With an engineer in the family, we knew that he at least would want to visit the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, WVA-- yet, we all liked it.
It took us almost an hour to get there from Snowshoe ski resort, including a brief stop to turn in the keys to the rental condo. We'd never driven the route before and didn't hurry. It's truly rural America--"Country roads, take me home....", and if we'd had time, I'd also have stopped in the town of Cass, WV, which we drove through. It's a semi-restored railroad/company town, I think, right on the river (Greenbrier River, I guess) and looked well worth a visit, but we were trying to make the 11 a.m. tour of the observatory, then had a long drive to get back home. So if you're thinking of doing this, I'd also carve out an hour or two to tour Cass.
Anyway, the observatory is cool. From the Snowshoe direction, you first glimpse the telescope from a few miles' distance as you leave the mountains and enter the valley which is home to the telescope and observatory campus. It was a clear day and it was unexpectedly surreal and beautiful to see off to the left a space-age gigantic metal satellite-dish structure way in the distance, while in the foreground were farm buildings and a herd of cattle. You should pull off to the side of the road and take some pictures of that scene--bucolic and other-worldly at the same time.
Our tax dollars are truly at work at the Observatory, and the fact that the exhibit building is only a couple of years old and still feels so new and crisp and clean, makes it doubly worthwhile to see. Plus, it's free!!-- thank you Senator Byrd of WVA. The exhibit hall could easily take an hour or so to wander through, to study and learn of the discovery of radio waves and how we benefit from them today, and of the search for the outer limits of the universe. The hour-long tour and program consists of a video with some cool demos afterward (balloon dipped into liquid nitrogen), and then onto a bus to tour the telescopes scattered around the site.
We ate lunch back at the Exhibit Hall at the tiny lunchstand and sunny dining area. It was good, there was a varied assortment of lunch items for sale and reasonably priced, 2 hotdogs, chips and cookie for my son, cheeseburger for my husband, taco salad for my brother, and a veggie wrap and chips for me -- I think we paid about $20 total. Chips, cookies, ice cream, cappuchino, and soft drinks also are available.
The Exhibit Hall also has a nice gift shop.
I recommend a stop at the NRAO definitely. A great science lesson -- up close and personal to space-exploring telescopes and the price can't be beat; the location is built to welcome lots of tourists and young science lovers, but it is so remote and off the beaten path that we felt that we had this hidden spot to ourselves.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.