This is the second installment on our summer road trip through West Virginia.
After waking up in Morgantown, we really wanted to check out the WVU Zipline, but it only operates on Saturday and we happened to be there mid-week. Oh well! Plan altered. Instead, after breakfast at Blue Moose Cafe, we set off on the road again.
Morgantown is a very cool college town, and I’d love to go back, preferably in the fall over a home weekend—WVU has one of the best football teams in the state—when I can a) tailgate and b) take advantage of the Farmers Market and aerial ropes course.
But next up, we had another kind of family fun in store as we were headed straight for Wheeling where a zoo awaited the wrath of Kid Augustine.
A small park up in the mountains of northern West Virginia near Pittsburgh, the Good Zoo houses more than 50 species, 20 of which are rare or endangered.
Part of the 1,700-acre Oglebay Resort, the natural area comprising the zoo grounds houses lemurs, goats, donkeys, cheetahs, eagles and birds of all kinds.
We focused most of our hour and a half there on the Outback Exhibit and Lorikeet Landing, because who doesn’t love marsupials and avian friends?
Once we got into the lorikeet land, they immediately gravitated toward Augustine and Bob, but it took a lot of coaxing and nectar to get them to land on me, and even then, it was a strained effort.
We were ravenous after our fun in the aviary, so from the Good Zoo we headed into Wheeling proper for lunch at the charming Avenue Eats. We did not eat a bad meal the entire five days we were cruising through West Virginia, but Avenue Eats tied Thyme Bistro as my favorite of them all. Brie and pears and bacon and crispy onion rings always need to dress up burgers, in my opinion.
And when we spied the cupcake spread, there was no getting out of there without trying one. What kind of self-professed cupcake addict would I be if I said no to this delightful peach bellini?
We’d also caught wind of a a brand new brewery in town, Brew Keepers, so that was our last stop before we got on the road again. Literally a small brewing room, Brew Keepers offers samples and also growlers for sale.
I’m no IPA fan, but Brew Keepers’ Flip Flop IPA is to. die. for. When we were there, they were only making a half dozen or so brews, but each one was high-quality and delicious.
We went light on the sampling for a change, though, as our next stop was in Moundsville at Grand Vue Park. This adventure park in Marshall County is outfitted with cabins and camping sites and also offers golf, mountain biking, an aquatic center and plenty of extreme activities.
I like to think of myself as pretty adventurous. I’ll scuba dive any wreck, I’ll jump out of a plane, I’ll pretty much try anything once, but when I climbed to the top of the aerial ropes course, I’ll admit: I was terrified.
You’re basically doing a seven-course American Ninja Warrior course high up in the area with very little stability at all.
I would do it again in a heartbeat.
At the very end, you could walk down the stairs to get to the bottom or you could jump.
Grand Vue has a giant trampoline, as well, which is a favorite activity among the kiddos.
There was also a giant swing, which Bob vlogged via Facebook Live as we dangled precariously high up in the area, nearly identical to the one SVV and I tackled at Travaasa Austin last month.
And an eight-line dual zipline course—the longest one of which spanned an impressive 2,100 feet—which we did not have time to tackle, but looked pretty darn amazing. I’d love to come back to this spot and soar above the trees. While an aerial ropes course may cause me some duress, ziplining is my jam.
And then, back on the road we went. This week was peppered with plenty of driving, which truth be told are my favorite kind of trips as you see so much of a state that many others never experience.
This afternoon was particularly fun as we weaved back and forth between West Virginia and Ohio, over the river (and through the woods) as we made our way down to Parkersburg.
When we arrived in Parkersburg, we only had an hour to grab a pint at the oldest brewery in the county (and also the state, allegedly), North End Tavern, before we noticed the sun was sinking and we were about to miss the finale.
So we raced downtown and over to Fort Boreman Park. This Indian mound offers one of the best vantage points in town in addition to sweeping panoramas of the city, Ohio River and Ohio just beyond that.
We then went down by the river to Point Park, which provides a great alternate view of the riverfront.
From there, it was just a couple blocks to our digs for the night, the historic Blennerhassett Hotel, where we also had dinner and a few more regional craft brews like Greenbrier Valley Brewing Co.’s Mothman Black IPA before crashing for the night.
Not at all a bad way to end our third day whizzing across West Virginia.
Drive time: 184 miles / 3 hours, 48 minutes
- Kickstarting a West Virginia Road Trip: Huntington, Morgantown & Coopers Rock
- Rivers & Rapids in West Virginia: Adventures on the Gorge
Ok. I am super happy for you that you had a great time here in WV, but I must say a few things. 1) Iron Horse tavern is in Morgantown. 2) your link is to a tavern in Sacremento, CA, and 3) the oldest brewery in the us is Yuengling brewery in PA. Thank you for your time.
Thanks, Randy! I actually said “oldest brewery in the county,” not country =)
How does one plan a road trip in the US? Every town seems to have a cute little brewery and tons of activities! I would have a tough time trying to make decisions. I would probably run around the towns and try everything 🙂
I think you have to divvy it up by region. I actually did a big Road Trip guide for Redbook a few years ago: nine routes of three cities each, and every place in the country had to be at least a 4-5 hour drive (or less) from one of the routes. It was TOUGH, man! I’d start with the West and some of the national parks, then do California’s PCH, then do the Florida coast and parts of the South if it were me.
I’ll be honest, I grew up in Virginia and even though West Virginia is just next door I’ve only been to limited parts of it (ski resort and casino!). I’m glad you found so many things to do and it’s definitely given me second thoughts on a visit through the state.
Oooh, then you’re the best person to ask! If you had to find somewhere between Charlottesville and Lexington, Kentucky to stay a few days, where would you go? Thinking the Homestead as rates are under $200/night that week and the facilities look amazing!
And yes, WV is definitely worth a closer look =) If we don’t do the Homestead, we might head back to New River Gorge!
Hehe – I’m actually from closer to DC but I will try my best on this.
So, I have heard good things about the Homestead, but haven’t personally been.
A few places (in Virginia) that look like they are in between Lexington and Charlottesville:
– Staunton, Virginia
– Blackburg/Roanoke, Virginia
– Smith Mountain Lake
So Staunton is, in my best words, just a really cute small town with character. There’s some really cool places to eat (Wright’s Dairy Rite is a classic 1950s diner), there’s a playhouse, museums, and if you feel like being spooked – a former sanitarium. There’s also Queen City Brewery. For a drive, you could go to Highland County, VA (about 30-45 minutes out) which is nicknamed the ‘Switzerland of Virginia’.
Blacksburg/Roanake, Virginia – Blacksburg is the home of Virginia Tech. If you go during football season, catch a game. Blacksburg has a small downtown, as does Roanake, but decent nightlife as you can imagine with the students and university population. In Blacksburg there’s also the New River which is beautiful. The whole area in general is really just so pretty.
Smith Mountain Lake – I have not been here, but it’s supposed to be a nice lake area to relax and there’s various lake houses you can rent.
The plus side of Virginia is there’s almost always a winery somewhere nearby, so can you definitely spend a day just winery hopping. Breweries are also becoming pretty common.
Hopes this helps and sorry for such a long post!
The “wild and wonderful” alone might be enough to get me to West Virginia! I don’t think I’ve ever loved a state slogan more!
Right? You’d LOVE it there! let’s add it to our list of trips to take together =)
Wow, that burger …!
That is a burger to die for! We’ve never made it to W Virginia, looks like we should, it really does appeal. My kids would love these places.
We ate more burgers in that five days than I normally consume in a month, and I’m not mad about it!
Glad you guys had a good time! You definitely saw a lot of the state – there’s plenty of places you went to that I’ve never visited (or even heard of!). I need to do a better job of checking out cool new places whenever I go home. I’m in Morgantown for a WVU game at the beginning of October and I’m already looking forward to eating and drinking at a bunch of new places that weren’t there the last time I visited.
I definitely need to go on an actual tour of the asylum – when I was in college, we drove down there one weekend to check it out, back when it was still abandoned. It freaked me out! But I’m admittedly a big ole scaredy cat.
We only had a night in M’town, but I imagine it’s an awesome place to go to school! I did love the Iron Horse Tavern, and the breweries we tried were SO GOOD!
Our son lives across the Ohio River from WV and we did some road tripping there in 2015. We loved Cham’s a family owned and run Lebanese restaurant in downtown Parkersburgh. Prices were reasonable, the food was good and it’s really homey. We also loved discovering the Julia-Ann Square Historic District. Fabulous restored Victorian homes to see and drool over. Blennerhasset Island wasn’t open yet so we missed it but would love to go there.
Billie, we didn’t make it to the island either as we just totally ran out of time! But I did love every other part of that wild, wonderful state that we saw.