huntington, and Morgantown. Morgantown is home to West Virginia University, Huntington is home to Marshall University, and Charleston is home to the University of Charleston. Both Charleston and Huntington are accessible by train, and Morgantown is a stop for the Megabus line.

3. Hit the slopes

With the best skiing in the mid-Atlantic region and plenty of other resort amenities, Snowshoe Mountain Resort is a serious bang for your buck when it comes to spring break vacations.

Although you may not associate spring break with prime ski season, West Virginia’s high country usually still has ample snowpack during most colleges’ mid-March spring breaks. Check out the resort’s annual Ballhooter Spring Break festival, which has free concerts, parties, games and more.

A male zip liner above the forest at Adventures on the Gorge, WV

4. Fayetteville

One of West Virginia’s “coolest small towns” is the place to go if you want a combination of outdoor adventure, happening nightlife and small-town prices. Most college spring breaks are a bit early for the town’s world-famous rafting, but there’s still more hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and ziplining than you’ll have time for in a week.

Campgrounds start at around $10/person/night, and resorts like ACE Adventure Resort and Adventures on the Gorge have all sorts of cabins available that might still be at off-season rates in March. Add to this some of West Virginia’s best restaurants and a quickly blossoming live music scene at venues like The Grove. and you’ve got one of the most affordable and hip outdoor towns in the nation to visit!

5. Go off the grid

Wilderness backpacking trips are becoming popular for students, especially as more and more colleges develop outdoor clubs. Many campus outdoor clubs offer inexpensive gear rental, and relaxing around a campfire in nature is one of the most affordable vacations out there.

West Virginia contains some of the largest, beautiful wilderness areas in the east, too. Check out the multiple trails and options in the Cranberry Wilderness area or Dolly Sods for a truly special, natural spring break experience.

Find your adventure >

This post was last updated on March 16, 2022