The undulating Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia embody the state's abundant natural beauty and colorful past. Tucked away in the mountains, Charleston, West Virginia's capital and largest city, sits only a 15-minute drive away from Nitro. At the West Virginia State Museum, 26 rooms of exhibits chronicle the mountain state's history, covering eras ranging from prehistory to frontier life and coal mining.About 15 miles from the hotel, the Kanawha State Forest hums with life, boasting 9,300 acres of flora and fauna, including 19 species of wood warblers. Twenty-five miles of hiking trails and nine mountain-biking trails crisscross dense woodlands, streams, and chipmunk duplexes.
When residents from 45 states and seven countries visit your museum in a year, you know you’ve got something special. At the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, that special something is a trio of museums. The Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection houses 1/12-scale reproductions of homes, people, and artwork. This is where the prince saw handcrafted miniature mansions and apartments throughout history. Meanwhile, the Genealogical & Historical Research Library displays books and documents from the past 300 years and the Regional History Museum brings the city’s story to life through colorful dioramas and more than 4,000 artifacts, such as 19th-century wedding gowns, swords from the Civil War, and prehistoric Native American items.
The course itself carries on that fun vibe, too. Winding through city streets and local parks, the 5K route is dotted with hydration stations that dole out hot chocolate. Holiday music, a giant Santa inflatable, and snow blowers help to set
The staff at Equestrian Ridge Farm has been tending to steeds and riders on its 200-acre estate for more than 10 years. During riding lessons in a medley of styles—including dressage, single driving, and trail riding—trainers educate equestrians of all levels at the facility’s two large, indoor arenas. The barn houses between 15–20 horses at any given time, a handful of which are reserved for lessons or reenactments of chase scenes from The Lone Ranger. Equestrian Ridge also offers under-saddle training for horses by an experienced instructor who tailors each session to the steed’s temperament and riding style.
Lurking in the darkness of moisture-saturated topsoil, the mud ninja challenges competitors to attempt his 5K obstacle-laden course. Serving the purpose of allowing entrants to live out their reality-show fantasies, the Mud Ninja race requires participants to crawl through mud pits covered with barbed wire and scale steep walls before leaping onto multiple mounds that punish imbalanced racers with a splash. Throughout the 5K course, contestants splat into mud pits in front of hundreds of spectators. The Little Mud Ninja Challenge scales the course for younger racers, and an after-party engages all with music and epic colored bubble machines and a plethora of food vendors.
Since 1977, the staff at New & Gauley River Adventures has helped visitors create year-round excitement across two rivers and more than 60,000 acres of terrain. The experts customize adventures, dispensing guides and gear for exhibitions, such as kayaking and high-speed whitewater rafting. Rafts float down the New River Gorge, passing by ghost towns and jump rocks. Meanwhile, the Gauley River emerges at the base of the Summersville Dam to form Class V+ rapids and enough churning whitewater to wash all of a giant's laundry. Back on dry land, horseback-riding groups meander through pre–Civil War roads. Ziplines soar across treetop canopies, and rocky peaks beckon climbers to scale their surface. As winter spills snow on the ground, the adventurous staff turns focus to cold-weather activities, such as snowshoeing and snowmen wrestling. The company's lodging options—which include campsites and cabins— let visitors rest up between their adventures. Nestled amid lush trees, the onsite Undercut Pub & Grill readies growling stomachs for hibernation with home-cooked breakfast and pub fare.