Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Harpers Ferry, (800) 848-8687, www.jeffersoncountycvb.com.
West Virginia Tourism, Charleston, (800) 225-5982, www.callwva.com.
Augusta Heritage Center, Davis and Elkins College, 100 Campus Drive, Elkins, (304) 637-1209, www.augustaheritage.com. Toss aside your Deliverance-inspired prejudices about the hill country and look to the Augusta Center's weekend workshops, publications, and films for a better understanding of local and ethnic traditional folk cultures. The Augusta Festival, which takes place August 8-10, celebrates Appalachian, Creole, and Cajun arts and music.
Beartown State Park, near Hillsboro, (304) 653-4254, www.beartownstatepark.com. Don't leave food lying around in Beartown, located on the eastern summit of Droop Mountain. The park got its name because of the unusual sandstone formations of cave-like openings and criss-crossing "street-like" rock patterns, not its residents . . . but just in case.
Berkeley Springs State Park, 2 S. Washington St., Berkeley Springs, (304) 258-2711, www.berkeleyspringssp.com. The country's first spa bathhouse opened in 1930 in Berkeley Springs, a tiny mountain town with natural mineral springs at a constant 74.3 degrees. Visitors have since flocked to the park for massages and dips in the same-sex Roman-style bathhouses (bathing suits optional).
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, Harpers Ferry, (304) 535-6298, www.nps.gov/ hafe. Once home to a federal arsenal, Harpers Ferry has seen a lot of action, including a raid by John Brown in an attempt to incite and arm a slave revolt. Devastated during the Civil War, the 2,300 acres, spanning 3 states, is now finally at rest as a national park. Take a stroll through the premises and learn about the area's turbulent history by visiting the museums and outdoor exhibits.
Museum of Radio and Technology, 1640 Florence Ave., Huntington, (304) 525-8890, free. The museum, housed in a converted elementary school from the '20s, features military communication history, ham radios, and a vintage hi-fi room.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Green Bank, (304) 456-2011, www.gb.nrao.edu, free tour. SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) research has its roots in the Green Bank-based NRAO, where telescopes and computers record and process radio emissions from the cosmos to tell us about planets, comets, quasars, and galaxies. For the nascent astrophysicist in all of us.
Prabhupada's Palace and City of Gold, Moundsville, (304) 843-1812, www.palaceofgold.com, $3-$6. Take a guided tour of the most famous Hare Krishna temple in North America, which attracts millions of visitors each year. Built by hundreds of devotees of Sril Prabhupada, a Calcutta-born sannyasi, over seven years, the palace contains hand-made stained glass windows, chandeliers, ornaments, and a two-ton dome. Said one original builder to explain his labors, "The seemingly impossible is made possible by divine inspiration."
Spruce Knob, near Judy Gap, (800) 225-5982, www.callwva.com. At 4,860 feet above sea level, Spruce Knob is West Virginia's highest peak. Take advantage of summer weather to hike or camp at the summit, which is impossible to get to during winter months. An observation tower permits impressive panoramic views of the forested ridges below.
West Virginia Museum of American Glass, Main Avenue and Second Street, Weston, (304) 269-5006, www.members.aol.com/wvmuseumofglass. You probably have not yet had the occasion to visit a museum devoted entirely to the United State's glass heritage--what are you waiting for? This museum chronicles the lives of glass factories, glass workers, and the communities that sprung up to support them from 1900-1940.
Wheeling Downs, 1 S. Stone St., Wheeling, (877) 946-4373, www.wheelingdowns.com. 1,600 slot machines and greyhound racing for all those hordes of Marylanders who want to gamble.
Jamboree in the Hills, July 17-20, Wheeling, (800) 624-5456, www.jamboreeinthehills.com. The four-day country music festival is a BYOT (Bring Your Own Tarp) outdoor rain-or-shine event. This year's lineup includes Travis Tritt, Lorrie Morgan, Brooks and Dunn, and Martina McBride.
Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Fair, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 13-15, Sam Michaels Park, Charles Town, (800) 624-0577, $3-$6, ages 5 and under free, www.jeffersoncounty.com/festival. Tap your toes to live bluegrass music while you admire 200 booths filled with handmade jewelry, pottery, musical instruments, baskets, dolls, clothes, and lots of other crafty items.
Vandalia Gathering, May 23-25, 1900 Kanawha Blvd East, Charleston, (304) 558-0162, www.wvculture.org/vandalia, free. As if you needed another reason to visit West Virginia, now you have it: outdoor clogging. The Gathering, held on State Capitol grounds, features master fiddlers, banjo pickers, storytellers, and yes, lots of dancing, all in the spirit of celebrating the passing down of traditions from the local mountain culture.
SPORTS & RECREATION
Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis, (800) 225-5982, www.blackwaterfalls.com. The five-story waterfall plunging into a 525-feet-deep gorge is one of the most photographed sites in the state. Q: How did it gets its brackish coloring? A: From the tannic acid released by fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. Learn more natural science fun facts at the park or just go for the rivers stocked in early summer with trout.
Butts Tubes and Appalachian Whitewater Express, 10985 Harpers Ferry Road, Loudon Heights, (800) 836-9911, www.buttstubes.com. The Web site cautions, "You will get wet!" So be prepared to soak yourself when you navigate your tube, canoe, kayak, raft, or duckie around the Harpers Ferry area.
C&O Canal Bicycling, 19351 Deer Path, Knoxville, (301) 834-5180. Rent a bike and coast along the scenic C & O canal towpath in Harpers Ferry past lockhouses, wildlife, and riverbanks.
Greenbrier State Forest, near White Sulphur Springs, (800) 225-5982, www.greenbriersf.com. Many of us have gone camping--you know, driven up to a site with eight of our best friends and as many six-packs as the van can hold. Well Greenbrier log cabins are for truly roughing it with no TV (the mountains interfere with television signals) or telephones. The forest is located in a verdant valley, so forget about modernity and take advantage of fishing and boating trips along the Greenbrier River.
Mountain Thunder Motorcycle Rentals and Tours, 217 E. Main St., Clarksburg, (304) 724-1253, www.wvbiker.com. Beginners are welcome to rent motorcycles or ATVs to zoom around the remote, rugged terrain of the Appalachian Mountains. Thousands of miles of trails contain steep climbs and descents and all kinds of twists and turns that range from a good time to seriously scary.
Hinkle's Dying-Arts Glassworks, Buckhannon, (304) 472-7963, www.hinklesglass.com. Watch artisan Ron Hinkle fashion unique works of art out of sand, lime, and soda ash. Includes a factory tour and outlet featuring hand-blown glass.
Jefferson Orchards, Kearneysville, (888) 792-7753, www.jeffersonorchards.com. A commercial orchard located in the Shenandoah Valley and filled with acres of peaches, plums, and apples. Plus a retail outlet and bakery if you don't feel handy enough to make edible pies out of your own hard-earned pickings.
Tamarack, Beckley, (888) 262-7225, www.tamarackwv.com.A statewide collection of hand-carved furniture, homemade pottery, Appalachian quilts, and regional foods. Watch artisans labor in their studios on-site and listen to live music performances.
812 Park Ave.
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