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Best Things to Do in Huntington, West Virginia

Touring a historical farm, eating gourmet hotdogs, and browsing priceless art are some of the best things to do in Huntington, WV.

Huntington, West Virginia, is in the southern corner of the state and borders Kentucky and Ohio. Home of Marshall University and the Thundering Herd, Huntington has tasty restaurants, some in the area for dozens of years, and a performance venue with everything from rodeos to current music artists. You can find museums, living history, shopping, and street art in the area, which is fun for all ages. Here are the best things to do in Huntington, WV, that I’ve found on my visits.

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Tour the Huntington Museum of Art

Imagine my surprise when we pulled into the Huntington Museum of Art parking lot and saw an enormous Dale Chihuly art installment through a window. I couldn’t wait to go in!

The Huntington Museum of Art is not only an art gallery but also an educational facility and plant conservatory. The C. Fred Edwards Conservatory has tropical and subtropical plants, palms, and flowers, making me feel at home since I now live in South Florida. 

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Nearly 100 varieties of orchids delicately scented the air as we walked around, admiring the fruit and nut-bearing trees (sugarcane, banana, cacao, and coffee) and unique flowers. If you’ve never smelled the extremely fragrant frangipanis, the flowers that Hawaiian leis are made from, this is your chance.

Back to the Chihuly piece, the glass statue (probably close to 10 feet tall) was made from 352 hand-blown pieces. Nearby was a large aquarium with a plethora of different colorful specimens. The Huntington Museum of Art provided a label/guide to identify the exotic fish, which I enjoyed looking at.

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Inside the Huntington Museum of Art gallery were works from Roy Lichtenstein, Pablo Picasso, and Robert Rauschenberg, to name a few. The Wilbur Myers Glass Collection contains 1,000 glass objects that I found to be an exceptional offering and display. The museum has European, Asian, American, and Caribbean art pieces. One permanent gallery held antique or vintage firearms excellently displayed and explained.

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Visit Pullman Square

Pullman Square is in the heart of downtown Huntington and a dining and entertainment hub you won’t want to miss. Parking is accessible, and this is also a great place to park for concerts at the neighboring Mountain Health Arena. Whether you are there to catch a movie at Pullman Square 16 Marquee Cinemas, find a book you can’t live without at Inner Geek Bookstore, do some shopping at Chico’s, or make a handmade craft at The Pottery Place, you’ll find something for everyone here.

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While the train on display is unique, it is part of the 38 tugboats you’ll see around town painted and designed by regional artists. These Artisans Express public art project benefits the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital.

You’ll also find an impressive array of restaurants at Pullman Square, including Rapid Fired Pizza, Cold Stone Creamery, Starbucks, Roosters, and my fave, Black Sheep Burrito & Brews. Need any suggestions for what to order? The Shrimp Pad Thai Eggrolls are delish, as are the specialty burritos—I always choose Chipotle Orange Pork. 

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Enjoy Delicious Food

Huntington has always been known for a handful of restaurants that are real crowd-pleasers. Unfortunately, I cannot send you to Chili Willie’s and Calamity Cafe, two places we used to drive from Charleston for regularly, but there are still some darned tasty eats.

Fat Patty’s

Fat Patty’s is a West Virginia restaurant known for seriously good burgers and an excellent American-fare menu. Fat Patty’s in Huntington was in a spot popular with the Marshall kids my age when it was known as Mycroft’s. The Raspberry Popper Burger is my go-to, topped with cream cheese, a raspberry melba sauce, and sautéed jalapeños. It is raging good! The Mac & Cheese bites are popular, too. 

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Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe

The Marshall Hall of Fame Cafe is a great place to take the entire family. The decor is Marshall University memorabilia and sports collectibles, and it has a low-key vibe and a well-rounded menu. Whether you are looking for pizza, wings, pasta, smashed burgers, salads, or sandwiches, there are plenty to choose from. 

The best thing about the Marshall HOF Cafe? The crazy number of craft tap beers they offer. I’m guessing it’s the most in West Virginia!

Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House

I was 53 years old before I had my first Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House meal. I could kick myself for waiting so long. This Huntington landmark not only serves absolutely amazing spaghetti and fried haddock fish (which they claim should be the other food listed in their name), but they are also the only restaurant in the state with a James Beard Foundation Award. Jim’s has been pleasing locals and guests for 74 years, quite an accomplishment.

I loved that they offer a variety of sizes for lunchtime (11:00 AM -3:30 PM) pasta portions. I chose the smallest, with your choice of marinara or meat sauce, which also came with bread, coffee or tea, and a garden salad. It was a perfect size and less than $10. Jim’s is closed Sundays and Mondays.

FYI: Muhammad Ali, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Billy Joel have all eaten at Jim’s.

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Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs

West Virginia is a hotdog lover’s kind of place. I’ve been enjoying delicious hotdogs my entire life all around the state, but Huntington has one of the best—Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs. Stewart’s opened its first drive-in restaurant in 1932 at the Huntington location, selling popcorn and root beer.

Nearly 90 years later, they are still selling to the Mountain State, only with an expanded menu. Hotdogs were added to the list one year after opening, made with the owner’s wife’s hot dog chili sauce and classic Heiner’s (a local bread bakery) buns.

 Enjoy the walk-up restaurant service or have Stewart’s Original Hot Dogs delivered anywhere in the world via UPS. Stewart’s strikes a note of nostalgia for those of us from West Virginia but will please the palate of even the most discriminating foodies. Stewart’s menu items include burgers, chicken, shakes, ice cream, and floats. Veggie and light hot dogs are available, too. 

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Frostop Drive-In

You’re in for a treat, literally, when you pull your car into the circa 1959 Frostop Drive-In on Hal Greer Boulevard. Chances are you’ll see the massive mug of root beer on top of the retro fast-food eatery first. Pull into a spot and honk your horn when ready to order or if you’d like a menu brought to your car. You can also walk up to a window to order, but half the fun of eating at Frostop is having the car hop deliver your food and attach a make-shift tray to your car window. 

The root beer floats, something they are known for, are awesome! My waitress was kind enough to bring us plates to hold under the floats as we ate and drank them. In addition to floats and sundaes, they also serve hot dogs, bbq, burgers, BLTs, and much more.

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See Harris Riverfront Park

Harris Riverfront Park is a great green space for walking, jogging, having a picnic, or watching the boats and barges go down the Ohio River. Bonus offerings include signage for education about the animals and wildlife, a skate park, playground, and amphitheater. Something I found neat was the exercise equipment that anyone can use for free.

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Tour the Marshall University Campus

Home to the Fighting Herd, Huntington’s Marshall University is one of the top higher learning institutions in the state. Founded in 1837, Marshall has around 12,000 full-time students and sprawls over 100 acres. Be sure to pass by the MU Student Union, where you’ll see the dedicated water feature, Memorial Fountain, in memory of the 75 lives lost in the Nov. 14, 1970, plane crash. The landmark statue was created by sculptor Harry Bertoia and is where a memorial service takes place each year.

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FYI: In 2006, Warner Bros. released the film “We Are Marshall,” starring Matthew McConaughey, telling the story of the tragedy of the plane crash and its aftermath.

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For more “best things to do”, how about venture an hour away to Charleston, the capitol city?

Step Back in Time Through Living History 

The Heritage Farm Museum & Village is an excellent learning experience, and everyone in the state of West Virginia should make it a point to go there. Age is not a factor! Heritage Farm Museum & Village celebrates Appalachia through learning and educational exhibits, displays, special events, and costumed interpreters.

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There are 15 historic log structures to see and seven award-winning museum spaces, with displays ranging from crafts and hobbies of pioneer days to West Virginia trades and career memorabilia. I thoroughly enjoyed the coal mining stories, artifacts, and glass and railroad offerings.

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Kids will enjoy Heritage Farm’s outdoor playground area, wagon rides, train, and petting zoo. Animals ranged from chickens, opossum, pigs, goats, turtles, and llamas. There are also artisans around the property showing off their trades and many opportunities to learn new things about jobs, industry, and families of the pioneer days.

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Special events at Heritage Farm are family-fun nights, cast-iron cookout, a Christmas village, and much more. There is an on-site restaurant, a gift shop, and several places to enjoy picnic lunches on the Heritage Farms Museum property.

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Catch a Show

The Mountain Health Arena is where you go in Huntington and the surrounding area to see a concert, rodeo, sporting event, family acts, graduations, and other performances. 2022 is ushering in the likes of Travis Tritt and Chris Janson, Lee Brice, Walker Hayes,

Visit the Rose Garden

A West Virginia tradition has to be going to the award-winning Ritter Park Rose Garden to see the beautiful blooms at least once a year. I’ve been doing so for 35 years, and the gardens keep getting more sophisticated. The gardens have more than 3,000 plants over the well-manicured property and now offer a “Room with a View” for rental purposes. Admission is free.

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Bring the Kids

The kids will love three major attractions not too far from Huntington: Waves of Fun (23 miles), Beech Fork State Park (8 miles), and Camden Park, just minutes from downtown. From these, enjoy swimming, a wave pool, biking, hiking, and amusement park rides at the “Sign of the Happy Clown.”

Fun Fact: Camden Park is over 100 years old.

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Read more about West Virginia here:

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