Marpha Village just south of Jomsom offers a calm and pleasant place to rest and recover from Pokhara's or Kathmandu's hustle and bustle. Or, take it as a precursor to trekking. Check out if trekking is something for you by coming here first, stay in relative comfort and take easy day hikes in the surroundings.
Marpha is located deep in the canyon (world's deepest) of Kali Gandaki river, just below Nilgiri Peaks to the east and Dhampus and Tukche Peak to the west. Yet here is plenty of sunshine, being just behind the main Himalaya.
Marpha lies in the Buddhist realm, and has a large gomba, smaller ones, too, a meditation centre, and some outlying ones belonging to other communities easy day walks away. A Tibetan refugee camp is nearby. The main gomba hosts the October/November Dhekep mask dance, similar to Mani Rimdu in Khumbu.
For the more mundane interests, there is plenty of good food and drink to be had. Marpha is the centre of the apple and apricot industry in Mustang, and there are at least two destilleries here, a drying facility and beautiful orchards.
For those with calf muscles, there are trails up to Dhampus pass, Hidden Valley, further south (from Tukche) a possibility to reach the Dhaulagiri Icefall, and the valley up to Mesokanto La (illegal to cross all the way to Tilicho lake). Nearby are also smaller side valleys that you can follow quite high up for a taste of some altitude, inculding an easy one up to Old Marpha.
Accomodation and eateries abound and you can find something that will suit you. There is a post office and telephone connections. Tourism hasn't compromised people and culture, and people are proud inhabitants of what they know is a beautiful place.
Across the valley in Jomsom, on the slope on ther "other" side of the airport runway, are the fields and village of Thinigaun. It's on the way to Tilicho and Mesokanto la. The best trail is via Old Jomsom above the army camp and accessed by the main bridge over Kali Gandaki. The main trail eventually reaches just above the fields and to the northern section of Thinigaun. It is a very nice village, with an incredible aspect. The Nilgiri and Tilicho Himal view is superb.
It is apparently a bön-po village and has a bön monastery and several nice chortens, too. It is considered among the Baragaun part of Mustang, inhabited by Thakalis.
Kagbeni is worth a stop for more than just a transit to Muktinath or Upper Mustang. The place and the immediate surroundings are certainly worth a stopover.
Short hikes of interest can be had in the immediate surroundings, with good photo opportunities and good learning. Be aware that the no-go-zone/Upper Mustang border is right on the northern edge of town. Check with the local ACAP office.
Kagbeni has any number of small eateries, lodges and places to hang out. During daytime you have the place to yourself, for the most part, while in the afternoon trekkers come in for the night and leaving early next morning.
Kagbeni has a a few amusing plagiarist outlets, such as local versions of Seven-Eleven and McDonald's.
If you have a choice of staying here or in Eklobhatti, choose Kagbeni any time.
Many places along the Kali gandaki trail, and especially in Mustang you will come across various types of fossils in the rocks. The ammonites of the river beds are well-known, but also higher up you will find plenty in different types of sedimentary rocks.
Jharkot has a number of fine chortens. You see the as you walk through the main thoroghfare or around conrenres when you explore Jharkot. In theri simplisity, they are exquisite.
Take a good look at the local watering channels in Mustang. Without them the fileds wouldn't be fields. Some of them are great pieces of local engineering.