Start the weekend off early with an afternoon tour of the McNutt House (call 304-487-1502 for an appointment prior to your arrival). The property, originally owned by a doctor, served as a hospital during the Civil War. It is the last remaining structure of that era in Princeton and the first site along the West Virginia Civil War Trail. Some have claimed paranormal activity has occurred within the home’s walls and that dogs refuse to enter the room that was once used for surgery.
Have an early dinner just down the road from the McNutt House is A Taste of Memphis. This laid-back joint slow cooks all of their barbecue on their smoker for up to 15 hours. Try the pulled pork, chicken wings, ribs or another of their specialties and pair it with homemade slaw, cinnamon apples or other savory side. Want a taste of everything? The Bar-b-que Sampler includes regular pork, NC pork, ribs, smoked chicken and kielbasa. And don’t forget the fresh-brewed iced tea.
Now that you’ve scared (see what we did there?) the hunger away, what better way to observe October than taking a trip to Lake Shawnee Abandoned Amusement Park, one of the most terrifying places in America? After the sun sets, the eerie landmark transforms into the Dark Carnival. Depending on your bravery, opt for the Photo History Tour — a milder, although still creepy, experience featuring stories by a campfire — or Lake Nightmare, a “terrifying walkthrough of scares that will have you praying the end is near.” Overnight camping is available by reservation, although, if you’d rather escape the night and the restless spirits, there are plenty of lodging options available in Princeton.
Wake up with a s’mores Latte or another fall drink — ‘tis the season for a PSL, after all — and a pastry from Appalachian Coffee House on Mercer Street before heading to Stumpkins Pumpkins (opening the first weekend in October). The family-ran, pick-your-own patch has been offering fall fun for almost 20 years. Scour their selection of gourds, take a hayride, sit by a bonfire or have your face painted.
About 20 minutes west of Princeton is Bramwell. Take a self-guided tour of the town, admiring the homes of former coal barons and imagining the spirits that reside in them. (Side note: depending on the date, you might save your venture to Bramwell for the evening, when the annual Bramwell Ghost Tours are held).
Have lunch and dessert — especially if you’re one of those folks that eats ice cream year-round — at The Corner Shop before you leave… the charming soda fountain was voted to have the “Best Milkshake in the State” by USA Today.
South of Bramwell, in the city of Bluefield, the quirky Gary Bowling’s House of Art (GBHOA) has relocated to The Ramsey School. In addition to having a gallery featuring the work of Southern West Virginia artists, The Ramsey School, built in the 1920s and once featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not for having entrances on seven different levels, is also said to have its share of paranormal activity.