History Lovers: A Guide to West Virginia
1. Tour the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum
History Lovers, This one is for you. At this eye-opening museum, you’ll learn about the ten thousand miners that walked for 50 miles in 1921 to protest their worker’s rights and change their desperate working conditions. A guided tour of the museum will allow you to take a walk in their shoes, see what their daily struggles involved, and witness their push to have their constitutional rights met. The guides are very knowledgeable and have personal stories to share for added context. Definitely worth putting on your West Virginia itinerary if you’re into museums and love a good peek into history.
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2. Explore Harpers Ferry National Historical Park- History Lovers
One could easily spend all day exploring this national park seeing all it has to offer. Rich with Civil War history, you can book a tour of the area or walk around at your leisure. The quaint town has been well-preserved, making visitors feel like they are stepping right into the 19th century. Check out the many informative and unique museums here including the site of John Brown’s raid. In the summer, the park rangers put on short historical reenactments of civil war moments. Furthermore, they provide groups with live demonstrations of old weaponry, so see if you can line up your trip accordingly. Don’t forget to pop into the bookstore to get your official passport stamp!
Off the beaten path, there are other attractions to see like the Murphy Farm, schoolhouses, and other buildings of interest. From the park, you can take a short hike to Jefferson Rock or take a longer hike to one of West Virginia’s best overlooks at Maryland Heights. Both of these additional activities in the area can be found on the Tripio app.
Additionally, the park has been hosting America’s oldest ghost tour for over 50 years where you can join a walking tour of the Lower Town to get a dose of history mixed with the paranormal.
3. Experience Heritage Farm Museum & Adventure Village
Step back in time on your visit to Heritage Farm, a recreation of an 1850’s Appalachian village. There are several museums to check out, all located inside quaint schoolhouses, homes, and cabins to give visitors a real feeling of immersion. Take the kids to the petting zoo for some fun animal interactions, or check out the Nature Center’s animal enclosures to see what Appalachia’s flora, fauna, and wildlife are like.
Need a little more adventure on your itinerary? Heritage Farm even has its own Adventure Park, where you can zoom down a zip line, attempt the aerial ropes courses, hop in an ATV, or climb a rock wall. Mountain biking trails for all skill levels are available throughout the forested areas as well. This West Virginia mini-vacation offers a perfect mix of leisure and fun, giving visitors the best of both worlds.
4. Ghost Tour of West Virginia Penitentiary
Join a 90-minute tour of this historic prison, built in 1866 and operating until 1995, that hosts several paranormal events throughout the year. You can opt for a regular, informational daytime tour of the Gothic-style building, get a group together and try a themed escape room, or go on a guided ghost hunt after dark. In October, the former prison hosts a haunted mansion event where visitors can sign up for a good scare. This spooky penitentiary was featured on the Travel Channel show Ghost Adventures, so if you’ve ever wanted to visit an “as seen on TV” location, you can go here and cross that off your bucket list.
5. New River Jet Boat Tour- History Lovers
If you’re using Tripio as you travel to Hawks Nest National Park on your vacation, don’t skip out on adding this scenic boat tour on the New River to your custom itinerary! The accommodating staff will shuttle you to the river where you’ll climb into a jet boat to begin your adventure. The engaging, informative guide will tell you all about a few points of interest along the way. Experience stunning views on the water as you get close to the New River Gorge Bridge. This bridge towers hundreds of feet into the sky. Your guide will return you to the park once the tour concludes.
6. Visit the Bizarre Mothman Museum
Mothman is a famous cryptic folktale that was first spotted in the town of Point Pleasant back in the 60’s. It’s one of the West Virginia’s favorite and best-known legends, and this museum is dedicated to showcasing its eerie stories. You’ll get to see the numerous recorded accounts of Mothman sightings and news clippings, authentic movie props and relics, and a gift shop full of unique oddities to take home. Be sure to add this museum to your custom itinerary on the Tripio app if you’re a fan of all things weird and mysterious.
7. Tour the West Virginia Capitol Building
See the beautiful grounds of the capitol building as you stroll through its elegant marble halls while learning about the rich history inside. The building has the highest dome out of any capitol building in the U.S. and showcases grand glass chandeliers on the interior. Outside the capitol, you can wander around the beautiful gardens and learn even more state history from all the statues scattered across the property or have a picnic on the lawn. This is a must-see place for history lovers.
8. Hike Part of the Famous Appalachian Trail: History Lovers
Harpers Ferry is home to the halfway point of the famous 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail. This is where you can stop by the visitor center to see the informational exhibits and 10-foot map of the entire trail. This expansive and beautiful hike passes through 14 states and is on many adventurous backpacker’s bucket list. Four miles of the trail are located in West Virginia, which is an easy walk from Harpers Ferry National Park to the visitor center.
9. See the West Virginia State Museum: History Lovers
This well-curated museum is perfect for the whole family and can be self-guided or you can reserve a tour. The bottom levels guide you through the state’s chronological history, beginning in prehistoric times and flowing through different time periods until you land in the present. There are discovery rooms that let you dive deeper into different aspects of West Virginia’s history, a dark coal mine tunnel recreation, and a variety of informational exhibits to check out. Upstairs you’ll find the gift shop and a section of local crafts to take home and enjoy.
10. Take A Boat Ride Over To Blennerhassett Island
This small, 3-mile long island packed with history is located on the Ohio River where a large, beautiful mansion sits. Around 40,000 people travel to this gorgeous state park every year to tour the grounds and learn about the area. Visitors can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride, various hikes and biking paths, and a concession stand with sandwiches and snacks for picnics. The island is an exceptionally scenic and peaceful way to spend a vacation day.
Visitors can access the island by hopping onto a sternwheeler boat. This takes you on a short 15-minute trip across the river. Don’t forget to check out the museum before boarding the boat to get to the island.
11. Steam Locomotive Ride at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park: A History Lovers Favorite
All aboard! This is your chance to take a ride on a steam engine locomotive. It pulls you up the scenic mountains of West Virginia. This 4-hour adventure found within the Tripio app will take you to Bald Knob where you’ll encounter switchbacks and overlooks as you travel. As one of the state’s most popular attractions, you won’t want to miss this unique experience!
12. Explore the Underground Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine
You can find this activity on Tripio, where you’ll descend into the dark depths of a once-thriving coal mine on a fascinating tour. The guides are veteran miners and have unique experiences and stories to tell about their time in the mines. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the hard workers that toiled in this field of work, as West Virginia’s main export was once coal. You’ll even get to sit in a mine cart and ride through the winding tunnels as you learn about its history. I hope you have enjoyed my blog on West Virginia for history lovers!
West Virginia have you intrigued? Check out our blog: West Virginia: Top 15 Places That Are Almost Heaven
-Rachael Grow, Tripio Guru
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