How to Explore & Enjoy Pleasant ValleyApril 6, 2018
We are right on our way to discovering the mystery of Marion County by touring all the ins and outs.
Today, we’re driving to, through and beyond Pleasant Valley, which is exactly as it sounds.
Although all the areas of Marion have something outdoorsy, this area seems to have a little more of that West Virginia spirit.
The Marion County Visitors Center is right at the top of the gateway. Get your hipster maps, your list of best restaurants and the scoop on the whole county. Not only is it full of information, but it is very centrally located to get to everywhere on this list (and quite a few others).
It’s just a little ways up from an awesome playground. (So the kids tell me. I wouldn’t know. Why would I know?) And, it’s just a little ways over from East Marion Park’s playgrounds, which are equally playful. (Again, this is in no way based on firsthand experience at all.)
But before you get to those playgrounds, you’ll pass by a few very important places.
The future site of Korean War Memorial is a very significant work-in-progress in the county. The memorial will honor the 27 soldiers from Marion County who gave their lives in the Korean War. For these 27 soldiers, the memorial will place two flagpoles at 27 feet high. (Eventually, more space will be provided for 2,100 granite name plaques for all veterans.)
Speaking of ‘Murica, I don’t know if you noticed the massively gigantic flag right up from the Visitor Center. Yes, it is 38 meters high (about 124 feet for you Americans), thank you for noticing. And that means, taking West Virginia landscape into consideration, it flies 170 feet above Interstate 79. The height symbolizes the 38th Parallel, the line that separates North and South Korea. The flag itself is a 40-foot by 60-foot (which is huge!) and is the largest American flag that can fly on a flagpole of that height. Pretty impressive, no?
Next is The Purple Heart Memorial, tucked just inside East Marion Veterans Park. lt is a beautiful monument in looks and in what it represents. It honors those from north-central West Virginia who were wounded or killed in action from any war.
Beside this memorial is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with multiple components. It’s a monument, art and understanding. There’s the Huey Helicopter, an actual aircraft used in the Vietnam War. The six-ton monument displays the names of Marion Countians killed in the Vietnam War. The murals along the wall depict scenes from the war with the different branches of our military. The statue shows the plight of our soldiers attempting to survive.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is also a designated flag disposal location. When your priceless symbol of freedom starts looking a bit worn or ragged, you can (fold it properly) place it in a bin at the memorial and your flag will be disposed of properly.
Now, you’re probably feeling emotions like astonishment and gratitude. That’s good, and what’s better is to process those emotions with some fun. Right past those memorials is the region’s only wave pool. Enjoy the crashing of the waves (with or without inner tubes) and perfect pool food. And for the brave at heart, there’s a water slide with equal parts fun and fear (just a personal opinion). If you’re not a water person (weirdo), try your hand eye coordination at horseshoes. Or, you could get really athletic on the softball field, basketball court or volleyball pit. You could always do the opposite of activity and have a picnic instead at any (or all) of the pavilions.
For your furry friends, Fido’s Dog Park is just past the pool and perfect for all the doggies! There are wide open spaces for those sighthounds; trees and shrubs for those hunting hounds; and plenty of places to relax for those retrievers. Don’t worry if your small dog can’t keep up with all those Newfoundlands and Saint Bernards. There’s a section where your dog can play small.
Over on the other side of the gateway is Morris Park. It’s not only for the hiker but for the pavement lover, too. Enjoy 1.3 miles of rolling hills (with some flat spaces) on the pavement. Or, hit the trails with those West Virginia mountains.
Come December, Morris Park is a place you will not want to miss. The Celebration of Lights is an annual tradition where the park’s 1.3 miles of pavement is donned with holiday lights and lighted scenes to spark your Christmas spirit. See all 420 displays from the warmth and comfort of your car or walk through the epitome of holiday joy on the walkers’ nights. (All proceeds go to the United Way of Marion County.)
All year round, Morris Park offers two disc golf courses. That’s right, disc golf. It’s where you throw a Frisbee-like disc and try to get a hole in one. But the hole in one is actually an oddly shaped cage. It might be more complicated than that, but in a nutshell, it’s disc golf. Play the Seth Burton Memorial Disc Golf Course or the Orange Crush course. And if you get good enough, you might just qualify for the championship games.
Now that you’ve worked up an appatite, head to 3 Ways Inn. And yes, there are actually three ways to the restaurant. Regardless, find your way in because the food is so good and the bar is fully stocked. Hand-breaded cheddar and Parmesan crusted chicken breast or homemade cavatini with a garlic bread is only the beginning. The antipasto salad with house dressing is especially addictive as are the lasagna and hoagies (anyone up for mild Italian sausage?). You can always go the fried route: pickles, mushrooms, zucchini. Last but not least, skip Italian and try eastern European cuisine of handmade pierogies and a Bavarian pretzel!
Take a loop around to Copper House Grill. It is everything you’d ever want in a copper house … and grill. Start with the crab dip (or hot pepper bruschetta). Then, go for a raspberry pecan chicken salad (or fettuccine ala vodka – there’s bacon!). Next, you’ll need (yes, need) to have the Caribbean lettuce wrap (or the Bella Burger – it’s in a bread bowl!). There’s also a full bar and tons more on the menu. This is quite the place (if you couldn’t tell).
The food tour ends with DJ’s 50’s and 60’s Diner, straight outta Grease. This is a breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert place. It’s the quintessential 1950’s experience. (They even have t-shirts that read, “Pink Ladies.”)
For breakfast, have a Frenchy Special and/or an Egg Specialty Elvis. If you prefer an omelet instead, go for the Shake, Rattle and Roll (those are three different omelets). Eat a lunch filled with curly fries next to your Hound Dog, stuffed peppers or cabbage rolls. Save room for cheesecake, brownies, and/or pie after your dinner. That should consist of a Boppin BLT (as it sounds), a Little D Steakburger (I don’t know what that has to do with the ‘50’s, but it’s good so who cares) or a Buddy Holly (that’s a salad with grilled chicken, eggs and bacon). See? It’s as I said: straight outta Grease.
If you don’t want to go out for food, get ready to make it yourself! Fairmont Kitchen Center can help with that … for obvious reasons. Isn’t it odd that it’s called the Fairmont Kitchen Center? That’s because it can technically be considered part of Fairmont, White Hall and Pleasant Valley. Despite its confusing locale, this is the place to get custom shelves and cabinets for everything (no matter where you live): for your plates, for your good china, for your cookbooks, for all things kitchen and food. Get a pantry, a k-cup drawer and all things pretty and organized.
Come June, be sure to head to East Fairmont High School for more than an education. Enjoy the ease of ages past at the PattyFest. It’s named after a renowned dulcimer player and tutor, Patty Looman. This festival honors her and the music she loved while perpetuating the sounds of our heritage. Hear all the music (only acoustic) while snacking on traditional West Virginia treats. Picture it: fiddles, mandolins, banjos, dulcimers, gospel singing, and spoons as you savor pepperoni rolls, fried green tomatoes, soup beans, ramps, cornbread, and other Appalachian culinary favorites. If this isn’t deliciously hipster, I don’t know what is.
Too far of a drive? Why not fly? Fairmont Municipal Airport is on the way to PattyFest!
Last but not least is one last chance for outdoor fun. Behind Pleasant Valley City Hall is – are you ready for it? It’s coming. Here it comes! – A new playground complete with a walking trail and playground equipment in addition to a ball field! (And I have no idea if it’s fun. Why would I know? I’m an adult. Adults don’t play on playgrounds. It’s madness, I say!)
After all the playing outside and inside, after all the food and education, the mystery of Marion doesn’t seem to be so elusive as it is playful … and culinary. So that’s the end of Pleasant Valley, but there’s always more to explore in Marion.
What’s your Pleasant Valley must see?