The West Virginia Tourism Board invited me as a guest to experience their autumn wonderland for a fall getaway. As always, opinions and photos are my own.

Fall colors, world-class outdoor adventures and small town charm for a fall getaway to West Virginia.

I’ve been wanting to explore West Virginia during the autumn since my last visit this past winter. I saw so many gorgeous viewpoints and knew it would be incredibly picturesque for fall colors. I was right! With over 80% of the state made up of forest, West Virginia is the perfect place for a colorful fall getaway. The entire state transforms into all shades of gold, auburn, crimson and maroon during the month of October!

In addition to revisiting some spots from my last trip, I saw other parts of the Mountain State this time around. We started in the capital of Charleston, then journeyed to nearby Fayetteville and ended in Canaan Valley State Park.

Fayetteville is only an hour’s drive away from the capital but feels like a true nature escape. Bridge Day was the highlight for this part of the trip, where we watched hundreds of BASE jumpers leap into the New River Gorge. After an adventurous few days, we drove through West Virginia’s colorful autumn wonderland as we made our way to Canaan Valley State Park. Thankfully, the warm weather came late this year so we were able to catch the colors at their peak.
I’ve listed below my top three locations for the perfect fall getaway to West Virginia!

West Virginia Fall Foliage

Fall colors in West Virginia
Before we move onto the locations to visit, let’s talk about when to go for a fall getaway to the Mountain State. Timing is everything if you want to catch autumn colors. They typically start changing around late September/early October and go well into early November. High mountain elevations change color first depending on the weather each year. Warmer temperatures tend to delay the colors.
Nomadic Fare in West Virginia
I heard from locals the schedule below is typical, but with the changing weather patterns all over the world, who knows what each year will bring. This is rough timing and could shift by a week or two.
  • late Sept: higher mountain elevations like Davis and Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods
  • early October: Grant and Pocahontas Counties
  • mid to late Oct: Seneca Rocks, Elkins
  • late Oct: Blackwater Falls State Park, Martinsburg, western WV
Thankfully, with the range in elevation and over 80% of the state being covered in forest, there’s a high likelihood you’ll see colors somewhere nearby. Keep in mind even when the higher elevations have lost their leaves, the valleys will still have plenty of color.
The West Virginia Tourism Office has a few helpful tools for planning when and where to go.
Visit the West Virginia Tourism website to see the Fall Color Map and Live Leaf Map.
Nomadic Fare in West Virginia

Top Places for the Perfect Fall Getaway in West Virginia

Historic City Charm in Charleston, West Virginia

The best way to get an introduction to Charleston is to visit different areas within the city.

I got the perfect introduction to this charming capital, which felt like a collection of unique neighborhoods. There’s a vibrant art scene, incredible food and chic boutiques sprawled all over the city.

What to do

One of the best parts of my last visit to West Virginia was meeting small business owners and hearing their stories. One memorable character was Chip Chase, the owner of the White Grass Ski Touring Center who made us chaga tea, brewed from mushrooms he foraged from the local forest earlier that day.

The same thing happened this time around and I’m so grateful for the interesting people I met like Nancy Bruns from J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. This chef revitalized her family’s salt business which produces hand-harvested artisanal salt from an ancient sea deep under the Appalachian Mountains.

Nomadic Fare in Charleston, West VirginiaWe also spent an entire morning exploring the Elk City District, which is home to specialty stores like Kin Ship Goods, Base Camp Printing, and Elk City Records. The neighborhood feels very artsy and is also home to plenty of eclectic murals.

I particularly loved meeting the owners of Kin Ship Goods, Dan and Hillary, who design and print all their apparel in their screen-printing studio in the back of their store. They also sell quirky accessories and home goods and have a sweet photo booth in the dressing room!

Nomadic Fare in Charleston, West VirginiaMural Hunting in Charleston, West Virginia

Another charming area is Charleston’s downtown historic district, which is home to various specialty shops selling local art, mid-century modern furniture, homemade ice cream and handmade jewelry. Walking down its brick sidewalks feels like a scene out of a movie!

A local favorite is Taylor Books, an independent bookstore, art gallery, entertainment venue and coffee shop selling fresh pastries. Another spot that everyone told us to visit was The Purple Moon, a vintage mid-century modern furniture store that feels like a museum. If you’re in town the third Thursday of the month, be sure to check out ArtWalk, which is when the downtown shops and galleries open up their doors to showcase a variety of regional art and musical performances. We were able to attend and it felt very neighborhood- and family- friendly!

Other notable spots to visit:

The Clay Center: home to a science museum, performance hall and art museum.

Capitol Market: a restored train station with a farmer’s market, cafe and shops selling West Virginia products.

Nomadic Fare in Charleston, West Virginia

Where to eat

The Market: seasonal, New Appalachian creations and specialty cocktails. Definitely try the pork belly tacos!

Mea Cuppa Coffee Lounge: coffee, breakfast pastries and homemade quiches in Elk City.

Bluegrass Kitchen: Fresh farm-to-table comfort food with a modern edge. Family-owned and operated.

Where to stay

We spent two nights at the Charleston Marriott Town Center in the heart of downtown Charleston. It was comfortable and close to everywhere we wanted to go. Everything is very walkable but there are also Ubers, Lyfts and taxis.

World-Class Adventures in Fayetteville

After getting our culture fix in Charleston, we left the city and made our way to nearby Fayetteville, only an hour’s drive away. We took the Midland Trail National Scenic Byway (Route 60), which is a beautiful drive to do especially for a fall getaway! To break up the drive, two notable places to stop are Kanawha Falls and Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge.

BASE jumpers during Bridge Day in West VirginiaBridge Day

The main purpose for going to Fayetteville was to attend Bridge Day where hundreds of BASE jumpers leap into the New River Gorge. It’s special because they close down the bridge traffic so thousands of spectators can walk across the bridge to watch. It’s held anually on the third Saturday of October and has various events surrounding the main event.

Some of those events include:

Day before or day of: ziplining and rappelling off the bridge.

Night before: Taste of Bridge Day is a food festival which showcases the area’s restaurants and caterers, live music, local artwork.

Afternoon, day of: A chili cook-off and craft beer festival that happens in downtown Fayetteville.

Nomadic Fare in West Virginia

Where to eat

Wood Iron Eatery: full-service espresso bar serving breakfast, lunch and baked goods. Loved the Tofu Scramble, Napoleon D Tots and Crispy Poulette Sando!

The Station: locally sourced, seasonal food and handmade cocktails. I still dream about their brussel sprouts.

Cathedral Cafe: former church turned into an artsy, relaxed hangout for coffee and American fare. Great for breakfast.

Where to stay

We rented a cozy cabin in the woods and loved having our own space to enjoy all the fire place hangs. There are a lot of beautiful stays in the area like this yurt in the New River Gorge!

Natural Wonders in Tucker County

Fall colors in West VirginiaDuring my visit to West Virginia in the winter, we spent a few days in Tucker County and I really appreciated being surrounded by all the beautiful nature. I knew it would be gorgeous in the autumn and was able to revisit some of the iconic spots I saw in the wintertime. It did not disappoint!

What to do

The drive from Fayetteville to Canaan Valley Resort State Park in Davis is about three hours without stopping. The drive alone is stunning with all the fall colors, but obviously it’s more fun making some stops along the way. We left right after breakfast. It’s supposed to take about 5.5 hours but it ended up taking the entire day including stopping for photos. We arrived in Davis after dark, which I wouldn’t recommend if you’re not used to driving along very dark country roads. Nonetheless, we made it there safely.

Drive from Fayetteville to Davis

Start: Fayetteville

Stops:

  • Babcock State Park / Glade Creek Grist Mill
  • Highland Scenic Highway (Route 150)
  • Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
  • Bickle Knob Observation Tower

End: Canaan Valley Resort State Park, Davis

Nomadic Fare in West Virginia

There are so many beautiful scenic spots to see in Tucker County. Here are my top places:

Blackwater Falls State Park: The falls are the main attraction, but there are over 20 miles of hiking trails, a restaurant, cabins, a campground, overlooks and a river that runs through the park. My favorite part was hiking through a lush forested area to arrive at Lindy Point, which offered panoramic views of Blackwater Canyon. Don’t miss the sunsets here; they are one of the most famous views in all of West Virginia!

Dolly Sods Wilderness Area: I saw photos of this spot and knew I had to visit. Known for its scenic views and hiking trails that range in difficulty, it’s the ultimate spot for any nature lover. Bear Rocks is a popular overlook, especially for foliage and is a short walk from the parking lot. If you plan to go hiking, depending on the trail, you’ll pass by waterfalls, swimming holes, rivers, unique plant life, wildflower fields and beautiful vistas of the valleys and highlands. I’m definitely planning a trip back next summer to go camping!

Seneca Rocks: Located in the Monongahela National Forest, these rock formations rise nearly 900 feet above the North Fork River. Popular for rock climbing, it’s possible to climb to the top or hike the steep 1.3-mile trail up. It’s not an easy one, but you will be rewarded with scenic views of the valley below. The rocks are also quite stunning if you choose to enjoy the view from below. There’s a visitor’s center at the base to help you plan.

Cass Scenic Railroad: Imagine taking a ride through beautiful fall foliage on a traditional steam-driven train. This living museum offers rides on old logging trains that have now been restored for tourism. They operate scenic trains to Bald Knob, the third highest point in the state! I didn’t have time to do this scenic train ride, but will definitely plan it for my next fall getaway to West Virginia.

Nomadic Fare in West Virginia

Where to eat

Sirianni’s Cafe: Italian food and pizza served in a cozy, homey atmosphere.

Hellbender Burritos: Eclectic burrito & taco fillings with vegan options, plus local draft beers in Davis.

The Purple Fiddle: Cafe & live music venue offering in Thomas.

Tip Top: Charming coffeehouse featuring speciality drinks, baked goods, gourmet chocolate and a full bar in Thomas. 

Where to stay

Canaan Valley Resort State Park is an ideal place to stay in Davis. It is close to all the notable sites listed above and has a wonderful breakfast, indoor pool and spa. Additionally, there’s a chairlift that offers breathtaking bird’s-eye view of the valley and surrounding mountains.

From Davis, I would recommend driving to D.C. to head to your next spot. The drive is again, very scenic and easy to navigate.

Tip: during the drive from Davis to D.C., stop at Lost River Trading Post and Wardensville Garden Market!

Summary

From small town charm to beautiful vistas, West Virginia is perfect for anyone looking for an ideal fall getaway. There’s so much to experience in Charleston for culture, shopping and food, Fayetteville’s Bridge Day with all the activities surrounding it and unbelievable fall foliage in Tucker County. As a nature lover, I loved exploring all the parks, trails and overlooks. I can’t wait to plan where I’ll go for my next visit!

Fall colors in West Virginia

How to get there

I flew into Charleston Yeager Airport (CRW) from NYC with a quick layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. While in state, we rented a car at the airport and drove everywhere. Charleston is at the confluence of three interstates (64, 77, 79) so it is easy to get around. We ended the trip in D.C., where there are multiple options to get to your next destination including three major airports, bus and train stations.

Thank you to West Virginia Tourism for hosting me during this cozy fall getaway. As always, all opinions and photos are my own.