It’s time to take a few days, escape the bustle of the city, retreat to the mountains, and experience the beautiful history and grandeur of West Virginia. For a fulfilling sightseeing trip through the Monongahela National Forest region of the state in the upper eastern area, follow along. Make sure to take your camera for some great scenic photography opportunities, too!
Conveniently located between Blackwater Falls and Davis, West Virginia, the Billy Motel is a true example of what makes the Mountain State so great. The folks here are so accommodating and friendly and you’ll quickly feel like part of the family. If you’re traveling with your family, there are a limited number of connecting suites so you can keep check on the young ones. If you need suggestions or directions to nearby areas, all you have to do ask. The hotel also offers a lounge that serves local beer and great conversations on Friday and Saturday nights.
If your fall road trip in this part of the state brings you here on a Friday or Saturday night, you have to stop by the Purple Fiddle in Thomas. This smoke-free, family-friendly restaurant/bar/hostel/music venue is a unique place where your whole family can enjoy great acoustic music by known and unknown artists and grab a quick bite to eat or drink at the end of the day. The menu is somewhat limited, but definitely palette pleasing.
What’s a morning without coffee? As you start your adventure for the day, you’ll need something to crank up the engine. Stop by Tip Top, a quaint little coffee shop in Thomas that offers deliciously roasted dark coffee, espresso, teas, and baked goodies that you can grab as you go. You’ll love the décor of the place, too, with the Dick and Jane pictures on the wall. You have to try the yam brownies if they have them when you’re there. Who would have thought you could combine vegetables with chocolate? Unforgettable!
Tucked in the Allegheny Mountains on the eastern side of West Virginia, 446-acre Blackwater Falls State Park is one of the most popular places in the state to visit and at the top of the list of most-photographed locations. The star of the park is the 62-foot waterfalls, named so because of the surrounding hemlock and red spruce trees that pumps the water full of acid to literally turn it black. Beautiful any time of the year, the falls and woods around it are especially breathtaking in the fall when the trees become a rainbow of color. While you’re at the park, you can also enjoy biking riding, hiking, fishing, geocaching, and swimming.
When you’re ready for a break from exploring Blackwater Falls, you can stop by the Smokehouse, the restaurant located in the lodge in Blackwater Falls State Park. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this eatery has some of the best barbecue in the area, but also offers a full menu and buffets on weekends in the peak season and on holidays. You might try the Make-Your-Own-Burger with your favorite bun and toppings, or for a special treat, try the pork belly burger served with pepper bacon and cheddar cheese on a brioche bun.
Named for the rocky crag that’s part of the U.S. National Recreation Area and the Monongahela National Forest, Seneca Rocks is one of three West Virginia landmarks in this area. The other sites worth making time to see and easily doable in a day are Spruce Knob, the highest point in the state and Smoke Hole Canyon, a scenic canyon that runs parallel to the South Branch of the Potomac River. There is over 100,000 acres of amazing and breathtaking views and this area is a rock climber’s paradise. A visit to the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center will help you understand the unique flora and fauna that can be found in this area that is typical of the tundra in more northern regions of Canada. Many events and activities are kid-friendly, but the center closes in mid-October because of winter weather setting in at that time of year.
Located in Elkins, West Virginia, and just a short drive from Seneca Rocks, Graceland Inn and Conference Center is a stunning example of Victorian charm and elegance. Even if you don’t stay at the Inn, it’s worth driving by and taking the time to stop and enjoy the scenic overlooks that stretch more than 20 miles from the hillside surrounding Graceland. Built around 1892 by Henry Gassaway Davis, the house and property was presented to Davis & Elkins College. According to local legend, Davis’ daughter, Grace, who was killed in a car accident in 1931, can still be seen roaming the house and grounds and provides a friendly presence to keep guests safe.
If friendly ghosts don’t interest you, you might want to take a brief detour and go into downtown Elkins for a more otherworldly adventure. You will find many old abandoned buildings that were destroyed during a great fire that killed 12 people. The buildings were never restored, and supposedly one of the people killed, Sarah Goodwest, can be heard screaming if you stand in the right place at the right time.
No doubt you’ve worked up an appetite sightseeing and you’re ready for some good ol’ down-home cooking. If that’s true, then you have to stop by Scotties of Elkins where you’ll find country comfort food and breakfast served all day. The portions are so large, it’s said that the sausage and egg biscuits often gets confused with a burger. And if you love coffee, they serve a never-ending cup.
Open every Saturday between May and the end of October, the Elkins Farmers Market is the place to stop and select locally grown produce, artisan baked goods, dairy products, meats, crafts, and more. Everything sold at this market is raised, grown, or made within a 30-mile radius of Elkins. Local chefs are often there preparing delicious foods to try.