On the banks of two great rivers, a historic town forges a new identity as an arty weekend escape.

"Paducah (population 25,000) sits across from Illinois’s southern tip at the fork of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers. William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) founded the town on a 37,000-acre plot he purchased for $5 in 1827, a scene captured in one of 50 hand-painted floodwall murals. The panels skirt the riverfront for three blocks, tracing Paducah’s history as a Civil War battlefront, railroad hub, atomic energy site and more.

The incarnation I’ve fallen for—the one with the copper mugs and boutique hotel—is too new for the wall. In 2013, Paducah was named a UNESCO Creative City, thanks to its lively arts culture and stereotype-busting National Quilt Museum. Only five other U.S. towns can claim the distinction. Now, a few young entrepreneurs are giving Paducah a dining and lodging scene to match, with just enough honeyed Southern charm (and bourbon) to remind you which river you crossed to get here."

By Amy Lynch, Midwest Living

View this Paducah feature here!