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See WV: Charleston

West Virginia’s capital city is a friendly place to visit for business or pleasure.

Charleston sits at the juncture of two rivers. The Kanawha River flows from its origin at Gauley Bridge, past the capitol, and to the western edge of downtown, where the Elk River joins the Kanawha on its passage to Point Pleasant. The rivers provide a venue for fishing, boating, waterskiing, and jetskiing. The riverfront Magic Island park often hosts special events like volleyball tournaments and power company lineman competitions. Walkways run along the Kanawha River for miles, making it a favorite place to run, stroll, and bike.

Nearby Coonskin Park and Kanawha State Forest offer back-to-nature escapes within a few minutes of downtown. Both have hiking and biking trails and fishing lakes, and the 9,300-acre state forest also has 46 campsites.

Charleston’s arts community is centered downtown. There are storefront galleries, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, Municipal Auditorium, and the Convention Center. Each hosts traveling shows, big-name musicians, and local theater groups, which are numerous. A covered riverfront amphitheater is the site of outdoor concerts, including weekly Live on the Levee shows each Friday during the summer. The weeklong FestivALL in June and Good Night concerts on New Year’s Eve are two of many music festivals throughout the year.

Besides being home to the West Virginia Symphony, the Clay Center also features the Avampato Discovery Museum for children, an art gallery with rotating exhibits and a permanent collection, an ElectricSky Theater and a planetarium.

Cass Gilbert’s visionary gold dome dominates West Virginia’s capitol and capital city. It’s often the first thing those traveling by highway or boat see as they come into Charleston. The capitol also sits at the highway intersection closest to Yeager Airport, only a five-minute drive from downtown. Visitors can’t miss the behemoth marble and limestone building, and shouldn’t. Visitors may download a map to navigate the building, or take a capitol tour.

The capitol complex anchors the East End Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and features hundreds of examples of 19th and 20th century domestic architecture.

The Culture Center on the grounds of the Capitol features permanent and rotating exhibits, the State Museum, Archives and History Library, and a gift shop featuring made-in-West Virginia products. The museum, renovated in 2009, takes visitors on a vibrant visual and auditory path through 26 discovery rooms, each focusing on a different subject in West Virginia history and culture. The Culture Center stage also is home to Mountain Stage, West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s gift to national radio audiences since 1983.

The Charleston Dirty Birds baseball team plays at GoMart Ballpark, also downtown. The park also is used for outdoor concerts and other events. Visitors who feel lucky can visit Mardi Gras Casino and Resort in Nitro, not far from Charleston. The resort features live greyhound racing and a casino.

Charleston offers shopping for any taste. There are small specialty shops in the historic downtown and in several other locations throughout the city. And on the border with South Charleston, along Corridor G toward Logan and Williamson, there are several large shopping developments.

Lodging and dining options also are varied and numerous. For more information about these and other ideas about things to see and do in Charleston, visit

Written by Jennifer Bundy

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Caption: Capitol Street in downtown Charleston


Courtesy Of: WV Division of Tourism (WVDT)

GoMart Ballpark 20


Caption: Baseball at GoMart Ballpark in Charleston


Courtesy Of: WV Division of Tourism (WVDT)

Charleston WV SJS


Caption: Highway bridges at night in Charleston


Courtesy Of: WV Division of Tourism (WVDT)

Municipal Auditorium


Caption: Charleston's Municipal Auditorium


Courtesy Of:

Charleston Civic Center


Caption: Charleston Civic Center


Courtesy Of: WV Division of Tourism

Clay Center at night


Caption: Hallelujah sculpture in front of Clay Center at night


Courtesy Of: Michael Keller

State Capitol


Caption: Cass Gilbert’s visionary gold dome dominates West Virginia’s Capitol


Courtesy Of: WV Division of Tourism

Related Articles

  1. Charleston (
  2. The Capitol (
  3. Clay Center (
  4. West Virginia Symphony Orchestra (
  5. The Culture Center (
  6. Charleston Town Center (
  7. Mardi Gras Casino & Resort (
  8. Elk River (
  9. Mountain Stage (