Events you'll only get in West Virginia

How can Bridge Day be gone already? Bummer. But never fear— winter is right around the corner, which means even more wild, wonderful experiences in West Virginia. Look forward to:

Winter adventure 3-4 hours from Charlotte, NC

Home to Bridge Day, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing, the New River Gorge is an adventure hotspot. It’s also a prime destination for dining. Could life get any better?

Where to play If you loved standing on the New River Gorge Bridge, guess what? You can tour the catwalk all year! Bridge Walk outings cross the entire 3,030-foot span, 850 feet above the river. Guides strap you in, tell engaging facts, and provide lots of time for photos.

For even more above-the-ground drama, try winter ziplining! ACE Adventure Resort in Oak Hill has an award-winning course, complete with sky bridges. It’s a real treat to speed above frosty forests. River Expeditions, another outfitter in Oak Hill, has guided treetop tours. Its aerial course has a cargo net, rappel station, zip lines, and platforms. You can also try Adventures on the Gorge in Lansing; the TreeTops canopy tour features 10 ziplines, 5 skybridges, and a rappel line.

You’re not far from snow sports, either. Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent has 27 slopes, 2 terrain parks, and the state’s largest snowtubing area. You can also take lessons. Other peakside perks include rentals, lift tickets, and lodging.

Ready to catch your breath? The Tamarack art gallery in Beckley has an enormous selection of West Virginia crafts that you can take home. Ceramics, quilts, soap, sculpture, and candy are just some of the temptations on display. It’s a great place to search for Christmas gifts. But be warned: you’ll probably snag some bowls and treats for yourself, too! Tamarack also has a gourmet food court and cafe.

Where to eat No visit to the New River Gorge should go without food. Fayetteville is dining central, with Secret Sandwich Society and the beloved Cathedral Cafe. There’s also Pies & Pints. Stop by for delicious, creative pizzas and craft beer.

The city of Beckley is just down the road. Its diverse collection of restaurants includes the King Tut Drive-In, a local favorite; Dobra Zupas, which serves sophisticated, seasonal cuisine and craft beer; and the Chocolate Moose Coffee Shop, a casual hangout with espressos, smoothies, and ice cream.

Winter adventure 3 hours from Washington, D.C.

Whether you’re into skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing, the Potomac Highlands has a mountain for you.

Where to play Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County boasts 60 slopes and almost as many activities. The resort also has convenient, affordable lodging. Some places— like the Village— are next to ski lifts.

Davis is another popular destination for winter sports. The high-altitude town features the rustic, comfortable Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Timberline Four Seasons Resort. Both have dozens of slopes for skiing and snowboarding, plus family-friendly amenities.

Prefer cross-country skiing? Check out White Grass in Davis, which has more than 30 miles of maintained trails. The casual venue also has rentals and a cafe. Another option is the Elk River Touring Center in Slatyfork. It’s right next to the wild Monongahela National Forest— an enchanting backdrop during winter.

Where to eat The Potomac Highland’s quirky towns are a delight to visit. Drive to Thomas for homemade wraps and craft beer at the Purple Fiddle. If you arrive by dinnertime, you’ll probably get some live music, too. The artsy town also has charming antique shops and galleries. Maybe you’ll get some Christmas shopping done between meals or sets.

Davis is a feast for the eyes and stomach as well. If the family is up for Mexican fare (with an Appalachian twist), check out Hellbender Burritos. Otherwise, there’s Sirianni’s Cafe— a former steamship office that serves Italian classics.

Winter adventure 2 hours from Columbus, OH

Elegant and mysterious, the Mid-Ohio Valley isn’t your typical trip. Encounter an 18th-century conspiracy, tour an island and dine at a majestic Gaslight Era hotel!

Where to play Did former Vice President Aaron Burr use Blennerhassett Island as a base for a treasonous mission? No one knows for sure. Make your own conclusions when you visit! The island is located right outside Parkersburg. There’s a recreated 18th-century mansion, trails and horse-drawn wagon rides. The Trees of Our Heritage Holiday Kick-off event on Nov. 12 adds Christmas spirit to the mix, too.

Wheeling— the “birthplace of West Virginia” — dates to colonial times. Elegant yet lively, the city knows how to entertain. Need proof? Check out the Oglebay Resort’s Winter Festival of Lights, one of America’s best Christmas displays. More than a million bulbs illuminate a 6-mile course! It’s spectacular.

Where to eat The Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg isn’t just a luxurious place to sleep; it’s also a delightful place to dine. Spats specializes in upscale Continental and American cuisine, prepared by an award-winning chef. The hotel also has a casual lounge and Starbucks coffee bar.

The Blennerhassett’s Gingerbread Festival (Dec. 11-27) shouldn’t be missed, either. Marvel at dozens of intricate, edible creations— just the thing for some Christmas magic.

Speaking of candy, Holls Chocolate in Vienna really hits the spot. Treat your lucky friends and relatives to homemade truffles, made in the Swiss tradition. You can make custom selections or buy packaged chocolates. Luxurious and conveniently boxed, they’re the perfect Christmas present.

Where will you go next?

These adventures are just the tip of the Mountain State. From camping to resorts, from eccentric to glamorous, your favorite vacation is waiting for you. It’s only a country road away!

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