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W.Va. Day: 55 unique things to do in the Mountain State

West Virginia is a state like none other. Just like the license plates say, the Mountain State is "wild and wonderful," simultaneously rugged and refined.

The Daily Mail has compiled, with a little help from our Facebook friends and Twitter followers, a "bucket list" of things a West Virginian needs to experience before they...um...kick the bucket.

(Check out what the readers had to say.)

We've tried to represent all areas of the state and all areas of interest, from historical tours to outdoor activities and down-home delicacies. But this is hardly a comprehensive list. Though some of the state's treasures are difficult to find, there are new adventures waiting around every turn of her two-lane roads.

Celebrate West Virginia Day by checking off a few of your own "bucket list" items. Then, when you find something we should add to our list, send me an email at zack.harold@dailymail.com or drop us a line on Twitter or Facebook.

(Here's a video discussion of the project.)

Happy hunting. - Zack Harold, Daily Mail Staff

 

1. Ride the rails with a vintage steam-powered locomotive at Cass Scenic Railroad and learn a little about the state's logging history.

 

2. Spend a weekend with someone you love at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs. Don't miss afternoon tea, a tradition at the historic hotel since the 1930s. The cookies are amazing.

 

3. Chow down on a true West Virginia hotdog -- topped with chili, slaw, onion and mustard -- at the Hinton Dairy Queen, where you can eat your 'dogs in a dining room on the banks of the New River.

 

4. Admire Cass Gilbert's architecture at the state Capitol grounds. Take a (free) guided tour to make sure you don't miss anything.

 

5. Spend time behind bars at the state penitentiary in Moundsville. Closed in 1995, this former Big House is now a popular tourist spot. If you're especially brave, take a nighttime tour of the (allegedly haunted) prison.

 

6. Mystify your mind at the Mystery Hole in Ansted. Don't forget to buy a bumper sticker.

 

7. Stop at any of the state's Tudor's Biscuit World locations at breakfast time. Order a cup of coffee and a "Mary B."

 

8. Visit the state Capitol grounds on Memorial Day weekend for the annual Vandalia Gathering, where you can catch the state's best fiddlers, banjo players and guitar pickers all in one place.

 

9. Join leaf peepers from around the world at Babcock State Park's Glade Creek Grist Mill. Also, don't forget your camera. You'll want your own snapshot of one of the state's most photographed locations.

 

10. Jump off the New River Gorge Bridge...with a bungee cord, of course. Held every October, the annual Bridge Day festivities draw daredevils from around the world to BASE- and bungee- jump from what was once the world's longest steel single-span arch bridge.

 

11. Go deep underground at the Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley. The tour takes visitors 1,500 feet below New River Park to see the history of West Virginia coal mining from the days of picks, shovels and mules to modern technology.

 

12. Grab a pepperoni roll at Colasessano's in Fairmont. The West Virginia delicacy -- created by Italian immigrants who came to work in the coal mines -- is also available at almost every gas station convenience store.

 

13. Raft the Upper Gauley in September, when the Army Corps of Engineers releases water from Summersville Lake.

 

14. Get lost in Cooper Farms' corn "Maize" in Milton.

 

15. Buy your mom something special at the Blenko Glass Co., in Milton. Be sure to wait around for one of the frequent glass-blowing demonstrations.

 

16. Ever see 3,000 jack-o-lanterns at one house? You can, if you visit the Pumpkin House in Kenova during the last weekend of October.

 

17. Zipline through a stand of centuries-old hemlock trees on a canopy tour with Adventures on the Gorge.

 

18. Attend West Virginia's smelliest food festival. Richwood, the self-proclaimed "Ramp Capital of the World," hosts the annual Feast of the Ramson every April, where diners dig into piles and piles of wild ramps. Bring breath mints.

 

19. Hike to Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia

 

20. Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with some "road bowling" in the Lewis County town of Ireland. The sport is a lot like golf, except you roll a big steel bearing down the road. Whoever makes it to the end of the course in the fewest amount of bowls, wins.

 

21. Take a tour of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, in Green Bank.

 

22. Catch a West Virginia Power baseball game, and maybe a fly ball, at Appalachian Power Park in Charleston.

 

23. Attend a West Virginia University football game, if for no other reason than to hear The Pride of West Virginia marching band play "Country Roads."

 

24. Country people call them "molly moochers," city folks call them "morels," but everyone calls them "delicious." You can find these tasty mushrooms in West Virginia woods from the middle of March until early May.

 

25. Visit the Logan County grave of Devil Anse Hatfield, patriarch of the infamous Hatfield clan. It won't be difficult to find in the Hatfield Family Cemetary, located along W.Va. 44. Just look for a life-size statue of Devil Anse carved from Italian marble.

 

26. Check out the Coal House in Williamson. It's a house made of coal.

 

27. Harman Blennerhassett settled on an island near Parkersburg in 1798. A few years later, he became entangled in Aaron Burr's conspiracy to start an independent nation in the American Southwest. Visit the island, and then head to the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History in Parkersburg to learn more about this fascinating history. 

 

28. Romney and Shepherdstown, both founded on December 23, 1762, each claim to be the state's oldest town. Visit these Eastern Panhandle locales and see if you can settle the debate.

 

29. Picnic at Hawk's Nest State Park and snap some photos from the scenic overlook.

 

30. Head to Wheeling at Christmastime for the Festival of Lights at Oglebay Park.

 

31. Concerts at Huntington's historic Keith Albee Theater are always nice.

 

32. Nobody's sure why the aptly named "Waffle Rock" at Jennings Randolph Lake looks the way it does. Some blame aliens, others credit prehistoric man. Make up your own theories at this Mineral County tourist spot.

 

33. Last year, Budget Travel magazine dubbed Lewisburg "America's Coolest Small Town." See a concert or art exhibit at Lewisburg's Carnegie Hall.

 

34. Spend your Sunday evening at the West Virginia Culture Center for a recording of West Virginia Public Radio's nationally syndicated show, "Mountain Stage," then attend the after party at Charleston's Empty Glass bar to rub elbows with some of the country's biggest country, folk and indie rock acts.

 

35. Celebrate the end of winter at the Lampion parade, held during Helvetia's Fasnacht festivities. It's like a Swiss version of Mardi Gras.

 

36. You won't find a jungle room at this Graceland. A Victorian mansion built in Elkins by U.S. Sen. Henry Gassaway Davis, the Graceland Inn is now a great place to stay in central West Virginia.

 

37. Take a trip to the 18th Century at Prickett's Fort State Park, where re-enactors preserve old crafts like blacksmithing, weaving, and spinning.

 

38. Enjoy some live music at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas. While you're there, check out Mountain State Brewing Co., the state's largest microbrewery.

 

39. Take the Mothman Bus Tour in Point Pleasant of the places where the monstrous creature was spotted nearly 50 years ago.

 

40. Tour the key sites West Virginia's Civil War history like Droop Mountain Battlefield in Pocahontas County, Carnifex Ferry in Nicholas County, and Philippi, in Barbour County, where troops fought the Civil War's first organized land battle.

 

41. The West Virginia Road Kill Cook-Off, held each year in Marlinton, really needs no further explanation.

 

42. See "Honey in the Rock," an outdoor drama chronicling West Virginia's rocky road to statehood, at Theatre West Virginia's Cliffside Amphitheatre in Grandview.

 

43. After a long day of river rafting, nothing hits the spot like Pies and Pints a restaurant with unique pizzas and brews in Fayetteville.

 

44. Put on your old blue bonnet and bring your best umbrella to the annual Funeral Parade, a New Orleans-style march the Saturday before Labor Day on Charleston's Capitol Street.

 

45. Take the family to the West Virginia State Wildlife Center in French Creek, home to owls, bears, mountain lions, raccoons and all kinds of other mountain critters.

 

46. Grab a burger and milkshake at Beckley's King Tut Drive-In. Or, better yet, order a pizza. The drive-in was the first Beckley restaurant to sell the dish, in 1957.

 

47. Pick up some West Virginia-made crafts at the Tamarack.

 

48. Visit the John Brown Fort at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where John Brown and several of his followers barricaded themselves during the infamous raid that sparked the American Civil War.

 

49. Borrow a buddy's all-terrain vehicle - especially if your buddy is ATV riding enthusiast Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin -- and get muddy on the Hatfield and McCoy Trails.

 

50. Tour the Homer Laughlin China Co. factory in Newell and pick up a set of its famous Fiestaware dishes. While you're in the neighborhood, go check out "The World's Largest Teacup" in nearby Chester.

 

51.  Visit the Pocahontas County birthplace of the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl S. Buck. Pick up a copy of her book "The Good Earth" in the gift shop.

 

52. Get spooked at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, which has been featured on television shows like the Travel Channel's "Ghost Adventures" and SyFy's "Ghost Hunters."

 

53. Hit the slopes at Winterplace Ski Resort in Raleigh County, which features one of the largest computerized snow production systems in the nation.

 

54. Ride the Big Dipper, Camden Park's wooden rollercoaster.

 

55. See where it all began, at Independence Hall in Wheeling. On June 20, 1861, Francis Pierpont was elected the first governor of the Restored government of Virginia. Two years later, that state became "West Virginia."


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