This post was originally written on September 21, 2014, and was updated on August 28th, 2018.
With historical attractions to explore, fun food venues, roadside attractions, and the best chocolates you’ll find plenty of things to do in Parkersburg, WV. Located across the Ohio River and a short drive from Marietta, Parkersburg is an ideal road trip destination for those of us Ohio and neighboring states.
My husband spent nearly two years working and living part-time in Parkersburg. That should have left us plenty of time to explore, right? Sadly, about the only exploration we did was driving home along the Interstate. It wasn’t until AFTER he no longer worked in Parkersburg that I discovered how much this West Virginia town had to offer. And did I mention how affordable the attractions are in Parkersburg? Well, that’s just a bonus.
Things to do in Parkersburg, WV for the History Lover
The Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History is the perfect place to begin your tour of Parkersburg. Not only will you learn about regional history, you’ll also learn about the family who lived on Blennerhassett Island, Parkersburg’s most visited attraction. Start your tour in the basement of the museum for a short film and make your way up to the second floor to explore.
Address: 137 Juliana St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park is located just East of Parkersburg in the middle of the Ohio River. Named after its owner, a wealthy Irish aristocrat who settled in West Virginia in 1798, the property has an interesting history that reminds us to be careful of the company we keep. You’ll learn local and U.S. history on the fascinating tour of the mansion which was built in the exact location of the original home that was destroyed by fire. A trip to the Island, on the Island Belle Sternwheeler, provides an outdoor oasis for visitors to enjoy. Tours of the mansion, bicycle rentals, Horse-drawn wagon rides, self-guided walking tours, hiking and a variety of special events are all a part of the experience.
Address: 137 Juliana St, Parkersburg, WV 26101 (Purchase tickets here)
Hours: Thursday-Sunday 11 a.m. to 4:30, Closed Monday-Wednesday
Fort Boreman Historic Park offers a breathtaking view of the Mid-Ohio Valley, and Blennerhassett Island. Walking trails, picnic areas, and restored trenches make up this former Civil War defense site used to protect the Northwest Virginia Railroad. On a clear day, it’s also the perfect vantage point to see the city lights below in the early dawn and watch the sunrise along the Ohio River.
Address: Off U.S. 50, Follow the Marrtown Road Exit
Hours: Daily 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
The Oil and Gas Museum features over 20,000 square feet of exhibits, revealing the history of the oil and gas industry of West Virginia and Southeastern Ohio. The museum depicts fascinating stories of the people and events that created the boomtowns of that area, along with how West Virginia became a state during the heat of the Civil War. This is not a neatly curated collection but is more like exploring your grandma’s attic. You could spend hours exploring from top to bottom and never see everything inside. The collection of unique memorabilia is not only contained inside the building, you’ll find items outside in the adjacent lot as well.
Tip: Hours are erratic as they depend heavily on volunteers. Call to confirm hours of operation before arriving.
Address: 119 3rd St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
Hours: Monday-Friday 11 a.m to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Veterans Museum of Mid – Ohio Valley, is a small museum that honors our veterans and educates the public as to their service. Displays, memorabilia, photographs, letters, uniforms from all the wars since WW1 reflect and remind us of those who served.
Address: 1829 7th St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
Hours: Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Closed Monday-Wednesday
Henderson Hall Plantation, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this estate captures a view of the early American Victorian Era. The elegant Civil War mansion, with 21 rooms, spans six generations and 200 years. The homestead features original furnishings from the frontier life of the 1700’s into the 20th century. During the summer guests may climb the steps to the widow’s walk for a view of the surrounding area.
Tip: Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds before or after your tour. Picnic tables are available for guest use.
Address: 517 Old River Rd, Williamstown, WV 26187
Hours: Tuesday- Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Closed Mondays
Cost: Adults $10, Students $5, Children 6 and under are free
Julia-Ann Square Historic District offers a glimpse into the past and places the homes of some of the most influential people of West Virginia’s early history on display. After the Civil War, many community leaders began constructing the area’s finest homes in this area, during the development and boom of the oil and gas industry.
Start your tour of the historic district at the Greater Parkersburg Visitor Center at 350 7th Street and pick up a self-guided walking tour. The homes are not open to the public but can be appreciated from the sidewalk.
The Wood County Courthouse is located at the heart of Government Square. Constructed of native sandstone in 1899- 1900, the exterior has balconies, ornate turrets, stilted arches, and a bell tower with unique and symbolic carvings.
Address: 1 Court Square Parkersburg, WV
Quirky Attractions to See in Parkersburg
The Grave of the Weeping Woman is located in the Riverview Cemetery which is located in the Julia-Ann Square Historic District and is one of the oldest and most historic cemeteries in Parkersburg. The woman is shown grieving over a tombstone as she watches over the Jackson family plot. Several legends surround the grave with one claiming that the on a full moon, the statue stands erect, and walks through the cemetery mourning the loss of life during the Civil War.
Address: 1341 Juliana St., Parkersburg, WV
Hours: Gate is open dusk to dawn
This Indian Muffler Man stands watch over the Cherokee Village Auto Center Title & License Service Center. Muffler Men are becoming more and more elusive as repairs to the fiberglass are costly and many are now sent to the junkyard rather than undergoing a costly repair. Check this guy out while you can and while you’re there, take a walk (or drive) across the street to grab a donut or two from McHappy’s Donuts and Bake Shoppe (open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., 7 days a week).
Address: 1704 Dupont Rd. Parkersburg, West Virginia 26101
Where to Shop in Parkersburg
Mulberry Lane Country Store offers collectibles and hand-made gifts. At over 5,000 square feet, it is West Virginia’s largest country store and offers hours of browsing potential for those interested in home décor, collectibles and hand-made gifts.
Address: 4009 Emerson Ave, Parkersburg, WV 26104
Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m to 5 p.m.
Holl’s Chocolates is a small family-owned business in Vienna that specializes in Swiss chocolates. A stop at the chocolate shop is a real treat as visitors are treated to melt in your mouth samples and I seriously think Holl’s has the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. They also carry a nice selection of wine that pairs well with the chocolates.
Address: 2001 Grand Central Ave, Vienna, WV 26105
Hours: Monday to Saturday 10 a.m to 6 p.m. Closed on Sunday.
Other Places to Visit in Parkersburg
Parkersburg Art Center is a place of for all ages to learn and explore various art mediums through various classes that are offered throughout the year. Exhibits by young people, local, regional talent and national artists are on display in the gallery. A shop inside the Art Center features the work of artists and craftspeople from the region that is available for purchase.
Address: 725 Market St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Closed Sunday and Monday.
The Smoot Theater is a restored vaudeville theater in the heart of downtown Parkersburg. Built in 1926 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this gorgeous property now plays host to films, concerts, plays and other performances.
Address: 213 5th St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
Point Park is a beautiful riverfront park that is located where the Ohio River and Little Kanawha meet and the perfect place to enjoy sunset views or to watch the barges pass or to take in a concert in the amphitheater.
Address: 113 Ann St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. 7 days a week
Cost: Free to visit, Fee for some events
Where to Eat in Parkersburg
Spats at the Blennerhassett offers guests a taste of elegance at the Sunday Brunch at the Blennerhassett Hotel. You’ll find all the traditional breakfast items you love, eggs benedict to fruit to omelettes and french toast to lunch selections that include pork, chicken, pasta and shrimp.
Address: 320 Market Street Parkersburg, WV
Jimmy Columbo’s Italian Restaurant serves up Italian classics amid photos of the owner with various celebrities and political figures during his boxing career and life, spanning over the past 50 years. While the food is tasty , the real treat is the gelato served for dessert.
Address: 1236 7th St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
The North End Tavern & Brewery is the longest continuously operating restaurant and pub in West Virginia. Dubbed the NET for short, the restaurant serves up traditional pub fare and hand-crafted beer in a fun and lively environment. It’s easy to see why they’ve been around since 1899.
Address: 3500 Emerson Ave, Parkersburg, WV 26104
Where to Stay in Parkersburg
TownePlace Suites by Marriott Parkersburg is conveniently located to downtown. This property features large suites with kitchenettes, ample closet space, and comfortable living and workspace, perfect for the extended stay guest.
Address: 415 7th St, Parkersburg, WV 26101
The historic Blennerhassett Hotel opened in 1889 during the Oil and Gas boom in Parkersburg. Since that time the hotel has survived a fire and undergone several renovations. Not only is the hotel a local landmark, it’s also listed as one of the Historic Hotels of America.
Address: 320 Market Street Parkersburg, WV
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Parkersburg East is conveniently located right off I-77. This newer property features large rooms, indoor pool and a large lobby with comfortable seating.
Address: 10057 Emerson Ave, Parkersburg, WV 26104
Annual Festivals and Events Worth Mentioning in Parkersburg
The Taste of Parkersburg is an annual event that serves up some of the best food in Parkersburg. Purchase tickets for the event and exchange them for the food & drink of your choice while listening to music and interacting with friends and family. This hopping event takes place each year during the month of June.
The Downtown Throwdown BBQ & Brewfest takes place in September and features incredible BBQ and beer in much the same setting as the Taste of Parkersburg. This year, the event will be September 15th from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Parkersburg’s Bicentennial Park (201 3rd Street). Tickets are on sale now.
Have you been to Parkersburg? What did you enjoy most? If you haven’t been to Parkersburg, what would you like to see?
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© 2018, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.