In the center of West Virginia is small-town Buckhannon. Small, as in the local population and how quickly you can get around, but not to be confused with a boring po-dunk town. To West Virginia, Buckhannon is known as a vibrant downtown with loads of atmosphere. There’s an emerging arts district with public art popping up in unexpected places and, surprisingly, a number of options for top-quality food joints.
Buckhannon’s Main Street pumps with atmosphere–downtown shoppes line the street with colorful flags, and window displays welcome you to walk in to the boutiques. Spring and summer time are highlights, seeing nearly every street corner overflowing with flowers. And while this town is the classic, charming USA MainStreets, one end of the town is quickly becoming the funky, artistic scene. Places like Trader’s Alley have murals and a painted walkway. Tucked around the corner is Lascaux Micro-Theater that premieres showings like the Manhattan Film Festival and other artistic cinema. The Blaxxmith Shop and The Infamous Art Gallery have interactive art exhibits and events each week. It’s common to see a gathering of artists on the corner, prepping for the town’s next event.
It’s easy to see how the arts are appreciated throughout the town–the local city with longest name purchased a Main Street building and restored it into the Colonial Arts Center–a hub for performances, theater, exhibition space and workshops. Recent productions include “Clue: Live On Stage”and“ A 1940s Radio Christmas Carol.”
Buckhannon’s creativity flows into the restaurants, too. Local–and yes, it’s all certainly local–as Laura Meadows, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau says,“Buckhannon is proud to have our own people own the restaurants; we don’t have many chain restaurants and we like it that way.” Eating local means finding places like Fish Hawk Acres, that’s famous for Teresa’s biscuits, focaccia bread, and sunny windows. Fish Hawk serves more than meals–the downtown spot has first-class private dining experiences; the retail market, called The Coop, plus welcomes guests into the kitchen for some interactive cooking classes.
When a caffeine boost is needed, a favorite is Stone Tower Brews that has top selections of West Virginia craft beer on tap and creates specialty coffee blends. For one of the best burgers, the unassuming Whistle Stop Bar and Grill might not look like much, but serves up amazing burger creations like “The Caboose” and the “Almost Heaven.”
While Buckhannon is most known for its downtown vibes, the wild and wonderful side of West Virginia can be seen surrounding the town. Trail networks have become a priority for places like Upshur County Trails, with 10+ miles of trails for mountain bikers and hikers. Local trail makers like to say the wooded network is “made by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers.” More scenic trails and experiences are found at the West Virginia Wildlife Center. An immersive experience, guests can walk through the wooded forest of West Virginia to see the state’s native animals in natural enclosures. Overnight camp spots at Audra State Park are along the Middle Fork River, where the scenes and sounds of the flowing river can’t be beat.
West Virginia is an emerging top destination. The locals have long known the hidden gems–the scenic rolling hills, the winter mountains lined with ski slopes, the wide-open forests, and the small towns dotting the state with true Appalachian culture. In a time when everyone is searching for a new getaway, choosing Buckhannon is worth a shot.