A Few Hours in Wheeling, West Virginia

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So, it’s been a while. Hopefully, I’ll be writing another post soon establishing the reasons for my absence, the changes I’ll be making to this blog and some huge changes I’ll be making to my life, that adversely, will affect this blog to some degree. But for the moment, moving on to good old Wheeling, West Virginia.

Downtown Wheeling. There was also a motorcycle rally, separate from the chili cook off I'll be chatting about a few paragraphs down.
Downtown Wheeling. There was also a motorcycle rally, separate from the chili cook off I’ll be chatting about a few paragraphs down.

Ever since my brother moved out to Pittsburgh, I’ve been wanting to take a daytrip out to West Virginia, mainly, and I’m sort of embarrassed to say, because I wanted to go to a West Virginia bar and play “Country Roads” (the techno version, sorry purists), mainly so I could post a Facebook status about it and garner many, many likes (“Country Roads” was big at our college bar); sadly more of my life is derived around Facebook likes then is completely healthy/normal.

When I visited my brother in May with my cousin and friend, are main goal (besides for finally making my grand return to the Hofbrauhaus) was to take a Saturday day trip to Morgantown, WV to bar hop a little and visit some of its breweries. We left around noon and by 2, we were still only fifteen minutes south of the city in a complete traffic standstill. You know what really added to the ambiance? My brother doesn’t have a working AC.

Once traffic started rolling, I believe I was the one who suggested we head back towards the city. I was hot, sweaty, cranky, hungry and needed to pee. Morgantown was still over an hour away. My brother said no, but we wouldn’t be driving to Morgantown. Instead, he suggested we go to Wheeling, which was at that point only about a 20 minute drive. I was in. I’ve written about Wheeling before. Check it out here. Not only could I quote “Country Roads”, but now I could also quote Billy Joel’s “Ballad of Billy the Kid,” which opens with the line, “in a town known as Wheeling, West Virginia.”

Wheeling’s a cool little city. My first impression was that it reminded me of a lot of small Pennsylvania cities, who probably had their heyday during PA’s industrial heyday (cough, Scranton, cough) and that it had definitely seen better times, but that it might be coming back for a second round.

What really caught my eye is that the city had an impressive waterfront along the Ohio River. We got lost immediately after driving into town and drove across the Wheeling Suspension Bridge (one of the first major suspension bridges in the US, and the inspiration for the more famous Brooklyn Bridge), but because of that mistake got a nice bird’s eye view of a bustling park, and several kayakers and paddleboarders. If I’m back in Wheeling again I’ll definitely get on the. Click here for some options to do just that.

Mountain Mama's Kayak Rentals was closed when we were in Wheeling.
Mountain Mama’s Kayak Rentals was closed when we were in Wheeling.

We had trouble parking as the river front park was hosting the Wheeling Chili Cook Off. I have a strong aversion to anything chili related so we decided on grabbing lunch, definitely sampling a really divey looking bar called the “Boy’s Club”  or “Gentleman’s Club” or something of that nature, (literally no record of this establishment exists online, which means it’s great) we’d seen while riding around looking for a parking space, and then checking out the cook-off.

Sadly, the Weiner Hut was also closed.
Sadly, the Weiner Hut was also closed.

I honestly don’t remember the place we had lunch at. It was good, albeit in a forgettable TGIFridays meets Applebees sort of way. The dive bar? Not forgettable. Amazing. Picture what you think of when someone says, “dive bar in West Virginia”, and you’d have this place.  It smelled like stale beer. There were a crowd of shady looking miscreants and because the jukebox was broken it was eerily quiet. They also had dollar drafts that the majority of patrons paid for in quarters. I was in love.

Somehow, it still smelled like cigarettes.
Somehow, it still smelled like cigarettes.

While I could’ve stayed at the bar far longer than any normal human should, some members of our party were sketched out, so we moved onto the chili cook off. Aversion to chili aside, I sort of wish this was our go-to move (lies, I left a part of myself there). Though the tastings were winding down what I didn’t realize was that the chili cookoff included music, other bbq offerings and a beer tent. We ordered a couple of rounds and then sat in a small outdoor amphitheater overlooking the water listening to a band play. It was one of the first hot days of spring and a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Music on the Ohio.
Music on the Ohio.
You could see the Wheeling Suspension Bridge in the background leading from downtown Wheeling to Wheeling Island.
You could see the Wheeling Suspension Bridge in the background leading from downtown Wheeling to Wheeling Island.
This photo makes the Chili Cook Off seem really dead, but in all actuality, it was a pretty hopping affair.
This photo makes the Chili Cook Off seem really dead, but in all actuality, it was a pretty hopping affair.

We left town around 5:00 so that we could make it back in time to eat a normally-timed dinner at Hofbrahaus, so didn’t really explore Wheeling to its full potential. My brother is in Pittsburgh for at least another year, though. I have a feeling I’ll be back.

Back in Pittsburgh. A pretty perfect ending to a near perfect day (actually I was in rough shape by the end of the night..).
Back in Pittsburgh. A pretty perfect ending to a near perfect day (actually I was in rough shape by the end of the night..).

 

 

 

2 comments on “A Few Hours in Wheeling, West Virginia”

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