When Jade asked me earlier this year if I’d be up for a little West Virginia road trip for a Travel Mindset content project, there was no hesitation on my part. I’d really only whizzed through the state on past vacations, not pausing long enough to admire both the natural beauty and the architectural marvels of the Mountain State.
And there was even more incentive to go than the usual: SVV was invited, and Jade would be bringing Bob and #KidAugustine! A summer road trip through gorgeous scenery with my favorites? It was a no-brainer.
So amid our equally hectic schedules, we carved out five days to do the fastest road trip of all time around the state of West Virginia.
We started our road trip follies from Nashville since Jade, Bob and Augustine were already in town for a songwriting conference. We loaded up our SUV and hit the road: seven long hours ahead of us. We made several pit stops along the way, with an extended lunch break in Lexington, meaning by the time we crossed the border into West Virginia, we were ready to eat some more!
Conveniently, Griffith & Feil Drug Store was right there waiting for us in Kenova. I’m a sucker for an old-fashioned soda fountain, and this one was over a century old to boot. We had just intended to order cream sodas and then make our way to the next stop, but well … that didn’t quite happen.
When the server, told us we had to try the banana split, who were we to say no?
Our next stop was in Huntington, home to the famed Marshall University, but also headquarters of Summit Beer Station. This trip was all about food (what else is new?), so all the culinary and boozy hotspots were indeed on our loose itinerary, which is why we detoured to this little hot pocket of the state.
We walked around the riverfront area to stretch our legs, then settled in for a pint in the cozy taproom—Kid Augustine was driving, so she refrained and watched us warily—before continuing on our way to our resting spot for the evening.
But first: a brief stop in Charleston to catch the sinking sun. I know very little about the West Virginia capital other than that my New York roommate grew up there, but I’ll tell you, it seems a pretty darn charming place to live.
We’d be back later in the week, but for now, we only really got glimpses of the twilight skyline as we whizzed over the bridge, leaving the dusk in our dust.
We arrived at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke under the veil of darkness, so wouldn’t see the magnificent lakeside perch we occupied until early the next morning. But I’ll give you a sneak peek:
Even though it was well past bedtime, the bar was open for business, so Jade, SVV and I had our first round of (many) burgers and beers of the trip while Bob and Augustine chilled out in their room.
Drive time: 490 miles / 8 hours
Up and at ’em early! Or, um, 9am in our case. We didn’t have a lot of time to enjoy the bucolic surrounds, but we did squeeze in an hour for a little water aerobics.
SVV opted for the canoe, while I took to the paddleboard. I recently bought my own SUP and jump at any chance to get out on the water and strengthen my core skills.
As well as any chance to show off!
We ran into the Vagabonds in the middle of the lake and explored a few of the quiet coves before turning around and packing up.
Stonewall Resort was so gorgeous—plenty of scenery to enjoy and activities to take advantage of, and we only just scratched the surface with our speedy paddle session.
Back on the road, it wasn’t far until we were pulling off the interstate again.
Next stop: Weston. Agenda: a lunatic asylum.
The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is a 150-year-old landmark smack in the middle of West Virginia and a tourist draw for many, though it’s original purpose was, of course, to serve as a sanctuary for the mentally ill. But before our dose of history, lunch was in order, and Thyme Bistro did not disappoint. That meatball sub was one of the best meals I had all trip!
After we’d met our calorie intake for the day, we ventured across the street for a quick look at Weston, which only took 10 minutes, tops (it’s a tiny place).
We had booked the 2pm tour and wandered around the small town while we waited for it to kick off.
I’m not going to lie: I was a bit scared of the tour—not for the same reason as Bob, who was afraid a spirit of a past prisoner would attach itself to Augustine—but rather because I am more than mildly claustrophobic. And while there was plenty of natural light in the quarters themselves, there were times when I felt on the verge of panicking with the bars and tight spaces throughout the complex.
But the tour only lasted an hour, and I kept it together. What’s most interesting is that this historic site was still operating as recent as 1992. Doesn’t a lunatic asylum seem like something from the early 20th century?
It was a fascinating look at the history of this area, and I’d highly recommend a visit and tour—or even zombie paintball or overnight paranormal tours … if you’re brave enough to do so, that is (I’m not, I will fully admit!).
From there, we headed out to Coopers Rock for one of the best vistas around.
The wilderness surrounding this state forest was breathtaking, and I would have been fine camping out here for the duration of the day.
But alas, we had places to go and beers to drink.
We tried to venture on to a gushing waterfall Jade had seen somewhere online, but failed miserably; we would come to find that Google does indeed steer you wrong at times and that cell reception is non-existent this far out in the country. Instead, we wound up a couple miles down a dirt road surrounded by nothing but fields and cattle.
(It turns out, someone made the property private so now there’s no easy public path to get there. Boo!)
So, crestfallen we wouldn’t get to ride my inflatable flamingo over Wonder Falls (so many fun puns we could have made on social!), we headed into Morgantown for the night where we had dinner at Iron Horse Tavern, a flight at Morgantown Brew Works and a good night’s sleep at Chestnut Hotel.
The next three days, after all, were going to be mighty action-packed.
Drive time: 92 miles / 2 hours
Need more West Virginia advice? Check out these posts:
- A West Virginia Road Trip: Adventures in Grand Vue & Parkersburg
- Rivers & Rapids in West Virginia on the New River Gorge