If high gas prices are preventing you from traveling out of state for summer vacation, you may want to explore closer-to-home options at the fourth annual Travel Expo this weekend at Crossroads Mall.

“A lot of people have lived here all their life and still don’t know what’s available here,” said Lisa Strader of the Southern West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Every weekend, there is something going on, and people just don’t know it. ... There are a lot of things going on.”

The expo, at the mall today and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., features information from the Southern West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau and many of the events and attractions within its nine-county region.

The theme, “Try It On, Try It Out,” encourages visitors of all ages to experience some of West Virginia’s best known outdoor adventures. Inflatable kayaks, a putting green, fishing gear, a virtual ski game and mountain bikes will be on hand for the curious, Strader said. And visitors are encouraged to “try it out.” For instance, with a successful go on the putting green, children will be eligible to win miniature golf certificates to Mountain State Golf in Beckley.

Adults can win items, too. Door prizes awarded throughout the event include Theatre West Virginia tickets and passes to the Clay Center and Canaan Valley.

Other information and opportunities will also be available. The YMCA Friends of Coal Auto Fair booth will offer early vehicle registration and vendor spaces, along with Lonestar concert tickets. Other vendors include Pocahontas Exhibition Mine — an alternative considering this season’s temporary closure of the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine — West Virginia Professional River Outfitters, Lost World Caverns, Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Appalachian Amish House, The Ski Shop of Ghent and Glade Springs Village.

Strader said the expo is a good opportunity for southern West Virginians to learn more about what’s happening in their own backyards and for those residents to share the information with others.

“People are traveling at home a little bit more,” Strader said. “And people have family and friends who come visit, so they may be looking for things to do and places to go when they’re here.”

The event runs in conjunction with National Tourism Week.

— E-mail: bnaudrey@register-herald.com

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