Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Harpers Ferry, (800) 848-8687, www.jeffersoncountycvb.com.
Southern West Virginia Convention Visitors Bureau, Beckley, (800) 847-4898, www.visitwv.com.
West Virginia Tourism, Charleston, (800) 225-5982, www.wva.state.wv.us/callwva/.
Beartown State Park, near Hillsboro, (304) 653-4254, www.beartownstatepark.com. Located on Droop Mountain (named for the droop sandstone that comprises its boulders), this park luckily isn't named for any specific inhabitants lurking about. Rather, local residents thought the gaping pockets in the mountain's unusual rock formations once made ideal dens for black bears. So you can, you know, go ahead and take your time marveling at the strange patterns of the cliffs without any worries.
Berkeley Springs State Park, 2 S. Washington St., Berkeley Springs, (304) 258-2711, www.berkeleyspringssp.com. We should all just do as the Romans do wherever we go, especially if we're talking relaxation methods. Since 1930, people have been coming to Berkeley Springs to soak in the heated waters of Roman baths large enough to share with a person of the same sex or kick back in on their own. Bath/massage packages are also available with optional steam treatment. Sound body, sound mind, right?
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, Harpers Ferry, (304) 535-6298, www.nps.gov/-hafe. John Brown set the Civil War in motion when he raided the U.S. Arsenal in an effort to end slavery. Visit the area that endured guerrilla warfare and now lays claim to historic points and museums constructed inside original buildings.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Green Bank, (304) 456-2011, www.gb.nrao.edu, free tours. If black holes, solar flares, and other goings on of the cosmos intrigue you, check out the world's largest moveable telescope. Besides tours and a hands-on exhibit center, the Observatory offers star viewing parties throughout the season. Come July 8 for a Star Quest party that combines optical and radio astronomy observation.
Prabhupada's Palace and City of Gold, Moundsville, (304) 843-1812, www.palaceofgold.com. One might call the mansion built with 52 varieties of imported marble and onyx, 31 stained glass windows, gold-embroidered decorations, crystal chandeliers, and glass ceilings, elaborate. Perhaps even seemingly out of place in the rolling countryside of West Virginia. But the state's serene setting and the palace's intricate design appealed to founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Srila Prabhupada, and his temple now serves as a shrine for visitors to admire.
Spruce Knob, near Judy Gap, (800) 225-5982, www.fs.fed.us/r9/mnf/sp/spruce_knob.html. There are plenty panoramic-photo worthy shots from the lookout at West Virginia's highest peak. Besides feeling small and insignificant at 4,863 feet above sea level, you can tackle some of the nearly 70 miles of hiking trails or do the fishing and camping thing at nearby sites.
West Virginia Museum of American Glass, Main Avenue and Second Street, Weston, (304) 269-5006, www.members.aol.com/wvmuseumofglass. Glass, a historical object? It's true; the products we use are increasingly sold in squeezable forms and the production of glass isn't booming like it was from 1900-1940. The museum focuses on this period of time when telling the story of glass workers, their families, and communities.
Jamboree in the Hills, July 15-18, near Wheeling, (800) 624-5456, www.jamboreeinthehills.com. You can set up camp for over 24 hours of rain-or-shine country-music performances, including acts by Reba McEntire, Randy Travis, and ZZ Top--who we are not calling country or anything.
Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Fair, Sam Michael's Park, Charles Town, (800) 624-0577, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. June 11-13, www.jeffersoncounty.com/festival. If you're not artsy or crafty, take advantage of 200 other people's creative juices for your decorating needs. Bluegrass music entertains the folks who come to collect pottery, glass, baskets, jewelry, and fine art among the bric-a-brac.
Mountain Stage Newsong Festival, Aug. 20-22, Claymont Court near Charles Town, (800) 624-5456, www.newsongfestival.com. The entertainment line-up includes nearly 20 acts including Darrell Scott, Susan Werner, Kenny White, the Hungry Mountain Boys, and Peter Mulvey.
Vandalia Gathering, May 28-30, 1900 Kanawha Blvd East, Charleston, (304) 558-0162, www.wvculture.org/vandalia, free. Celebrate West Virginia heritage with banjo and fiddle contests, storytelling, traditional dance demonstrations, crafts, food, and concerts.
West Virginia Day Celebration, June 18-20, Davis, (304) 866-4121, www.canaanresort.com. Bet you've never been to a birthday bash that involves a Civil War encampment and mock battles. Have a burger and dog for us, but wait 'til after the square dancing is over.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis, (800) 225-5982, www.blackwaterfalls.com. You may have figured that the Falls' water is black. But why, and is that the only reason it's one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia? Come do some photo snapping of your own, especially on July 10 when a mid-summer walk between Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley State Park is planned.
Butts Tubes and Appalachian Whitewater Express, 10985 Harpers Ferry Road, Loudon Heights, (800) 836-9911, www.buttstubes.com. Sit your butt down and keep it down for a two-hour drift along the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Besides tubing, they also offer kayak, canoe, raft, and duckie rentals.
C&O Canal Bicycling, 19351 Deer Path, Knoxville, (301) 834-5180, www.jeffersoncountycvb.com/-activities.asp. Rent a bike for a scenic trip on this historic trail bordering the Potomac River. The terrain may be difficult at times, but campgrounds and attractions like Harpers Ferry allow you to make frequent stops. Bear in mind, at least you're not dragging a canal boat like the mules who made the same trek when the path was first built.
Greenbrier State Forest, near White Sulphur Springs, (800) 225-5982, www.greenbriersf.com. Hike trails that loop around Kate's Mountain, offering the chance to see wildlife, rare flowering plants, and a view from the top. On your less motivated days, take a fishing or boating trip or enjoy the outdoors from a shaded picnic area.
Blenko Glass Company, Milton, (304) 743-9081, www.blenkoglass.com. West Virginia's tradition in glass making continues here as it has for the past 100 years. Visit the museum and gift shop--both showcasing a wide selection of hand-blown glassware--and take a factory tour to watch craftsmen make vases, stem ware, and containers.
Tamarack, Beckley, (888) 262-7225, www.tamarackwv.com. Get a true taste of Appalachian culture and cuisine by shopping at Tamarack. Besides a large collection of regional handcrafted furniture and art, the center presents live theater performances and artist demonstrations.
Westwind Potters, 180C High St., Harpers Ferry, (304) 535-2511. Handmade ceramics by local and renowned artists.
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