Activities For Dogs In West Virginia On Cold Days

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Introduction

Ahh, West Virginia. The land of natural mountainous beauty. The state as a whole is best known for being "the Switzerland of America" thanks to its towering Appalachian Mountains and the bucolic towns tucked into them, providing a marvelous stretch for adventurous outdoors-people and their dogs to explore, but that also comes with a touch of the weather. While the Mountain State doesn't see as much snow as Switzerland itself, it certainly doesn't escape it either. In November through March, residents, tourists and their dogs see plenty of it (and cold for that matter), and with it, more reasons to stay inside than get out and explore. But it certainly doesn't have to be that way! There are plenty of cold-weather activities to undertake in late fall and winter and we're here to help you find them.

Ol' Howls Eve

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
1 - 3 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Canine Costume
Human Costume
Warm Clothes
Activity description
October is usually the first month where cold weather starts to descend on West Virginia, making it the perfect time and place to start planning and preparing for your new winter ways. While there are plenty of things you can do over the course of the month, some of the most fun and unique you won't find any other time of year are related to holiday festivities, namely Halloween, and even if they aren't as large or common as those in neighboring states, they're no less fun. They only come but once a year so they're the perfect cold weather starter, often cost little, if anything, and provide a set of fun activities and celebrations that can last for hours.
Step
1
Costume contests
Of all the great Halloween events, costume contests can easily be some of the most fun and entertaining. Many of them are also surrounded by other festivities, dog-themed activities like trick-or-treating and may even come with food and drink involved, making Halloween events all-encompassing with the potential to provide hours of fun. But the events aren't the only way you two can spend some time together. Lots of pet shops and boutiques carry canine costumes this time of year, so you can also hit the dog-friendly shops and see what's available for the two of you to pair up as. For the creative types, you can also make your own (which may also give you a leg up on the competition), which is a great shared activity in itself as you size and shape their outfit just for them. New Hope Animal Rescue in Hurricane hosts an annual contest and there are several more scattered around the state throughout the month. Check your local listings about 3 to 6 weeks in advance to see what's coming up.
Step
2
Get scarier with your terrier
While Halloween events can be lots of fun for the whole family, it may not be enough to put some in the spookiest of spirits. Those are reserved for haunted tours. Thanks to a rich and sometimes dark history, West Virginia has a fair amount to offer, one of the best being the Ghost Tours of Harpers Ferry. Well-behaved and leashed dogs are welcome on the creepy 90-minute walking tour which details both the history of and haunted history of the town. If you want to kick it up a notch or just add another to the list, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum also offers regular and haunted tours, though it should be noted that they only allow small dogs that can be carried or put in a stroller - and there are no elevators, which means the stroller will have to be lifted up the stairs on all four floors.
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Christmas Vacation

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Cold Day
Cheap
Easy
24 - 72 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Warm Clothes
Camera
Activity description
If there's one holiday that offers more to do than nearly all else, it's Christmas, and West Virginia is full of yuletide charm. While it may not do big holiday extravaganzas, it has the low-key, rustic thing down pat. Plenty of little towns tucked into the hills become truly magical between the snowfall, twinkling holiday lights and little shops and houses decorated to the hilt. Best of all, they provide great all-in-one stops for family destinations no matter the size or composition (dogs included). They can be enjoyed over one day or many, are the perfect way to take in the holidays, can be generally inexpensive (depending where you book and what you buy) and provide loads of different things to do.
Step
1
Get the town down
There are at least 10 or so easily identifiable places to visit that offer fantastic lodging, festivities and more, each with their own slight twist on the holiday themes. Wheeling does lights better than almost anybody, Fairmont is niche with traditional Italian and Charleston is all about the show. Our favorites? Hurricane and Harpers Ferry (we'll use the prior as an example for steps 2 and 3). Take a close look at what each town offers during the holidays and decide what appeals to you most. Then, get to work booking your dog-friendly accommodations.
Step
2
Determine the de-tails
Not every town will have a lot of dog-friendly activities, so it's best to outline them before you go. We picked Hurricane as one of our favorites simply because there are a lot of both indoor and outdoor activities in close proximity. For example, there is an animated light show to drive through, a parade and a tree-lighting ceremony. Best of all, they even have a Reindog parade with prizes for the best dressed/best costume. You can also see what shops are nearby are dog-friendly, though it might take some calling around.
Step
3
Celebrate
Once you've got all the details worked out and your accommodations booked, you're set to go! Pack your bags and remember to bring enough warm clothes for both you and your dog to enjoy the festivities without getting frostbite. And don't forget, when you get there and start attending events, look for other dog owners and see if there's anything you might have missed that they may know about so you can pack your Christmas vacation as full as you'd like to!
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Winterski Wonderlandski

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Cold Day
Moderate
Easy
1 - 6 hrs
Items needed
Leash
Dog Bags
Warm Clothes
Cross Country Skis
Activity description
West Virginia is graced with some of the best natural beauty in all of the United States and even without the colorful leaves of fall or greenery of spring and summer, winter is no exception. It offers gorgeous countryside year round, but one of the best times to enjoy it is after the snow has fallen, as instead of walking or hiking through it at a slower pace, you can step it up slightly with cross-country skiing and take that much more in. It's great exercise, only moderately priced (and even cheaper if you already have your own gear), gets you both outside and can last as long as you both can handle it.
Step
1
Go where it snows
The first step is actually finding an appropriate place to go. There are tons of trails all over the state but not all of them are dog-friendly, so you'll need to do some research beforehand to save yourself future issues. One of our best suggestions is White Grass in Davis, as they allow dogs on several of the trails and have enough to keep you entertained for multiple visits should you so choose. They also offer lessons, so if it's something you don't currently do but would like to learn, you'll have the opportunity to before you hit the trails with your tails in tow.
Step
2
Make your reservations
Once you've picked an appropriate spot to go, call and get the details of where dogs are allowed and what reservations you'll need to make. Most like White Grass have designated trails and also may have other restrictions in place (for instance, White Grass requests that guests with dogs not use the main parking lot for safety reasons). During peak season, even ski rentals can be scarce, so you'll want to do the legwork up front so you're not rushing to find some last minute. Then, make sure you have warm enough clothes for both you and your dog (as well as protective gear for their feet for longer trips or exceptionally cold days).
Step
3
Skedaddle to your ski day
Once you have your reservations, detailed information, winter gear and directions, grab your dog and go. Upon arrival, follow the appropriate instructions and get yourself and your dog checked in, then make sure to get a map or explanation on where you're allowed to go. Once everything is in order, head outside, strap on your skis and hit the trails!
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More Fun Ideas...

Patio Partners

Before the snow falls but after the cold hits, consider finding a dog-friendly restaurant patio to take in the late fall colors. Quite a few of the state's small-town eateries have them and many are located in picturesque spots that will surround your tasty meal with gorgeous foliage.

Stroll Past Kenova's Pumpkin House

There's no better way to put this than how it's explained on Atlas Obscura: Halloween extravagance. This massive house just outside of Huntington puts nearly 3,000 carved pumpkins on display in the yard, bordering the street and even on the house itself. It may be only 20 minutes of entertainment, but you won't find one anywhere else.

Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

This is a perfect Halloween activity, as this super creepy place has a pretty dark history and now lies abandoned. They do give tours but because it's privately owned, you need to call ahead before you just waltz in and the dog-friendliness is currently unknown.

Conclusion

While the Mountain State may be plunged into perpetual cold for nearly five months out of the year, there's no reason not to get out and see the sights, especially when you won't catch them any other time of the year. We hope our list has given you some inspiration on where to go to find some fun or how to find some of your own, but if you need any extra ideas, try checking your local listings for events and activities or even check out other West Virginia guides for more great suggestions.