2 state parks to visit when you can’t decide where to take your family vacation

Planning a family vacation and finding activities for everyone to enjoy can be difficult. Half the family wants to go on an adventure, you want to explore museums and historical sites and then there’s always that one kid who can’t be pleased no matter what you do. Such is the burden of being a parent. We totally understand what that’s like. 

 Lucky for you, West Virginia’s state parks are the perfect vacation spot when your family can’t agree on where to go. There’s plenty to do, especially when you visit multiple parks in a region, like Blennerhassett Island and North Bend in the mid-Ohio Valley, where you can enjoy culture, history, outdoor adventures and more. So, if your family has a wide range of interests, check these two parks off your travel bucket list this summer. 

America’s history comes alive at Blennerhassett Island 

Located in the middle of the Ohio River, Blennerhassett Island is a magical place where you can walk through palatial mansion halls that rival George Washington’s Mount Vernon and spend a day in the life of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. But getting to the island is only half the fun. Your trip starts with a ride on the Island Belle Sternwheeler, a steam-driven paddle boat that departs Point Park in Parkersburg on the top of every hour. Click here to see the sternwheeler schedule

The Blennerhassett mansion is the star of the show at this park. It was considered the most beautiful home in the west when the Blennerhassett’s occupied it in the 18th century. These wealthy aristocrats were known for hosting lavish parties and even provided the headquarters for Aaron Burr’s alleged treasonous plot to create a new country independent of the United States. While the original mansion burned down, the current mansion is an exact replica and preserves the island’s history.

You can easily explore the park during a day trip, but make sure you purchase a package ticket if you want to get the full experience. Package tickets include a: 

  • Ride on the Island Belle Sternwheeler 
  • Tour of the Blennerhassett Mansion 
  • Horse-drawn wagon ride 
  • Ticket to the Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History Start planning your trip today. 

Click here to see a full list of outdoor activities at Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park

Your next adventure is at North Bend 

Enjoying nature has never been more accessible than it is today and programs like Quest make learning outdoors skills easy and fun. So, when it comes time to let the kids run around, you can’t ask for a better place than North Bend, which is about 30 miles away from Blennerhassett Island. 

Anyone, kids included, can go through the Quest program and learn outdoor skills like rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking, rappelling, mountain biking, navigation, geocaching, nature interpretation and yoga. And don’t worry if you don’t have equipment for these activities because the park has everything you need. 

If guided outdoor adventures aren’t what you’re looking for, North Bend has traditional park activities, such as fishing, canoeing and hiking. While the park’s 26 miles of trails can keep you busy, you can also access the nearby North Bend Rail Trail for even more hiking. And when it comes time to turn in for the evening, North Bend has a lodge, plenty of campsites and nine solid cedar cabins. Start planning your trip today. Click here to see a full list of outdoor activities at North Bend State Park

Travel close to home 

We are actively monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on travel in West Virginia. While West Virginia’s state parks and forests are some of the best places to escape crowds and enjoy wide open spaces, visitors are asked to maintain a physical distance of six feet on the trails and in other park areas and to follow all posted guidelines for mask use and other safety measures. For the most recent updates and measures taken to protect visitors, click here. You can also follow @WVstateparks on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for timely updates. 

And as you spend time in nature this summer, remember to Leave No Trace by packing in and packing out all your trash and belongings. By respecting nature, you help us protect our state parks and forests so they can be enjoyed for generations to come. 

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