Road Trips from Pittsburgh: Mountaineer Country

The Mountaineer Country Region of West Virginia is a lively and beautiful area filled with scenic attractions, fine dining, ample shopping and a vibrant community feel. Voted “One of the South’s Best Small Towns” in 2019 by Southern Living Magazine, this region offers small-town charm and big-city luxuries; the perfect travel destination for anyone looking for the best of both worlds.

Day 1 – Morgantown

Considered one of the most exciting places in West Virginia for nightlife, music and art, Morgantown has something to offer everyone. Located in the very heart of Mountaineer Country, this city is known for its live events, marathons, annual festivals and its spirited nightlife atmosphere.

Morgantown is home to West Virginia University (WVU), the state’s largest institution of higher education. Known as The Mountaineers, this school’s football team has been a part of the Big 12 Conference since 2012 and boasts having 20 of their players go on to compete in the Super Bowl. Be sure to check the Mountaineer’s schedule when you are in town – you might be able to catch a lively game at the Milan Puskar Stadium.

Visit the West Virginia Botanic Garden (WVBG) and take a walk through 82 acres of beautiful natural scenery and hiking trails that are home to various species of one-of-a-kind plants, some of which can only be found in the Appalachian region. Opened to the public in 1982, this garden serves as an educational and recreational facility, offering monthly family walks, nature workshops, large group tours and summer nature camps. The garden is free of charge and open to the public.

If you are ready to grab a bite to eat, head back to downtown Morgantown. Wind down with a locally-brewed beverage while your pizza bakes in a wood-fired oven at Mountain State Brewing Company.

Traveling with a large group? Wrap up your day at the Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place, a hotel with 207 guest rooms and suites that overlook the stunning Monongahela River. Or, if you are looking for something a bit more boutique, the newly reimagined Hotel Morgan serves up historic charm and luxury amenities.

Craving a day full of stunning views? Make the quick drive to Coopers Rock State Forest, home to one of the most iconic vistas in the state on 12,747 stunning acres. Directly from the parking lot, follow the stone path for a short stroll that leads directly to the overlook. While you are in the forest, you can explore 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, rock climbing, fishing and more.

While you’re at Coopers Rock State Park, share your experience on your socials by capturing your perfect #AlmostHeaven swing selfie at the Almost Heaven swing!

Day 2 – Cheat Lake

Less than a 15-minute drive from downtown Morgantown, Cheat Lake is full of adventures waiting for you to claim as your own. Enjoy flat water paddling, kayaking, fishing and more water sports at this 1,170-acre lake. You can even rent a pontoon, canoe, ski boat or powerboat from Sunset Beach Marina.

For a taste of a fresh catch, Delmonico, baby back ribs and more, Lake House Restaurant is the perfect place to refuel after a day of adventure. Also take a look at their Lakehouse Specials menu to score a dinner that will have you telling all of your friends about. No matter how full you get, there is always room for ice cream or a cup of coffee at Annie’s Coffee and Creamery. Enjoy hot drinks, cold drinks, frozen treats, ice cream and even sandwiches. One scoop of their soft-serve ice cream will get you hooked.

For some fresh produce, check out the Morgantown Farmers’ Market, open every Saturday morning from May through October. Holding the title of the first solar market in West Virginia, it offers a wide array of fresh produce from over 30 farms. With a variety of farm-to-table products, explore the local produce that calls West Virginia home.

Day 3 – Fairmont

Spend the day in the beautiful city of Fairmont, rich in 18th-century history, culture and recreational activities. Located where the West Fork and Tygart Valley rivers meet, Fairmont is known as the birthplace of West Virginia’s most iconic food, the pepperoni roll. Originally created as a delicious, preservable treat for coal miners to take with them to work, this food has earned its title as a timeless state favorite.

Visit Prickett’s Fort State Park, a living history museum where visitors can see a recreation of an original 18th-century fort. Spanning over 188 acres, this park allows for a deep connection with nature and a rich education on past historical events. Also included are trails, picnicking areas, an outdoor amphitheater for performances, a research library and a gift shop.

For some authentic Italian dishes, check out Muriale’s Italian Kitchen, a city favorite since its debut in 1969. Serving timeless classics like fried calamari and bruschetta from beloved family recipes that have been passed down over many generations, you can expect quality food and quality service during your visit.

Ever wanted to try a banana split with NINE huge scoops of ice cream? The Poky Dot, a classic diner-themed restaurant that has been taking the word “desserts” to an entirely new level since 1951, is just the place for you. With delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, it’ll be hard to save room for dessert, but it’s a must if you want to get the full experience out of this one-of-a-kind place.

Day 4 – Clarksburg

To put a bow on your trip, spend some time in the charming Mountaineer Country city of Clarksburg. Enjoy a wide variety of history, stores, entertainment, recreation and dining to add to your roadtrip from Pittsburgh.

Clarksburg, the seat of Harrison County, has history dating back to the late 1700s – before West Virginia was declared a state. Take a peak through Watters Smith Memorial State Park and explore the pioneer life with a reconstructed homestead. The downtown area still has 1800s and 1900s style houses and buildings, which makes Clarksburg a treat for any visitor who loves a vintage walk along the sidewalk.

While you’re strolling in the town, you can walk into West Virginia Heritage Crafts, which is West Virginia’s oldest artisan co-op offering everything from canned goods to quilted items. Meadowbrook Mall has all the big name stores that you could ask for as well as a few local shops.

For an elegant dining experience, The Wonder Bar Steakhouse is in a class of its own Since first opening in 1946, this restaurant added a sprawling patio and cozy fire-pit. Find some of the most tender steaks in the Clarksburg area and enjoy the view of the surrounding mountains while sipping on your fine wine. For a more casual dining atmosphere, Parkette Family Restaurant is known for its hoagies, dinner salads, homemade salad dressing and more. You won’t have trouble finding a place to grab a bite in Clarksburg.

In Mountaineer Country, there’s something for everyone. How will you plan your trip to this charming region?

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This post was last updated on October 10, 2023