It doesn’t matter if it’s for a weeklong vacation or a quick tread through the snow, West Virginia University Extension Service experts say there are plenty of cultural, recreational and holiday hot spots to enjoy around the state.
“West Virginia offers travelers a variety of unique opportunities and destinations, from skiing and spas, to state parks and family-friendly entertainment,” said Doug Arbogast, WVU Extension specialist for community and rural tourism.
According to the WV Division of Tourism, tourism is the third largest driver of West Virginia’s economy, which has grown 6 percent per year since the year 2000 with $5.1 billion in travel spending in 2012.
During holiday seasons and beyond, visitors can travel the state to take in sights, smells, shopping and more.
“The winter season is the perfect time to experience the ‘Mountain State’s’ outdoor recreational activities, luxurious resorts and incredibly scenic state parks,” Arbogast said.
He explained that during the winter months, many state parks, such as the newly renovated Canaan Valley Resort, offer seasonal discounts on many lodging packages and amenities.
“Resorts offer travelers a quick weekend getaway with numerous package options,” said Arbogast. “It’s a perfect way to unwind from the chaos of busy holiday schedules.”
West Virginia also has great culinary destinations. Towns, such as Fayetteville, offer travelers a variety of restaurants to choose from, including Pies and Pints, and coffee shops, like the Musical Ground European Coffeehouse.
Arbogast explains that approximately 90 percent of businesses in West Virginia are small businesses. Spending at a local establishment not only contributes to that business, but starts a “ripple effect.” Funds are spread throughout the community that benefit the entire town.
Places like Sutton bring southern hospitality by way of the historic Caf� Cimino Country Inn and Restaurant, with a commitment to using local foods and four distinct dining rooms that boast authentic early 1900s fireplaces, mantels and woodwork.
If you’re looking for a more holiday-themed experience, Arbogast recommends the Oglebay Festival of Lights in Wheeling, Breakfast with Santa at WVU Jackson’s Mill in Weston or the Cathedral Caf� in Fayetteville.
West Virginia has many family-friendly winter events. Families can take a scenic railroad ride like the Official Warner Brothers Polar Express-themed railroad in Elkins.
If music and a small town atmosphere are your style, Lewisburg, home to the Greenbrier Valley Theatre, offers holiday entertainment from the West Virginia Jazz Orchestra, art galleries, boutique shopping and “farm to table” restaurants.
The town, voted West Virginia’s “Best Small Town” by WV Living Magazine, offers authentic 1800s stays at historic inns, like the General Lewis Inn and Restaurant.
Arbogast says you don’t have to cross the state line to warm up and escape the cold weather, either. He recommends a trip to one of many spas, like the historic first spa in Berkley Springs or the Greenbrier Hotel Mineral Spa.
“Visiting resorts, small towns and other places throughout the state allows travelers to experience the attractions while increasing economic development for West Virginia’s small businesses and towns,” said Kelly Nix, WVU Extension leadership specialist for community-based resources and economic development.
“Continually supporting locally owned businesses helps to build a stronger, more robust state-wide economy.”
With a presence in all 55 counties of the state, WVU Extension experts can offer information to West Virginians on their travel plans and destinations, and offer guidance through trusted research to local business owners and community leaders to help drive West Virginia’s economy forward.
Learn more about how WVU Extension Service works in small towns and communities across the state, visit http://www.ext.wvu.edu/.
CONTACT: Cassie Waugh, WVU Extension Service
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