Charleston, established in 1794, is the state capital of West Virginia. With a population of 51,400 (as of the 2010 census), Charleston is the largest city in West Virginia. It's at the junction of Interstates 77, 79, and 64, as well as the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers, the latter of which flows prominently through the city.
Charleston is accessible by three interstates - I-77 goes from Parkersburg in the northwest to Beckley and Bluefield in the south; I-64 goes from Huntington in the west to Beckley and Lewisburg in the southeast; and I-79 begins in Charleston and continues to Morgantown in the northeast. I-64 and I-77 run together along the West Virginia Turnpike, a toll road, from the far eastern end of Charleston to Beckley, and the Turnpike continues as I-77 to Princeton, near the state border with Virginia. However, tolls are not collected on the Turnpike in the immediate vicinity of Charleston; the nearest toll barrier is about 17 miles (27 km) south of downtown Charleston.
- 1 Yeager Airport (CRW IATA) (near the junction of I-77 and I-64). Yeager Airport offers daily service to and from Atlanta (Delta), Charlotte (American), Chicago (United), Detroit (Delta), Houston (United), Myrtle Beach (Spirit Airlines, seasonal), New York City-LaGuardia (Delta), Philadelphia (American), and both Washington-Dulles (United) and Washington-Reagan National (American).
Amtrak serves Charleston with its thrice-weekly Cardinal service between New York City/Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Trains depart early evening westbound, and early morning on the eastbound leg. 2 Charleston station is located at 350 MacCorkle Avenue, across the river from downtown. There's an enclosed waiting area, but those catching the evening departure might want to instead linger in the fine dining restaurant Laury's, which now occupies a large part of the station building.
Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority, popularly called "KRT"
- 1 West Virginia State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard E, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-7PM, Su noon-7PM. Guided tours available M-F 9AM-3:30PM. The largest state capitol dome in the country, covered in 23-karat gold leaf. The complex also contains the Culture Center, the Governor's Mansion and the Holly Grove Mansion, as well as many historical statues on the grounds.
- 2 The Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, 300 Leon Sullivan Way, ☏ . W-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Two floors of interactive science exhibits, an art gallery, and giant-screen films and planetarium shows in the ElectricSky domed theater. Museum $9, add Planetarium Show $4.
- 3 West Virginia Culture Center, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, ☏ . M-Th 9AM-8PM, F-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM. Three floors of exhibition space in the West Virginia State Museum, and research materials housed in the State Archives library.
- 4 West Virginia Power, 601 Morris St., ☏ . (Suite 201). The local baseball team, a Class A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Games played at Appalachian Power Park from April through September. Tickets are $7 for one game, up to $490 for a season pass.
- 5 Craik-Patton House, ☏ . Free.
Charleston is home to Kanawha State Forest a 9,300-acre (38 km2) recreation area located near the community of Loudendale, West Virginia. There are many scenic walking, hiking, biking, and riding trails in the state forest. There is also an outdoor pool that is open in the summer, various camp sites, a shooting range, a small lake for fishing, and stables. Hunting and fishing are allowed in-season. Picnic shelters are available throughout the park and can be rented for parties. There are led walks at various times of the year, information on which is available on the website. Kanawha State Forest hosts an annual trail run called the "Dirty Dog 15K".
There are also various parks throughout the city such as Magic Island, a nice park located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers in The City of Charleston's West Side area which is a favorite haunt for runners, volleyball players, and frisbee lovers. It has a walking track, sand volleyball court, and picnic areas.
A stones throw from downtown, in Charleston's South Hills, the Carriage Trail is a beautiful and historical trail that leads to former Governor William MacCorkle's hilltop mansion, the former site of the Sunrise Science Museum. At the bottom of the trail lies the burial ground of two Confederate spies executed by Union troops in 1863.
- Charleston Gazette-Mail is he only remaining daily paper, published in some form since 1873.
The city also has one university within its limits, and a second is in an unincorporated community about 8 miles (13 km) west of downtown. A two-year community college moved from the second university to a campus about 4 miles (6.5 km) from downtown in the separate city of South Charleston, and merged with another community college located about 30 miles upriver in Montgomery.
- 1 University of Charleston, 2300 MacCorkle Avenue SE, ☏ , toll-free: (4682). A private, co-educational, residential university founded in 1888, offering baccalaureate degrees in 29 fields, associate degrees in 5 fields, and master's degrees in business administration and human resource management.
- 2 West Virginia State University (WV Route 25, Institute), toll-free: . A public coeducational university founded in 1891 for the state's African American community. Following the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, it transformed from a primarily residential black college to a predominantly commuter college with a heavily white student body, although its administration remains heavily African American to this day. "State", as the school is locally called, offers about 70 different bachelor's degrees in 20 different departments, plus master's degrees in biotechnology and media studies.
- 3 BridgeValley Community and Technical College, 2001 Union Carbide Drive, South Charleston, ☏ . A public two-year college formed in 2014 by the merger of Kanawha Valley and Bridgemont Community and Technical Colleges (respectively in South Charleston and Montgomery). Both campuses had started as community colleges associated with four-year schools—KVCTC with State and Bridgemont with WVU Tech (originally the West Virginia Institute of Technology)—but were separated from the four-year schools early in the 21st century (WVU Tech has since moved its four-year campus to Beckley). Offers over 40 associate's degree programs and nearly 20 certificate programs. The South Charleston campus is at a large office park that had been a major R&D facility for chemical manufacturer Union Carbide until being largely abandoned after that company was bought by Dow Chemical. Alternate location 619 S. 2nd Avenue, Montgomery, +1 304-205-6600
- 1 Charleston Town Center Mall, 3000 Charleston Town Center, ☏ . M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 12:30PM-6PM. 130 specialty stores, three major department stores, Picnic Place and specialty restaurants, and an atrium with a three-story waterfall and extensive greenery.
- Southridge, about 4 miles/6.5 km southwest of downtown along US 119 (locally known as "Corridor G", its designation in the Appalachian Development Highways System), is a large auto-oriented area developed since the mid-1990s. Split almost 50-50 between Charleston and South Charleston, it consists of four adjoining centers along Corridor G—The Shops at Trace Fork and Dudley Farms Plaza on the north side, and Southridge Center and The Terrace at Southridge Centre on the south side. Consists mainly of "big box" stores, with the usual array of fast-food and chain restaurants.
Although it isn't exactly a mecca of cuisine, Charleston is the mecca of cuisine for West Virginia, with a variety of options catering to different tastes and budgets. One of the best things about eating here is that there are very few tourist traps, since major tourism in Charleston has not yet caught on. Unfortunately, the lack of tourism also means that the restaurants can be generic; chains like T.G.I. Friday's, Outback, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster are common. There are, however, some more unique local eateries:
- Deli-D-Lite, 611 Chestnut Street, ☏ . M-F 5PM-11PM, Sa 4PM-11PM, Su 5PM-10PM.
- New Moon Café, 714 Lee Street, ☏ . M-F 11AM-2:30PM.
- Shape Shop, 1801 Patrick Street, ☏ . M Tu Th 9AM-8PM, W F 9AM-7PM, Sa 8AM-4PM. Plaza. A low-cal deli.
- 1 Capitol Roasters Café, 160 Summers Street, ☏ (cafe), (market). M-Th 7AM-8PM, F 7AM-11PM, Sa 8AM-11PM, Su 10AM-6PM.
- Rice Bowl, 121 Goff Mountain Road, ☏ . Daily 11:30AM-10PM. In Cross Lanes. Chinese.
- Delish, Inc., 110 McFarland Street, ☏ . M 10AM-3PM, Tu-Sa 11AM-8PM. Gourmet wraps. Credit not accepted.
- 2 Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream, 225 Capitol Street, ☏ . Has various flavors, including new weekly sorbet and ice cream flavors. This shop also sells coffee and various lunch foods including soups and several vegetarian dishes.
- Leonoro's Spaghetti House, 1507 Washington Street, ☏ . M-Th 11AM-8:30PM, F 11AM-9PM, Sa 3PM-9PM.
- Fresh Seafood Co. Market & Restaurant, 6230 MacCorkle Avenue, ☏ . M-Sa 10:30AM-10PM, Su noon-8PM. In St. Albans; Capitol Market (+1 304-343-3134) M-Sa 9AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM.
- Tidewater Grill 1060 Charleston Town Ctr +1 304 345-2620; Serves seafood and pasta, located at the edge of the Charleston Town Center Mall, walking distance from the downtown hotels.
- Kaifu Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar, 150 Court St, ☏ . Opposite the mall, walking distance from the downtown hotels.
- Lola's Pizza, 1038 Bridge Rd, ☏ . In South Hills.
- 1 Residence Inn by Marriott Charleston, 200 Hotel Circle, ☏ .
- 2 Embassy Suites Charleston, 300 Court Street, ☏ .
- 3 Charleston Marriott Town Center, 200 Lee Street East, ☏ . A hotel in downtown Charleston offering a health club, meeting and event facilities, swimming pool and Whitewater Grille.
- 4 Charleston Plaza Hotel, 1010 Washington Street East, ☏ .
- Huntington is about 1 hour west on I-64.
- Beckley is about 1 hour south on I-77.
- Parkersburg is about 1.5 hours north on I-77.
- Weston is about 1.5 hours northeast on I-79.
|Routes through Charleston|
|Cincinnati ← Huntington ←||W E||→ White Sulphur Springs → Washington, D.C.|
|Lexington ← Hurricane ←||W S||→ Beckley → Charlottesville|
|Canton ← Parkersburg ← Jct W E ←||N S||→ Beckley → Wytheville|
|Morgantown ← Sutton ←||N S||→ Merges into|
|Lexington ← Hurricane ←||W E||→ Jct S N → Lewisburg → Amherst|