Plan a weekend away with our guide to summer road trips.
Less Than 75 Miles from Morgantown
Twenty-five years ago, no one could have imagined that the little river town of Roanoke, West Virginia, would be the site of one of the Mid-Atlantic’s finest lakeside resorts. For starters, there was no lake.
By 1990, Roanoke lay under 60 feet of water, the new flood control lake was the centerpiece of Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park, and—over the next decade—the park became a popular camping, boating, and fishing spot. At the turn of the 21st century, the state partnered with a private developer to build Stonewall Resort. The resort’s location was two miles off busy Interstate 79, just over an hour from Morgantown, and near many other major metropolitan areas.
Built in the style of a 1920s Adirondack hotel, the lodge has a timeless quality and an atmosphere that captivates. With nearly 200 stylishly simple guestrooms decked out with all the modern amenities, the building’s layout spoils you. There is so much to see and do under one roof, including the full-service spa with its fitness center, heated indoor/outdoor swimming pool, and the restaurant and lounge.
On the ground level of the lodge is Stillwaters Restaurant, where you can choose inside or patio seating—both with lake views—and enjoy an eclectic menu of local game, fish, and produce. Across the hall is TJ Muskies Lounge, where you can cozy up to the fire with drinks, listen to live entertainment on Saturday nights, and grab a signature burger.
If you’d rather find your own home away from home, check in at one of the 10 modern saltbox-style cottages on the lake. Ranging from two to four bedrooms, these cottages—with their vaulted ceilings, exposed beams, fireplaces, and spacious decks—are perfect for a romantic getaway, a private family gathering, or a weekend with the buddies. The cottages also have ample parking for boat trailers, so bring the boat and explore the lake. With 82 miles of shoreline on the 26-mile-long lake, there’s plenty of room to lose yourself in nature.
Of course, the center of water activities is the marina with its 374 slips. Rent a pontoon boat to cruise the lake and watch for osprey, pursue the legendary fishing opportunities, or explore under your own power with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard, both of which are free to guests. If you prefer a guided tour, join the one-hour daily excursion aboard the 100-passenger Little Sorrel.
If you’d rather stay on land, try golf at the resort’s 7,149-yard Arnold Palmer Signature Course, ranked in the country’s top 100 public and resort layouts. Après golf, replay your triumphs and defeats at Lightburn’s, the casual restaurant atop the clubhouse. But if the call of the wild is too strong to ignore, the park also boasts miles of well-maintained hiking and biking trails. For a short jaunt, check out the pedestrian boardwalk that connects the lodge with the campground and day-use areas or the Cairns Trail, where more than 150 unusual stone constructions dot the landscape.
Visitors to the area can find more than 16 miles of trails at Stonewall Jackson State Park, where the resort is located. You can even head out on a trail right from the lodge. If that isn’t enough to keep you busy all weekend, geocaching, Segway adventures, and the Roanoke Activity Plaza—with its two playgrounds, nine-hole disc golf course, basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and four-mile fitness trail—is sure to please. The plaza even includes a small outdoor theater for musical and theatrical performances. And don’t let a little seasonal rain ruin your road trip; there’s an indoor climbing wall and nine-hole miniature golf course as well as an indoor pool in the lodge.
The resort is open year-round, the marina April 1 to October 31, and the golf course March 30 to November 15.
WRITTEN BY DALE LEATHERMANResort Drive, Roanoke, WV 26447; 304.269.7400; stonewallresort.com
Approximately 110 Miles from Morgantown
On the banks of the Little Kanawha and Ohio rivers, West Virginia’s third largest city is poised as one of the region’s biggest tourist destinations. What was once a city built on the oil and gas industry is now a progressive community surrounded by lush green spaces, all less than two hours from Morgantown. But history, art, and outdoor recreation are just a portion of the area’s claim to fame.
If you do nothing else in Parkersburg, make a trip to Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. Open from May 1 through October, the tawdry, treasonous, and tantalizing story of Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett is captured by costumed docents in this island paradise. Here, in 1806, Harman was involved in a scandalous military enterprise with Aaron Burr and was accused of treason by President Thomas Jefferson. Today, an authentic sternwheeler ferries visitors to the island for tours (rebuilt on the original foundation), horse-drawn wagon rides, picnics, and bicycle rentals. You can purchase your boat tickets at the Blennerhassett Museum on Juliana Street.
Julia-Ann Square, the largest and oldest historic district in West Virginia, is an exquisite experience of the city’s history. The street announces itself with approximately 126 examples of Victorian architecture in prime condition, austere wrought iron arches, and period street lighting. Some of these homes even throw open their doors to the public for walking tours each year. Parkersburg’s roots are never forgotten at the Oil and Gas Museum on 3rd Street, where visitors can uncover the gritty, yet fascinating, history of the industry in the region.
Every visitor to Parkersburg should take the time to explore the city’s art and culture scene—starting with Smoot Theatre on 5th Street. Rescued from impending demolition, the former vaudeville house is now a thriving live entertainment venue with special shows for kids and young families. The Parkersburg Art Center brings local and national talent to the area through ongoing shows and events. Founded in 1938 by the Parkersburg Women’s Club, it is the oldest arts organization in continuous operation in West Virginia. On Market Street, its 36,000-square-foot space is put to good use with galleries, classrooms, a ballroom, clay lab, and playroom. You can’t visit the area without driving to nearby Williamstown, home of Fenton Art Glass. Collected the world over, this glass was made the same way for more than 100 years, and glass artists continue to create beautiful beads and Tear Drop Earrings at the facility. Take a tour, a summer workshop in lampwork, or visit the Fenton Gift Shop.
Thirty miles east of Parkersburg, North Bend State Park sits on a small ridge overlooking the Wood River valley and boasts a lodge, campground, cabins, 305-acre lake, hiking paths, and a full-service restaurant.
Overnight visitors to Parkersburg can stay in style at The Blennerhassett Hotel on Market Street, built in 1889. This majestic structure is on the National Register of Historic Places and features beautifully appointed rooms and suites. And the service is impeccable. The hotel features a restaurant and lounge, coffee bar, and a cozy library. There’s even a culinary school where guests of all ages can sign up for hands-on classes.
You can’t leave Parkersburg without getting a taste of its varied cuisine. Everything from Latin to Lebanese dishes can be found here. For something refined, try Spats Restaurant & Lounge at The Blennerhassett Hotel with its eclectic cuisine and refined ambience. Mango Latin Bistro is the epitome of an exuberant, downtown dive with live music and art on display. Locals converge on places like Third Street Deli, where hearty, fresh-made deli sandwiches and salads are perfect for the on-the-go lunch crowd. If you’re hankering for something sweet, Holl’s Swiss Chocolatier, five miles north in nearby Vienna, is deliciously unavoidable and JR’s Donut Castle on Emerson Avenue is a little-known fix, offering a full-service bakery and cake shop as well as doughnut nirvana. No matter what choices you make in Parkersburg, this city is worth sampling again and again.greaterparkersburg.com
Deep Creek Lake Area
Approximately 55 Miles from Morgantown
Pack your bags and head across the border (little more than one hour from Morgantown) to Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County. Maryland is known for its gorgeous bays and fresh seafood, but don’t forget about its freshwater. Deep Creek Lake is the largest inland body of water in Maryland. With 69 miles of shoreline, the lake is the centerpiece of a close-knit county that provides year-round recreation, lodging, dining, and attractions to more than one million visitors annually.
The area around Deep Creek Lake is getting a lot of buzz, and it isn’t hard to see why with water sports enthusiasts around every corner, four seasons of recreation at Wisp Resort, the Adventure Sports Center International (the world’s only mountaintop recirculating white water course), and 90,000 acres of public land to dig into. Boating, fishing, kayaking, tubing, wakeboarding, swimming, and canoeing are the lifeblood of the community—listed on Budget Travel as one of America’s Best Summer Lake Towns in 2010. Visitors can rent nearly any watercraft imaginable in one of the many marinas or bring their own. The area also boasts three golf courses, of which Lodestone Golf Course at Wisp was ranked seventh in Best New Courses in 2010 by Golf Magazine. Horseback riding, fishing, hiking, and biking are great ways to experience the countryside in Garrett County, or try the Mountain Coaster at Wisp Resort—a gravitational feat of engineering that rockets riders through trees at more than 25 miles per hour.
Cozy communities around the lake provide plenty of shopping and lodging, but sleeping under the stars at Meadow Mountain campground in Deep Creek Lake State Park may be the best way to experience the natural beauty. Railey Mountain Lake Vacations provides nearly 400 vacation rental options, including homes, condos, cottages, and cabins, with features running the gamut from private pools and hot tubs to home theaters. Many of these properties have water access or include private docks and slips right on the lake, and more than 100 are dog-friendly.
A huge part of a lake community’s appeal is the dining. Food tends to be fresh, local, and best eaten with a cold beer in hand. A West Virginia-born institution, Mountain State Brewing Co.’s Maryland location—off the lake’s northernmost point in McHenry—serves some of the best brews and flat bread pizzas for miles (it might seem like you’ve lost your way on Sang Run Road, but keep going, it’s there). Canoe on the Run, also in McHenry, is a spacious local hangout with an excellent selection of coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads, and wraps, and you can chow down inside or out on the deck. New York City might be several hundred miles from Deep Creek Lake, but the pizza at Brenda’s Pizzeria along the lakeshore is pure Big Apple. Crisp, homemade dough, freshly prepared sauces, and just the right balance of spices make each pizza, calzone, and entrée unique. When the light fades, head to Honi-Honi Bar on Garrett Highway along the lake. You might just be persuaded to make your road trip into an annual pilgrimage.visitdeepcreek.com
Approximately 145 Miles from Morgantown
Head east on Interstate 70 for two hours and 20 minutes and discover Hagerstown Premium Outlets—one of Maryland’s best-kept retail secrets. This sprawling outdoor mall includes longtime favorites like Gap and Talbots within walking distance of upscale storefronts like Kate Spade, Banana Republic, and Coach.
Although the mall is a big draw in the area, Hagerstown and the surrounding county of Washington are packed with historical sites, museums, festivals, and downtown shopping and dining. Washington County boasts more than 30 museums, including the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown. A little-known cultural gem, the museum houses more than 7,000 items, including works by Picasso, Remington, and Rodin, as well as the largest collection of American Impressionism in the United States. The county is full of Civil War history, too, claiming ownership of Antietam National Battlefield (in nearby Sharpsburg)—home of the bloodiest one-day battle in American history.
Hagerstown itself is a small city of more than 39,000 people, but finding places to play, eat, and stay inside city limits is simple. Local restaurants serve everything from fresh Maryland crab cakes to exotic international dishes. Try the Gourmet Goat & GG’s Restaurant & Martini Bar, a townie favorite, or Bulls and Bears in historic downtown. The Schmankerl Stube Bavarian Restaurant has a mouth-watering selection of German fare, and the renowned LJ’s & the Kat Lounge is a fine dining phenomenon in western Maryland.
Festival days are some of the best times to make the trip to Washington County. Don’t miss the 18th Augustoberfest Bavarian Festival in Hagerstown in August 2013, where for two days, visitors can indulge in a German-themed extravaganza that includes Bavarian foods, cultural music, and dancing.marylandmemories.org
Less Than 75 Miles from Morgantown
The first time you make the drive from Morgantown into downtown Pittsburgh via the Fort Pitt Tunnel and Bridge, you never forget it. All of a sudden, there it is—bridges, spires, and walls of glass rising on all sides and the mighty Monongahela River rushing beneath you. It’s a jaw-dropping view that prompted The New York Times to dub Pittsburgh the only city with an entrance. Forged in the steel, coal, and glass industries, Pittsburgh is home to some of the nation’s most prestigious institutes of learning, athletics, culture, and dining spread over 89 distinct neighborhoods.
Just 75 miles from Morgantown, Pittsburgh is a prime road trip destination for museum hoppers. The Carnegie museums offer a visual and interactive feast for the mind. For kids and budding archaeologists, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History on Forbes Avenue and the Carnegie Science Center on Allegheny Avenue are must-sees. A few blocks away on Sandusky Street, those with an eye for aesthetics will get lost in The Andy Warhol Museum, with its collection of work by the man himself, as well as the revolving exhibits at the Carnegie Museum of Art on Forbes Avenue. Off the beaten path, The Mattress Factory on Sampsonia Way is a contemporary art experience like no other, with room-sized environments and installations created by in-residence artists.
From the downtown cultural district, which hosts some 2,300 performances, to numerous neighborhood venues, entertainment is never far away. Pittsburgh Public Theater specializes in drama and comedy, while Pittsburgh CLO welcomes some of Broadway’s biggest stars and best musicals. The world-renowned Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is an experience worth the trip as is a performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, which moves from its luxurious Heinz Hall home in summer and offers free concerts in area parks.
Take the kids to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh on Allegheny Square—a bright space perfect for exploring everything from gardening to engineering to theater. The National Aviary, the glass-domed Phipps Conservatory, and famous Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium are a magnet for kids, families, and nature lovers. In nearby West Mifflin, Kennywood Amusement Park is a trip in itself with rides and shows to fit every taste 20 minutes from downtown. Of course, a summer road trip to Pittsburgh isn’t complete without catching a Pirates game at PNC Park—a classic ballpark with a sweeping view of the skyline. Tickets start at $9.
One of Pittsburgh’s biggest attractions is its eclectic shopping and nightlife. The well-known Station Square is a thriving retail and dining district. The famous Fountain at Bessemer Court wows visitors with its aquatic dance. If you’d rather live like a local, South Side is a bohemian neighborhood of bookstores, art galleries, cafés, bars, and restaurants all on East Carson Street. Don’t fret if you get stuck in line at popular hangouts like Fat Head’s—it’s worth it for more than 40 thirst-quenching beers on tap. You’ll also find major retailers alongside recreation and dining at South Side Works—a complex that marries the area’s steel industry past with its art and entertainment future. Everything from The Cheesecake Factory to Pennsylvania’s first authentic Hofbräuhaus finds a home here. In fact, the city has transformed many of its more industrial neighborhoods—just visit the Strip District, a mile-long slice of the city along the Allegheny River. This historic neighborhood’s gritty architecture is kept fresh through its small businesses, which sell everything from prosciutto to fresh-baked goods. You can even sample fresh biscotti and learn to make your own Italian breads at The Enrico Biscotti Co. And you can’t leave the city without trying its most almost famous food—a sandwich topped with fries, coleslaw, and tomatoes from one of Primanti Bros. many locations (try the flagship in the Strip District). But if you want to enjoy one of the best views in the city, a breath-stealing ride to the apex of Mount Washington aboard a 100-year-old cable car called the Duquesne Incline affords a panoramic view of the city’s sprawling opportunities. Afterward, a quick walk to one of the many restaurants on Grandview Avenue will only whet your appetite for more Steel City fun.
With dozens of little-known neighborhoods, avenues, and local haunts to discover—think high-end shopping in Shadyside, Murray Hill Avenue in Squirrel Hill (where Willa Cather once lived), and The Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville—you’re sure to find more than a day, weekend, or week’s worth of places to explore.visitpittsburgh.com
Approximately 42 Miles from Morgantown
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is an unexpected paradise surrounded by verdant forests. If ever there was a place that needed to be seen to be appreciated, the 2,000-acre wooded grounds of the resort, dotted with sparkling lakes, sprawling golf courses, and even a wildlife center is one such place. Less than an hour from Morgantown, Nemacolin feels worlds away with its European-style hotel—the Chateau Lafayette—inspired by the famed Ritz Paris in France. It’s no wonder this 124-room portrait of elegance—picture vaulted ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and two-story Palladian windows—has won numerous recognitions, including the coveted Four-Star award from Forbes Travel Guide in 2013. Nemacolin is only one of six hotels and resorts in the world to host Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond lodging and dining. “It is the life experiences we can provide that really make us special,” says Chris Plummer, general manager at the resort. “Activities like zip-lining, white water rafting on Class 5 water, and feeding a tiger—we make experiences that should be unimaginable very easy and accessible to anyone.”
Luxurious lodging takes many forms at Nemacolin with more than 300 unique guest accommodations and an RV park that’s perfect for the traveling family. Suites, townhomes, and nearby private luxury homes, as well as the award-winning Falling Rock boutique mountain hotel and the Tudor-style lodge, await even the choosiest of vacationers. This pet proud palace even offers the furriest members of the family their own spaces for walks, sleeping, training, and dining with pet-friendly room options and the Nemacolin Wooflands Pet Resort & Spa.
For humans in need of a pick-me-up, the internationally acclaimed Woodlands Spa draws guests in with the promise of perfect relaxation in a space that blends indoors and out. Quiet reflecting pools and carefully cultivated greenery complement carved wood and warm lighting from top to bottom throughout three stories. The spa features 40 rooms and nearly 100 treatments meant to heal and rejuvenate. And don’t worry about leaving the kids to their own devices—the resort offers a special spa experience just for them. You and your family can even spend the day at the Elements Café, workout facility, and salon, ready to fulfill nearly any need.
If you only have a weekend, you’ll want to explore the resort’s unbelievable array of recreation. Golfers will rejoice at the sight of the resort’s 36 championship holes. Two PGA Tour-tested courses, the Pete Dye-designed Mystic Rock and The Links (the original par-70 course), provide all the challenges and excitement any visitor could desire. The Shooting Academy at the Nemacolin Field Club offers one of the nation’s best sporting clay facilities, with instructors for every skill level. And the Orvis-endorsed Fly Fishing Center and Expedition at The Nemacolin Field Club supplies anglers with access to Pennsylvania trout streams, fly-fishing streams, and creeks with half- and full-day guided trips, lessons, and supplies. The Adventure Center is the epicenter of outdoor adventure for guests. And the new Sundial Lodge provides four seasons of activities, the Apex Restaurant and Bar, a bowling alley, arcade, rental shop, and more. If the 1,060-foot Fatbird Flyer Zip Line, ropes courses, canopy tour, or climbing wall aren’t enough to get your adrenaline soaring, try Nemacolin’s Off-Road Driving Academy, which traverses 20 miles of rugged trails. Visitors can cool off in one of the many pools—including a kids pool, indoor lap pool, and infinity pool. Disc golf, downhill and traditional mountain biking, miniature golf, paintball, chairlift rides, and tennis round out the summer fun.
The out-of-this-world Nemacolin experience doesn’t end there. There’s a reason why the resort’s motto is “expect the unexpected,” something you’ll discover the first time you see Prince, the white lion, or Kira, the Bengal tiger, roaming their habitats on the grounds. This isn’t a simple zoo experience—The Wildlife Academy offers guests an immersion into something wild and beautiful. Hop aboard the Animal Express Train for a guided tour of the habitats—where lions, tigers, bears, and many more species have their own comfortable lodging. With an emphasis on education, the Safari Tour lets visitors get (safely) up close and personal with some of the resort’s animal family, while the Wild Animal Show entertains and instructs guests on the natural world. If you prefer your animal experience a bit tamer but no less thrilling, visit the Equestrian Center and sign up for a Backwoods Trail Ride, or set out on an exhilarating Jamaican Dog Sledding ride. In summer 2013, the resort is adding yet another draw—the Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin.nemacolin.com
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