Family-friendly state park destinations in West Virginia

Been cooped up with the kids most of the winter? Cure your cabin fever with a visit to one of these family-friendly destinations. Whether you’re planning a spring break, summer vacation, or just a weekend getaway, West Virginia state parks and forests are the ideal place to spend some quality family time.

Enjoy a history lesson disguised as fun at Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. The kids will love the sternwheeler boat ride across the Ohio River to the island, which once served as home to wealthy Irish aristocrats Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett. Guides docents in period costume lead tours of the 18th century mansion and you can even take a horse-drawn carriage ride on the immaculate grounds.

When it comes to natural beauty, Watoga State Park packs a big punch. It’s a favorite camping and fishing destination and recently was designated a Dark Sky Park—so pack your telescope for some prime star gazing. Hike to the Ann Bailey observation tower to experience stunning views or venture outside the park to explore Droop Mountain Battlefield and Beartown state parks just a short drive down the road.

If you’re just out for a Sunday drive, West Virginia’s day-use parks can’t be beat. Pack a picnic lunch and head to Pinnacle Rock State Park, where amenities include a seasonally stocked fishing lake, six miles of trails and a playground. The highlight of the park is the overlook at the top of the 3,100-foot sandstone formation.

Your park visit isn’t complete without a visit to the wildlife center and a kid-friendly meet-and-greet with the park naturalist. At state parks including Blackwater Falls and Cacapon Resort, you’ll find interesting displays on wildlife and other natural history trivia. The park naturalists host games and arts and crafts for the kids and lead wildlife hikes, stargazing excursions and more. Check the parks calendar for special events including living history programs and educational talks featuring live native animals.

Summer means fun on the water at Pipestem Resort State Park. Head to the Adventure Lake, where kids and grownups alike can climb giant inflatable mountains, slides and trampolines and jump into the lake. Cool off with a speedy zip through the trees on Pipestem Aerial Adventures. The park also offers an array of family-friendly activities from miniature golf to laser tag.

If splashing in the water is your idea of family fun, you might also want to check out Tygart Lake State Park. Its new Adventure Lake area features 25 giant inflatables and a sandy beach area with lounge chairs. You can also rent a boat from the marina and spend all day exploring the 1,750-acre lake. (Park water activities are open seasonally. Check the park’s schedule for dates.)

Start planning your Almost Heaven family getaway today!

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