Town guide: Charleston

Couple sitting on a bench in Charleston, WV

 

From mouth-watering local fare to a rich arts scene, there’s never a dull moment in West Virginia’s hip, historic capital city.

Dining

This tucked-away cafe is one of this city’s best kept secrets. The South Hills Market and Cafe’s modest storefront is no indicator of the menu’s grandiose options, like roasted bone marrow, beef tartare and seared foie gras.

Toast to a handmade, hearth oven-fired pie at Lola’s Pizza, an adorable little house-turned-pizzeria. The porch area, lit by string lights, packs in a ton of small-town charm.

An Italian hot spot right here in urban West Virginia! Try Fazio’s fresh pastas and sauces, homemade and freshly prepared under the guidance of owner Danny Fazio himself.

If you’re a fan of all-natural, high-quality ingredients, Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream is your place. Get a scoop or 2 of wonderfully smooth ice cream, or if you’re feeling hungry, cozy up in the small dining area for a homemade soup or grilled PB&J.

Whether you’re a caffeine fiend or not, you’ll love Moxxee Coffee. Enjoy fresh baked goods, a frothy latte or a refreshing tea at this super-modern joint on the city’s East End.

Entertainment

Every Friday May through September, enjoy live music overlooking the Kanawha River at Live on the Levee. Admission is always free, and there are plenty of spirits for sale and local food trucks to check out. A bonus? The event is B.Y.O.B. (but don’t bring any glass!)

Stop by the Clay Center to explore the Young boy plays at the Clay Center, WVAvampato Discovery Museum. Get hands-on with 2 floors of science exhibits, learn about the stars in the planetarium or catch a flick on their giant Digital Dome.

How many people can say they’ve witnessed an NPR show being recorded live? For more than 30 years, the Culture Center Theater has been home to Mountain Stage, a 2-hour live music show recorded and broadcast on more than 150 stations across America, featuring legends and emerging stars alike.

Cheer on the capitol city’s minor league baseball team at the Appalachian Power Park. Friday night home games are followed by a magnificent fireworks display, and Sundays are “Kid’s Sunday Funday,” where children 12 and younger can play catch in the outfield and run the bases after the game.

Shopping

Located on the beautiful and bustling Capitol Street, Taylor Books is the ultimate in local book stores. They don’t stop at just books, Taylor Books, Charleston, WVthough. This cozy shop is your go-to for live music, handcrafted coffee drinks, fresh baked goods, wine and locally brewed beer. It’s even got an art gallery!  

Looking for the perfect way to sport your Mountain State loyalty? Look no further than Kin Ship Goods, a brand of apparel, accessories, and home goods crafted on the West Side of the capital city. From Tudor’s Biscuit World-themed mugs to “West by God” toboggans, Kin Ship’s got you covered. (P.S. This small operation is quickly gaining nationwide attention— even Mindy Kaling was spotted wearing one of Kin Ship’s snuggly sweatshirts on her hit show, The Mindy Project!)

Recreation

Just 7 miles from downtown, explore a wooded oasis ripe with opportunities for mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing and picnicking. Bike riding in Kanawha State Forest, WVNature lovers won’t be disappointed by the 9,300-acre Kanawha State Forest, which is known for its diverse wildflower and bird populations.

Enjoy history AND a hike on the winding trail that leads to the storied Sunrise Mansion. Sunrise Carriage Trail was originally built in the early 1900s by then-Gov. William MacCorkle for of oxen-drawn wagons carrying building materials for the mansion atop the hill. Ascend 180 feet on this 0.65-mile trek for a breathtaking view of the city.

10 miles from the hustle and bustle of Charleston lies a thousand-acre woodland oasis, Coonskin Park, with hiking and biking trails, disk golf, an 18-hole golf course, an Olympic-size pool, picnic shelters, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, playground, an amphitheater,  soccer stadium and a wedding garden.

History

The WV State Capitol Complex has a wealth of history to explore. Start with the actual Capitol dome, which is decked out in 23 ½ karat gold leaf and towers 293 feet into the sky. Check out the governor’s mansion, a beautiful 30-room estate finished in 1925 that still houses the state’s leader. Browse through the Culture Center to get a taste of the state’s artistic, cultural and historic heritage.

Stay

Cozy up for the night in an early 1900s home situated on a quiet street in the city’s historic district. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the carefully restored Brass Pineapple Inn boasts a blend of Art Nouveau and Victorian styles. You’ll be a short walk to the gorgeous Capitol, and you may even be able to spot the gold dome peeking above the lawn’s 100 year-old oak trees.

More mountain towns >