There’s outdoor dining around Morgantown. There’s some really good outdoor dining. But if you want to eat outside and feel like you’ve had a vacation, there’s just one place to go: Tropics.

Outdoor dining at Tropics is a multi-sensory experience. For one thing, the space is huge: At 275 seats, it’s larger than most restaurants in town. But it’s not a sea of sweltering seating—far from it. Tropics has two covered pavilions on different levels, an open deck with umbrella-shaded tables, and two outdoor bars, all constructed of wood. One of the bars is a tiki bar, with Hawaiian decorations and grass thatching—“We call that ‘lauhala,’” says Tropics co-owner Maria Burchfiel, a native Hawaiian. The area is divided into intimate spaces through the use of festive string lighting, a koi fish pond, and lush, fragrant tropical plantings that include banana trees. “The banana trees are gorgeous,” Burchfiel says. “We put them in ourselves when we took over the property, and they come back and get bigger every year.”

Tropics hosts live bands at its outdoor stage every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday in the warm months. Thursday night is kids’ night, with face painting and balloons. “It’s a little more casual—parents don’t have to feel as if their kids have to be restrained,” Burchfiel says.

The menu at Tropics features Pacific island flavors like coconut and pineapple, native dishes like poke—raw fish salad—and lots of Pacific Rim influences, along with enough less adventurous fare that anyone in a group can be satisfied.

Here’s the ultimate summer Tropics outing: Twice a year, the restaurant hosts a traditional luau. “We have a troupe that comes out of Pittsburgh, originally from Hawaii. They do a full Polynesian show,” Burchfiel says. “Dancers from Tahiti, Hawaii, and Fiji, and a traditional fire knife dance. Being from Hawaii, I can tell you it’s 100 percent authentic.” A vacation in an evening. — PK

2500 Cranberry Square, 304.291.5225, @tropicswv on Facebook

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Pam Kasey
Written by Pam Kasey
Pam Kasey has traveled, brewed, farmed, counseled, and renovated, but most loves to write. She has degrees in economics from the University of Chicago and in journalism from West Virginia University. She loves celebrating Morgantown and West Virginia as executive editor at New South Media.