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Local’s Guide To Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

West Virginia Whitewater Rafting Trips

Mountain peaks rise in the distance, silhouetted against a painted sunrise. The wilderness is broken up only by the highway you travel and an occasional cabin or store. No hustle and bustle. No overcrowded cityscape. No smog. Just a natural peace that reigns supreme over the land in front of you.
No, this isn’t some long-forgotten paradise in a country far, far away. It’s right here in the United States, closer than you think. If this sounds like the perfect start to your vacation, then you’ll feel right at home in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

Friendly Locals & A Vast Wilderness

The license plates in West Virginia read “wild, wonderful,” and it’s such an accurate description of the majority of the state. Yes, there are some larger towns (like Charleston), but most of the state is full of barely-inhabited mountains.
The locals are incredibly friendly and eager to chat. Expect to spend half an hour speaking with the owners at every cute store you stop at—and there are plenty of those. West Virginians are incredibly proud of their state, and it is one place where tiny local shops thrive – they frequent these to support their neighbors.
There is a surprising amount of things to do and see for a state mostly overgrown with natural flora and fauna. Among these are thrill-seeking adventures, unique historic sites, a budding art district, and an array of unclassifiable adventures.
If you find yourself in West Virginia, make sure you see or do as many of the following as possible. But also remember to take time to relax! This state is perfect for relaxing, offering a picturesque idea of “the way things used to be.”

New River Gorge Bridge

One of the most photographed places in the entire state, the New River Gorge Bridge holds two distinct titles. It is the longest steel span bridge in the western hemisphere and the third highest bridge in the United States.
The bridge was a project undertaken to help make the trek across the New River easier on commuters and travelers alike. It successfully transformed a 40-minute drive down steep mountain roads into a quick, 30-second drive across a beautiful steel bridge.

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

This lunatic asylum was constructed during the late 1800s to house 250 people. During the 1950s, however, nearly two-and-a-half thousand people were being kept here. Conditions were unlivable. Tales of abuse, murder, and much more abounded before it closed in 1994.
Locals say the asylum is haunted and it has even been the subject of several ghost hunting television shows. If you want to test the rumors out for yourself, you can schedule a guided ghost tour through the asylum’s website.

Waterfalls

Since the state is mountainous, with little flat land to speak of, it naturally boasts a significant number of breathtaking waterfalls. To experience the naturalistic beauty of West Virginia for yourself, hike out into the wilderness a bit and view some of the 200+ falls.
A few of the most popular waterfalls in the state include:
Blackwater Falls – located near Davis, WV in Blackwater Falls State Park
Lower Hill Creek Falls – located near Marlinton in Richwood County
Cathedral Falls – just a mile north of the Gauley Bridge
Sandstone Falls – located on the infamous New River

Covered Bridges

West Virginia is home to an incredible 17 quaint, historic covered bridges. Some of them—like the Philippi Covered Bridge in Barbour County—are important Civil war sites. That one is the site of the first land battle which ever took place during the Civil War. The same person who built that bridge in 1852 also built the Barrackville Covered Bridge in Marion County.
Another one of note is the Indian Creek Covered Bridge. It was built in 1904 by “master masons” who ranged from only 16 to 18 years old!

White Water Rafting on the New River

Seeking some adventure and thrills during your trip? Then you need to go white water rafting on the New River. It spans around 360 miles, with some areas gushing quickly and others meandering slowly. The adventure is also a fairly affordable one, with half-day trips starting at around $70 – lunch included!
Fun fact: The “New” River is actually one of the oldest rivers in America. It is also one of the most-frequented travel destinations in West Virginia.

The Tamarack

This unique destination is an art lover’s paradise. A sprawling building with a distinctly peaked red roof, The Tamarack is an exhibition of the finest pieces West Virginian artists have to offer. Every item available for purchase, food ready to eat, and shop owner are born-and-bred West Virginian.
The grounds themselves are a work of art, featuring sculptures and a meticulously designed landscape. The atmosphere is both inviting and awe-inspiring. You can find homemade wood carvings, soaps, candles, paintings, and anything else you could imagine.

Exhibition Coal Mine

West Virginia notable for its coal mining history, so a trip to the state would not be complete without a visit to the Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley. Which also hosts an amazing dirt racing track if you want to spend the day in the town.
For a small fee of $22 ($12.50 for children), visitors can travel to the old underground coal mining tunnels with a former miner who shares what life was really like when working them. There is a museum, gift shop, and coal mining camp. For safety reasons, it only runs during the warmer months for the general public.
Your trip to wild, wonderful West Virginia just wouldn’t be complete without these amazing destinations—each as unique as the state itself. Whether it’s adventure, relaxation, or history that you’re looking for, the state has something to offer everyone. It is no wonder why West Virginians are so proud of their homeland.

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The Best Halloween Events in The U.S.

From haunted hikes to terrifying hay-rides, here are some of the best halloween events across the U.S. sure to give you a scare.

Sleepy Hollow, New York

Sleepy Hollow commemorates Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with scary events occurring year round. But during October, the legend rises to its spookiest heights. Hear a dramatic reading of the tale of the Headless Horseman accompanied by eerie organ music in the Old Dutch Church or grab a seat on the “hair raising” Haunted Hayride. The wagon rolls through forests filled with spooky sights and a frighteningly close encounter with the Headless Horseman. A block party lets revelers gear up to be spooked or wind down from being terrified. The premiere haunted town and house attraction is so realistically portrayed that you may want to leave the kids at home. Costumes are encouraged, and screams are heard nonstop all over town.

 The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze, New York

Billed as the tristate’s largest Halloween event, the Blaze features 7,000 intricately hand-carved pumpkins in amazing configurations that form incredible displays in an 18th Century landscape. The grandfather clock and windmill actually work, and T-Rex is poised to attack.
Wander around new medieval castle guarded by jack o’ lantern owls, see the pumpkin carousel twirl, thrill at the sight of a giant sea serpent. With synchronized lighting and soundtrack, the color-changing star show and the all-pumpkin Statue of Liberty come alive.
There’s plenty of snacks and drinks including seasonal favorites such as pumpkin beer, cider, candy apples, and pumpkin spice treats.

Terror on Tillson Street, Michigan

Romeo is a small, quaint village of historic homes dating back to the mid-1800s in and around Tillson street. Homeowners decorate for Halloween as if their frightening decorations and elaborate graveyard displays will keep their demons away.
The trick or treating takes place Halloween evening from 6 to 8 is so popular that the 30 participating homes usually distribute 60,000 pieces of candy in two hours. It is safe with the Romeo High School football team patrolling the streets with flashlights and on the lookout for troublemakers and lost little witches and vampires. But Tillson Street becomes frightening on Halloween night with elaborately decorated homes trying to outdo each other on the scary scale. Many people avoid the Halloween crowds by viewing the decorations after dark before the big night.

Erebus, Michigan

This half-mile horror hike goes up and down a four-story parking garage and is in the Guinness World Records as the largest walk-through haunted attraction. In Erebus, walls move in to crush you, lasers and mirrors disorient you, demonic monkeys and a T-Rex attempt to make you their dinner. The bottomless pit, spike spindle, and buried-alive rooms may make your life flash before your eyes. The screams are real and the creatures know how to evoke them. The 100 actors on fright duty each night have all graduated from boo school. But who knows where the corpse of Uncle Freddy learned to lurch.
The experience takes under an hour and may shave a decade off your life, but be assured no human will touch you. Erebus’s policy demands that visitors can be touched only with props. Roaming spooks that may be in the area cannot be made to honor the policy.

Screams Halloween Theme Park, Texas

Just 30 miles south of Dallas in the town of Waxahachie, the world’s largest Halloween theme park is a delightful, frightful place with five seriously haunted houses. The witches of Terra Mythica Castle lead you on a terrifying trip through the scariest medieval myths. A cursed pirate village spills gallons of blood during looting, murder, and magic. At Hotel D’Feers, meet the creepy creatures who are sticking around for eternity and want you to know it. The Zombie Apocalypse will test your ability to muffle your screams. Creepy people only will want this circus to dance through children’s dreams.
Roaming characters frighten at random and face painters will give you the most gruesome look you can imagine. Shiver through horror movies and sing your worst at the Scary-oke. The main stage hosts live music and entertainment, and the food court serves traditional trade fair food with slices of worry: do the zombies eat here, too?

The House of The Occult at Lemp Brewery, Missouri

The basement of the 1864 Lemp Brewery becomes a terrifying abyss for the Halloween season. With just a candle, find your way through tunnels that are five stories underground and filled with mutilated bodies and real-life spirits.
Paranormal investigators have discovered authentic signs of hauntings by members of the disturbed Lemp family and even Indians cursed these caves centuries ago. The spook you encounter may not be rehearsed. Will you be in the tunnel on the one night in the history of the Abyss when not one person screams the safe word?

C – K Autumn Fest, West Virginia

If pumpkins are more your style than ghosts, don’t miss the Ultimate Pumpkin Experience in the quaint West Virginia communities of Ceredo and Kenova. The Pumpkin House is a Victorian mansion displaying 3,000 hand-carved pumpkins for what is known as the Ultimate Pumpkin Experience. The Great Scarecrow hunt is fun for kids without being too scary, and the tractor show draws a crowd. An arts and crafts show, bake-offs, canning competitions, and food vendors make this a full day of seasonal fun and discovery. The festival’s “Introduction to the Paranormal” will pique your Halloween spirit.

Cool Patch Pumpkins Corn Maze, California

The Cool Patch corn maze is the world’s largest according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Each year the maze design is unique and it just keeps growing. After dark maze explorers are welcome (as rescued as needed), and a smaller maze is just the right size for kids. Hayrides and pumpkin splatting opportunities add to the fun. Concession stands open October 6 on Friday nights and weekends.
While you are there, pick out your pumpkins and decorative gourds.
However you plan to celebrate Halloween, there are several frightening events that take place each year throughout the country. Just look up your city and see what events tickle your interest.