Our Summer Bucket List | Free & Low Cost
With Summer nearly here we have been doing a lot of thinking about how we want to spend the next few months. Of course camping and hiking is on the agenda but there are also some specific places we want to visit and things we would like to do. Surprisingly, although we have lived in West Virginia for abut 5/6 years many of these places we have yet to visit and have remained on our bucket list. Almost all of the items on this list are free or low cost. Will we get to all 20 of them? Probably not, but we are going to try to do as many as we can weather permitting. So what is on the agenda?
- Hovatters Wildlife Zoo…this is one I only found out about a year ago. I had no idea we had a zoo so close to us. Although on the smaller side, Hovatters Zoo still has over 30 different species of animals and it is located in Kingwood, WV.
- Wine & Jazz Festival… who doesn’t love good wine, good food, and good music. We have been told by others in the area that this is a must. The festival takes place in Morgantown, WV and is only $20 per person!
- Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum… Although I am not a huge fan of haunted tours, this is something Colby really wants to do and we have heard it is a lot of fun. The Trans- Alleghany Lunatic Asylum was originally known as the Weston State Hospital and closed up in 1994. Now a days, you can schedule a ghost tour of the facility year round. Prices vary depending on the type of tour but range from $10 to $40 a person.
- Palace of Gold in Moundsville…I had absolutely no idea this existed and judging by photos on line it looks beautiful! Located in Moundsville, WV the Palace of Gold overlooks the Appalachian hills and valleys. It is reminiscent of an Indian kingdom and is also home to an award winning rose garden and only cost $9.50 per person.
- The West Virginia Penitentiary…Again another haunted tour but this time in Moundsville, WV. If memory serves me well, I feel like as a kid I toured this building, although I could be incorrect. Day tours are offered at only $12 per person but they also offer extended tours, ghost hunts and overnight excursions (pricing varies)
- Dolly Sods…Located in the Monongahela National Forest this area is great for hiking and camping and is quite breathtaking. Said to be one of the most unique, and beautiful hiking areas on the East Coast it consists of beautiful colored meadows.
- Blackwater Falls…this one has been on my list for years. The “black” water is a result of tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. There are many waterfalls to view and again a great place to hike/camp. Don’t forget to bring your camera though….Blackwater Falls is one of the most photographed areas in WV!
- The New River Gorge Bridge…I first learned about the New River Gorge Bridge when I heard about Bridge Day. Bridge Day is a giant event where the bridge is open to the public for base jumping/rappelling and a slew of other activities (food, music, etc) I have no desire to base jump off of a bridge lol but it it still a very popular site to visit and photograph.For $69 you can also take a guided walking tour on the bridge.
- Babcock State Park…adjacent to the New River Gorge National River you will find Babcock State Park. Here you will find the Glade Creek Grist Mill, which is a fully functioning mill powered by the streams and creates freshly ground cornmeal which is available to buy. How cool is that!
- The Greenbrier River Trail…80 miles of unpaved scenic path (which used to be a railroad…say what???) with little amenities along the way besides one small town. It is just you, nature, and the mountains. This is a must for bicycling as most of the trail runs along the gorgeous Greenbrier River and passes through gorgeous views of the countryside.
- Cass Scenic Railroad…take a trip back in time and enjoy riding a locomotive through the mountains.This historic train is now a scenic railroad and you can visit the town of Cass, where it remains relatively unchanged. Currently there are 2 excursions to choose from (2hr trip to Whittaker Station or a 4.5 hr trip to Bald Knob…both are round trip and stop at different spots for scenic views) Prices are a bit on the higher end at $37 or $59 per person but seems like a worthwhile experience. They also offer an overnight excursion in a caboose at the top of Bald Knob!
- Enjoy a wine tasting and tour at Forks-of-Cheat Winery…saving this one for a rainy weekend when we need something to do but can’t go outside. Fork of Cheat Winery lets you take tours of their winery and distillery as well as sample as many wines and moonshine as you like (free of charge)! We are always saying we would love to get into wine but no idea where to start. All the wine we have purchased we never like lol so it would be neat to have someone show us around and give advice on what to try.
- Explore the WVU Core Arboretum…yet again more trails to explore. While we have explored some that are included in the Arboretum we haven’t seen them all. There are still many more to explore including an area that is home to unique trees and flowers.
- West Virginia Botanic Garden…who knew we had a botanic garden? I certainly didn’t but it is definitely on my list of things to see. Not only can you explore the garden full of beautiful flowers but they offer many guided tours and events. They have yoga in the garden, nature photography courses, and guided tours that teach you how to identify medicinal or edible plants. How neat is that!
- West Virginia University Planetarium…the WVU planetarium offers free shows that are open to the public, although reservations are required. You can watch shows on black holes, solar super storms, the dawn of the space age, etc. Afterwards you can visit the observatory where they have a 14 inch Celestron telescope available to the public to use.
- “Movies on the Lawn” at the Preston County Inn…similar to that of a drive in except free! Preston country inn offers movies on their lawn every weekend. Who doesn’t want to curl up on a blanket by the river and watch a movie on a jumbo screen outside.
- Sunset Drive in Movies…I love drive in movies and I have some awesome memories of going to them when Colby and I were dating. When we moved here I couldn’t find any within a reasonable driving distance until now. Sunset Drive In is located in Shinnston, WV and offers 2 movies every Fri-Sun night. At only $7 per person, you can’t beat it!
- Sunset Flea Market…also in Shinnston, WV the Sunset Flea Market is open every Saturday from 7:30 am. to 2:30 pm and is free to get in. We both love a good Flea Market and I can not wait to go an explore this one and see what we can find.
- Zip lining…I have wanted to go zip lining for awhile now but have heard mixed reviews. Some say it is a lot of fun and others have said it goes a lot slower then they expected and wasn’t as much fun. But, I still want to try it and there are multiple zip lining options around us. If we want to stay close by, WVU offers zip line canopy tours for around $53 per person.
- Wisp Resort Mountain Coaster…aka “redneck roller coaster.” These type of roller coasters can be found in numerous states but the closest one to us is at the Wisp Resort which is located in Maryland. Guests ride in a coaster outdoors through the mountains and are able to regulate their speed with hand brakes as to how slow or fast you want to go. $14 per person if you ride by yourself or $19 if two people want to ride together.
What is on your Summer Bucket List this year???
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