Summer Road Trip to the Northern Panhandle

The Northern Panhandle in West Virginia represents one of two panhandles in West Virginia. With historic cities like Wheeling, Weirton, Moundsville and others within one-hour drives of each other, Almost Heaven will amaze you with its array of options to spend time in the Northern Panhandle. Catch a glimpse of these locations and you may find yourself claiming them as your new favorite hidden gems.

Appalachian Appetite

No matter where you are arriving from, your appetite will be begging you to try out the local restaurants in Almost Heaven. For unique dinner entrées made from locally-sourced ingredients or a late-evening taste of what’s on tap, check out one of region’s most renowned eateries, Vagabond Kitchen. This eatery is owned by Wheeling native, official WV Chef Ambassador and Guy’s Grocery Games winner Matt Welsch.

A drive through Moundsville in Marshall County will reveal many unique restaurants. If you’re searching for classic American food with a Mountain State twist, visit Bob’s Lunch and try the famous “2 Pound Mound Cheeseburger.” To get a feel for southern comfort cuisine, Mason Dixon Barbecue Company will certainly not disappoint with its variety of brisket, pork and chicken dishes. Grandma Jo’s Polkadot Cafe is well-liked for its homestyle breakfast and dinner options.

If you feel like exploring more options further north, Theo Yanni’s in Weirton is the spot to find authentic Greek cuisine – paying homage to the Greek heritage of Ohio County. La Cucina Italian Grill is another Weirton favorite as the culture tips its cap to the splurge of Italian immigrants in the 20th century. For a taste of many West Virginia-themed hot dogs, stop by Basil’s Sports Bar and Grill.

History Between the Hills

Downtown Wheeling is the birthplace of West Virginia, and you can learn everything there is know about the state’s American Civil War history at West Virginia Independence Hall. Go on a free tour of the museum and enjoy exploring the restored period-correct rooms – where the events leading up to the Mountain State’s existence happened. A pre-Civil War landmark you can explore today is the Wheeling Suspension Bridge, which was strategically useful during the war as it connected the eastern and western sections of the National Road, crossing the Ohio River. For family fun, check out the Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum – featuring a train room, miniatures room, doll room, game room and a lobby room to win prizes.

Now a popular museum and historical site, the West Virginia Penitentiary is a gothic-style prison located in Moundsville. The penitentiary operated from 1876 to 1995, and visitors have the freedom to take guided day tours, participate in adventure escape games and even opt for overnight prison tours. Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex is home to one of the most famous burial mounds built by the Aden people. Visitors can take the steps and reach the 69-foot peak to get a feel for the size of this burial site. Visitors can also enjoy a tour of the museum to learn more about the historical significance of Mountain State archaeology.

If you are a scholar, student or an avid researcher, the Weirton Area Cultural Museum & Cultural Center provides accessibility to a wealth of information about Almost Heaven. Learn about Weirton’s history in the steel industry, and catch one of the several community events held each year featuring exclusive exhibits.

Cool Quick Stops

In the charming town of Follansbee in Brooke County, Moe’s on Main is a hidden gem. This gift shop sells handmade West Virginia artifacts, art and baked goods. If you have more Northern Panhandle visits planned for the future, you can brush up on your creative juices and sign up for an art class.

While you are in Hancock County, you won’t want to miss PRIME of Weirton – Weirton Book Company. This bookstore is quite the story as it also sells ice cream, shaved ice and vintage imported candies. There are dairy-free ice cream options, and trying the ice cream nachos is a must while in town.

If you are into unique, funky gift shops, Puddleducks in Wheeling will exceed your expectations. Choose from a wide selection of modern gifts inspired by Native American, Guatemalan, Irish, Wiccan and other cultures. You may walk in knowing what you will buy, but you will walk out with even more memories to share.

Irresistible Resorts and Recreation

Experience Wheeling’s Oglebay and all this historic resort has to offer, across more than 2,000 acres. On top of the superior overnight accommodations and flexible event hosting, visitors can enjoy golfing, hiking trails, horseback riding, flower gardens, the Good Zoo and much more.

In Moundsville, get cozy in one of Grand Vue Park’s many deluxe cabins and rentals. While you are there, take on adventures like the 2,100 ft. zip line ride, hiking more than 15 miles of trails, golfing, paintball and so many more recreational activities.

Along the Ohio River in New Cumberland, Tomlinson Run State Park is near the tip of the Northern Panhandle. Enjoy this beautiful slice of Almost Heaven by playing some matches at the disc golf course, putt-putting, hitting the hiking trails and catching some z’s in the campground or one of the five camper cabins.

Planning a trip to the Northern Panhandle anytime soon? Order our free West Virginia Vacation Guide to learn more about the hidden gems waiting to welcome you.

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This post was last updated on May 19, 2023