In my 44 years in West Virginia, I only visited Morgantown for football games. After moving to Florida, I now try to explore parts of WV that I haven’t been to or been to in ages when I visit. Morgantown is the one place that our readers have asked that we write about. Keep in mind, this town of around 30,000 (without students), has a state of the art research institution, abundant outdoor offerings, and kick-ass football sports teams. Here are 9 things I loved about Morgantown, WV, and hope you will, too.
One of the most well-known names in Morgantown’s food scene is Oliverio’s, an Italian staple since. Oliverio’s has two locations—Bridgeport, WV, and at the Wharf, which is the one I visited. For an appetizer, I recommend Oliverio’s Meatballs. The dollop of ricotta cheese cuts the richness, and fresh basil lightens up the dish. For your main entrée, the Chicken Diablo and famous meat sauce Lasagna are both excellent choices. Oliverio’s Chicken Diablo also has Italian sausage, peppers, onions, and a spicy cream sauce—really tasty.
FYI: Oliverio’s has a Monday through Thursday Happy Hour in the bar area only, and nightly dinner specials. Family meals that serve four to six are available for carryout.
2. The Hotel Morgan
Morgantown’s newest addition is the opening of the historic and luxurious Hotel Morgan, a Wyndham Hotel on High Street. This stylish and prestigious gem is where you will want to rest your head and spend your nights when visiting. From the brass keys hanging behind the reception desk to the chandeliers over the staircase that commands attention, Hotel Morgan is special.
I stayed in the Chancellor’s Suite, with a full-sized living room, dining room table and chairs, and Lavazza Espresso Machine. A wet bar made for a nice surprise. The bedroom was adorned with a beautiful custom furniture, leather camp-style chairs, and fine linens. Though the whole room was modern and highly-functional, my favorite part was the bathroom. It held a fantastic shower, offered high-end toiletries, and a custom wardrobe with steamer. I’m still talking up the fabulous rugs, light fixtures, and hotel room lamps. There are 81 loft-like rooms and 2 suites at Hotel Morgan.
Back in the Hotel Morgan lobby, Anvil + Ax, a craft cocktail bar and restaurant awaits hotel guests and visitors. The decor is stunning, with velvet bar stools and eclectic artwork, and the drinks are top-notch. A state-of-the-art fitness facility is also available for hotel guests.
3. A Fabulous Bike Trail
There are two well-known biking and pedestrian walking trails in Morgantown: Caperton and Decker’s Creek Trails. There are ten miles of combined paved pathways between the two. I rented a bike from Wamsley Cycles and hit the Caperton Trail which runs along the Monongahela Riverfront. The trail then winds through downtown, the historic train depot, and Hazel Ruby McQuain Park. It’s also part of the Mon River Trail, running from the PA state line to Prickett’s Fort State Park. Wamsley Cycles’ employees were so helpful and very easy and good to work with. I left the store with serious bicycle envy.
4. A Local Coffee Shop
Zeke’s Breakfast & Bakes is a fun place to have a tasty breakfast meal and all your coffee or tea needs. The breakfast tacos are quite tasty. Drinks range from espresso, drip coffee, Americano, latte, Café Citron, and cortado, to name a few. Zeke’s is a favorite amongst locals and the college students.
5. Great Shopping
There are a few shops and boutiques around Morgantown to jazz up your wardrobe, spruce up your home, and find unique gifts. Suncrest Town Centre has several shops, including Park and Madison, my favorite, chock full of stylish, upscale ladies apparel and accessories. Besides shopping, Suncrest Town Centre has a wide array of eateries, including:
- Peace, Love & Little Donuts
- Pies & Pints
- Primanti Bros.
- Taziki’s Mediterranean Cafe
In downtown Morgantown, I enjoyed browsing River Fair Trade, Retro-tique, and The Book Exchange for WVU merchandise. Be sure to watch for the colorful murals while you are downtown.
6. Tasty Craft Beer
I think things to love about any city always include great breweries, and Morgantown has a few you should check out. Iron Horse Tavern, Morgantown Brewing Company, and Mountain State Brewing Co. Besides great beer (Miner’s Daughter Oatmeal Stout) and artisan flatbreads at Mountain State Brewing, you can enjoy trivia, tacos, and specialty burgers at Morgantown Brewing Company.
7. Picture-Perfect Pastries
Morgantown’s Terra Cafe, on Industrial Avenue, has the most beautiful pastries I’ve seen in West Virginia . Offering a coffee and pastry shop setting, plus indoor/ outdoor cafe, Terra Cafe has a fantastic menu and pet-friendly patio. Believe me when I say the sweet treats are picture-perfect.
The counter-service coffee shop has an artsy setting and display cases of drool-worthy scratch-made delights. You’ll find cupcakes, cookies, tortes, muffins, scones, and cakes that pair well with the selection of espresso, smoothies, coffees and teas. In the full-service portion has menu options for breakfast, soup, salads, sandwiches, and a la carte items. Beer and wine are available. Sunday brunch features Eggs Benedict, Power Pancakes, Crepes, and more.
8. The Famous Campus
No visit to Morgantown would be complete without giving a nod to one of the best campuses in the nation; West Virginia University, home of the mighty Mountaineers. WVU has vibrant athletic and academic programs and a pristine campus, offering 350+ Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, and professional degree programs. Famous alumni include Don Knotts, Jerry West, Stephen Coonts, and Katherine Johnson.
9. Cheat Lake
One of the best getaways or place to enjoy getting out on the water, fishing, swimming, and boating is at Cheat Lake. 13 minutes northeast of Morgantown. It’s also a popular spot for all West Virginians to do the same.
If you don’t have time to take part in the outdoor adventures, the least you can do is sit by the lake and enjoy a tasty meal or adult libation. Lake House Restaurant is where you will do just that. Outdoor seating affords excellent waterfront views at Sunset Beach Marina, while indoors, the warm woods provide a comfy and homey feel to feast on Lake House goodies.
Perhaps provolone sticks or zucchini planks tempt your palate for appetizers, but the main course sandwich I highly recommend is the Famous Hot Italian Sub. The French roll is piled high with toasted ham, pepperoni, and salami, melty provolone and American cheeses, and a blend of sautéed mushrooms, onions, and Oliverio’s peppers. It was magnificent! Sandwiches come with your choice of veggies, pasta, onion rings, and six varieties of potato dishes. I chose hand-cut chips.
Morgantown is a great place to road trip to or have a weekend getaway. I am fortunate that 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”.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Don Knotts statue in front of the Metropolitan Theatre.
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