Located on the east bank of the Monongahela River, Morgantown, West Virginia is a historic town that is home to West Virginia University (WVU). It is considered a college and industrial town with glass-making being one of the biggest industries there. Priding themselves on being inclusive and welcoming, the city has been rated the “Best Small City East of the Mississippi.”
Whether you want to stroll down Main street to enjoy historic buildings like the Metropolitan Theatre and 1795 Old Stone House, or you want to shop, dine, visit galleries and museums, or spend time outside, Morgantown has something for everyone.
Morgantown, West Virginia weather is mild compared to many other states. The highs in the summer are typically in the 80’s, which the lows during the day in the winter are usually in the upper 30’s and mid-40’s. The mild weather makes it a great destination during each season, with plenty to do no matter what the weather is.
Morgantown is an 80-mile drive from Pittsburgh, PA and about 160 miles away from Charleston, WV. Whether you want to relax, explore, or just pass through, the city is worth the time. If you are planning a trip to Morgantown, here is a travel guide with information about the history, things to do, places to stay, food to eat, and random facts.
History of Morgantown
Settled in 1772 by Zackquill Morgan, Morgantown, West Virginia was tied to the Anglo-French struggle for its territory. When the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1763, Morgantown was an area that was congested with settlers, native Indians, English people, and French people. The Treaty established favor for the English, but Indian fighting continued for many years, until right before the Revolution.
After being settled, in 1785, the Virginia Assembly chartered the area, and the first lot sale was held. Zackquill Morgan received the charter to establish the town and named it Morgan’s Town on October 17, 1785.
Since 1785, Morgantown has worked to establish the best educational, industrial, health, research, and transportation facilities. Their hard work is evident in the booming town that exists today. Morgantown has an active community and healthy business life, making it a reliable town with plenty of history to be made in the future.
Things to Do
There are many things to do in Morgantown, West Virginia, from dining and shopping to exploring. Here are some of the places you can go:
- Main street is home to two of the oldest buildings in Morgantown, including the oldest standing stone building in the country, the 1795 Old Stone House.
- If you are looking for an art experience, the Appalachian Gallery is two floors full of artwork by regional artists.
- Visit the Downtown Wharf District for unique shops, galleries, and restaurants.
- Take a guided tour along the Monongahela River.
- Check out Seneca Center downtown for an impressive set of shops and cafés, all located inside the building that used to be the Seneca Glass Factory.
- To learn more about Morgantown’s most prominent industry, visit the Morgantown Glass Museum. The museum is full of the history of glass making.
- Experience the Personal Rapid Transit System with five stations and seventy-two cars, that will take you all over the WVU campus, and also through downtown Morgantown.
- Spend time at Coopers Rock State Forest for hunting, trout fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, camping, and historic sites.
- During warmer weather, visit the Chestnut Ridge Regional Park for a swimming beach, camping, a nature center, and fishing.
- If you want to go whitewater rafting, check out the Cheat or Tygart rivers.
The bulleted list gives you a rundown of many of the different options of places to go in Morgantown. Here is a more detailed list of five of the most popular attractions.
West Virginia University
Home to many museums, art exhibitions, and performances, there is plenty for tourists to do on the WVU campus. Mountaineer Field is listed as a top destination, and if you are there during football, attend a game to get a good picture of the community that rallies around the WVU football team.
The WVU Core Arboretum is an impressive 91-acres that are maintained by West Virginia University and is located downtown. Admission is free, and it is open daily.
Forks of Cheat Winery
The Forks of Cheat Winery is famous for their French hybrid and American varietal grapes, grown on sixteen acres of land that overshadows the Cheat River. Established more than twenty years ago, the Forks of Cheat Winery produces over 20,000 gallons of wine each year and has received over 200 awards and recognitions.
When you visit the winery, be sure to check out the story of how it began, and how it has evolved.
Dorsey’s Knob Park
Dorsey’s Knob Park is home to Sky Rock which stands almost 600 feet above the Monongahela River, providing a perfect view of Morgantown and the area surrounding it. With seventy acres, Dorsey’s Knob Park is filled with trails, an interactive playground, a disc golf course, and a lodge for people who want to book trips to stay right in Dorsey’s Knob Park.
West Virginia Botanic Garden
The West Virginia Botanic Garden is a surprise oasis that is free to enter and open daily from dawn until dusk. It boasts 4 miles of walking trails on 85 acres. The garden is home to many different species of flowers and wildlife. There are some paid activities and a calendar of special events they host at different times.
Cheat Lake and Caperton Trails
Morgantown, West Virginia is home to many outdoor trails and is a nature enthusiast dream destination. The Cheat Lake Trail is 4.5 miles long and features 12-foot wide pavement that is handicap accessible. The trail follows the shoreline of Lake Lynn, an abandoned railway. There are fishing areas, playgrounds, picnic benches, and nature viewing areas located along the path.
The Caperton Trail goes through Morgantown and follows the Monongahela River. The trail passes through several downtown parks, the WVU Core Arboretum, and is connected to other trails as well.
People who want to explore Morgantown, West Virginia, will be pleased with the vast number of things to do, no matter the length of their stay.
Hotels in Morgantown
There are several hotels located in Morgantown, West Virginia with prices ranging from $50 to USD 100. There are several chain hotels like Holiday Inn, Marriott, Clarion, Hampton Inn, Econo Lodge, Residence Inn, and Springhill Suites. Morgantown also has a couple of highly rated local hotels like The Chestnut Hotel and Hotel M.
The hotels in Morgantown are reasonably priced, and each has its own features, discounts, and amenities. For people who don’t want to stay in a hotel, Morgantown, West Virginia has camping sites, lodges, cabins, and several bed and breakfasts.
Where to Eat in Morgantown, WV
The dining options in Morgantown are extensive and range from casual to fine dining. While there are many incredible places to eat in Morgantown, West Virginia, here is a list of the ten highest rated restaurants posted on Yelp.
- Dirty Bird is a traditional American restaurant where people can expect to eat for under $10 a person. Typical food is chicken wings, French friends, and sandwiches.
- RocKa Poke Noodle Bar is an Asian fusion bar with delicious food and drinks. Customers are happy with the service, as well as the quality and taste of the food.
- Table 9 is a new American restaurant where people can expect to eat for around $11 to $30 per person, depending on add-ons. Table 9 features many different food dishes, including food from different countries.
- Tin 202 is a new American restaurant as well as a Cocktail and Tapas Bar. It is considered to be an intimate, classy, and romantic dining experience with mid-level dining prices.
- Cheese Louise is a traditional American restaurant where people can eat soups, sandwiches and other dinner options for under $10 a person.
- Black Bear Burritos is a Mexican and comfort food restaurant with good food, exceptional service, and a charming atmosphere.
- Iron Horse Tavern is a Gastropub with an extensive alcoholic drink menu. The food is innovative and fresh.
- Lefty’s Place is a restaurant where you can grab a pizza, chicken wings and salads with your friends or family. They feature the Detroit style pizza which reviewers say is excellent and different from most other pizza’s they have had.
- Mountain State Brewing Company is a distinct sit-down restaurant with mid-level prices. Whether you want to taste several different beers, enjoy a woodfire pizza, or partake in a great hamburger, Mountain State Brewing Company is a favorite restaurant in Morgantown.
- Hill & Hollow is an upscale dining establishment with a 50’s speakeasy feel to it. The food is superb, and it is an exceptional restaurant for people who want to have a fancy date night or a classy work dinner.
Morgantown, West Virginia is a thriving and welcoming mid-size American town, with so much to offer people of all different ages. With so many beautiful rivers, trails, mountains, and lakes around, many people travel to Morgantown for the outdoor adventures. Other people enjoy the history and the laid-back feel of the town.
Whether you are traveling through or are planning a destination vacation, there is so much to enjoy, making Morgantown a great place to visit.