Make the most of your game-weekend road trips.
When it’s football season, all roads lead to Mountaineer Field. But there’s lots to see and do just off West Virginia’s interstates. You can pick up some of the best tailgating food there is on the way to the stadium. Better yet, build extra time into your trip and double your fun.
Many of these destinations are open evenings and Sundays, but hours can vary; as always, confirm your plans in advance.
Heading north on I-79
Exit 9: Elkview
If you’ve come through Charleston, Exit 9 is the last stop for a while for everything road trip, including gas and quick food—we love the sandwiches at Penn Station East Coast Subs (75 Crede’s Landing, 304.993.7366). There are also auto parts stores, CVS, Kmart, and Kroger, if you’ve got bigger needs.
Exit 62: Sutton
Sutton is well-known for the fine dining and B&B suites at Cafe Cimino Country Inn (616 Main Street, 304.765.2913, cafeciminocountryinn.com). Take ina show at the circa-1930 Elk Theatre. It was saved from closure in 2007 and now shows first-run movies Friday and Saturday evenings, with Sunday matinees (192 Main Street, 304.765.2519, @elktheatre on Facebook).
Exit 67: Flatwoods
Known as the geographic center of West Virginia and as the origin of the Flatwoods Monster, Flatwoods is the mid-state highway break that satisfies everyone. A Starbucks boost, gas, or fast food—that’s all here. For an authentic West Virginia chili dog, there’s Custard Stand (3945 Sutton Lane, 304.765.6500, custardstand.com), and you can get a sit-down meal at this exit, too. To stretch your legs and shop, Sister’s Antique Mall (3766 Sutton Lane, 304.765.5533, “Sister’s in Flatwoods” on Facebook) has great bargains, and Flatwoods Factory Outlet Stores (304.765.3300, flatwoodsfactorystores.com) carries Fiestaware and CorningWare as well as clothing, shoes, and West Virginia’s own Lost Road candles. For a little something to round out your tailgate, Amish Farms Bulk Food & Cheese at the outlet mall is your stop.
Exit 99: Weston and Buckhannon
East of the interstate, Exit 99 has all of the conveniences. But if you can make some time, the town of Weston, to the west, will reward you.
Largest and most looming of all near-highway attractions is the Gothic Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (71 Asylum Drive, 304.269.5070, trans-alleghenylunaticasylum.com). Said to be the largest hand-cut sandstone building in the world after the Kremlin, the TALA operated as a state-run mental hospital from 1864 to 1994. Today’s tours tell its story noon to 5 p.m. on the hour through November 5 in 2017.
Weston is also a special home for hand-crafted glass. Appalachian Glass
(499 US Highway 33 East, 304.269.1030, shopwva.com) has glass-blowing demonstrations six days a week at its studio and outlet gallery. The Museum of American Glass (230 Main Avenue, 304.269.5006, magwv.com) documents the heyday of handmade glass. Also in Weston, the Mountaineer Military Museum (345 Center Avenue, 304.472.3943, mountaineermilitarymuseum.com) remembers West Virginia’s participation in wars from the Spanish–American War through Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Buckhannon, 12 miles east of the interstate, offers loads of small-town West Virginia charm. Fish Hawk Acres Market (5 West Main Street, 304.473.7741, fishhawkacreswv.com), an independent market and restaurant, is your best bet for fresh, locally sourced, scratch-made tailgating treats—we love the pepperoni rolls, but you’ll find other fresh-baked goods, salads, cheeses, and a wide range of delicious foods. Swing by The Donut Shop, too (19 North Locust Street, 304.472.9328). It has a dedicated following—and a 24-hour drive-through window. Main Street Antiques (15 East Main Street, 304.473.1101, “Main Street Antiques Buckhannon” on Facebook) is one of many shops that make for good browsing. Friday and Saturday evenings, the Lascaux Micro-Theater (33 East Main Street, 304.473.1818, “Lascaux Micro-Theater” on Facebook) shows foreign and independent films.
Exit 119: Bridgeport and Clarksburg
Beyond every exit convenience, downtown Bridgeport and Clarksburg are a short hop away. East of the highway, in Bridgeport, stop at Almost Heaven Desserts & Coffee Shop (100 West Main Street, 304.848.2500, @almostheavendesserts on Facebook) for a sweet treat or at Provence Market Cafe (603 South Virginia Avenue, 304.848.0911, provencemarketcafe.com) for some of the best French-inspired cuisine in the region.
But you’re entering Italian country here. Find longtime neighborhood Italian favorites in Clarksburg, west of the highway. Health Bread Company,
also known as D’Annunzio’s (1909 Williams Avenue, 304.622.3492), Marino Brothers restaurant (415 Baltimore Avenue, 304.918.9270, @marinobrothersglenelk on Facebook), Oliverio Italian Style Peppers (280 North Ohio Avenue, 304.622.4959, oliveriopeppers.us), and Tomaro’s Bakery (411 North 4th Street, 304.622.0691, @tomarosbakery on Facebook) are just a few of the local institutions. Grab some tailgating staples or make time for a meal. Downtown, The Fifth Floor (134 South 3rd Street, 304.326.5555, “Fifth Floor Clarksburg” on Facebook) feels like a trip to an urban high-rise restaurant.
Exit 121: Meadowbrook Road
Meadowbrook is the biggest mall near the interstate. This exit is also spirit gear central—Mountaineer World (166 Barnett Run Road, 304.848.7700, mountaineerworld.com) bills itself as the largest WVU Mountaineer product store in the world, and we don’t see anybody arguing. Punch up your outfit or take some extra Mountaineer spirit home.
Exit 124: Jerry Dove Drive
There are places to stay on either side of the interstate here, and places to eat and shop, too. East of the highway, try Mia Margherita (139 Conference Center Way, 304.808.6400, miamargherita.com) for creative coal-fired pizzas, or go for authentic Irish at Meagher’s Irish Pub (26 Betten Court, 304.848.9200, meaghersirishpub.com). In White Oaks business park on the west side, there’s the eclectic menu at Cody’s (20 Shaner Drive #104, 304.842.4200, codysrestaurant.com) and, next door, Bonnie Belle’sPastries (20 Shaner Drive, 304.848.1100, bonniebellespastries.com) for cupcakes and other treats. Outdoors lovers won’t want to miss McFly Outdoors (20 Shaner Drive, 304.333.2550, mcflyoutdoors.com), the second location of the large Horner, West Virginia-based shop. If you’re here midday on a Sunday, check whether it’s a Bridgeport Farmers Market day (bridgeportfarmersmarket.com)—it’s one of the best markets in the state.
Exit 132: South Fairmont
Fairmont is another Italian stronghold. At this southernmost Fairmont exit you can find Colasessano’s (141 Middletown Road, 304.363.0571, colasessanos.com)—we love the Pepperoni Bun and the Steak and Cheese Sandwich—and, for a family-style dinner, Muriale’s Italian Kitchen (1742 Fairmont Avenue, 304.363.3190, murialesrestaurant.com).
Exit 136: Downtown Fairmont
If you’ve never driven Fairmont’s Gateway Connector, that alone is worth a detour. Opened in 2010 after decades of planning, demolition, and construction, this wide boulevard with rotaries, bike paths, and bus shelters gives visitors a grand approach to the Robert H. Mollohan Bridge into the Friendly City. Right downtown, the Arts & Antiques Marketplace (205 Adams Street, 304.534.8980, artsandantiqueswv.com) offers several floors of all things unique and handcrafted, open every day of the week. Just up the street, stop at Joe ’n Throw (323 1/2 Adams Street, 304.816.4390, @joe.n.throw on Facebook) or Little Red Hen Bakery (323 Adams Street, 304.816.4800, @thehenbakes on Facebook) for breakfast or a light meal. South of downtown, head to The Poky Dot (1111 Fairmont Avenue, 304.366.3271, thepokydot.com) for a diner stop or find a cool treat at Pufferbelly’s Ice Cream Station (1024 Fairmont Avenue, 304.363.3221, @pufferbellys on Facebook). You can also make a pilgrimage to the factory storefront of Country Club Bakery (1211 Country Club Road, 304.363.5690, @countryclubbakery on Facebook), said to be the origin of the pepperoni roll. And when you cross back over the bridge toward the highway, stop at local institution Rider Pharmacy (303 Merchant Street, 304.366.2710, @riderpharmacy on Facebook) for Mountaineer gear.
Exit 135: Pleasant Valley Road
Need a highway break for antsy kids? Valley Worlds of Fun (2017 Pleasant Valley Road, 304.366.2500, valleyworldsoffun.com) has carnival rides, laser tag, a video arcade, bowling, mini-golf, a climbing wall, and more.
At one of the most stunning parks in the region, the four waterfalls and miles of trails at Valley Falls State Park (wvstateparks.com) are just 10 miles off the interstate.
Exit 139: Prickett’s Fort
Add a history lesson at Pricketts Fort State Park with costumed interpreters and trade workshops that bring the 18th century to life (wvstateparks.com).
Heading west on I-68
Exit 23: Bruceton Mills
Bruceton Antique Mall (15041 North Preston Highway, 304.379.4040,
@brucetonantiquemall on Facebook) offers a big selection just off the interstate, or try your luck at Alexander’s Antiques (500 West Main Street, 304.288.4782, “Alexander’s Bruceton” on Facebook).
Exit 15: Coopers Rock
Get a peaceful break from the highway at Coopers Rock State Forest (wvstateparks.com). Picnic tables and shelters, camping, and miles of hiking trails with stunning rock formations and views of the Cheat River Canyon.
Exit 10: Cheat Lake
Cheat Lake is Morgantown’s playground. Dine lakeside at Crab Shack Caribba (69 Mont Chateau Road, 304.435.3469, crabshackcaribba.com) or The Lakehouse Restaurant (165 Sunset Beach Road, 304.594.0088, lakehousewv.com), or try authentic Hawaiian cuisine at Tropics (2500 Cranberry Square, 304.291.5225, tropicswv.com). Weekdays, check out the Edmontosaurus, the only real dinosaur on display in the state, with dozens of other curios at the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey mini-museum
(1 Mont Chateau Road, 304.594.2331, www.wvgs.wvnet.edu).
photographed by Carla Witt Ford and Nikki Bowman