Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

West Virginia Road Trip: Country Roads, Take Me Home

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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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Day 1

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!

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

When the server, told us we had to try the banana split, who were we to say no?

You know you would have done the same. We also ordered a root beer float and chocolate shake … for research, y’all.
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Tri

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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:

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Drive time: 490 miles / 8 hours

Day 2

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

As well as any chance to show off!

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
SVV and I were already pondering this as a future location for our adventure-packed, annual Cousins’ Weekend. What do you think—great spot for a posse of 20-, 30- and 40-something big kids, no?
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Back on the road, it wasn’t far until we were pulling off the interstate again.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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!

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road 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).

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

We had booked the 2pm tour and wandered around the small town while we waited for it to kick off.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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?

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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!).

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

From there, we headed out to Coopers Rock for one of the best vistas around.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

The wilderness surrounding this state forest was breathtaking, and I would have been fine camping out here for the duration of the day.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

But alas, we had places to go and beers to drink.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip
Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

(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.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

The next three days, after all, were going to be mighty action-packed.

Planning the Ultimate West Virginia Road Trip

Drive time: 92 miles / 2 hours

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Planning a Road Trip in West Virginia

COMMENTS
  • August 9, 2016

    I loved reading this as we’re going to be spending some significant time in West Virginia in September. Our first stop will be Charleston, so I’m excited to hear your recommendations. And thanks for the addition of Coopers Rock! We’ll be going right through there on our way to Charleston, so I may need to add a night camping there to our itinerary 🙂

    • August 12, 2016

      The Capitol Market is super cool! Sadly, we didn’t spend a lot of time in Charleston, but I do highly recommend JQ Salt Works—bonus if you’re there during one of their farm dinners!

  • August 10, 2016

    Love to reading about that beautiful place and shared so stunning photos of that beautiful place. food is looking so delicious and yummy.

    • August 12, 2016

      I was wowed by the food in West Virginia, John. So delicious (and fattening, lol).

  • August 10, 2016

    I love road trip posts even if it’s about an area I might not visit any time soon, I still like to take mental notes of the route. You know, in case I need them one day 😉 By the way, the flying baby photo is awesome! It looks like Augustine is flying in, love it!

    • August 12, 2016

      I think you need to come see me in the US, and we can take a road trip together sometime!

      • August 15, 2016

        That would be great! I would leave the trip planning to you though, because I’ve only been to New York so there’s an endless amount of trips I have to catch up on when it comes to the US. I wouldn’t know where to start! 😉

  • August 10, 2016

    What beautiful pictures– and I’m adding that overnight tour of the lunatic asylum to my bucket list! So creepy. SO FUN. 😀

    • August 12, 2016

      Your kids would LOVE it. And OK, big kid Dennis probably would, too 😉

  • August 10, 2016
    Joel

    So cool. Thought you were in Ireland

    • August 12, 2016

      It does look a lot like Ireland. So green!

  • August 11, 2016

    Awesome tips, this is really tour arrangements which gives you west Virginia.

  • August 11, 2016

    What a lovely trip!

    xox

    • August 12, 2016

      You would love all that natural wilderness!

  • August 11, 2016

    I’m originally from Ohio but live in SC now so we drive through WV a good bit if we’re heading “home. A few years ago we met friends there – it’s a good halfway point – and rented a cabin in Beaver, WV. We went boating on Bluestone Lake and hiked the New River Gorge – both were gorgeous. And so many deer – I mean so many – visited our cabin each evening. West Virginia is one of those overlooked states that offers so much.

    • August 12, 2016

      Oooh, I’ll have to look it up! We actually have a wedding in Virginia this fall, then three days to kill before going to Lexington, KY for a work project, so I’m looking for somewhere new to visit in the interim in either West Virginia or western Virginia (so confusing, lol).

  • August 11, 2016

    I love road trips! It has been way too long. I would have loved that tour fo the prison, it looked really cool.

    • August 12, 2016

      I think it would be amazing (and terrifying) to do the asylum’s overnight paranormal option! Then again, I’m way too big of a sissy for that 😉

  • August 14, 2016

    I love a good road trip! I’m planning to drive to the Outer Banks this fall, from Chicago, and haven’t settled on a route yet, but West Virginia might be a contender 🙂

  • August 15, 2016

    Love that picture of Bob and Augustine! Also love that we can now go on SUP inversion adventure together — I did my first headstand on a board last week. Woot woot!

    • August 16, 2016

      YAY! Way to go! I’m working on my SUP handstand right now. It is not nearly as easy as the headstand, unfortunately. I can only hold 3-5 seconds at the moment! Maybe by Bonnaroo, I’ll be up to 10 😉

  • August 17, 2016
    Pamela

    Great post. I live in VA, not far from your visit in WV. Next time around visit the Gauley Bridge in Fayette County, WV. They have a festival there every October and they base jump from the bridge. https://officialbridgeday.com/
    Just a thought the next time you travel through the area.

  • August 26, 2016

    I love this post because it gives me a lot of ideas for a pretty easy/close trip from here in North Carolina! Thank you for sharing!

    • August 27, 2016

      Yes, for sure! Speaking of NC, I need to do some Carolina road trips of my own!

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