West Virginia Department of Commerce Quality of Life

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Quality of Life



Travel and Recreation

Come to play and decide to stay.

Unmatched natural beauty and recreational opportunities bring West Virginia to the forefront as a tourist destination. Reflecting this, the state's tourism industry saw an 11 percent growth from 2004 to 2005, hosting 11 million overnight leisure travelers.

Visitors delight in a diverse offering of cultural and entertainment activities including Appalachian arts and crafts, music, fairs and festivals, museums and art galleries, the ballet, theater and symphony events. From snow skiing to whitewater rafting, the state offers an impressive array of activities for everyone.

  • West Virginia's 50 state parks, forests, and wildlife management areas offer more than 800 miles of hiking trails and 5,000 acres of fishing waters.
  • Considered the ski capital of the Mid-Atlantic, West Virginia boasts five major resorts offering alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and other winter sports.
  • The state's Eastern Panhandle is steeped in Civil War history, including the tale of abolitionist John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. It also is the home to relaxing spas, bed and breakfasts and romantic getaways.
  • In south-central West Virginia, the New and Gauley rivers are internationally recognized as America's best whitewater rafting.
  • Scenic railroads provide the perfect way to view the state's breathtaking mountain landscapes and fall foliage.
  • One and a half million acres of public land with deer, waterfowl and small game are open to hunting in the fall, when visitors swell the number of hunters to about 400,000.
  • Throughout the state, eclectic and charming small town gems offer visitor fine dining, shopping, and lodging nearby fun outdoor recreation areas.

Community Life

Choices abound - for work, home and play - giving West Virginians the opportunity to fashion lifestyles uniquely their own.

Large and small, our communities are rich in heritage and scenic beauty. West Virginia provides a safe, comfortable way of life - a life that is more affordable than the rest of the country:

  • West Virginia residents benefit from low property taxes and a cost of living that is 8 percent below the U.S. average.
  • The state leads the nation in home ownership: 75.2 percent of the housing units are owner-occupied.
  • West Virginia has the fourth lowest crime index in the country.

West Virginians value the historic significance of downtowns and find the setting conducive to the growth of many types of small business. The state's Main Street program assists with programs to revitalize downtowns and preserve historic buildings.

Local residents join to make their communities better places to live and work through their support of water and sewer projects, community buildings and recreational facilities. To assist these efforts, the Development Office's Community Development Division, partners with federal, state and local agencies to provide funding and technical assistance for infrastructure and development projects.

Education

West Virginia’s public primary school system receives the highest marks in technology in the U.S., as ranked by Education Week.

  • Computer literacy is required in grades K through 12.
  • Free college tuition? West Virginia’s PROMISE

Find out about West Virginia’s Global 21, No Child Left Behind school ratings, professional development and more.

Culture and The Arts

Community groups, art organizations and educational institutions give West Virginia residents an endless list of cultural opportunities, including art galleries, museums, indoor and outdoor theaters, county fairs, arts and crafts fairs, theme festivals, public radio and television, opera, classical and mountain music, ballet and modern dance.

  • Mountain Stage, a two-hour public radio program recorded live each week in West Virginia, features performances by today's hottest musicians to be broadcast around the world.
  • West Virginia is home to Tamarack, the nation's first and only statewide collection of handmade crafts, arts and cuisine.
  • The Culture Center in Charleston houses the state museum and hosts a number of popular annual festivals, including the Vandalia Gathering.
  • The 240,000 square foot Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences houses the performing arts, visual arts and the sciences under one roof. The facility is home to both the Avampato Discovery Museum and the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra.

Main Street Brochure
Main Street Brochure

Visit the charming neighborhoods, historic attractions and distinctive architecture that give each Main Street community its own unique personality.