Huntington, West Virginia, welcomes motorcoach tour groups. Recently awarded the title of America’s Best Community in a nationwide competition, it is your gateway to the western side of the Mountain State. The experts at Cabell-Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau would love to have you bring your next tour group to Cabell County and the Greater Huntington area. They know that groups want one-of-a-kind experiences, and that is just what they offer.
Groups can begin their Huntington experience with the CVB at the Visitors Center, located in Heritage Station, a renovated train depot built in 1887. While here, tour passengers can visit the locally owned shops and eateries and possibly grab a pastry from River and Rail Bakery before visiting The Red Caboose Artisan Center for a handcrafted piece to remember their visit to wild and wonderful West Virginia. They can even see the former Huntington Bank building, which rumor has it was robbed by the infamous Jesse James Gang.
Not far from Heritage Station is Marshall University. Marshall is an integral part of Huntington. The campus is not only located in the heart of the city but has expanded to prominent locations downtown. The Visual Arts Center, located across the street from Pullman Square, is a world-class arts facility incorporating original features of the historic building with modern conveniences. The ground level features a first-rate art gallery with rotating exhibits open to the public all year long.
Marshall University might sound familiar because of the film We Are Marshall. In 1970, a plane crash claimed the lives of the Marshall football team, its coaches, boosters and flight crew. The film depicts how the college and community came together to heal and rise from the ashes by fielding a full team for an emotional 1971 football season. The CVB offers the We Are Marshall Tour, incorporating downtown Huntington, key filming sites, the Memorial Fountain on campus and the Spring Hill Cemetery Memorial. A complimentary tour guide will give your group personal insights and behind-the-scenes information.
The Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center hosted the We Are Marshall premiere. Built in 1928, this vaudeville theatre remains open to the public for concerts, traveling Broadway shows and film festivals thanks to the partnership of the Marshall Artists Series. In addition, the original Wurlitzer theatre organ has recently made its way back home to Huntington. Groups can take a backstage tour of this historic theatre, which includes a mini concert of music and sounds that once accompanied silent films.
Huntington’s downtown has sprung to life around Pullman Square, just a block away from the historic Keith-Albee, with boutique shops and eclectic dining options. Tour passengers can stop for lunch at the Marshall Hall of Fame Café for a delicious meal and admire memorabilia from the university and the movie, along with awards from players over the years. They can then find the perfect dessert around the corner at Paula Vega Cakes and visit one of the many locally owned shops around the Square, such as Wright’s Clothiers and Kenzington Alley. If groups have some free time, individuals can paint their own pottery at The Pottery Place or check out the newest movies at the Marquee Cinemas. No matter your group’s interests, Huntington has something for everyone.
Located on the third floor of the Century Building, the Touma Medical Museum sits between the Keith-Albee and Pullman Square, a hidden gem that groups love. Established in 1994, the facility preserves and documents the history of medicine in the United States and Europe. In addition to instruments dating back to 1900, the museum contains a historic library of approximately 1,000 volumes, several dating back to 1500 A.D. Tour passengers can also marvel over the 1926 Model-T Ford, physician’s buggy and historic pharmacy.
Only a short drive from downtown is West Virginia’s first Smithsonian Affiliate, Heritage Farm Museum & Village. Featured on the History Channel’s American Pickers, Heritage Farm allows you to experience life as it was in an Appalachian pioneer community. It is home to more than 15 log structures, including a one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, an old-time country store, seven award-winning museums and more.
West Virginia’s largest nationally accredited art museum, the Huntington Museum of Art, is just over the hill from Heritage Farm. One of the favorite activities at the museum is the “Taste of the Conservatory Tour,” during which tour groups get a taste – literally – of what is growing in the conservatory while an original glass sculpture by world-renowned artist Dale Chihuly stands right in the center of it all.
After enjoying the Museum, tour groups can visit Ritter Park and the Rose Garden. The Rose Garden has been voted one of the country’s best and features more than 3,000 roses. The American Planning Association named Ritter Park one of the 10 Best Great Public Spaces in recent years, and it is easy to see why. Integrated into a national historic district and peppered with hundred-year-old oak trees, it offers tour passengers a peaceful atmosphere that is perfect for winding down.
Camden Park is the place to go for groups not quite ready to wind down. Built in 1903 in neighboring Wayne County, Camden Park is West Virginia’s only amusement park. It is the perfect combination of nostalgia and innovation. Passengers can hop on the historic merry-go-round or the infamous Big Dipper wooden rollercoaster for a blast from the past. For something a little more exciting, they need look no further than The Rattler or Sling Shot. For a quick bite, nothing beats a Pronto Pup. More than just a corn dog, it completes the true Camden Park experience.
Tour groups in West Huntington will want to stop in the antique district. On 14th Street West, Old Central City is the antiques capitol of the state. This area’s successful revitalization is anchored around The Wild Ramp, a nonprofit local food market, and a beautiful gazebo area for concerts and outdoor events. Their annual festival, Old Central City Days, takes place every year in June with an antique fair, street booth vendors, entertainment and food.
Also located in West Huntington is the Museum of Radio & Technology, one of the largest antique radio museums in the country. During their tour, bus groups will see the 1920s-1930s Radio Shop and the 1940s-1950s show room, with a collection of tabletop, portable and console radios, along with vintage computers and a sample of military communications radios. The museum is also home to the West Virginia Broadcasting Hall of Fame, whose members include such television personalities as Don Knotts, Bob Denver and Soupy Sales, and game show hosts Chuck Woolery and Peter Marshall.
Huntington was built by the railroad, and thanks to the Collis P. Huntington Railroad Historical Society, it still offers train excursions. Each October, the New River Train takes passengers on historic rail cars from Huntington through the New River Gorge during the peak fall foliage season, stopping in Hinton, West Virginia, for the Railroad Days Festival. Groups can take the return trip to Huntington or have the motorcoach pick them up in Hinton before they head to their next destination.
About 20 miles east along I-64, in Milton, West Virginia, is the Blenko Glass Company. This family-run factory has been in business for more than 100 years and carries on the tradition of hand making glassware. A behind-the-scenes tour, available only for groups, allows bus passengers to witness glass creation firsthand and up close and to see the factory process before visiting the gift shop.
On the way back to Huntington, a must-stop is Hillbilly Hot Dogs, which has been featured on the Food Network’s Diner’s, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Sonny, a self-proclaimed West Virginia hillbilly, and Sharie, a California city girl, have been together for more than 17 years and love sharing their story and their food. The restaurant continues to grow, with two converted school bus dining rooms, an ice cream shack and, most recently, the Weenie Weddin’ Chapel. Hillbilly Hot Dogs can promise your tour members an experience they will never forget.
Two hours down the road sits Logan, WV, home of the famous Hatfield-McCoy feud. After visiting Heritage Farm Museum & Village, location of the History Channel’s Hatfield McCoy documentary that was filmed to compliment the Kevin Costner mini-series, groups can visit actual feud sites throughout the Logan area. Visit the place where Johnse Hatfield and Rose Anne McCoy fell in love, the site of the Hog Trial, the location of the New Year’s Massacre, and walk the Paw Paw Patch where the McCoy boys were executed. Do not just read the history of the fued, walk in the footsteps of the families.
Cabell-Huntington CVB offers multiple tour options for groups, such as the aforementioned We Are Marshall Tour and The Real Hatfield McCoy Tour. Their staff will also happily help to customize an itinerary to fit your group’s tastes and needs. The people and businesses of Huntington and the surrounding region look forward to meeting your tour group and sharing all that America’s Best Community has to offer.
To contact the Cabell-Huntington CVB, phone (800) 635-6329 or (304) 525-7333, or visit their Web site at VisitHuntingtonWV.org for more information.