New River Gorge Area Attractions

Maybe you are taking a rest day or maybe it is cold and raining and you would rather not climb.  No worries. There are loads of things to do in this area.  We have arranged our list from near to far…

Near Fayetteville:

  • New River Convention and Visitors Bureau – Right off Rt. 19 at Oyler Ave in Oak Hill, this is a great first stop to get info on what our area has to offer.  465-5617 or 1-800-927-0263
  • National Park Service Visitor Center – The Canyon Rim Visitor Center, a matter of minutes from Water Stone, is a great first stop to get oriented to the flora, fauna and history, both social and geologic, of the area.  Check out the useful interpretive info, great maps, book store and friendly rangers. Be sure to stroll out to the New River Gorge Bridge overlook  465-0508  (Link to NPS site…)
  • Bridge Walk Tours  It will soon be possible to go out on the New River Gorge Bridge catwalk legally!  Anyone who has snuck out there can attest to how amazing it is to explore this massive structure.  Details coming soon!
  • Fayetteville Town Park – This small, beautifully situated park shares a border with the National Park.  A new concrete skatepark, basketball courts, ball fields, an exercise par course and Play-itville, a terrific community-built playground, provide lots of play opportunities for kids and adults.  Great hiking and biking trails leave from the back of the park.
  • Wild Blue Adventure Company offers sightseeing flights in a vintage WW II Steerman bi-plane – you ride in the front cockpit, pilot Chris Kaplar in the back. Chris, dressed in period pilot garb, is an expert pilot and will be happy to do some barrel rolls and other aerobatic tricks if you like. The airport is located behind the Shell station on Rt 19 south of Fayetteville. This is a highly recommended activitiy, a unique experience, and a great way to get the lay of the land. New for Fall 10:  Chris bought another plane from the WW II era, this one with two seats for guests.  Options!
  • Historic Fayette Theatre – This charming small theatre presents a full calendar of Appalachian Music and drama.  In Fayetteville.  304-574-4655
  • Golf Courses – Bring your clubs along and give one of our local courses a try. Bridge Haven is closest and may well prove to be the steepest course you’ve ever played. 304-574-2120. Other 18 hole public courses include Grandview State Park 763-2520, and Briar Patch 253-4653. Both are in the Beckley Area.  For a much nicer course try semi-private Glade Springs Resort. 763-2050
  • The Mystery Hole – A nutty tradition. See the laws of gravity defied! Don’t miss this West Virginia cultural icon.  Open April-Oct.  On Route 60. 658-9101
  • Summersville Lake – A recreational paradise. Clean, undeveloped and under used! Go to Battle Run Recreation Area (North on 19, left on 129, past the Dam on right.) for a swimming beach, or better yet check out other great swimming, climbing spots.  For the scoop on where to find them stop in at Water Stone Outdoors in Fayetteville.  574-2425.  You can rent pontoon boats, sit-on-top kayaks, and canoes from Steve and Donna at Summersville Lake Retreat. 872-5975. Believe it or not there is a full service dive shop located at the marina. Sarges’s Dive Shop offers snorkeling charters and boat rentals.  872-1782.
  • Carnifex Ferry State Park –  This was the site of the only Civil War Battle in Fayette County.  Good historical info.  The super-steep Fisherman’s Trail provides access to Pillow Rock rapid on the Upper Gauley—a primo spectating spot during Gauley season.
  • Gauley River National Recreation Area –  It is interesting to check out the huge earthen dam that controls the flow of the legendary whitewater of the Gauley River.  If you happen to be here in early fall and you are looking for a BIG adrenaline rush, book an Upper Gauley trip with a local outfitter.
  • Babcock State Park –  Twenty minutes from Opossum Creek Retreat.  Great hiking and some of the best single track mountain biking around (though not all legal…), tennis courts, swimming pool, fishing lake, great family fun spot.  Never crowded!   438-3003
  • Hawks Nest State Park –  Great views of the river. Trails, golf course, museum. Ride the Tram!  Lodge and restaurant.   658-5212
  • New River Jetboats –  Take a jet boat up the river. More fun than you might think!  Go to Hawks Nest State Park and head down to the river.  469-2525
  • Disc Golf Courses –  Adventures on the Gorge has a popular  course that is located right out of their parking lot.  Just ask! ACE Whitewater also has a course at their base camp down in Minden.  Just ask.  both are free.
  • Fayette County Park –  The park has a playground, trails, a fishing pond and ball fields but we go because we love the swimming pool.  Set among the trees, it is huge, underused and great for swimming laps.  Baby pool too!  They do have some goofy rules but it is worth putting up with them.  Open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 574-1111
  • African American Museum –  This small but interesting museum located in Ansted illuminates the history of African Americans in Fayette County. 658-5526
  • Good Evening Ranch –  A zoo?  Yep, and a full on rodeo arena…this place is fascinating and a bit bizarre but our kids always enjoy heading up there. 872-1603

Within a Half Hour Drive:

  • Tamarack –  This is a big, fancy, fun arts and crafts gift store that sells “The Best of West Virginia”.  This place features quality ceramics, wood working, homemade toys, stained glass, jewelry, instruments, fine art and more, all beautifully displayed in a cool building.  Good food and coffee available, courtesy of the Greenbrier.  In Beckley right off the interstate.  You can’t possibly miss it for all the signage.  256-6843
  • Exhibition Coal Mine  Beckley used to call itself “The Town with a Mine of its Own”. The tag line is cheesy but the mine is cool.  Get a feel for what coal mining is all about as you ride in your own coal car on the 35 minute underground tour.  We love this place and so do our kids.  Open seasonally.  256-1747
  • Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia and Mountain Homestead – Next to the Exhibition Coal Mine you’ll find a re-creation of an old Coal Camp and a small, hands-on museum for kids. There is also a small but fun waterpark next door.  252-3730
  • Theatre West Virginia – See Hatfields & McCoys, Sweet Honey in the Rock, a civil war drama, or Oklahoma.  The outdoor setting adds to the atmosphere.  Open seasonally.  256-6800
  • Movie Theatres – There are none in Fayette County but Beckley has a multi-plexe.   Marquee Cinema 255-4036.
  • MacArthur Skating Rink – Big, clean and never crowded.  Bring your in-line skates or rent roller skates.  It’ll put you in touch with your inner child.  255-7528
  • Blueberry Hill – This family run you-pick-it blueberry farm is a pleasure.  Pack a picnic, load up your family and pick to your hearts content.  Blueberry season peaks July/August.  The price per pound varies but is always ridiculously low.  We froze 30 pounds last year!  Located just south of Beckley, not far off the highway.  Call first and if they are open, be sure to go!  787-3930

Charleston, West Virginia

An easy hour and fifteen minute drive takes you to the Capital.  Take the Highway or opt for the Midland Trail Scenic Highway (Rt. 60).  Call 304-343-6001 for your free travel guide.

  • Mountain Stage – This live performance radio show has been airing on Public Radio for over 20 years.  Recorded in Charleston and heard around the country, the shows are varied, inexpensive and always fun. Great cheap entertainment.  Call for show times.  304-558-0220
  • The Clay Center – 561-3500. West Virginia’s premier performing arts center shares a brand new beautiful space with the Avampato Discovery Museum.  A terrific interactive children’s science center, IMAX, planetarium, art museum and an amazing marble maze make this a perfect family daytrip.  304-561-3575
  • Memorial Ice Arena – New full size skating arena offers skating sessions throughout the week.  304-744-4423
  • West Virginia Power Baseball.  If you feel like catching some of America’s favorite pastime head to the new stadium and watch some AAA ball.  Season runs April-Sept.  304-344-0083
  • Capital Market – Housed in a tastefully refurbished train station, the Market offers wine, cheese, local produce, flowers and more.  304-344-1905
  • Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream – Downtown Charleston is pretty cool and Ellen’s offers not-to-be-missed homemade ice cream, soups, salads and sandwiches.  Raspberry Chocolate Chip is the pick. 304-343-6488 Across the street you’ll find Taylor Books, quintessential independent bookseller and purveyor of terrific coffee.  304-342-1461
  • South Hills Shops – An enclave of interesting boutiques located in a tight little area.  Toy store, clothing stores, art store, gourmet deli and Cornucopia, one of the best gift shops ever.  304-342-7148. Located just across the river from downtown.
  • Coming November of 2010:  Pies & Pints is opening downtown on Capital ST.

Lewisburg, West Virginia

An hour and fifteen minutes east you’ll find this historic town with well-developed shopping.  Lots of galleries and antique shops, a terrific toy store, several coffee shops and some good restaurants make a visit to Lewisburg a great day trip.  For info call the Greenbrier CVB at 1-800-833-2069.

  • Lost World Caverns – The closest cave system around.  A popular stop for the kids. Self-guided and wild cave tours available.  Natural history museum, including dinosaur artifacts and gift shop.  304-645-6677 or 866-228-3778
  • Organ Cave – The second largest commercial cave on the East Coast and the 22nd largest cave in the world.  It has been declared a National Natural Landmark.  304-645-7600
  • Greenbrier Resort – Tour this famous five-star resort and its legendary bunker—call first!  Make reservations if you would like to have lunch or dinner.  800-624-6070 or 304-536-1110
  • West Virginia State Fair.  Corn dogs, pony rides, livestock galore, tilt-a-whirl,…what more could you ask for?  Ten days in August.  Call Greenbrier CVB for dates and details
  • Greenbrier River Trail.  Recently featured in Backpacker magazine as one of the top ten hiking trails, this 76 mile section of rail-to-trail runs next to the Greenbrier River and takes you through some beautiful county.

Beyond… Worth the Drive Though!

  • Cass Scenic Railroad –  Go for an excursion on the restored steam-driven locomotive.  Especially popular during the peak fall leaf season.  This is a classic West Virginia attraction  304-456-4300
  • Hatfield and McCoy Trail – This 500 mile (and growing) trail system is located in the southern coal counties.  It is a motorized trail system, so rev up that ATV or dirt bike and get after it.  800-592-2217
  • Green Bank Telescope – The National Radio Astronomy Observatory operates the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank telescope, the world’s largest fully steerable single aperture antenna.  Fascinating for the scientifically inclined. 304-456-2011 or 304-456-2150
  • Seneca Rocks – Located in the Monongahela National Forest, this was the state’s first major climbing destination.  This jagged fin of rock offers amazing climbing for the adventurous but also a great hike to the top and a small visitor center. Nearby you’ll find the Via Ferrata, which is an exciting, safe way for non-climbers to get the climbing experience.  304-567-3169
  • Dolly Sods – The high plains of Dolly Sods feature upland bogs, beaver ponds and sweeping vistas—and miles of great hiking trails.  The plant life and climate are more similar to northern Canada than West Virginia.  304-636-1800
  • Cranberry Wilderness Area – This is the largest US Forest Service Wilderness area east of the Mississippi.  Great fishing and 50 miles of trails draw visitors, as does the half-mile boardwalk that allows you to see the unusual Cranberry bog. Check out the small but worthwhile visitor center.  304-636-1800.