A stunningly beautiful state. I urge people to get off of the interstates and explore some of the more wild areas- these places are what West Virginia really has to offer. Unfortunately many people from out of state don't know where the best spots are, and even long time residents don't take full advantage of the ample outdoor recreation available.
Because of the relative isolation from the rest of the country (until recently), very interesting folk cultures developed all over the Mountain State
. I grew up in the Greenbrier Valley, but I have lived in several different regions. I've found that you can't really compare West Virginia to other states or even one West Virginia town to another because of this isolated development. The more little towns I discovered, the more my preconceptions were proven false. You really can't judge the entire state by one area. You especially cannot judge this state by appearances- social norms and material things are not what West Virginians tend to value. You won't find urban metropolises full of coffee shops, trendy clubs, and shopping centers, but you will find close-knit communities and people that really care about each other.
No matter where I've lived or traveled, I've never found people as extraordinarily interesting and friendly I have in West Virginia. Unfortunately, West Virginia has been continuously exploited for generations by outside interests. They have pillaged the state's rich natural resources and left its population in perpetual poverty. Sadly, much of the intelligent and forward-thinking population is left with no choice but to relocate to obtain good educations and jobs- perpetuating this cycle. With extreme poverty comes heavy drug use, alcoholism, lack of education, obesity, incest, abuse, poor health care, and the trashy lifestyle the state has become infamous for.
It may seem like a cloud of gloom hangs over this place, but if you look closer, you will find that stereotypes don't come close to explaining the haunting beauty and complexity of West Virginia.