West Virginia gets its share of bad press, and unfortunately, many American's view the state as the butt of geographical jokes. But those living in West Virginia are fiercely loyal to their state. They'll proudly wear West Virginia University shirts when traveling, hum the famous John Denver song, and put their state up against any in the nation when it comes to natural wonders and charming cities. West Virginia’s “Mountain State” nickname fits just right, with the Allegheny Highlands of the Appalachian chain forming a beauty that novelist Heather Day Gilbert described as “leaves composting in the woods, the cold trickle of little creeks and waterfalls, the ferns greening up everything … the rock and the coal this state is built on.” West Virginia is also built on charming towns, championship golf, ski slopes, onion festivals, and, yes, country roads that still lead home.
We asked native West Virginians to tell us what they like best about living in their state. Presented below are eight reasons to consider living in West Virginia. Got a few of your own? Share your ideas in the comments.
One of the most popular ski resorts in the eastern U.S., Snowshoe draws some 480,000 annual skiers to ply its 60 runs, ride its 14 chairlifts and experience its 1,500-foot vertical drop. The resort is also a year-round adventure destination featuring hiking, biking, ziplining, four-wheeling, fly-fishing, kids’ camps and picturesque golf courses.
White Sulphur Springs
Known for elegance, stellar service and classic architecture, The Greenbrier’s 710 rooms are anchored by its National Historic landmark inn, along with 96 guest and estate houses, idyllic golf fairways, fine dining, mineral spa, gaming venue and boutique shopping. Tip: Ask to tour The Bunker, a once-classified emergency fallout shelter for U.S. Congress during the Cold War.
Fans of West Virginia University’s Mountaineer sports teams tend to be rabidly loyal, hailing the Gold and Blue through thick and thin as athletes compete in the Big 12 Conference. Fans of the state’s other colleges, including Marshall University’s Thundering Herd in Huntington, are just as passionate.
West Virginia is a golfer’s paradise, with numerous top courses headlined by Pete Dye Golf Resort in Bridgeport and Pikewood National in Morgantown. Created by its namesake master course designer, Pete Dye is a signature resort built on a former coal mine that ranks No. 9 on Golfweek’s list of Best Modern Courses. The equally stunning Pikewood was named 2009’s Best New Private Course in America by Golf Digest.
The menu at this traditional favorite shines with build-your-own burritos, strollers (salad wraps), quesadillas, nachos and more, featuring farm-fresh ingredients and a robust selection of vegetarian options - along with cocktails, margaritas and even its own Black Bear Stout ale. Bonus: Kids 6 and under eat free.
While boat ramps are plentiful on West Virginia waterways, we’re talking ramps as in wild onions, a.k.a. leeks, perfect to season stews or served up with bacon. This flavorful Appalachian root is celebrated statewide each spring through culinary extravaganzas featuring dinners, crafts, live music and more.
Long a hot spot for vacationers, Oglebay features the 221-room Wilson Lodge (recently refurbished), spa, golf course and myriad outdoor activities throughout 1,700-plus acres. From mid-November through Christmas, Oglebay morphs into a holiday wonderland as its 300-acre, six-mile-drive Winter Festival of Lights wows visitors.
What was once a winding, 40-minute trek is now a breathtaking, one-minute drive thanks to this 876-foot, 3,030-foot-long engineering marvel. Completed in 1977, the world’s largest steel span and America’s second-highest bridge connects New River Gorge National River and appears on the U.S. Mint’s official state quarter.