Why Deputy Fife's Birthplace Is the Best Small Town in West Virginia
It might be the biggest burg in this part of the state, but this place still lives beautifully small.
The hometown of West Virginia University (WVU) and Deputy Bernard P. Fife—the late beloved actor Don Knotts of The Andy Griffith Show—Morgantown thinks big but lives small. It's one of those Southern towns where everybody knows everybody, and nobody meets a stranger. Yet, the university has helped bring a level of sophistication and variety that you don't often see in a town of about 30,000.
Established in 1838, Morgantown is nestled into a mountain setting flanked by the Monongahela and Cheat Rivers and laced with trails that are part of the Mon River-Caperton-Deckers Creek Rail-Trails System. This stretch of Rail-Trails, created from former railroad corridors, makes an ideal venue—over 40 miles of it—for enjoying West Virginia's spectacular scenery.
The university's 91-acre Core Arboretum, nearby Cheat Lake, and the Coopers Rock State Forest just 20 minutes away give locals and visitors still more great outdoor space. Students enjoy escaping to Dorsey's Knob Park and Sky Rock—a favorite spot for forgetting about those final exams. For an even greater escape, Snowshoe Mountain Resort is less than 3 hours away.
Scoot around WVU's Morgantown campus sites aboard the university's Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) System, completed in the seventies. Driverless electric rail cars transport you to one of five stations on university property. (Bad news for students: The tracks are heated, so no snow days.)
Morgantown is part of a thriving West Virginia arts community that includes the 1924 Metropolitan Theatre, dance and theatre companies, and galleries. The WVU Symphony performs throughout the year, while the university-led Morgantown Community Orchestra provides opportunities for local musicians to play together.
The restaurant scene here is also lively, with everything from casual college hangouts to fine dining. Try upscale Tin 202, known for craft cocktails, or serious Italian cooking at Stefano's—fine dining located downstairs from a bowling alley. Find more casual fare at Atomic Grill, Mountain State Brewing Co., Iron Horse Tavern, and Morgantown Brewing Company. Mario's Fishbowl—serving fishbowl-sized goblets of beer—is an institution.
So pack your bags and head to this wonderful small town.