Road Trips on I-77: Mountain Lakes

The Mountain Lakes Region of West Virginia, while being the portion of the state with the smallest population, is in no shortage of beautiful scenery, a peaceful atmosphere, old-fashioned shopping venues and world-class recreational activities. Rich in Civil War history, this region combines a modern lifestyle with a timeless atmosphere; the perfect destination for anyone looking for a place where old and new collide to make for an exciting travel experience unlike any other.

Day 1 – Lewis County

Start your journey in Weston – founded as Preston in 1818 until it was changed to its current name in 1819 – a city located in Lewis County that is full of history and delicious Appalachian cuisine.

The city, once home to over 30 glass plants, held a reputation as a center for hand-blown glass. While that reputation quickly declined between 1980 and 1990 with the closure of WV Glass and Louis Glass companies, Weston is still widely known for being home to the famous Museum of American Glass. With over 20,000 unique pieces on display, this museum includes stunning feature collections from 1860 all the way to the present. Thousands of these one-of-a-kind pieces are available for purchase in the gift shop that sells everything from jams, jellies and specialty foods to pottery and other hand-crafted items. 

Feeling hungry? Stop by Thyme Bistro for a delectable lunch, highlighted by local flavors in a cozy, yet romantic environment. Opt for a flavor-packed salad or order a sandwich – this spot has something for everyone.

If you can only see one thing in Weston, you have to check out the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum located in Historic Weston. Also known as the Weston State Hospital, this place served as a home for the mentally ill in the mid-1800s. Originally designed to house a maximum of 250, the facility reached its peak in the 1950s with an astounding 2,400 patients. Changes in the treatment of mental illness and the physical deterioration of the building led to its closure in 1994, but the building remains open seasonally for historical and paranormal tours. The season typically ranges from April to November.

Make yourself at home at Stonewall Resort State Park– a popular lodge situated within 1,900 acres of park grounds – and bask in the serene atmosphere and immaculate views of the rolling West Virginia hills highlighted by the tranquil lake water that stretches through the landscape. This lodge includes three high-end restaurants, an indoor/outdoor pool, spa, an Arnold Palmer golf course, campgrounds, hiking trails and a marina with boat, kayak, and canoe rentals.

Enjoy some of the fine dining options that include fresh, creative, and Appalachian-inspired dishes to give you the complete West Virginia dining experience. Stillwaters, TJ Muskies and Lightburn’s are fan-favorite spots – each offering a different dining approach and a unique menu. Enjoy breathtaking park views at the elegant Lightburns, savor fresh flavors at Stillwaters or enjoy a casual touch at TJ Muskies.

Day 2 – Sutton

Continue your roadtrip in the quaint town of Sutton in Braxton County. You will be surprised by the array of activities waiting for you to discover.

Sutton is well known for Sutton Lake, which covers 1,440 acres and continues for 14 miles on the Elk River. The lake is sought after for its clear freshwater and diversity of fish – making this an ideal spot to cast a line. The wide open space is also great for water sports like flat water paddling, kayaking, boating, jet skiing, water skiing, wake boarding, tubing and swimming. With boat rentals and lake tours from Sutton Lake Marina, you will find out why Sutton Lake is one of the most incredible U.S. destinations to rent a houseboat.

You may have heard of Mothman, but did you know that Sutton has its own monster? Learn more about the ‘Flatwoods Monster’ at The Flatwoods Monster Museum. Enjoy free admission and look at the artifacts collection, memorabilia, books and historical items on display. You can also purchase souvenirs and merchandise to make the memories last longer. To catch a weekend film or special event, Elk Theatre will deliver with a historic charm as the building dates back to the 1930s.

When you’re hungry, head to Maria’s Mexican for some authentic Mexican food. To cool off, head to The Custard Stand – Flatwoods for a frozen treat. If you’re still hungry from dinner, you can always order a West Virginia hot dog or a bowl of their signature chili.

Day 3 – Summersville

Visit Summersville, a city located in the heart of West Virginia – known for being the site of the famous Carnifex Ferry Battle of the American Civil War. Enjoy the beauty of the pristine waters and world-class recreational activities.

Stop by Summersville Lake State Park, the state’s newest state park, and see for yourself why this destination is known as the ‘Little Bahamas of the East.’ With 2,800 acres of water and roughly 60 miles of shoreline, this lake offers activities like boating, water-skiing, swimming, fishing, scuba diving, picnicking, hunting and biking. Rock climbing and whitewater rafting are also available year-round. Document your new state park visit by taking an #AlmostHeaven swing selfie at the Almost Heaven swing!

Check out Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park, one of the oldest state parks in the United States and learn about the infamous battle that took place on September 10, 1861. Located on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon, this park stretches over 156 acres and is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail, a trail linking more than 300 historical sites across 16 different states. The park also includes picnic areas with tables and grills, a playground area, and public restrooms.

Grab a bite to eat at The Vault on Main, located right in the heart of Summersville. This restaurant and wine bar serves up a fine-dining experience in a historic former bank. Paying homage to her Northern French heritage, Chef Ambassador Libby has curated a unique menu packed with farm-to-table elements.

End your day with a cozy cabin stay at Carnifex Ferry Cabins. Take your pick from a variety of log cabins, some with enough room to comfortably accommodate up to 13 guests.

Immerse yourself in Almost Heaven history or spend your days out on the lake — all this and more awaits you in the Mountain Lakes Region of West Virginia.

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This post was last updated on April 26, 2024