This past summer in the US, I had a long, solo drve back from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Washington, DC, and wanted to break up the drive and explore someplace new to me.
Am I glad I selected Morgantown, West Virginia.
Morgantown was previously unknown to me. Clearly, I don’t follow Big 12 college football. My sports-obsessed younger son was horrified I did not know the home of the University of West Virginia Mountaineers. Mea culpa.
Football follower or not, you’re sure to enjoy a visit to charming Morgantown. Nestled in the foothills of the surrounding Appalachian mountains and straddling the Monongahela River, Morgantown offers a lot to visitors.
The town was settled in the 1760s and many of the factories and warehouses have been refurbished and are now restaurants and bars along the attractive river walk.
I stayed here and loved walking these paths and dining along the river.
The Caperton Trail is the segment that cuts through the central Morgantown area, with additional miles of trails bikers and hikers can explore beyond.
This is essentially a college town, and I happened to be there as the students were moving in. University of West Virginia was established in 1867, originally as an agriculture university under the Morrill Land Grant Colleges Act.
Already by 1868, it was renamed University of West Virginia to teach a wider range of activities than just the agricultural sciences.
Many of the most stunning buildings were built in the 1830s as part of earlier institutions that were absorbed into the newly created UWV.
The campus has a nice feel, and good views over the river below. I had to make a trip to the campus store to buy Mountaineers gear for my younger son, but fans will be sorry the stadium itself is not on the main campus.
Nevertheless, you can’t miss it as you are driving into town.
The evening I arrived, I had a hard time dining riverside without reservations, but I did eventually get a place on the outdoor, riverside patio of Table 9.
It was a perfect spot as I watched the sun set on the Monongahela River. I also had a surprisingly good combination of tastes: scallops and pork rinds. I’ve always hated pork rinds, much to the dismay of Texan friends in the past who attempted to get me to change ny mind.
Nevertheless, glad I took the waitresses’ advice on this one – because this dinner was perfect.
I only explored the central portion of the riverside trails, but as I mentioned earlier those trails extend for miles and miles … even stretching into part of Pennsylvania.
These were the old railroad lines that had been removed and the trails converted into hiking and biking trails.
I did not have enough time to explore this impressive system of picturesque trails, but I’ll definitely be back for another trip to discover them.
For those who live closer, it must be a beautiful spott for an autumn weekend getaway.
And for those who get to this neck of the woods, take a look at my earlier post on the beautiful Cooper’s Rock State Forest, which is well worth the visit – and only a short drive from Morgantown.