There is quite a lot to see and do in West Virginia, and a good bit of it does not cost anything more than your time and a little gasoline. These are some of the best free things to do here in the Mountain State.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. New River Gorge Bridge
West Virginia's most impressive bridge is the fourth largest single span arch bridge in the world. It is always free to visit, but if you really want to create a memory at this bridge, visit it on Bridge Day and parachute off of it. That's one memory you won't soon forget.
2. WV State Parks
It is always free to visit one of our numerous state parks. Some activities might cost money, but a hike in nature will never cost you a thing. There are many parks to choose from, such as Beartown State Park, pictured below.
3. World's largest teapot
This is a fun one. America has no shortage of unusual roadside attractions, and this is one of West Virginia's. The world's largest teapot, located in Chester, is exactly what it sounds like. You won't be able to drink any actual tea out of it, but it is definitely a sight to see while on the road.
4. Thurmond, the ghost town
Thurmond is essentially a ghost town. I say essentially, because the town still has five residents, but you probably won't see them. This was once a booming little town, but now it is quiet and desolate.
This is a small town in central West Virginia founded by Swiss immigrants. To this day, the town still celebrates its Swiss heritage, keeping the traditions of its mother country strong. While there, be sure to stop in to The Hutte, a traditional Swiss restaurant, for lunch or dinner.
6. Grave Creek Mound
The Grave Creek Mound in Moundsville is an ancient Indian burial mound built by the Adena people. The 2,000 year old mound is one of several around the state, and are one of the only remnants of an ancient culture in this region. Adjacent to the mound is a museum housing many fascinating antiquities.
7. Prabhupada's Palace Of Gold
This palace was built in the Indian settlement called New Vrindaban, founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, who came from India to create a settlement in the west in which he could spread the teachings of the god Krishna. The palace is intended to be one of seven that the community ultimately wishes to build. If they are anything like the first temple, this will end up being one of the most beautiful and opulent towns in the whole state.
8. Blenko Glass Company
Located in Milton, Blenko Glass offers free glass making demonstrations to visitors. It's a really amazing process to watch, and after it is over, you can visit the Blenko gift shop to purchase one of these works of art for yourself.
9. West Virginia State Capitol
A visit to the West Virginia State Capitol is free to visit, as are many of the attractions there. The best attraction has got to be the West Virginia State Museum. It is a trail through time that winds through the lower level of The Culture Center, in which the historical time periods of the state are recreated, starting from an ancient coal forest to the modern day. Along the way, you will see recreated log cabins, an old west country store and even a recreated highway leading away from a 1950s era diner.
10. The Governor's Mansion
While you are at the capitol complex, be sure to visit this Charleston landmark. The 30-room mansion is a Colonial Revival building completed in 1925 by Charleston architect Walter F. Martens. The first floor has a drawing room, ballroom, state dining room, library, and sitting room. The second is the residence of the governor and his family, with additional rooms located on the third floor.
11. The Huntington Museum of Art
Every Tuesday, a visit to the museum is free. It has several exhibits, include a large collection of historic firearms going back to the 18th century. The museum also features a Plant Conservatory, that is basically a walled in greenhouse that houses different plants from all over the world. When you are done inside, be sure to checkout the hiking trails on the grounds, which leads to a couple of beautiful overlooks.
What places on this list have you visited? What others would you recommend? Feel free to comment below and join the discussion.