Last weekend I was lucky enough to return to West Virginia University for the Backyard Brawl. The key word is “return” considering that I was a resident of Morgantown for four years, so I know my way around enough to give you a guide for a weekend in the wild and wonderful mountains of West Virginia.
If you have to fly into the region, Pittsburgh International Airport is your best bet. I’ve used that airport a dozen times and it’s easy to navigate with little traffic.
There are a few spots to cure your hunger before a night out in Morgantown. “Mario’s Fishbowl” is known for its wings. “Oliverio’s” is a fantastic Italian restaurant. Mountain State Brewing Company is always a great choice with top notch craft beer. However, if you want the best food in the area, I recommend you drive 25 minutes south to Fairmont for “Muriale’s”. This is the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever been to. Everything here is incredible, and it is worth the drive down.
Morgantown’s nightlife has a little something for everyone. If you are around college age, then you want to go downtown to “High Street”. This stretch has a good amount of bars for a younger crowd. “Joe Mamma’s” and “Fat Daddies” are geared toward students. “Joes” has a dance floor, whereas “Fats” has some of the cheapest drinks in town; They may still have 3-dollar trash cans in mini pitchers.
“Sports Page”, and “Lucky’s” are popular sports bars with a cool atmosphere, if you are looking to watch the game. My two personal favorites are “Big Times” and “Gibbies”. Both are a little more low-key compared to the rest of High Street.
If you are caught downtown but don’t want to deal with the kids, definitely check out “The Apothecary”. They just opened a new location. Great craft beer, with outdoor seating.
Closer to Milan Puskar Stadium are two WVU-themed sports bars “Keglers” and “Varsity Club”. If you want to experience a true staple in Mountaineer culture, you have to go to “Crockets”. It is more of a “townie” bar, but alumni flock to it every gameday weekend, and it’s away from the student crowd. They also have great wings.
When it’s gameday there is only one place to tailgate and that is the Blue Lot. When West Virginia has a big game, this can be the best tailgate lot in the country. Other programs have a bigger scene but its hard to find a tailgate lot that is more fun than the Blue Lot.
Milan Puskar Stadium was built in 1980 replacing the “Jewel of the Mountains” that was Mountaineer Field. It seats 60,000 people and can be quite hostile to opposing fanbases. I encourage any visitor to get there a little early to watch the “Pride of West Virginia” band perform their pregame routine, that includes the state of West Virginia being formed by the performers. The crowd gets energized before kickoff with a “Let’s Go….Mountaineers” chant that alternates between the sides of the stadium. For this specific game, the Backyard Brawl, they played Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” between the third and fourth quarter. West Virginia’s version can be found below, and as a warning it is NSFW.
Like any Mountaineer game, you hope you hear “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver by the end. It’s one of the best traditions in College Football and perfectly captures this Gameday destination.