Downtown Parkersburg has a reputation. It’s not a great one either – ‘there’s nothing to do, and there isn’t anywhere to go.’ It’s sad, but the once vibrant and bustling downtown is a little slower these days. However, there are some great businesses, organizations and people working to bring Parkersburg back to its glory days.
Earlier this month, my husband and I spent an entire day in downtown Parkersburg – and it was great. At first, we were worried about having to spend so much time downtown. It felt like it was a chore. However, I am happy to report that we were wrong.
Our day began at The Blennerhassett Hotel’s Coffee Shoppe. It’s a great place to get fresh brewed coffee and specialty drinks. I love their hot chocolate, and my husband favors the Americano. The hotel is so warm and welcoming, it really embodies the hospitality of the Parkersburg community.
We then took our drinks up Market St. to the Parkersburg Art Center which happened to be hosting the Classic Plastics Toy and Comic Expo. The Expo is becoming quite a draw to the area with vendors hailing from all parts of the United States. All three levels of the Art Center were filled with guests, vendors and cosplayers. In the basement, I failed miserably at playing Time Splitters with my husband. Injustice and Smash Brothers were a few of the other games available for play. A Smash Brothers tournament took place later in the day as well as a costume contest.
The first and second floors had booths with collectors selling vintage video games and action figures as well as comic books and other collectibles. Booths included locals as well as visitors to the area. One of the best parts of visiting the booths was seeing all the amazing talent. A Ghost Busters table was manned by cosplayers in realistic costumes who were more than willing to pose for photographs. Additionally, the expo featured several talented illustrators who brought well-loved pop culture characters to life in their own unique ways.
Leaving the Art Center, we were provided with information about Savor Saturday. Savor Saturday works to promote the local and delicious restaurants that line the downtown area. Participating downtown restaurants offered samples of their favorites dishes for $1. Each location stamped your card, and when you turned it in at the end, you were entered to win a free dinner for two at any of the restaurants.
We loved sampling all the foods, but we did have favorites. Mango’s fried plaintains were absolutely mouthwatering and The Crystal Café’s cinnamon roll was great as well. The real treat was hidden and Breads and Beyond at The Parkersburg Farmers’ Market. They served fresh strombolis with warm marinara sauce. It was a well-needed ending after all the previous sweet treats.
We capped our evening off at The Coffee Bar. The endlessly hipster vibe of the joint brings a breath of coolness that downtown so desperately needed. The Edison bulbs, wooden bar and cozy seating areas make it a great place for community gatherings. We experienced the open mic comedy night. First, I would like to applaud the absolute bravery of those who went up to speak. I know I couldn’t do it. Overall, it was a great evening. I sipped tea (sorry, not a coffee drinker) and enjoyed some great local talent in a fun, relaxed setting.
So, the next time you have some time to kill, don’t discount your own beautiful city. You might be surprised by all the wonderful things popping up in our beautiful downtown.