Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Fri March 15 2019
Charleston, West Virginia, USA skyline on the Kanawha River. (photo via Sean Pavone / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

West Virginia

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West Virginia has it all: rural retreats and country culture, steep hills and deep valleys, scenic vistas, serene retreats, and serious adventure. Cool summers, temperate falls, flower-filled springs and snow-kissed winters offer stunning backdrops for the most vigorous or relaxing outdoor adventures.  

Known for its challenging terrain and mountainous views, West Virginia was named the top mountain biking state in the country by the International Mountain Bike Association. For milder rides, enjoy pedaling along winding "Country Roads" or on one of the state's popular rail-trails.

West Virginia houses 30,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 125 lakes. While the state is known for its world-class whitewater rivers, many of these waterways are better suited for canoeing and floating trips taken at a more leisurely pace. And on the lakes, boaters cruise the waters in everything from houseboats and pontoons to canoes, kayaks, personal watercraft and motorboats.

West Virginia is divided into nine regions - New River-Greenbrier Valley, Hatfield-McCoy Mountains, Mountain Lakes, Metro Valley, Mountaineer Country, Eastern Panhandle, Potomac Highlands, Northern Panhandle and Mid-Ohio Valley. New River-Greenbrier Valley and its two great rivers are the scene for awesome outdoor adventures, wonderful driving tours and four-season activities. In Hatfield-McCoy Mountains, the dramatic landscape takes its name from two families who fought a bitter feud. Mountain Lakes, at the heart of the Mountain State, is a place of large lakes and small towns, dense forests and deep historic roots. Metro Valley is the place to get away from the traffic, the hectic pace and the crowds. In Mountaineer Country you’ll find spectacular scenic vistas from dramatic gorges to ancient forests. History lives here, too; you can visit a frontier-era fort, Civil War cemeteries, museums and a New Deal-era homestead. In the Eastern Panhandle, you can view West Virginia as George Washington did. The Washington Heritage Trail leads you through some of the most beautiful countryside in America.  

The Potomac Highlands house almost a million acres of forest and the Allegheny Mountains, the site for awesome outdoor adventures and driving tours. This area is also noted for its mountain music, fine arts and handcrafts, historical treasures andv gracious lodgings. The Northern Panhandle, site of the last battle of the American Revolution, experienced an industrial boom that spawned vast fortunes and Victorian mansions. This is the site of the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort. In the Mid-Ohio Valley you can roll along the wide Ohio River on an authentic sternwheeler; take on 72 miles of an American Discovery Trail on a bike or take to the same trail in an old-fashioned, horse-drawn carriage; visit a Civil War park or photograph a couple of West Virginia’s picturesque covered bridges.

Most choose to tour these areas of West Virginia by car on a series of country byways. Your driving tour can also lead to new thrills once the sun goes down; from a melodious performance by the state’s symphony orchestra, to an exciting reenactment of the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud. You can join a square dance in a restored barn or watch a horse or greyhound cross the finish line at one of the state’s many racetrack and gaming resorts. And, you’ll enjoy a unique style of Southern cuisine, technically part of the Appalachian style of cooking, which emphasizes wild or cultivated plants, berries, nuts, wild game and corn.

Of the state's 35 public airports, eight offer popular commercial airline service: Huntington/Tri-State Airport, Parkersburg/Mid-Ohio Valley Airport, Clarksburg/Harrison-Marion Regional Airport, Morgantown Municipal Airport, Charleston/Yeager Airport, Bluefield/Mercer County Airport, Beckley/Raleigh County Memorial Airport and Greenbrier Valley Airport.