Instagram initiative promotes safe Metro Valley travel options

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Instagram initiative promotes safe Metro Valley travel options
Coonskin Fork tubles through at grotto at Coonskin Park at Charleston. (Photo courtesy Rick Burgess)

There's more to see and do in West Virginia's Metro Valley region than one might expect, which is why four visitor bureaus there have engaged in a cooperative promotion on Instagram dubbed "Rt. 60 Ramble."

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Project leaders themselves said they were surprised to discover resources along or near U.S. 60 that were appropriate for socially-distanced adventures about which they knew little before.

Kelli Steele, executive director of the , says the team representing Charleston, Huntington, Barboursville, and Putnam County found much that locals can discover without leaving the region.

“Even those of us working on this project have been surprised to learn about things to do right in our backyard that we had no idea existed," Steele said.

"We hoped that by bringing attention to these sites that someone in Charleston might want to walk a trail in Hurricane or someone in Huntington might do a driveable public art tour in downtown Charleston.”

The campaign highlights safe activities, such as outdoor recreation, public art, and historic sites, throughout the Metro Valley, across which U.S. 60 courses east-west.

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Though the project is principally designed for regional residents enduring the COVID-10 outbreak, it's also a resource those visiting from other areas. Many wish to make summer travel plans, but are hoping to find safe, socially distant tourism options, Steele said.

Tim Brady, president of the , said regional collaboration is a key component of tourism marketing. "Visitors and tourists don’t care about municipal and county boundaries; they only care about the experience."

The Rt. 60 Ramble particularly recognizes the nature of post-COVID travel, he says.

"People are taking more road trips and day trips. There’s so much to explore in our own backyard, and the Route 60 Ramble is a fun and creative way to show people all of the things that are within a short drive from where they are."

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