Welcome to Morgantown! This charming city, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, offers a perfect blend of Mountain State beauty and urban comforts. Home to West Virginia University and a thriving craft brewery scene, Morgantown is a vibrant destination with plenty to see and do. In this blog post, we’ll highlight the best things to do in Morgantown, West Virginia, to help you plan the ultimate trip.
Note: As someone who has lived in West Virginia for 42 years, I admit I had only visited Morgantown for football games. However, since my readers have been requesting a piece about this town, and after exploring it myself, I am smitten. Morgantown has much to offer with its state-of-the-art research institution, abundant outdoor offerings, and impressive sports teams. I hope you will see it for yourself.
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Eat Dinner at Oliverio’s Ristorante on the Wharf
If you’re looking for a top-notch Italian dining experience in Morgantown, look no further than Oliverio’s Ristorante. Since 1965, Oliverio’s has been a beloved staple in the local food scene. Start your meal with Oliverio’s Ristorante’s Meatballs with a dollop of creamy ricotta cheese. This perfect accompaniment cuts through the richness of the meat sauce, leaving you wanting more.
For your main course, indulge in Oliverio’s famous meat sauce Lasagna, a classic dish done really well. The delicious breadsticks are the icing on the cake.
All of the menu selections at Oliverio’s are true old-school Italian, packed with authentic flavors and comforting nostalgia. Reserve your table on Open Table to secure your spot at this renowned restaurant.
Stay at the Hotel Morgan
Hotel Morgan, a Wyndham Hotel on High Street with 81 loft-like rooms and two suites, offers a truly memorable and luxurious stay. This boutique hotel offers modern amenities in a charming setting, making it the perfect choice for travelers seeking a touch of luxury.
From the stunning design features like exposed brick walls and sleek furnishings, to its central location, Hotel Morgan is truly special.
I had the pleasure of experiencing the Chancellor’s Suite during my stay, which was equipped with a spacious living room, a dining area, and even a Lavazza Espresso Machine. The marble bathroom was my favorite part, with its fantastic shower, high-end toiletries, and a custom wardrobe complete with a steamer.
I couldn’t help but be impressed by the stylish rugs, beautiful light fixtures, and elegant furniture everywhere I looked.
If you’re in the mood for delicious cocktails and dining, Anvil + Ax, a craft cocktail bar and restaurant, awaits you in the Hotel Morgan lobby. The stunning decor, featuring velvet bar stools and eclectic artwork, adds to the whole experience. Additionally, a state-of-the-art fitness facility is available for all hotel guests to enjoy.
Bike the Caperton Trail
Experience the beauty of Morgantown along the famous Caperton Trail. This well-known five-mile paved trail, built on a retired railroad track, follows the Monongahela River, offering stunning views of the river and city skyline while riding between the busy campus, Hazel Ruby McQuain Park, and the town’s industrial scene.
Whether you enjoy jogging, cycling, or simply taking a leisurely walk, the Caperton Trail is where you’ll want to be.
Didn’t bring your bike? No worries. You can rent a bike from Wamsley Cycles and then directly hit the scenic trail. The Caperton Trail is part of Mon River Trails, running from the Pennsylvania state line to Prickett’s Fort State Park.
Attend the Morgantown Farmer’s Market
Experience Morgantown life like a local. Take part in the Morgantown Farmer’s Market on Saturdays beginning at 8:30 AM. It is located at the pavilion on 400 Spruce Street.
Dig Into Breakfast From Apple Annie’s
I’ve recently discovered why so many locals love the food, cookies, and pies from Apple Annie’s in Morgantown. After a French toast and sausage breakfast, plus a box of cookies to take home with me, I certainly see what the rage is all about and keep returning for more.
Morgantown has shopping options to satisfy all tastes, with a mix of chain and independent stores, specialty shops, and boutiques. The University Town Centre is a popular shopping destination, but downtown Morgantown also has plenty of stores worth exploring.
Another hot shopping ticket in Morgantown is Seneca Center, an old glass warehouse converted into a fun wooden floor, brick exposed walls, and a multi-level complex with free parking. Inside, you’ll find an arsenal of locally-owned shops, including Peri + CO (kid’s clothing), Country Roads Quilt Shop (also featured in our “100 Things to Do in West Virginia Before You Die” book), Cutting Room Boutique (ladies fashions), Carolyn’s Florals, and Brownie House.
One place that catches my eye and that I’ve heard so many great things about is The Tea Shoppe, an excellent stop for lunch or a proper tea service. And you won’t want to miss the free museum on the lower level.
Drink Tasty Craft Beer
If you’re looking for a popular activity, Morgantown offers a growing craft beer scene, with various local breweries providing unique and delicious beers and ales. There are a few standout places that are worth a visit.
For starters, check out Iron Horse Tavern, in the heart of town. Another great option is Morgantown Brewing Company on University Avenue. And if you’re interested in some history, don’t miss Mountain State Brewing Company, one of the oldest microbreweries in West Virginia.
Chestnut Brew Works is another great brewery to try, offered at 70+ restaurants, stores, and bars in West Virginia. For the most extensive beer selection in the area, head to Apothecary Ale House & Cafe, with 27 rotating taps and 140 different bottles.
Visit John F. Kennedy Memorial Park
When visiting Morgantown, you may want to factor in time to see the bronze statue depicting John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting his father’s casket at Edith Barrill Riverfront Park. The park is fantastic for bringing the kids to play on the Tugboat Depot-themed playground, ride bikes on the Rail Trail, walk, or picnic—such a serene spot to enjoy.
Lunch at Terra Cafe
At Terra Cafe, you’ll be greeted with an artsy and inviting atmosphere, with display cases filled with mouthwatering scratch-made delights. Terra Cafe is a full-service eatery, serving breakfast and lunch with menu items that will make your toes curl.
This eatery is committed to using the freshest local, farm-to-table ingredients in their dishes. Indulge in the tasty creations, which you can enjoy inside or out on the relaxing patio. Please note they are closed on Mondays.
My favorite lunches are the Terra Turkey (baby spinach, caramelized apples, bacon & roasted garlic aioli) with tomato and chèvre bisque or the Roasted Vegetable Salad (squash, fennel, and beets with pistachios and chèvre), which will allow extra calories to use on the magnificent pastries.
Visit The West Virginia University Campus
When you visit Morgantown, pay homage to one of the country’s top campuses: West Virginia University. Established in 1867 and home of the mighty Mountaineers, WVU offers incredible athletic and academic programs. It’s even a national leader in robotics and biometrics. Plus, the campus itself is absolutely stunning.
With over 350 Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, and professional degree programs, WVU has something for everyone. And the list of famous alums is just as impressive, including Don Knotts, Jerry West, Stephen Coonts, and Katherine Johnson. Several museums and galleries are also on campus, such as the Art Museum of WVU and the WVU Museum of Natural History.
If you have extra time, pencil in the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum. It’s home to an extensive collection representing the area’s coal and petroleum industries.
Pro Tip: Call 304.293.4609 to obtain a parking permit.
Mountaineer Field and More
But that’s not all – there are also some must-see places on campus. The WVU Coliseum and Milan Puskar Stadium (Mountaineer Field) offer unforgettable experiences, whether you’re watching a football, baseball, or basketball game. There is something magical about being one of the 60K fervent fans watching and cheering the blue and gold Mountaineers on to victory in beautiful downtown Morgantown.
After a victorious game, the exuberant crowd serenades the Mountaineers with a spirited performance of John Denver’s hit song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” If you crave more musical entertainment, the stadium hosts a multitude of concerts during the warm summer months.
And let’s not forget about the enormous tailgating parties taking place hours before.
Sip Wine at the Forks of Cheat Winery
Escape to the charming Forks of Cheat Winery and experience the best of West Virginia’s award-winning wines. Instead of the usual wine tasting, you can purchase a bottle and relax in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains. Indulge in delicious snacks available for purchase to enhance your wine-tasting experience while taking in the breathtaking scenery of the greater Morgantown area.
The winery offers tastings, tours, and captivating views of the countryside. With an impressive production of over 20,000 gallons of exquisite wines each year, the Catawba wine has become a crowd favorite.
Explore Cheat Lake
Adjacent to Morgantown lies Cheat Lake, a cherished locale renowned for its boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities. This idyllic lake, nestled amidst scenic mountains, is an enticing retreat from busy city life.
Whether indulging in outdoor adventures or simply relishing a respite by the water’s edge, visitors can partake in the myriad recreational activities and savor an exquisite dining experience at the prestigious Lake House Restaurant.
Cheat Lake, along with the beautiful Sunset Beach Marina, is a treasured destination frequented not only by residents and visitors.
Discover the West Virginia Botanic Garden and Others
One of my favorite Morgantown outdoor activities would be walking or hiking through the West Virginia Botanic Garden. There are several lush paths to choose from, ranging from woodsy to wetlands, plus a wide variety of sweeping trees and flowers. It would be hard not to find peace and tranquility in this fabulous setting.
Another excellent nature center is The WVU Core Arboretum. This 91-acre nature preserve serves as a sanctuary for over 500 plant species. Meander the tranquil pathways as you enjoy nature’s signs, sights, smells, and sounds. WVU Core Arboretum is a haven for birds, and you’ll find an excellent selection to admire there.
A close runner-up for enjoying natural scenery would be driving a few minutes out of town to see the wondrous Coopers Rock State Forest.
Hear Live Music
The Metropolitan Theatre, circa 1924, in the Downtown Historic District of Morgantown, is where you’ll go for a wide array of live music. Shows range from plays, dance competitions, recitals, and film screenings to musical performances in this historical landmark.
Please note that large purses and backpacks are not allowed in “the Met,” nor are video recording devices. Outside, you’ll find the tribute statue to Morgantown’s own Don Knotts.
I was hosted by Mountaineer Country for my hotel accommodations and some meals. As with all posts on this site, all opinions and reviews are 100% my own and unbiased.
Don Knotts Statue
And speaking of the Emmy-award-winning Don Knotts, the downtown statue in his likeness (holding and smiling at his Deputy Barney Fife cap from The Andy Griffith Show) was inaugurated in 2016. Knotts was from Morgantown, where we honed some of his skills before moving to Hollywood.
Knotts, born Jesse Donald Knotts, spent his formative years living in the boarding house run by his family and attending Morgantown High School. The comedic genius is just one of the celebrities hailing from West Virginia.
Morgantown for the Win!
Morgantown is a great place to road trip to or have a weekend getaway. After 25 years of being there, I was able to pay a visit and find things to share with our readers. Prepare to be wowed if you are like me and have been a stranger for an extended amount of time. Morgantown is “all that and a bag of chips.”
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