Looking for a unique road trip this summer? Head west—to the Ohio River.
Our three-day itinerary from Moundsville to New Martinsville will guide you to new discoveries in the upper Ohio Valley.
The Ohio River, which forms West Virginia’s western border, has long been a major transportation and trade route and has played an important role in Native and American history.
The river towns that sprouted along its banks are rich with history, local lore, and outdoor recreation and have become interesting travel destinations. So channel Lewis and Clark with our three-day itinerary that will take you on a 26-mile stretch from Moundsville to New Martinsville. Channel Lewis and Clark and follow the river from Moundsville to New Martinsville. Our three-day itinerary will guide you to new discoveries in the upper Ohio Valley.
9 a.m. Start your trip with a visit to the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex, a 2,000-year-old burial mound built by the Adena people. It is believed to be the largest of its kind in the United States. The museum is home to the West Virginia Archaeological Research Facility and also serves as the area’s visitor’s center.
10 a.m. Right across the street is the West Virginia State Penitentiary, a gargantuan sandstone Gothic structure on more than a dozen acres. Built in the 1860s, it once imprisoned 2,000 of West Virginia’s most dangerous inmates. This sandstone fortification was a site of prison riots and executions. Now tourists can wander the abandoned prison halls, rumored to be among the most haunted in the country, with guides who once guarded its gates.
Noon After your tour of the penitentiary, you’ll be ready to grab some grub. The locals go to Bob’s Lunch at 800 Third Street for home-cooked diner food. Or if you are in the mood for a margarita and great Tex-Mex food, then Acapulco Mexican Restaurant at 800 Lafayette Avenue is the place for you.
1 p.m. After lunch, take a tour of town. You can visit the colorful Fostoria Museum, which is dedicated to Moundsville’s industrial hand-blown glass past. Just a block away is the 300-seat Strand Theatre, built in 1920. The old brick vaudeville theater was recently restored and is home to stage productions, musical events, and movies. Another interesting spot to visit is the Archive of the Afterlife: The National Museum of the Paranormal, located in the Sanford Center on Third Street. The museum’s collection of oddities and paranormal objects was featured on Destination America’s Ghost Asylum.
2 p.m. Satisfy your sweet tooth and grab a cookie, pastry, cupcake, or donut at Quality Bake Shoppe on Second Street.
2:30 p.m. It’s time for a little side trip! Hop in the car and take U.S. Route 250 to Prabhupada’s Palace of Gold in New Vrindaban. This is America’s Taj Mahal and is unlike anything else in the state or maybe even the country. Sitting 20 minutes northwest of Moundsville, the Palace of Gold is perched like a fairytale Indian kingdom in the middle of Appalachia, surrounded by rose gardens, serene pools, and fountains, and overlooked by bigger-than-life statues. The palace was constructed in the 1970s as a home for the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or the Hare Krishna. What began as a simple temple abode built by untrained laborers became an ornate palace for kings. It is something you have to see to believe. Tickets cost $9.50 for adults and $5.50 for children.
5 p.m. After touring the Palace of Gold, immerse yourself in the culture by eating at Govinda’s, a vegetarian restaurant located on the grounds, that specializes in Indian dishes. All of the restaurant’s items are made with fresh produce and are free of meat, fish, eggs, onions, and garlic, and many of the dishes are dairy-free. On weekends the restaurant offers an all-you-can-eat buffet.
6 p.m. Spend the night at the charming Bonnie Dwaine Bed and Breakfast in nearby Glen Dale, a beautiful B&B that offers five guest rooms, each with a private adjoining bathroom, in a resplendent restored Victorian that almost serves as a local museum itself. Or check out the lodging options at Grand Vue Park. You can stay in grown-up tree houses—the treetop cabins—or choose a more traditional cabin.
9 a.m. Start your day at Grand Vue Park. There’s so much to do here, you could easily fill multiple days (see next page). Take the three-hour guided canopy tour that consists of eight dual ziplines ranging in distance from 310 to 2,100 feet through the trees, which includes three suspension bridges and the Zip Line Ride—2,100 feet of dual zipline with a great view of downtown Moundsville.
Noon Time to head south on a short 35-minute jaunt toward New Martinsville. Overlooking the Ohio River, this charming and easily walkable town boasts some great architecture. Once you leave Grand Vue Park, make your way south to WV Route 2, skirting the Ohio River. Stop at Prima Marina on Water Street on your way out of Moundsville. The restaurant overlooks the river and dishes out some serious burgers, fresh salads, and unique sandwiches.
1:30 p.m. Halfway between Moundsville and New Martinsville, turn left on WV Route 89 at Proctor and eight miles to Thistledew Farms, known for its quality wildflower honey products. You can purchase their products, which include raw, unfiltered, creamed, comb, and flavored honey, as well as mustards, vinegars, beeswax candles, ornaments, and skin and lip balm, as well as the complete line of folk toys from the Mountain Craft Shop Co. in their gift shop. You can also take an educational tour and learn from the experts on the importance of beekeeping. Make sure you take home some honey and a WhimmyDiddle or FlipperDinger.
3:30 p.m. After you pull into New Martinsville, stop at the Wetzel County Museum. Inside you’ll find information on the area and the Native Americans who lived in the area for thousands of years.
5 p.m. For dinner, consider Amy’s Candlelight, formerly Blue’s Sidecar, located on Route 2. Or check out Barista’s Café & Pub. This cool, casual eatery is easy to find on Main Street—just look for the purple porch. Barista’s café serves fresh, original sandwiches and burgers and is open until 8 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. On Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. the café serves pizza. If you are looking for a nightcap, you are in the right spot. At night Barista’s small, stone basement bar fills up quickly with regulars and musicians, and in the summer, the large deck and outdoor space is a great place to relax.
9 a.m. If you aren’t staying at a local B&B, then head to Main Street. No visit is complete without eating at Quinet’s Court Restaurant. Quinet’s Court has been serving locals down-home comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for nearly a century. You’ll start your day with a hearty breakfast—order off the menu, or choose the breakfast buffet that is available on Saturday and Sunday. If you don’t experience Quinet’s Court for breakfast, then visit for lunch.
10 a.m. If you feel like you need to work off breakfast, New Martinsville has parks galore. With a splash park and a challenging water walk, the newly renovated Lewis Wetzel Pool offers fun and relaxation for people of all ages. You can also rent a paddleboat and take a tour around the pond at Lewis Wetzel Park. The city also maintains Hydro Park, the marina area on Hydro Drive, where boaters have easy access to the Ohio River and bicyclists can jump on a great trail along the river. Hydro Park also has a ball park, primitive camping areas, and fishing piers.
1 p.m. After lunch, take Route 2 six miles south to Marble King in Paden City, a delightful spot that will bring out the kid in everyone. Founded in 1949, Marble King, is one of the last remaining marble factories in North America and produces more than a million marbles a day.
2 p.m. After perusing Marble King’s gift shop, take U.S. Route 20 33 miles to Jacksonburg, where Lantz Farm and Nature Preserve offers 555 acres of walking trails that lead to diverse flora and fauna as well as a catch-and-release pond for fishing. The preserve was created in 2006 as the result of a gift from Lantz family descendants who wished to enhance wildlife diversity and public recreation. Wheeling Jesuit University now owns the property, and it is managed in cooperation with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Three trails, color-marked and of varying degrees of difficulty, originate near the Lantz family homestead.