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 Big Zipper's three ziplines stretch over ravines, valleys, and treetops, and together measure more than 2,300 feet. On tours, visitors glide along the zipline cables while strapped into secure full-body harnesses, enjoying a bird's-eye view of the rugged scenery below.
New River Climbing School’s PCGI-trained and certified staff, led by senior cragsman David Wolff, shepherds climbers of all skill levels skyward during a variety of education-packed tours. Small groups equipped with the necessary climbing and rappelling gear—such as shoes, helmets, and microphones for amplifying yodels—follow the step-by-step instructions of experienced guides, who undergo rigid evaluations before earning a spot on the school’s team. Throughout each adventure, the New River Gorge coddles sensory receptors with an array of sites, sounds, and smells, including kaleidoscopic rock swirls and towering mountains chiseled into words of encouragement. Half-day and full-weekend tours enable the staff to further cater to guests from varying backgrounds, occupations, and experience levels.
Rivermen's New River rafting trips guide amateurs and avid aquanauts alike through some of the most scenic whitewater rapids of New River Gorge National River. Reverential rafters can drink up hearty eyefuls of the gorge and its abundant wildlife, weathered bluffs, and recognizable bridge, as seen on the West Virginia state Pog and quarter. The upper river excursion (4–6 hours, $124) traverses canyons on relatively mild waters punctuated by a few easy rapids. Easily navigable by group raft or inflatable duck (a kayak-like vessel that holds 1–2 people), the upper trip makes an enjoyable introduction to whitewater for families, beginner to intermediate rafters, and adolescent Loch Ness monsters. The lower route (4–6 hours, $134) quickens the pulse with more than 25 rapids, as well as tranquil pools and the requisite breathtaking scenery. Both tours will stop to provide lunch.
Nestled amid rustic riverside scenery, North American River Runner's 1,500-acre resort welcomes families, friends, and nature enthusiasts with a plethora of engaging al fresco entertainment. Guests can set up their own tents and equipment on the mountaintop campgrounds for two nights (a $26 value) amid peaceful, panoramic views of the surrounding forest, free from the modern world and its brilliantly colored jumbotrons. Although not included in this Groupon, campers may opt to upgrade from standard accommodations to bunkhouses or deluxe lodging for an additional fee or add on rental tents and gear, such as a flannel-lined sleeping bag and pillow ($5) or a camp kit with an assembled four-man tent and four half-inch, close-cell foam sleeping pads ($10). The grounds afford campers access to a fire pit and picnic table, as well as shower houses within walking distance for washing up or crooning. Along with one breakfast (up to a $9 value) and lunch (a $9 value), NARR's foodie-friendly dinner banquet boasts vegetarian options, tender beef brisket, and Cajun-rubbed rack of pork alongside an army of side dishes, desserts, and drinks (up to a $20 value).