Town guide: Huntington
Huntington may be home to Marshall University, but there’s a whole lot more to see and do.
When visiting Huntington, one of the first things on everyone’s list is where to eat. So, here are some recommendations:
Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti House opened its doors in 1938 and has served the greater Huntington community ever since. It has evolved into one of the most sought-after hot spots to eat and is located just a few blocks away from the campus of Marshall University. The menu includes steak, ravioli, salad, sandwiches, their signature spaghetti and delicious homemade pies.
For a taste of the surf, check out Jewel City Seafood. Yes, there is seafood in Huntington. Good seafood. Years ago, when Huntington was a booming port city along the Ohio River, steamboat captains nicknamed it Jewel City. The port often received fresh seafood shipments from Chesapeake Bay— hence the inspiration for Jewel City Seafood. Serving everything from lobster to fish tacos to a low country boil, it has variety for everyone. The restaurant offers daily specials and items at market value, and a retail shop for frozen seafood, too.
With a view of Joan C. Edwards stadium and the Henderson Center, Fat Patty’s is one of Huntington’s more popular haunts. Burgers, sandwiches, bacon cheese fries and drink specials make it a great hangout, but the relaxed atmosphere is what really sells this beloved casual dining pub. Try the Pretzel Patty — it’s a classic!
Black Sheep Burritos & Brews is a Huntington legend. After all, what could be better than burritos and beer? How about specialty wings, tacos, and a full brunch menu on the weekends? Black Sheep is more than a restaurant, it’s an experience. Its close proximity to Marshall’s campus and vast bar selection give Black Sheep an excellent reputation. Whether it’s margaritas and chips and salsa, huevos rancheros with a mimosa or a torta sandwich with a delicious draft beer, this place has it all.
Fancy a biscuit? Anyone in a 10-state radius knows about Tudor’s Biscuit World. This famous breakfast spot has locations across the state. No visit to Huntington (or West Virginia, for that matter) is complete without some made-to-order goodness. Try the Thundering Herd biscuit, which features egg, sausage, cheese and hash browns all piled together for a little bit of heaven. It’s an awesome tribute to Marshall’s mascot. That’s just the beginning, too. With various locations throughout the Tri-State area, you won’t have trouble finding your perfect biscuit.
Not too far from Huntington on Route 2 is Lesage, home to the famous Hillbilly Hot Dogs. This casual hangout has burgers, fries, nachos, chili and so many hot dogs you won’t know what to do with yourself. If you are feeling daring, try the Homewrecker. It’s a 15-inch hot dog with all of the fixins: habanero, nacho cheese, slaw, chili, peppers, onions and more. If you finish it in under 12 minutes, you get a free T-shirt!
Not far from Marshall’s campus is the Pullman Square shopping and dining district. Grab a coffee and browse! There are several major restaurants like Max & Erma’s and Five Guys, plus a movie theater.
All aboard! The Collis P. Huntington Historical Railroad Society has New River Train trips that travel from Huntington down through the New River Gorge in the southern part of the state. Rides follow the C&O mainline from Huntington to Hinton and provide some of the best scenery in the fall.
If you don’t have time for train ride, you can still get your train fix. The society has an indoor and outdoor museum with equipment, displays, and a hand-pump car.
Heritage Station used to be a train depot. Now, the grand brick building is a shopping center. Its vintage bones perfectly accompany the boutiques inside. There’s a gourmet wine-and-cheese store, bakery, yoga studio, craft brews, weekend entertainment, and much more.
While you’re there, mosey over to The Red Caboose for local art. You’ll find ceramics, textiles, glassworks, bath products, and tasty delicacies. And since it’s owned by the Cabell-Huntington CVB, it’s also where you can get souvenirs and postcards.
Another favorite is Mug and Pia. This whimsical shop boosts your mood with colorful kitchenware, home decor and quirky keepsakes. It’s also where you can get hard-to-find stationary and paper.
Huntington is richly endowed with public parks. Many have won awards for their design, overall appeal and amenities. One of the best is Ritter Park. A creek winds through acres of manicured lawns, a walking trail, dog park, tennis courts, award-winning playground, and amphitheater and famous rose garden.
Ritter Park also has the charming Fantasy Maze during Halloween. It’s a magical setup with more than a thousand straw bales, candy, Wizard of Oz actors, inflatable rides, and no spookiness!
There’s also St. Cloud Commons Lodge. Its venerable patina traces back to the 1930s, when families gathered here for picnics. The stone-flagged lodge is a popular space for catered events, while the surrounding grounds host local baseball and softball games. You can also play basketball or go for an easy stroll on a walking track.
Harris Riverfront Park takes advantage of Huntington’s placid waterways. Jog along the Ohio River or have lunch underneath banks of shade trees. The large amphitheater has regular concerts, too.
On November 14, 1970, most of Marshall University’s football team — including the coach, doctors, and athletic director — died in a plane crash. It’s a tragedy that still ripples throughout Huntington. Now more Americans are familiar with the story, thanks to Hollywood’s 2006 blockbuster hit, “We Are Marshall.”
Memorials include Spring Hill Cemetery and the Memorial Fountain on Marshall’s campus. The fountain is turned off every year on November 14 and remains shut down until the start of spring football practice.
The Marshall Hall of Fame Café may be a restaurant, but it’s also a piece of Huntington history. Everything here orbits around Marshall athletics with pictures, memorabilia, and a great game-day atmosphere. Milkshakes, potato skins, salads, ribs and steaks are only part of the menu. For a great meal and lesson in Marshall history, this is one restaurant that will leave a lasting impression.
There’s also the Huntington Museum of Art. Galleries aside, it features various collections, educational programs, innovative exhibitions and even a tropical plant conservatory and nature trails.
Heritage Farm Museum & Village is a delight for kids and adults alike. This award-winning attraction is a Smithsonian affiliate and a National Geographic Traveler Prime Destination — so you know it’s pretty darn good. Among many things, there’s a petting zoo, country store, and museums, all surrounded by authentic Appalachian log buildings. Watch historical trade demonstrations and grab a bite at Our Daily Bread Cafe. You can also spend the night in a log inn, caboose, or rent an entire dairy barn.
Where to stay
Conveniently tucked away at Heritage Station is The Chessie Room, a darling bed-and-breakfast. It’s an entire living area above the old bank! You’ll get a spacious master bedroom, kitchenette, enclosed outside sitting area, and more. A local restaurant will feed you in the morning.
There’s also the Pullman Plaza Hotel, located just a few blocks from Marshall University. Breakfast and lunch are available at The Patio Room. It also has an attractive pool and outdoor drink service.
Huntington has no shortage of chain hotels, either. Here’s just a sample:
- Hampton Inn & Suites — Located off of Hal Greer Exit of I-64, the Hampton Inn & Suites is a few minutes from Marshall University’s campus. The hotel has 100 rooms, Wi-Fi, pool, gym and snack bar.
- Towne Place Suites — This is right next to Hampton Inn & Suites off of the Hal Greer Exit and is part of the Marriott chain of hotels. The hotel has studio rooms and 1-2 bedroom suites. All rooms have flat screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and free continental breakfasts.
- Holiday Inn & Suites — The Holiday Inn & Suites downtown is about 5 minutes from the Marshall campus and is adjacent to Pullman Square for shopping and dining.