14 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in West Virginia

Jul 22, 2021

West Virginia offers much more than just coal country and family-friendly attractions. It's home to so much scenic beauty that it rivals the best natural attractions in other states.

The Eastern Panhandle, for example, is one of the most unspoiled and undeveloped regions in the country. In the western part of the state, you can tour by motorcoach through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the entire country. The rolling hills, covered with green forests and dotted with small, charming towns, are a stunning contrast to the slate-gray mountains and valleys of the neighboring states of Pennsylvania and Maryland. West Virginia is also home to some of the country's greatest natural wonders: huge rock formations and mountains, waterfalls, rare ecosystems, and some of the most impressive canyons in the world.

As you travel around the state, you'll find more than 70 state parks, like Shenandoah National Park, an impressive 14 waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas like the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, spectacular cliffs, and cascading waterfalls.

Any time of year and any time of day, there are endless things to see and do in West Virginia, a truly incredible destination. Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in West Virginia.

Washington Monument

Photo of George Washington Birthplace National Monument
George Washington Birthplace National Monument: en.wikipedia.org

Constructed between 1829 and 1854, the Washington Monument, one of the four original obelisks designed by architect Robert Mills, is the tallest man-made structure in the United States. Standing 321 feet, including its 65-foot-tall spire, it is the tallest vertical granite structure in the world. The monument was built to honor George Washington, the first president of the United States, and the inscription "Erected in honor of the first President of the United States of America" still remains on the base. Be sure to visit the 271-step, 36-floor Balcony Restaurant (dinner mains start at $35.50) at the top, where you will be rewarded with jaw-dropping views of the central business district of Washington. The monument is in Mount Vernon, West Virginia, only seven miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains and 150 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

West Virginia State Capitol

Photo of Wheeling, West Virginia
Wheeling, West Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

West Virginia's capitol is dominated by its elegant, white-domed capitol building in the heart of the state's capital city, Charleston. On the street in front of the building are sculptures depicting notable historic events in the state's history. West Virginia's state building is one of only two in the nation to house the headquarters of the governor, lieutenant governor, and secretary of state. You can see exhibits in the history of the state in the capitol's two museums, including an original print from the West Virginia Gazette in 1786 announcing West Virginia's existence. The Smith Memorial Gallery contains permanent and rotating exhibits on the history of West Virginia, while the West Virginia State Museum features a vast collection of Western state minerals, archaeological items, and other displays on the state's history.

Washington, D.C.

Photo of Washington metropolitan area
Washington metropolitan area: en.wikipedia.org

The nation's capital is a busy, commercial, southern city where the cultural interests of older southerners predominate, while West Virginia is a favorite destination for hiking, cycling, and skiing in a rugged, untamed landscape. The nickname of the landscape west of the Blue Ridge Mountains is the "Kingdom of Natural Wonders," as it holds some of the country's largest and most varied natural attractions. This is one of the United States' "Land of Pleasant Living," noted for its mild climate, easy living, and safe environment. Kentucky is well known as the center of bourbon-making in the United States. The city of Louisville is the largest city in Kentucky. It is home to Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held each spring.

Monongahela National Forest

Photo of Monongahela National Forest
Monongahela National Forest: en.wikipedia.org

Located just north of the city of Pittsburgh, the Monongahela National Forest is a hiker's paradise with almost 600 miles of trails that crisscross the three Pennsylvania counties where the Forest is located. Traverse five mountain ranges in search of North American species, such as the chipmunk and cardinal, or head inland to spot endangered red squirrels. In summer, families can stop by the Breckenridge, Coonskin, and Bighorn Visitor Centers to learn more about the history of the region, browse exhibits, and get maps and campground permits.

Pocahontas State Park

Photo of Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park: en.wikipedia.org

Located near the border of Virginia, Pocahontas State Park is located in the town of Weston in northeastern West Virginia. Although not among the best-known parks in the United States, it is one of the most stunningly beautiful parks, with sections of the park being built on cliffs reaching 900 feet from the river to nearly 3,000 feet above the river in the Allegheny Mountains. Best known for its huge waterfalls, the most dramatic is Marl Run, which is approximately 5 feet wide and 900 feet long. The largest waterfall, above which the Marl Run flows, is Marl Run Falls, located some 3,000 feet above the Marl River. Pocahontas State Park also offers many hiking trails through the park, providing visitors the opportunity to explore the cliffs, woodlands, and wildlife along the banks of the Marl River.

Shenandoah National Park

Photo of Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park: en.wikipedia.org

Shenandoah National Park is the oldest National Park in the US, established in 1880. It's part of the Shenandoah Mountain Range, an Appalachian mountain range that extends from Maryland to North Carolina and west to West Virginia. The park preserves the scenery of the C&O Canal, a canal that once linked Washington, D.C. with the nation's capital in Virginia. Much of the park's 23-mile canal now lies underwater, but the 4.3-mile-long Great Slate Run, the C&O Canal, and Lake Sara, one of the oldest bodies of water in the US, remain. Hiking and horseback riding are the primary activities in the park. Most hiking trails offer panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. The best walking areas are around the village of New Market, on New Market Road, and at Sugar Run Campground. You can take an easy stroll on the longest hiking trail, the Skyline Trail, or challenge yourself on the Skyline's Haystack Trail. Among the horses to ride are the four-to-eight-year-old ponies available for rent at Jay's River Stables and the C&O Canal Marina. The 60-acre Elizabeth Helen Wright Discovery Center, which houses exhibits on ecology, history, and geology of the park, is located on C&O Canal Road in Front Royal. The park also hosts the popular 4-mile National Parks Week event each spring and fall, an annual guided hike that draws many thousands of people. The festival also includes a parade, a gathering of local crafts, musical performances, and more.

Barbour County Courthouse

Photo of Barbour County, West Virginia
Barbour County, West Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

The historical Barbour County Courthouse in Clendenin is said to be America's largest courthouse. One of the oldest county seats, this 1867 building on the National Register of Historic Places is a reproduction of an 1840 courthouse in Kentucky, but has kept the original names and layout. As a tourist attraction, the courthouse offers exhibitions, displays of local antique vehicles, books, and photos. A guided tour of the building, which is also a courthouse museum, includes a look at an underground chamber used for confinements during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The courthouse also sponsors a monthly arts-and-crafts show in the same location.

Wheeling Suspension Bridge

Photo of Wheeling Suspension Bridge
Wheeling Suspension Bridge: en.wikipedia.org

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to traverse the world's longest suspension bridge on the ground, you can give it a go at the 733-foot-long Wheeling Suspension Bridge. The attraction spans the Ohio River near its confluence with the Kanawha River. With a steel-truss design, the Wheeling Suspension Bridge is actually two bridges, connected to each other and to land. The two spans are slightly curved and have open metal net work, which gives an opportunity for visitors to clamber all the way to the surface of the deck. And since it is a relatively tight fit, you can't climb inside to look around (although it's a novelty for some). While there are several restaurants, shops, and cafes here, the best-known attraction is undoubtedly the road journey along the bridge as it passes over the beautiful West Virginia countryside.

Blackwater Falls State Park

Photo of Blackwater Falls State Park
Blackwater Falls State Park: en.wikipedia.org

Blackwater Falls State Park is the perfect choice for outdoor lovers seeking tranquil surroundings. The area was once home to a thriving, 200,000-acre plantation owned by the Stonewall Jackson family. The park is beautifully sited in the heart of the state, surrounded by many small scenic lakes and rolling, wooded hills, as well as numerous small waterfalls and natural swimming pools. The park is on the southern end of the Shenandoah Valley, which is home to approximately 2.5 million residents. Blackwater Falls State Park offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, boating, fishing, horseback riding and camping. It's a great location for a family vacation.

Downtown Charleston

Photo of Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston, West Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Downtown Charleston is the historic heart of the state capital city of West Virginia, which can sometimes seem like any other small Midwestern city. But West Virginia boasts some great attractions, including wonderful colonial architecture, antiquated grand buildings, and a wonderful climate. Some great places to go in downtown Charleston include the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the state capitol, the lovely Cleveland National Cemetery, the unique Piedmont Museum of Transportation, a number of old-fashioned stores, and the beautiful landscaped gardens that lead down to the beautiful Wappoo Creek. Other attractions include the Carrie Furnace and the stateโ€™s largest covered bridge, the Handy Bridge, a 16th-century stone arch that runs through a town named Webster. There are two main roads that wind through the state, I-81 and U.S. Route 52.

Morgantown

Photo of Morgantown, West Virginia
Morgantown, West Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

More than 17,000 trees have been planted in Morgantown, West Virginia, creating an intimate setting that is part of the heart of American poetry. The tree-lined streets, shaded by dense canopy of trees and set in the center of the campus, frame views of ivy-covered buildings, steeples and mansions, dating back to the 19th century. A quiet, tree-lined street welcomes visitors to the small town. West Virginia State University (WVU) is the largest university in West Virginia. Started in 1891 as an experimental agricultural school for freed slaves, WVU has flourished to become one of the most respected schools in the United States. The Cultural Center, which houses the university's library, rare collection of print-making prints, the Thomas Jefferson Institute, and the Arts and Technology Building, was designed by the renowned postmodernist architect Philip Johnson. Founded in 1965, WVU is located on a lovely 150-acre campus in the mountainous eastern panhandle of West Virginia, 15 miles east of West Virginia's eastern border with Virginia. The university has a student body of about 13,000 students in the winter and about 24,000 in the summer, including more than 2,000 enrolled in WVU's medical school. Other attractions in Morgantown include the new 200,000 square-foot Apple Store, the West Virginia Coal Museum, and the Greenbrier State Park, whose 11 golf courses include the Treetops course, the only course in the United States with real trees in the fairways.

Wetzel County Courthouse

Photo of Wetzel County, West Virginia
Wetzel County, West Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Wetzel County Courthouse, West Virginia, is the oldest county courthouse in the United States. Built in 1854, the courthouse is a two-story Greek Revival building located on High Street in the county seat of Galax. It is part of a collection of municipal buildings that was constructed in the 1850s and includes the county jail, county library, and statehouse. The building was also used as a courthouse until 1911, when it was moved to its current location.

Grafton

Photo of Grafton, West Virginia
Grafton, West Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Founded in 1769, Grafton is a small city and the county seat of Mason County, West Virginia, United States. With a population of 11,309, it is part of the Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2016 had a population of 144,718. The city is located near the junction of U.S. Highway 14 and the Mason-Grafton Rail Line. It is approximately 8 miles from the Pennsylvania border and 55 miles from Wheeling. Get out to see the Whispering Winds Winery or take a hike at Cranberry Lake. There are a number of retail and restaurant establishments. Grafton is located in far northwestern West Virginia, in the shadow of the Allegheny National Forest. The upper Allegheny Valley Railroad makes its headquarters here. Visitors to Grafton can experience more history when visiting the former Grafton Steel Mills, a large manufacturer of railroad and building supplies. The city is also the birthplace of pop star Charlie Daniels.

Washington

Photo of Washington, West Virginia
Washington, West Virginia: en.wikipedia.org

Located in West Virginia's lush Kanawha Valley, Pittsburgh is an unspoiled mountain town offering visitors many outdoor adventures. The area has been popular with European tourists for years, and the city is quite a contrast to the eastern city where tall buildings, expansive concrete, and concrete parking garages are the norm. Despite being so large and modern, Pittsburgh's charms are mostly unspoiled, offering a unique charm all its own. The city boasts historical sites and miles of white-paved streets running through beautiful downtown squares. The city's East End is home to many wonderful shops, galleries, restaurants, and coffee houses. Day trips are a popular thing to do in the area, with Catoctin Mountain Park, Charleston, and Oakley as three popular options for the day. Also popular for nightlife is Station Square, which has a handful of pubs and upscale restaurants. In the city, the Sixth Street bars and restaurants are on par with other American cities. To get to Washington, West Virginia, take Interstate 64 south from Pittsburgh, then travel west and make a left onto West Virginia Route 3.