Town Guide: Bluefield

Head south for savory cuisine, carefree entertainment, and intriguing history in “Nature’s Air-Conditioned City.”


While you’re in town, check out The Vault Downtown, a charming fine dining and cigar lounge in downtown Bluefield. After sampling the delicious lemon garlic butter island mussels or the buttermilk fried appetizer, follow up with entrees like Tortellini Carbonara, Linguini And Crab, and Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon. The newly renovated establishment is also known for its highly acclaimed cuisine and elegant atmosphere.

There’s also The RailYard, a modern joint with exposed brick walls and a swanky bar. Start with appetizers like duck-bacon wontons or chicken waffle nachos, then proceed to entrees like Wicked BLT sandwiches and Honey BBQ Chicken wraps. Burgers get an upgrade, too. Weekly events also give you a reason to visit. Wednesdays are jazz night, for example, and select wines are half-price.


Since 1964, the Ridge Runner Train has taken generations of folks on leisurely rides. Now you can become a fan, too! Catch the next trip at Bluefield City Park, where the miniature locomotive runs on weekends from April to September.

Bluefield also has a surprisingly rich musical past. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Fats Waller visited and performed here. It’s also where Teddy Weatherford — the “Count Basie of the East” — lived and studied music theory.

For these reasons, the Bluefield Blues Festival is a prominent annual event. Previous guest performers include the likes of Biscuit Miller & The Mix, the Tommy Cox Band and the Jamal Millner Trio. Local restaurants also chip in with delicious catering. Expect the next show to start in late August.

The next must-see stop is The Granada Theater, a restored 1928 antique theater that locals just can’t seem to get enough of. The theater not only shows movies but will also host concerts and theatrical productions throughout the year. The local favorite is known for its affordable family fun, classic movie re-runs, great acoustics and stunning atmosphere. Some could argue that the theater’s best quality is their daily sold Italian gelato while you experience the nostalgia of the American tradition of cinema.


Just a 10-minute drive from Bluefield City Park, The Heart Strings Gifts and More Boutique is a specialty gift and apparel store, offering superb customer service with over 30 exclusive brands. The boutique offers up-and-coming brands like Simply Southern, Nora Fleming, Happy Everything, and Park Lane Jewelry. This small business isn’t just known for its fun and adorable product selection, locals often comment that the boutique’s specialty is customer service and a welcoming atmosphere.


Thanks to its high altitude, Bluefield is known by many as “Nature’s Air-Conditioned City.” In fact, local shops provide free lemonade if temperatures climb above 90 degrees. It’s a consolation prize that doesn’t happen too often, though.

Until then, you can visit places like Bluefield City Park. A playground, miles of trails and tennis courts fill the spacious grounds. It’s also home of the Ridge Runner Train and Holiday of Lights, a festive Christmas display with more than 900,000 bulbs. The show typically opens on Thanksgiving evening and lasts until December 31.

You can also get a birds-eye view of Bluefield West Virginia at East River Mountain Overlook, a beautiful and panoramic view. When you’re on your way there, be sure to drive down the southern end of the mountain into Rocky Gap to enjoy the landscape view. If it is spring or after a rain shower you may see a waterfall or two during your visit.

Another attraction is Mountaineer Bowling Lanes. You won’t have trouble fitting friends and family here, with 28 lanes, snack bar, game room and billiard tables as entertainment. There’s even a pro shop. Enthusiastic employees will also give you bowling lessons if you ask them.


Bluefield’s origins date back to 1780, when settlers erected a fort. But not until the 1880s did the city, located near a coalfield, become an established community. It was also one of the first in America to have a skyline.

By then, the city’s name changed from “Summit” to the one inspired by abundant bluegrass and periwinkle chicory flowers. It’s also when affluent residents gave free rein to their imaginations. Architect Alex B. Mahood, graduate of the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, built mansions in Colonial and Tudor revival styles. Some of his homes still remain on Oakhurst Avenue and Edgewood Road, among others.

Interestingly, Bluefield is also the hometown of John Forbes Nash, Jr., the celebrated mathematician and inspiration for the biography and film, “A Beautiful Mind.”

Where to stay

The Bluefield Inn is the city’s most distinguished hotel. Dating back to 1904, the elegant southern mansion was a focal point for high society. President Woodrow Wilson, JFK, John Nash and other characters once graced its halls.

The inn hasn’t lost an inch of glamour over the years, either. Austrian crystal chandeliers grace the ceiling, while a reception hall, sunroom, veranda, and garden evoke old grandeur. Your room is just as pleasurable, too. Suites come with luxurious beds, thick sheets and vintage lighting.

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This post was last updated on October 3, 2022