Potomac Highlands Region
Up High and Down Low: Fish, Trains, Stars and Caves
Start your trip by visiting the site of the last important Civil War battle in West Virginia. At Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park you’ll be kept busy with two playgrounds and a museum. A watch tower, which was built in the 1930s, also waits to be explored. Go hiking on the trails and have lunch or a snack in the picnic area. Close by is Beartown State Park where you won’t have to be at the beach to walk along a boardwalk. Wind through strange rock formations and learn about the ecology of the area’s natural landscape. For the rest of the afternoon, go fishing at kid-friendly Handley Pond. The 5-acre pond is stocked with fish for children 10 and under and the physically challenged with Class Q fishing licenses. The relaxed atmosphere makes for an enjoyable afternoon.
Travel north to Cass Scenic Railroad State Park where you can ride a real steam train up the West Virginia mountains. As you’re waiting for your train, walk through the museum, tour the train repair shops and the rest of the town. Children can play on the playground and a restaurant in town will serve lunch. The train ride can last either 2 hours or 4 and a half hours. If you choose to take the longer trip, you’ll reach the third highest peak in West Virginia and get a spectacular view at 4,700 feet up. It’s recommended that you reserve your tickets in advance. Once off the train, take on a new adventure at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory where scientists listen to the stars. Have fun learning about science and technology with the hands-on exhibits and programs at the Green Bank Science Center. See the largest fully steerable telescope on Earth, along with 10 others. Make sure to visit the gift shop and get a bite to eat at the Starlight Café.
Your last stop brings you deep under the ground at Seneca Caverns. Take a tour into the depths of the earth and see wondrous rock formations. Or, take an even wilder journey into the less explored cavern, Stratosphere Cave. Children 13 years and older can choose to take a guided tour using only headlamps, or spend two and a half hours climbing, crawling and exploring anything in the cave they want. For the younger ones, sift through dirt and rocks and come back richer with the finding of minerals such as rose quartz, garnet and fool’s gold. The area also has a family restaurant, miniature golf and picnic area.