CHARLESTON, W.Va. --A budget travel site has put the spotlight on one West Virginia destination, naming it one of the Top 10 destinations for college students on a budget.
Cheapflights.com has named the New River Gorge as one of the top college student destinations for "youthful exploration" around the world.
"New River Gorge cabins are the perfect winter solution for the stressed out and over-extended college student. With all the amenities of a home away from home, you'll be able to relax and regain the strength you need to get through term," the list says, which ranked the gorge as the second best destination.
Cheapflights is an online media company that is "dedicated to simplifying consumers' search, publishing great deals and also providing them with the best travel guides." The company does not sell tickets, just points travelers to the best deals.
Content site editor Lauren Sullivan said the Top 10 list was developed around an "aggressive" travel budget by an intern from Northwestern University who wanted a list that she and her friends could really use.
Sullivan said the list, like all of the site's various Top 10 lists, hopes to "inspire travelers to get out and check out places that aren't so predictable."
"[Our intern] sent the list to some friends in Chicago who were like 'what's up with this West Virginia destination,'" Sullivan said. "But I think they'll be planning a trip there now."
The New River Gorge and Niagara Falls were listed as the most affordable destinations for college students over a long weekend. Rounding out the top five destinations are San Juan, Amsterdam and Panama City Beach in Florida.
"Weekend packages at local resorts typically include a deluxe cabin with a hot tub, kitchen, Wi-Fi, ski passes, breakfast, and a canopy tour. The area offers great group rates, so grab some friends and head out for the weekend," according to the list.
With deluxe cabin packages hovering around $180, "it's a great value at the New River Gorge," said Sharon Cruikshank, director of the convention and visitor's bureau.
In addition to the deal on cabins that have "all the bells and whistles you could want," Cruikshank said, there are tons of free options at the gorge.
"You can camp for free at numerous spots along the river and there are tons of hiking and biking trails, too," she said. There's also whitewater rafting, the new Civil War trails and Bridge Day, another free event unique to the gorge.
"We've got lots for everyone on any budget," she said with a laugh.
Cheapflights publishes a Top 10 list every week. Past lists have included the Top 10 fishing destinations, getaways for parents and road trips worldwide.
With budget travel in mind, Sullivan said the idea of road tripping to a destination is "really nice." However, with high gas prices, she said sometimes it's still going to be more affordable to fly.
"I just booked a $30 round-trip flight from Boston to Philly, so sometimes it still is easier to find a cheap flight than cheap gas," Sullivan said.
Yeager Airport spokesman Brian Belcher said there are a ton of cheap inbound flights to Charleston.
"Our numbers have been going up because our fares have been going down each month," he said.
When looking at local options, Sullivan said she just "fell in love with the New River Gorge. All of those amenities in walking distance? It's great. It's really beautiful there, too."
Emily Fischer, who does public relations for the website, said the company aims to "wake people up and make them pay attention to less obvious destinations."
Reach Kathryn Gregory at kathr...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5119.