While Morgantown offers an active lifestyle, a lively downtown, and an exciting arts culture, towns nearby have a lot going for them, too. Here’s some of what residents love about our neighboring communities.

Median home listing price: $250,000 in March 2018
Distance from Morgantown: About 40 minutes
Population: 8,400

Bridgeport is a small city with a dynamic economy. Neither a county seat nor a historic industrial center, it has emerged as a hub for professionals and new development.

Located on the interstate central to the region’s active oil and gas fields and home to the longest runway in the state, Bridgeport has long been a natural site for energy company headquarters. Other major employers in town include health care, with United Hospital Center located right on the interstate; information technology at the nearby FBI, NASA, and other high-tech facilities; and aerospace and aviation at the Mid-Atlantic Aerospace Complex at the North Central West Virginia Airport.

In recent years, Bridgeport has become known for high-end office space, eclectic dining, and a wide range of interstate lodging options. It also knows how to have a good time. Opened in 2012 and busy all summer long, the Bridgeport Recreation Complex offers four lighted baseball fields with scoreboards and bleacher seating, a concession stand and press box, a basketball court, and other facilities. The Bridgeport Farmers Market, held weekly in the warmer months and monthly through the winter, may be the largest and liveliest in the state with local produce, meat and eggs, honey, syrup, and baked goods as well as fresh flowers and live plants, many artisans, and food and beverage vendors.

With its location on the interstate and its regularly scheduled flights to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other locations, Bridgeport is well-connected with the region and beyond.

Median home listing price: $150,000 in March 2018
Distance from Morgantown: About a half hour
Population: 18,600

Fairmont lies where the Tygart Valley and West Fork rivers flow together to form the Monongahela. Its name reflects its fair, high view of the rivers, and its place at a confluence means bridges and river views are a pleasant aspect of the everyday landscape.

Fairmont has an illustrious coal, railroad, and river transport history. Its historic downtown is almost entirely intact, making for a town center with a lot of personality. The decline of coal hurt the economy in the latter part of the 20th century. But as the seat of Marion County and home to Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community and Technical College, the city has an educated population and, in recent decades, it’s found ways to diversify its economy. Technology plays a strong role: The city is home today to the NASA Independent Verification and Validation facility, the FBI’s National White Collar Crime Center, and the High Technology Foundation.

Downtown Fairmont hosts popular diner, cafe, and craft beer establishments. North central West Virginia’s Italian heritage thrives here: the Country Club Bakery is said to have invented the pepperoni roll, and you will find some of the area’s best-loved Italian restaurants here along with the Feast of the Seven Fishes street festival celebrating Italian Christmas Eve tradition. In summer, children play at the wave pool, and events organized by the active parks agency take place nearly every weekend—primary among them, the late-May Three Rivers Festival at Palatine Park on the Monongahela River.

With six interstate exits, every part of Fairmont is convenient not only to Morgantown and points north but also to Clarksburg and Bridgeport shopping, the regional North Central West Virginia Airport, and the state capital of Charleston.

Median home listing price: $118,500 in March 2018
Distance from Morgantown: About 45 minutes
Population: 16,000

A small city that keeps tradition alive, Clarksburg offers affordability centered on a historic downtown.

The seat of Harrison County, Clarksburg came to be as a transportation center. It was a stop on the Northwestern Turnpike between Winchester, Virginia, and what became Parkersburg on the Ohio River. The B&O Railroad arrived in the mid-19th century, and remnants of the city’s railroad and industrial coal and glass history can still be seen.

Industrialization brought immigrants, and the city’s rich heritage includes Belgian, Irish, Spanish, and Greek influences—the June Greek Food Festival is a hit every year. But the largest influence, and the one felt most by far today, is Italian. Family-owned Italian bakeries and restaurants are found all over town. Glen Elk Village is an Italian enclave and dining destination, and the city hosts the regionally popular West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival every Labor Day weekend.

A hub for media and communications, Clarksburg is home to two television and six radio stations and an independent daily newspaper. Health care is a major employer, with Highland-Clarksburg behavioral and mental health hospital and the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center located here. The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services division houses the agency’s criminal fingerprint repository and other databases as well as research into biometric identification technologies conducted jointly with the Department of Defense.

For downtime, some of the most concentrated shopping in the region is located along Emily Drive, on I-79. Parks and playgrounds are found all over town, and a riverside walking trail is popular year-round. A 2,000-seat outdoor amphitheater hosts live music and free movie nights throughout the warm seasons. Vintage Theatre Company produces improv, Shakespeare, and other performances, and downtown’s 1913 theater re-opens in 2018 as the fully refurbished Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center.

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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.