Likely, you’ve seen dozens of different challenges pop-up on your Facebook or Pinterest feeds. Challenges for self-care or de-cluttering, or perhaps a sugar detox or new exercise regime. While self-care is certainly important, this year I wanted to focus on supporting my community with a fun, 31 day challenge. If you’d like to join me, simply follow along!

Because the weather in January (and the MOV) is never predictable, you are encouraged to check with each location or event to confirm times and locations before visiting. Each day of the challenge is able to completed for $30 or less, with most being free. I will likely be investing about $250 back into the community by completing the challenge fully (less than $10 per day) but it can be completed for less. The most important thing is to give yourself the opportunity to revel in how great the Mid-Ohio Valley really is, and let your neighbors and small business owners know they are loved. The rest is all a cherry on top!

Jan 1: Take a 15 minute walk around your neighborhood. It’s the day to begin taking more in. Maybe you’ll notice a unique home right around the corner from yours. Maybe you’ll meet a neighbor you’ve yet to meet. It’s the beginning of an adventure. If it’s too chilly to take that walk, it’s okay, go check out Clutch MOV’s community calendar to remind you of how much local beauty we have right here in the MOV.

Jan 2: Make notes. It’s easy to tap out when it comes to trying something new, whether it’s a new local restaurant, a shop, or any local businesses that aren’t chains. Take 10 minutes to think about what kinds of businesses you’d really like to explore (food, museums, gift shops, etc.). Ask your friends who they like, or write down some of our suggestions from this 31-Day challenge by reading ahead. We find that when we have a little game plan in place, we’re more likely to venture out of our usual habits and experience new food and businesses.

Jan 3: Eat, drink and shop local. Pick one place on your list from yesterday to support. Stop by, buy something, eat something, meet the owners, note what you liked about your experience. Commit to a friendly exchange and “Hello”, and buy something if you’re feeling extra supportive. The most important part is the first step-get to know a local business or facet of your community you’ve yet to visit.

Scoops Food Truck in St. Marys, WV
Scoops Food Truck in St. Marys

Jan 4: Enjoy First Friday in Marietta. Here’s a chance to sample a bunch of local businesses and artists in one night. On the first Friday of every single month, downtown Marietta, Ohio is taken over with local love, while businesses (Like Just a Jar Design Press) stay open late and local music is featured throughout many of the restaurants and storefronts. Make note of your favorite places and musicians.

Jan 5: Celebrate the Arts and Fun in the MOV. (Pick any one of these for local fun). Every Saturday from 10 am – 12 pm (through March 2nd), the Parkersburg Art Center offers free Arty Parties on the basement level of their space. Make some art in the morning, then stop by Classic Plastics Toy Store in Grand Central Mall for free Arcade days (the first Saturday of every month. Once the kids are tucked away at night, head up to The Adelphia Music Hall every first Saturday for a Locals Only Showcase, featuring some of our fine local musicians.

Jan 6: Take a Self-Guided Tour. Learn about the histories of over 40 local Parkersburg landmarks through this free tour. I’d probably suggest picking a handful of spots-even just one or two to enjoy in an afternoon. Take notes about where you might want to go on another day. There’s a lot to learn about our Valley!

Historic Home in Parkersburg

Jan 7: Give thanks. Remember the notes you took on the 3rd and/or 4th days, about what you’ve enjoyed in your local experiences? Let them know. Reach out to your local business owners and artists, and let them know what you liked about your experience with them. Local support doesn’t always have to mean spending money. Your encouragement can mean the world to them.

Jan 8: Learn a new, healthy recipe. The Changed Plate, located in the Belpre branch of Marietta Memorial Hospital, offers healthy eating classes, twice a week. Last time we checked, they didn’t have their classes listed for January, yet. But we’re holding out hope that they’ll have classes on their Facebook page soon (link above). Learn how to make delicious AND healthy options for practically every type of food out there. Last time I was there, I had a black bean cupcake that was mind-blowing. Did I mention they also have a regular menu, as they’re also a restaurant with exceptional staff? I’m looking forward to learning more from them.

Jan 9: Music & Basketball. Write some music with other local creatives, no experience needed/necessary. On the second Wednesday of every month, The Stage Door in Marietta hosts a songwriting workshop with local musician, Todd Burge. Bring your ideas, bring your support, and be prepared to leave with your own new music you’ve written, or having heard music that has never been heard before! It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to network with other musicians. If song writing’s not for you, no worries. You can use the night to check out a Marietta College basketball game , or plan your next restaurant or business to support.

The Song Colony

Jan 10: Go to an Open Mic and Talk Show. On the second Thursday of every month, The Stage Door (the Peoples Bank Theatre’s neighbor and box office space) hosts a live music open mic, followed by a one-hour talk show featuring a local musician by Hold the Note. With no cover charge, the entire night is also broadcast on Facebook live in case you need a night in. Extra credit: If there’s a band or artist you love that you’ve discovered tonight, buy their music.

Jan 11: Take in local theatre. We have several great adult and youth theatre programs in the Mid-Ohio Valley. This weekend in January (10-12), Parkersburg South High School is performing a theatrical production of Clue. And the weekend of January 18th and 25th, The Parkersburg Actor’s Guild is showcasing the Junior production of Aladdin. Check out what our talented local youth are up to.

Jan 12: Use local resources for food, and learn to make maple syrup! Marietta College is offering a class to beginners on tapping and making your own maple syrup, today (1/12). You can even buy your own tapping kit to make syrup from your own trees, after the class. ($5 class, $15 tapping kit is optional, but make sure to preregister by January 6th. Don’t forget about the PAC’s Arty Parties that happen every Saturday until March 2nd!

Lookout Point in Marietta

Jan 13: Scenic Sunday. Pick a favorite local spot where you can enjoy the sights: Fort Boreman Park in Parkersburg and Lookout Point in Marietta both offer great, panoramic views of the city below. Take a photo of your favorite view and share it with your friends. Maybe bring a picnic lunch with you, if the weather is right. Eat with friends at the lookout point or even in your car, if it’s too wintry to eat outside.

Jan 14: Check out another spot from your initial list. What’s grabbed your attention that you’ve been meaning to visit? Grab a meal, buy something for your home, or a gift. Take a photo of a great historical or scenic spot and share it for us to see. Make sure to tag #livelovemov!

Jan 15: Try your luck, locally. Every Tuesday night, support local by playing Trivia at The Coffee Bar! They offer great prizes, and you get to invest in local business and programming while you play! (Want to play Trivia another evening? Try Over the Moon Pizza & Pub on Wednesdays, or the Marietta Brewing Company on Thursday!)

The Riverside Artist’s Gallery

Jan 16: Dazzle your eyes with art. We have a great collection of visual art on display throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley. Most places close by 5:00 pm, so if you can’t get to the galleries during the work day, you may want to try for a Saturday, as all of the locations we’re listing have Saturday hours. If you can’t make it today, set aside 10 minutes to browse their collections to see which stop might interest you the most, when you can go. Campus Martius and Ohio River Museum, Hermann Fine Arts Center (on the Marietta College campus ), Riverside Artist’s Gallery, Washington State Community College, The Parkersburg Art Center, Wesbanco, Mango Latin Bistro and Unity Cafe all have art on display for you to enjoy. Take it one step further and buy local art, if you’re feeling especially supportive.

Jan 17: Write a Review. Pick one of the places you’ve visited or people you’ve met that have really impressed you so far this month, and leave an encouraging review on their business page. It only takes a few minutes to let someone know you appreciate them.

Jan 18: Support yummy beer/rootbeer/wine/tea. Several of our local businesses brew, make, and serve local beverages that we love. Our favorite beer flights/samplers are at the North End Tavern, Parkersburg Brewing Company, and the Marietta Brewing Company, all of which also offer home-brewed root beer as well. Local wine flights can be found at Toscano in Appalachia (which specializes in sulfite, dye and preservative-free wine), as well as some great wines and teas at the Unicorn Wine Guild in Belpre. We also love the expert pairings and tastings at the fantastic Wine Basket Tasting room. We picked a Friday to check out some local beverages, but all of these places are also open several other days of the week. They just all happened to be opened on Friday. If you’re trying the wine, you’ll want to be early, though. Toscano closes at 6:00 pm, Unicorn at 7:00 pm, and the Wine Basket, at 9:00 pm. The breweries are open later. Unity Cafe also has a great tea selection in Parkersburg.

On Tap Selection at MBC

Jan 19: Check out a museum and dig some dirt. Campus Martius and Ohio River Museum, in addition to having cool exhibits (like the current Rock Hall Music Photography exhibit, Girls to the Front) hosts fun family events like Archeology Days. This is one of those days (1/19). Learn about local artifacts and immerse yourselves in history and art!

Jan 20: Celebrate a sweet weekend with local donuts. Wild and Wonderful Donuts in Vienna makes their sweets on the spot, right in front of you. And JR’s Donut Castle is home of delights such as the wonderful Giant Donut (that you usually need to pre-order…and trust us, you’ll want to get it right when it’s freshly baked). McHappy’s has several locations across the MOV, with everything being made fresh daily right in Belpre. Enjoy our awesome local sweetness. All locations are open seven days a week.

Jan 21: Monday is for the birds. Seven days a week, you can visit the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Williamstown, WV, to learn about local water life, birds, and natural resources. They’re only open until 4:00 pm each day, but it’s a nice, small, place to explore on a cold afternoon. See their small aquarium, catch some bird watching through their large, floor-to-ceiling windows (they have binoculars there for you to use), read a nature-themed story at their indoor faux campsite, play the match game with local fish, learn about the flight patterns of regional birds, see animal skins and shells, and more. Leave a donation for their conservation efforts, and everyone wins.

The Buckley House

Jan 22: Try a new ethnic food. In addition to some absolutely delicious down home cooking and health food, our area has great Latin, Lebanese, Greek, Indian, Filipino, Bulgarian, International Street Foods, New American, and Unique, Fine Dining options throughout the valley, all cooked by members of our community. Make a date to bring a friend to Mango Latin Bistro, Chams, Elenie’s, Star of India, Philippine’s Best, Unity Cafe , Emanuel’s, Lui Lui, Spats , Austyns, The Buckley House or another fun place on your radar, and wake up your taste buds with new flavors.

Jan 23: Stretch and breathe with the locals. Stop by a Drop-In Class at Vienna’s Full Circle Yoga. There are classes for every skill level, but I’m especially fond of Community Yoga on Wednesday evenings. In the warmer weather, it’s at Point Park!

Jan 24: Learn a new skill. There are a lot of places in the Mid-Ohio Valley that offer workshops and one-day skill learning classes. The Makerspace at Epicenter in Marietta seems to be offering classes pretty much every Monday, Thursday and most Saturdays. So check out their Facebook page to see what you can learn from local community members and artisans. You can also scope out the Parkersburg Art Center, WVU-P, and many other local businesses, to learn a sweet new skill and get to know your community a little better at the same time.

Sara Bir’s Pepperoni Rolls

Jan 25: Celebrate the pepperoni roll. It may not have originated exactly here in the PKB, but the Mid-Ohio Valley has many mouthwatering, wonderfully different versions of West Virginia’s native pepperoni/dough pillow of perfection. I humbly suggest DiCarlo’s, JR’s Donut Castle, and The Pizza Place as my top three choices. It would make my day if you did a taste test and posted your results.

Jan 26: Check out your local farmers market. This time of year, the River City Farmer’s Market is still going strong, with local squash, root vegetables, meats, eggs, baked goods, homemade jams and other fine crafts. Stop by and grab a locally made or raised goodie every Saturday.

Jan 27: Take in brunch. There are several local brunches you can enjoy. We’re especially fond of the buffets at Spats at the Blennerhassett Hotel and The Gun Room at The Lafayette Hotel.

The Campus Martius Museum

Jan 28: Take a history lesson. Our area is full of history. Museums, Parks and Place Markers all honor our past, and offer interesting insights into people and places that were here before us. The Blennerhassett Museum, Parkersburg’s Oil & Gas Museum, Campus Martius and the Ohio River Museum, The MOV Veteran’s Museum, The Castle, and Henderson Hall are some of the places which offer rich history lessons. Catch an overview of our area, here and here. (Note: The Blennerhassett Museum is closed on Mondays. If you plan on visiting this museum, you’ll need to pick a different day.)

Jan 29: Love chocolates. We all know Valentine’s Day is next month. Do yourself a huge favor (if you haven’t yet) and fall in love with local chocolatiers before February 14th rolls around. Marietta’s Putnam Chocolate has exceptional customer service and a wide variety of chocolate-y treats, and Holl’s Chocolates in Vienna has the most delicate texture to their chocolates, with a variety of unique flavors. I recommend stopping by both locations and getting samples, do you can have a solid grip on what you’ll want to eat again, next month.

Jan 30: Local gift shops. If Chocolates aren’t your thing, or you’re seeking something different for someone special, we have the coolest collection of locally-owned gift shops in the Mid-Ohio Valley. Check out Vienna’s The Gift Gallery, Scots Landscaping Nursery (not only do they have a good selection of local produce, they also have a cute gift shop), Parkersburg’s Point Park Marketplace is a collection of local goods and restaurants, and Marietta’s Wit & Whimzy, Twisted Sisters’ Boutique, and SP Curated are just some of my recommended places to stop for thoughtful and unique gifts.

Scots Landscaping Nursery

Jan 31: Recap! Take 15 minutes today to think back over the past month. Who have you met? What have you learned about your local community? Where do you want to revisit? Where do you still need to go, and what do you need to do? Keep it going? The best is yet to come!

Check out some local calendars to find local things to do:

And keep track of your progress with this handy tracker! Happy exploring!

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