Morgantown is one of the most well-known cities in the Mountain State. Here, you will find the 30,000-plus-student campus of West Virginia University, a stellar and well-respected medical school, and the beloved West Virginia Mountaineer football and basketball teams, led by everybody’s favorite coach, Bob Huggins. What you will also find is a fantastic vacation or weekend getaway with plenty to keep you busy and have fun. Here is how to spend a fantastic long weekend in the charming town of Morgantown, West Virginia.
First things first, Morgantown is located in Monongalia County and deep in the heart of Mountaineer Country, which proudly bleeds blue and gold. It is accessible by I-79 and I-68 and has the Morgantown Municipal Airport (MGW). It is 56 miles from Pittsburgh and 156 miles from Charleston, West Virginia.
Things To Do In Morgantown
I’ll admit even I was surprised at the sheer number of things to do in Morgantown on my recent visit. The city I’d been to for football games well over twenty years ago has grown tremendously since those old days and now is a destination in its own right. Here were some of my favorites.
West Virginia Botanic Garden At Tibbs Run Preserve
On my visit, spring was still in hiding a bit, so I didn’t get the full bloom effect of the West Virginia Botanic Garden, but I appreciated the peaceful property that is great for short and easy hikes. The botanical garden houses many flower species, has a lovely shade garden, hammocks between the trees, and wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and animals.
Drink Local Beer
Morgantown has many breweries, so having a good beer is indeed a possibility. Mountain State Brewing Company, Iron Horse Tavern, Morgantown Brewing Company, and Apothecary Ale House & Café are four that are relaxing, have great beer selections, and are popular with the locals.
Coopers Rock State Forest
You’re in for a real treat when you set foot on the Coopers Rock State Forest property in nearby Bruceton Mills. The sandstone cliff setting is serene and overgrown with rhododendrons and a variety of trees. It has perfect hiking paths and jaw-dropping overlooks of the Cheat River, a steep 1,200 feet below. Don’t worry about resting; there are quite a few benches on the way to the Cheat River Gorge overlook.
Pro Tip: If you are into whitewater rafting, the Cheat River, with Class IV+ rapids, is a great place to do it. Trout fishing is also a popular activity.
Have Fun At Cheat Lake
I think Cheat Lake is West Virginia’s most beautiful. I would recommend going there for a boat ride, standup paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, or even just taking a picnic lunch and enjoying the scenery. If you are interested in fishing, try your luck at catching walleye, bass, and catfish in these backwaters. A whopping 1,730 acres make up the man-made reservoir found in the northern part of gorgeous Monongalia County, West Virginia.
Fun Fact: You can rent pontoon boats at Cheat Lake.
Rent a bike from Wamsley Cycles or use your own to enjoy the sights along the Rail Trail. Wamsley has a wide variety of cycles, including E-bikes. The Caperton Rail Trail is my favorite part and an easy ride for beginner bikers. Six miles of paved urban areas, running alongside the water and restored railway station, afford a scenic ride and a few places to stop for drinks, food, shopping, or photo ops.
Visit Forks Of Cheat Winery
One of West Virginia’s best-known wineries is in Morgantown. Forks of Cheat Winery produces prize-winning wines in the Appalachian Mountains, which can be sampled in a tasting room setting. Bad Cat Catawba, a semi-sweet rose, is one of the most popular varietals and the one my friends rave about.
Tour The Campus
Take a walking tour of the West Virginia University campus, paying attention to historic and architecturally beautiful buildings. WVU was founded in 1867. There are three main areas to explore: Evansdale, Downtown, and Health Sciences. The most popular things to see are the WVU Coliseum, Woodburn Hall, Mountainlair Student Union, and Milan Puskar Stadium.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Don Knotts was from Morgantown? You’ll find a statue dedicated to him downtown in front of the Metropolitan Theatre on High Street.
Sip Craft Cocktails
Anvil + Ax is a plush, stately space inside Hotel Morgan, offering velvet bar stools, a sparkling chandelier, and an impressive craft cocktail list. From Pisco Sours to Four Roses Old Fashioned, the allure of the drink menu intrigued me from the get-go. I ended up trying a Lavender Rhodo, made with Chopin vodka, lavender syrup, Giffard Vanille de Madagascar, limoncello, and lavender essential oil spritz. I had no problem paying $12 for a cocktail with this much creativity and pizazz, plus it tasted delicious.
Marvel At The Art Museum Of WVU
Ooh and aah over the 4,000 works of art, such as sculptures, paintings, and ceramics, and exhibits inside the Art Museum of WVU. Currently, museum hours are Friday through Sunday, 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Nath Sculpture Garden is part of the museum, with 2.5 acres showcasing a few striking pieces positioned amidst native flora.
Best Restaurants In Morgantown
Morgantown continues to grow by leaps and bounds and has a long list of great places to eat. Long gone are the mostly chain restaurants and fast food establishments, though there are still plenty. Now, you can find local eateries that have upscale pub grub, gourmet dishes, and several vegetarian offerings, too. Here are the ones I ate my way through on my Morgantown visit.
You will find al fresco dining and an indoor coffee shop setting at the Terra Cafe. Serving fresh, local food and scratch-made pastries and baked goods, you’ll love the tasty offerings at this upscale eatery. Besides salads, sandwiches, breakfast dishes, and soup, Terra Cafe has an astounding selection of gourmet desserts ranging from key lime pie, cookies, and cannoli to exotic cheesecakes, mousse cake, and cupcakes. Plus, they have a great coffee and tea menu.
Oliverio’s has been a trusted and loved name in West Virginia’s Italian food scene since 1965. They serve lunch, dinner, and family meals and offer two locations in Morgantown, including one in the vibrant Wharf District. Oliverio’s meatballs with ricotta are my top pick for appetizers, and the Italian wedding soup is great if you are looking at a soup option. You can’t go wrong with any of the pasta dishes or pizzas, but I would pick the mushroom sacchetti or lasagna if you need suggestions. I’m drooling just thinking of the garlicky breadsticks with seasoned oil.
Sit by the beautiful waterfront of The Lakehouse on Cheat Lake for a classic meal — salads, sandwiches, burgers, and more. Stuffed hot peppers are prevalent in this region (served with garlic toast), so you may want to whet your appetite with them. I ordered their signature sandwich, the Hot Italian Sub, with salami, pepperoni, ham, onion, lettuce, tomato, three kinds of cheese (yes, three), and Italian dressing for lunch. OMG, this was one flavorful and filling sandwich. The billowy bread was the perfect placeholder for all this goodness.
Pies & Pints
Pies & Pints is a West Virginia institution, originated in the town of Fayetteville. Pies & Pints is a comfortable pizza joint with unique pie creations, tasty appetizers, and a revered happy hour, 3 to 6, Monday through Friday. Pork and Pepper Nachos will always be my go-to appetizer order, but Pies & Pints’ specialty pies are excellent for your main course. Check out the Grape and Gorgonzola pizza … yum! You can even choose two different pizza combinations to be split across one order; super convenient for those with different tastes sharing.
Zeke’s Breakfast & Bakes
Visit Zeke’s Breakfast & Bakes for a really good coffee or tea. They also serve a small selection of breakfast sandwiches. The bagels and guava pastries are terrific, but I preferred the heartier breakfast taco with eggs, black beans, peppers and onions, cheese, corn, salsa, and the breakfast meat of your choice.
Fun Fact: If you get your food to dine in, pay attention to the colorful dishes used by Zeke’s and many other restaurants. Fiestaware dinnerware is made at the Homer Laughlin china factory in Newell, West Virginia.
Best Hotels In Morgantown
I was a guest of the newly opened Hotel Morgan, a renovated historic Wyndham property and a spectacular place to stay. The hotel hit all the marks and exceeded them for taking the customer experience a level higher than most. Hotel Morgan has comfortable furnishings that are both gorgeous and functional. I loved the ambiance of the lobby area, heavy woodwork, modern and elegant onsite cocktail bar (Anvil + Ax), and the unique room accents.
Other lodging choices include the Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place, highly popular for college visits and game days, the Hampton Inn and Suites, and La Quinta Morgantown. If you are interested in camping, there are quite a few options in the surrounding area, including Cheat Lake.
Pro Tips: Morgantown is a great mountain getaway, but I would steer clear of fall weekends with home games when the tailgating crowds will put a damper on parking, reservations, and getting around. And whenever you are in the Mountain State, consider: