The Best of West Virginia Awards 2013

The votes are in! Readers from all corners of the state have weighed in on their favorite eateries and entertainment venues, celebrities and care providers, shopping spots and scenic escapes.


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Recreation & Outdoors

photgraphed by carla witt ford


Blackwater Falls State Park

One of the most photographed areas in the state, Blackwater Falls State Park is located on 2,500 beautiful acres in the scenic Potomac Highlands. The overlook at Blackwater Falls is one of the most popular spots in the park, as the amber water of the Blackwater River tumbles down many stories before winding through an eight-mile gorge. It’s beautiful throughout the year, and it’s stunning even in winter—the water freezes in a 63-foot ice sculpture.

1584 Blackwater Lodge Road, Davis, WV 26260; 304.259.5216;


Ritter Park

Impeccably maintained, this 75-acre park on the south side of Huntington was recently designated one of the 10 Great Public Spaces by the American Planning Association. Walking trails loop around the park, and the rose garden is home to more than 3,500 rose plants. The playground is exceptional, offering a dinosaur sand pit, climbing boulders, and a zip line for tots with expendable energy. Towering shade trees, friendly squirrels, a creek full of ducks, and a large fountain provide plenty of photo ops.

Between 8th and 12th streets on 13th Avenue, Huntington, WV 25701; 304.696.5954


Canaan Valley

The mountains surrounding Canaan Valley keep summers cool, making it an ideal spot to enjoy the outdoors without suffering from the heat. For an area known for premier skiing, there is no shortage of outdoor adventure in the summer or fall—camping, biking, horseback riding, hiking, and fishing are among the options. Nearby towns of Thomas and Davis offer hip eateries and laid-back diversion, and a number of popular destinations are within an hour of Canaan Valley—Blackwater Falls, Dolly Sods, Otter Creek Wilderness, Seneca Rocks, and Spruce Knob, to name a few.

Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau; 800.782.2775;


Summersville Lake

Not only is Summersville Lake the largest body of water in the state, offering more than 60 miles of shoreline, it is also one of the cleanest. Boating is a classic pastime on the lake, with rentals available at the Summersville Marina. The manmade beach at Battle Run Campground is a top spot for swimming. The lake offers much more than that, though—rock climbing, camping, fishing, kayaking, and even scuba diving are also popular.

Summersville Convention and Visitors Bureau; 304.872.3722;


New River Gorge

It’s an iconic image. The New River Gorge Bridge spanning across mountains with the New River chiseled into the bottom of the canyon. Fall foliage is a nice complement to an already spectacular view. However stunning the views from above, it’s a shame to only see this sight from the top. A windy trip down old Route 19 will take you to the bottom of the gorge and give you a deeper appreciation of just how big the bridge is—and how long it took to cross the gorge before the bridge was open to traffic in 1977.

Canyon Rim Visitor Center, 162 Visitor Center Road, Lansing, WV 25862; 304.574.2115;


White Water Rafting

There’s nothing quite like the thrill of white water rafting—the view of the mountains rising up around the river, the challenge to ride each rapid successfully. Southern West Virginia offers some of the best white water in the country—there’s something for everyone on the New River or the Gauley River, with rapids ranging from moderate to extreme. Licensed outfitters guide trips that last hours to days and even include fun bonuses like paintball and rock climbing.

New River Gorge Convention and Visitors Bureau, 310 Oyler Avenue, Oak Hill, WV 25901; 800.927.0263;

Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort


It’s no surprise hundreds of thousands of skiers pour into this resort each year. Perched nearly 5,000 feet in the air, Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort is one of the top skiing and snowboarding resorts in the Mid-Atlantic. With 180 inches of snowfall each season and almost 250 skiable acres, there’s enough going on to keep any snow bunny satisfied. Three ski areas offer visitors different experiences—there are even black diamond and double black diamond designations on the 57 trails looping down the mountain. But there’s much more going on besides skiing and snowboarding. The Hare Racer Zipline sweeps through Snowshoe Village, offering an unparalleled view. Two hours at the Coca-Cola Tube Park, whizzing down the six-story-high tubing hill, never passed so fast. After the sun’s down, explore the slopes on a snowmobile tour.

10 Snowshoe Drive, Snowshoe, WV 26209; 877.441.4386;


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