The following article is a paid collaboration with Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.
If you’re looking for a less clichéd and more off-the-beaten-path romantic vacation, Parkersburg, West Virginia is your sweet escape.
A tiny hidden island full of nature and history, West Virginia’s wine country, a golden palace brimming with ornate gardens— love birds will swoon. And, it’s all affordable!
Here are some highlights for you sweethearts to start with:
Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park
Blennerhassett Island is gem of a spot. The island a historical state park with a sprawling mansion and manicured garden grounds. Take an old-fashioned sternwheeler from Parkersburg to go for leisurely walks and relaxed bike rides. You can even camp if you want to go more rustic.
This place has quite the… interesting history, too. Rumor has it that the mansion is where Harman Blennerhassett and Aaron Burr plotted treason against the U.S.
While the original mansion was burned to the ground, it’s been reconstructed. Tour the estate on a carriage ride to tip your romantic trip over the top.
Wine and Dine in Downtown Parkersburg
After a day on the island, share a romantic dinner and stroll in historic downtown Parkersburg.
For good drinks and great food, Spats Restaurant has an award-winning wine list and gourmet cuisine. It’s in The Blennerhassett Hotel, which dates back to the 1800s. Once you wrap dinner, take a short walk to the Victorian Julia-Ann Square Historic District, which is brimming with historic architecture.
After your stroll, catch a show at one of the town’s many performing arts venues, like the historic Smoot Vaudeville Theatre, which has been carefully restored to its golden-era glory.
Luxurious Day Trips
Ready for a day trip? From Parkersburg, you’ll be within just a couple hours of two luxurious stops with plenty to do, both set against jaw-dropping scenery.
For a unique cultural experience, you can set off for a two-hour drive along the Ohio River Scenic Byway to Moundsville to see the Palace of Gold. The palace is stunning, to say the least, and it was even dubbed one of the 8 religious wonders in the U.S. by CNN. The architecture will transport you to India, but don’t forget to take in the views of the Appalachian hills that set the background, especially from the expansive and ornate gardens that surround the palace.
If you want to relax with a day at the lake instead, take a two-hour trek to the upscale Stonewall Resort. Their tagline is pretty spot on: "Close to Nature. Far from Ordinary." It’s an incredible place to rest and relax with your love at the end of the day. Kick back and explore the lake on a touring boat, or wander the waters yourselves on stand-up paddleboards. You could even take it up a notch with mini powerboats! Then hit a round of golf, or book a massage at the spa before grabbing a meal at one of the three on-site restaurants.
West Virginia’s Wine Country
Parkersburg is also near the top of a rich West Virginia wine region, so you can take a day to explore the flavors of our mountain-inspired vintages.
Just outside Parkersburg you’ll find WineTree Vineyards, a shining West Virginia gem. Owned and operated by Craig and Candace Bandy, after more than 30 years of making wine, WineTree sold their first bottle on Independence Day, 2008, and the couple hasn’t stopped since. They specialize in award-winning dry white wines in addition to sweet wines, and they are confident that they’ve got a wine for anyone’s tastes. You’ll find these guys just off of I-77 on Jesterville Road.
Other wineries that are a just a bit more than a stone’s throw from Parkersburg are Stone Road Vineyards in Elizabeth and Chestnut Ridge Winery in Spencer. Stone Road Vineyard has been making wine in the Mountain State since 1999 and has a huge selection to choose from. They batch their creations based on the season and typically limit their creations to a couple of hundred cases each, so if you find something you like there, you’ll have to act fast.
Chestnut Ridge Winery took off in 2012 and is truly a local favorite. Among their several wine offerings, they’ve got a top-notch merlot, but they also serve local beer and spirits, so even if only 1/2 of your couple is a wine lover, everyone will be happy. Perhaps the best thing about Chestnut, though, is the setting— it’s nestled into a pine-filled natural wonderland that practically begs for a picture-perfect picnic.
If you take the Stonewall day trip, there are handful of wineries near the resort, too! The closest stop is Lambert’s Vintage Winery— a beauty of a place that’s been operating since 1992. The castle-like stone building was crafted with hand-cut stone from around the state. They’ve got a wide lineup of styles, so sit and sip a while on the rocking chairs by the fireplace.
Batton Hollow Winery in Lost Creek is a great next stop. A quick half hour drive from the resort, Batton Hollow offers a premium range of red, white and seasonal wines, all set within a scenery that’s almost guaranteed to make you and your special someone fall more in love than you are already.
Take another jump to Cascarelli's Old Country Wine for a fruity lineup of juice-like wines the vintners say are great even for folks who don’t like traditional wine.
Discover more around Parkersburg.
Originally written for West Virginia .