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26 Best & Fun Things to Do in Charleston WV: Local’s Guide

With a population of about 48,000, Charleston is currently the most populated city in West Virginia and the capital of West Virginia.

A visit to Charleston is a step back in time with its Neoclassical architecture that can be found throughout the city.

The Governor’s Mansion is a fine example of Georgian-style architecture. There are also several nearby landmarks that can be visited, including the Capitol building itself, whose gold-leaf dome is taller than the one on the U.S. Capitol.

Additionally, the West Virginia State Museum uses exhibits and displays to chronicle the history of the state.

The city also offers many parks to have fun outdoors and get a great time with nature.

This city has plenty to offer everyone, with its many structures, historic sites, museums, and lovely parks.

Things To Do In Charleston, West Virginia

1. West Virginia State Museum

West virginia state museum

West Virginia State Museum

Whether you are a resident of West Virginia or a visitor, this is a fantastic museum to see.

The West Virginia State Museum focuses on all facets of West Virginia history, culture, art, paleontology, archaeology, and geology from all geographical regions.

It is committed to inspiring and educating the public by instilling deeper knowledge through the collection, preservation, and exhibition of diverse cultural and historic traditions.

Special exhibitions with sound and lighting highlight significant periods in West Virginia’s cultural, industrial, and natural history along a chronological and participatory “show trial.”

Trek through time as you pass through an ancient coal forest, an early western town, and modern marvels.

The foyer, which is located upstairs, features a fully stocked gift shop and contemporary West Virginia goods on exhibit.

Additionally, the “show route” downstairs takes you through West Virginia’s history, from the Stone Age to the present.

In fact, the feeling of how each time period is connected to the others is conveyed by the deliberate flow from one chamber to the next.

This is a beautiful destination for both adults and kids to visit because of the variety of materials in the exhibits.

The fact that it is free is great. Give yourself at least 2.5 hours. However, you can spend longer.

Address: 1900 Kanawha Blvd E #435, Charleston, WV 25305, United States

2. State Capitol, Charleston

State Capitol, Charleston

State Capitol, Charleston

Have you seen the tallest state capitol dome in the United States? If not, then you need to come to this capitol in Charleston.

This magnificent structure was created by renowned architect Cass Gilbert.

The State Capitol is open to the public for tours and has opulent interior features like marble walls and a huge crystal chandelier.

With marble walls and floors, as well as intricately etched flowers made of West Virginian woods, the design of the legislative chambers and waiting areas is remarkable.

The structure is also stunning from the exterior. There is free parking close by, and a tour of the interior is fascinating.

The Bohemian chandelier in the Governor’s Reception Room, as well as the Austrian crystal chandeliers in the House and Senate chambers, are not to be missed.

Address: Charleston, WV, United States

3. Capitol Market, Charleston

Capitol Market, Charleston

Capitol Market, Charleston

Tucked inside a turn-of-the-century train station, Capitol market offers an exciting blend of farm fare and specialized businesses.

West Virginia’s Capitol Market serves as both a commercial and social hub.

Additionally, it is the only remaining building that was formerly a part of a sizable marshaling yard and service center for the K&M Railroad.

You may find a wide variety of goods year-round in the Outdoor Market at Capitol Market, from Spring plants to fresh fruit to Fall pumpkins and Christmas trees.

Come shop in a variety of specialty stores, such as hot lunch spots, butcher, wine shops, fresh seafood markets, bakery, fresh cold spots for year-round fresh produce, and a full-service restaurant for lunch and supper.

As you wander the outdoor market, take in the variety of specialty stores indoors and the varied lunch restaurants with tempting meals for everyone.

Grab a coffee while you shop and some fine wine, cheese, and artisan chocolates to savor later at home.

This is a great place to unwind and feed your eyes in Charleston, and you should definitely visit.

Address: 800 Smith St, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

4. Kanawha State Forest

Kanawha State Forest

Kanawha State Forest

Want a wonderful place to hike, bike, and just go outdoors? Then Kanawha State Forest is just the right place.

In fact, the location is a hikers’ paradise.

Kanawha State Forest, which is seven miles from Charleston, is a well-liked hangout for outdoor enthusiasts.

With more than 25 miles of hiking and bike paths, picnic sites, and a variety of trees, birds, and wildflowers, you are in for a treat.

Furthermore, playgrounds, camp areas, and shelters for picnics are available.

On Memorial Day weekend, the popular swimming pool welcomes guests, and it shuts down for the season on Labor Day.

Along with several mountain biking and cross-country skiing activities, this area contains some of the most well-liked spots in the state.

The park occasionally offers outdoor “music in the forest” events. There are also free guided hikes offered in the neighborhood newspaper.

Weather permitting, the campground is also open from April to December.

You can make Campsite reservations. You can make reservations over the phone, online, or at the campground office

In-season hunting and fishing are permitted in designated locations for those with the proper licenses.

Overall, it’s a terrific place to get away from the chaos of the outside world.

Address: 7500 Kanawha State Forest Dr, Charleston, WV 25314, United States

5. Dem 2 Brothers And A Grill Bbq

Dem 2 brothers and a grill bbq

Dem 2 brothers and a grill bbq

This is a terrific spot to try if you’re looking for romantic date locations in Charleston or just looking to grab some BBQ.

Adrian and his brother own this fine place. There is a massive grill on the sidewalk as well as a small, modest eating area where they serve food to clients.

Passersby are drawn to this restaurant by the delicious BBQ scents.

Take a look inside and sample the flavorful ribs.

In fact, people queue here for their hog shoulders, ribs, or pulled pork snakes around the block.

The brothers also serve classic sides like baked beans, slaw, and their renowned mac & cheese

Address: 423 Virginia St W, Charleston, WV 25302, United States

6. Avampato Discovery Museum

Avampato Discovery Museum

The Avampato Discovery Museum

Avampato discovery museum is a great place to bring the whole family, especially the Kids.

The museum is conveniently located downtown, next to the CAMC General Division, and offers a variety of family-friendly activities.

With 12,000 square feet of changing exhibit space spread across two floors inside the Clay Center, you won’t get tired of visiting them time and time again.

Furthermore, this location combines an art gallery, museum, theater, and interactive science center to give you one of the best museum experiences in Charleston.

The live performances, 360-degree theater, and kid-friendly interactive science activities will all make your experience entertaining and enlightening.

There is a dome-shaped planetarium/theatre where in addition to night sky displays, movies are shown.

A lovely auditorium is also there, and it often holds musical and artistic events.

Address: 1 Clay Square, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

7. Tidewater Grill, Charleston

Tidewater Grill, Charleston

Tidewater Grill

How about a great seafood restaurant and an ideal setting for watching your favorite sports while sipping a refreshing beverage?

The freshest ingredients from Northern Florida and a laid-back environment are combined at Tidewater Grill.

In fact, for many years now, the Charleston region’s preferred seafood restaurant has been the Tidewater.

There are many lunch and dinner options available. There are also numerous appetizers, including salads, entrées, sandwiches, burgers, pasta meals, and side dishes available at the restaurant.

Fried oysters, calamari, Maryland crab meatballs, coconut-crusted fried shrimp, and crab and artichoke dips are also available at Tidewater Grill.

In addition to delectable meals, locally made beer is served, and Southern classics are honored in the cuisine.

You won’t be dissatisfied with anything, from the complimentary bread to the fresh oysters, premium salmon cuts, or even the fish and chips.

The restaurant operates from 12 pm to 10 pm on Sunday through Saturday. While it is open from 5 pm to 10 pm from Monday through Friday.

Address: 1060 Charleston Town Center, Charleston, WV 25389, United States

8. Coonskin Park, charleston

coonskin park

Coonskin Park

If you are an outdoor person, then you will find Charleston fun, and coonskin park is a great place to spend some time outdoors.

This park is quite vast and provides a variety of activities, such as hiking, biking, running, golf, disc golf, tennis, picnic shelters, playgrounds, and a soccer field.

In fact, there’s something for everyone at coonskin park.

With tennis courts, a golf course, a fishing pond, a tiny skate park, a playground, and trails, you will love it here. It offers a driving range where you may work on your swing.

The pond is a must-see if all you want to do is watch the ducks.

There are also plenty of squirrels if you enjoy watching them.

The ball golf and disc golf course is very reasonably priced and well-maintained.

Address: 375 Henry C Hoppy Shores Dr, Charleston, WV 25311, United States

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9. Clay Center

Clay Center, charleston

Clay Center, charleston

Take the kids to the Clay Center if you’re looking for something to do with them in Charleston or want to experience the thrill of music, theater, art, and science all in one place!

The Clay Center first opened its doors in 2003 and has since become one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations.

Furthermore, the venue houses the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s Maier Foundation Performance Hall, the Juliet Art Museum, and the Avampato Discovery Museum of the Clay Center.

Exceptional musical and comic performances can be seen in their magnificent theater, along with entertaining science exhibitions, an art gallery, and more.

A cafe, an art gallery, a lively museum shop, and two theaters—one big and one small—are also present.

In short, this place has something to interest everyone, whether you’re a fan of the arts, science, or history.

As you take in the local acts and concerts, explore the various exhibits and attractions.

Address: 1 Clay Square, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

10. The Chop House Charleston

the chop house charleston

Chop House

The Chop House in Charleston is an elite American restaurant with grandiose design and luxurious furnishings evocative of the 1940s.

The Chop House has been luring customers with its delectable meals, including first-class fish and shellfish, accompanied by specialty desserts and a wine list featuring vintages from all over the world.

Prime Beef, the standard Veal Chop, Roasted Rack of Venison, Luscious Colorado Rib Lamb Chop, Fresh Lobster, Ports, Cognac, and more are some of the meals available here.

Although it is an old-school restaurant that serves excellent steak and seafood in a refined and stylish setting, you will still find the place enjoyable.

Address: 1003 Charleston Town Center, Charleston, WV 25389, United States

11. East End Historic District, Charleston

East End Historic District, Charleston

East End Historic District, Charleston

The East End, one of Charleston’s oldest and most ethnically varied districts, is a diversified area with a funky, urban aesthetic.

In fact, for those who love architecture, the East End Historic District is a paradise.

There are several different architectural styles that have been maintained in Charleston’s East End Historic District.

Greek Revival, Neo-Classical, Georgian, and mid-19th-century pre-World War I styles are among the many variations.

Similarly, Holly Grove Mansion, which was constructed in 1815, is the district’s oldest standing structure.

The West Virginia State Capitol, whose imposing shape can also be seen from every angle in the area, serves as its focal point.

More than 25 restaurants may all be found in Charleston’s East End.

You can take a self-guided of the district. The Walking Tour is a vibrant tour of the East End that highlights the neighborhood’s urban legends, distinct history, and architectural styles.

You can also do the “East End Eats,” which is a guide to the area’s 25 best eateries. Restaurants, unique stores, and delicious gems are all highlighted.

Address: Charleston, WV, United States

12. West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Charleston

West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Charleston

West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Charleston

The orchestra is a top performing arts company in the state, hosting classical, popular, and chamber music concerts.

The Orchestra was founded in 1939, and it later changed its name to the Charleston Symphony Orchestra. However, the name wasn’t changed to its present form until 1988.

Each year, the orchestra gives more than 50 concerts at the Clay Center and other venues all around West Virginia.

The orchestra is renowned for its excellent educational initiatives, including the Young People’s Concerts.

Similarly, Grant Cooper, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra’s artistic director and conductor, oversees the organization’s annual schedule of more than 50 concerts.

You should visit here if you fancy arts and music.

Address: Charleston, WV, United States

13. Mountain State Distillery

mountain state distillery-min

Mountain State Distillery

Welcome to the city’s first authorized distillery.

The Downtown Charleston historic commercial center is home to the modest, boutique-style Mountain State Distillery.

The Mountain State Distillery is owned by Jeff Arthur, and it’s a great location to sample the Southern Blend at the sampling bar for a distinctive tasting experience.

From their own distillery, they produce, distill, blend, and process various spirits.

Jeff opened this location with the express purpose of producing moonshine — genuine backwoods corn likker.

When you tour the Mountain State Distillery, take a sip, or just buy a few branded mementos and other locally made products.

Address: 800 Kanawha Blvd E 1st Floor, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

14. West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

Located in the state capitol complex, the West Virginia Veterans Memorial is a two-story oval-shaped memorial.

The memorial is dedicated to the more than 10,000 West Virginians who gave their lives defending the country during world wars.

In fact, the memorial honors the four significant wars of the 20th century: World War I, World War II, Vietnam, and Korea. Charleston.

The Veterans Memorial Commission, which began as a privately sponsored project, led these initiatives as it undertook to accumulate the names to be honored on the Memorial.

The structure is made up of four limestone monoliths that are encircled by a reflecting pool.

Furthermore, the names of these men and women are engraved in polished black granite on the interior walls.

Joseph Mullins created the Memorial and sculpted the four statues that represent the four important wars of the 20th century and the four branches of the armed forces.

Even today, rituals and gatherings honoring veterans frequently take place at the Veterans Memorial.

You should check this place out if you’d like to pay your respects too.

Address: Charleston, WV 25305, United States

15. Hampton Inn, Charleston

Hampton Inn

Hampton Inn

Want to stay for a while in Charleston? Then Hampton inn should be on your list.

The West Virginia hotel Hampton Inn is located in downtown Charleston, just two blocks from Town Center and one block from Civic Center.

This hotel’s accessible position makes it a perfect option to plan and enjoy all the activities within your itinerary without sacrificing your comfort.

You can look forward to a free continental breakfast, a free round-trip airport shuttle, and a patio at the Hampton Inn Charleston-Southridge.

The hotel also offers free WiFi in each room, as well as other services, including a garden and a nearby retail center.

In fact, this hotel provides all the amenities required for a pleasant stay, even when it’s cold or rainy.

Take a dip in the indoor pool or explore the Civic Center and town mall nearby for a great time in the city.

Address: 345 Meeting St., Charleston, SC 29403, United States

Passing through Harpers Ferry? Why not make a stop and go through our list of things to do in Harpers Ferry?

16. West Virginia Governors’ Mansion

West Virginia Governor's Mansion

West Virginia Governor’s Mansion

There are a lot of beautiful sites to explore in and around the capital, and the governor’s mansion is one.

The West Virginia Governor’s Mansion is the official house of the governor of West Virginia.

This 30-room Georgian executive home with a view of the Kanawha River is situated to the west of the state Capitol.

The mansion is made of red Harvard brick and has a two-story portico supported by four Corinthian columns.

The residence of the governor of West Virginia was constructed in 1924.

You should consider taking a tour of the mansion, as there are tours on Thursday and Friday mornings. The tours are, however, free and by reservation.

Four rooms on the main floor are all you get to see throughout the tour, which lasts around 30 minutes.

White Tennessee and black Belgium marble floor, as well as the two mahogany staircases, add drama to the entrance foyer, where the tour starts.

Furthermore, the ballroom, state dining room, drawing room, governor’s dining room, sunroom, and library are all located on the first level in the staterooms.

You will also be able to view the governor’s private garden and patio as part of the trip.

Although the second story, where the bedrooms are, is off-limits to everyone, you will still enjoy all tour has to offer.

Address: 1716 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25305, United States

17. Charleston Civic Center

Charleston civic centet

Charleston Civic Center

The Charleston Convention Center is where the state’s most prestigious sporting, corporate, and entertainment events are held.

It opened in 1959 with a 6,000-seat arena and a 750-seat theatre, and it has since undergone various repairs and additions.

Today, the Charleston Civic Center’s outside renovation is really stunning, featuring a towering glass entrance, numerous escalators, and an amazing perspective of the River.

Whether you require a conference room, banquet facility, sports arena, performance hall, or exhibition space, the civic hall is just the right space.

Address: 200 Civic Center Dr, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

18. Swiftwater Cafe, Charleston

Swiftwater Cafe, Charleston

The Swiftwater Cafe

Swiftwater is the place to go and grab a sandwich or indulge in a couple of hot dogs with chips in downtown Charleston.

Similarly, this cafe’s decor provides lots of space at tables and in booths, making it a particularly relaxing setting for lunch.

In fact, this location is truly special as the crew truly cares about the food they prepare and the service they offer.

This cafe has an excellent, extensive, and cost-effective menu.

Additionally, there are some special treats every day of the week, and there are also excellent pre-made salads, sandwiches, and dessert options that can be quickly grabbed.

Address: 405 Capitol St #105, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

19. Heritage Towers

Heritage Towers Museum

The Heritage Towers Museum

Heritage Towers Museum and Culture Center, which opened to the public in June 2005, is an essential part of West Virginia’s rich history and culture of black people in West Virginia’s Appalachian coal region.

The “A Slave Ship” display project, which was carried out in Charleston, gave rise to the idea of a museum and cultural hub.

In order to commemorate the diversity of African and Afro-Appalachian civilizations, the owners have assembled an incredible collection of art and artifacts.

Similarly, the “From Slavery to Statehood” exhibition’s topic is a series of galleries that tell the history of West Virginia’s African American heritage.

Address: 612 Virginia St E, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

20. Charleston Light Opera Guild

Charleston Light Opera Guild

Charleston Light Opera Guild

If you love watching live performances, then you shouldn’t miss Charleston Light opera guild.

It doesn’t even matter if you like theater or not; you will love it here.

Built from the ground up, this vibrant community theater uses cutting-edge technology to present top-notch performances of classics.

The Charleston Light Opera Guild has so far produced almost 200 performances.

Address: 411 Tennessee Ave, Charleston, WV 25302, United States

21. Craik-Patton House

Craik-Patton House

Craik-Patton House

Formerly known as “Elm Grove,” Craik-Patton House dates to the middle of the 1800s and is the second-oldest house in Charleston.

Although it was initially known as “Elm Grove,” the residence is now known as the Craik-Patton House in honor of the Rev. James Craik, who built it.

The Cracks were a well-known family that originated in Virginia’s tidewater region. The family and George Washington shared strong ties.

The enlarged center roof of the house is supported by four enormous columns, and pilasters are positioned above the front facade.

Furthermore, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in West Virginia meticulously renovated and preserved it for the general public, and it is accessible for tours all year round.

Along with the grand mansion, there is also a stunning formal boxwood garden behind it that is bordered by tall magnolia trees and imposing holly trees.

You can get a peek of what other indigenous were living in when the Cracks were residing there thanks to a restored log cabin on the property.

Address: 2809 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25311, United States

22. Haddad Riverfront Park

Haddad Riverfront Park

Haddad Riverfront Park

The Riverfront park is part of an expansive 4.5-mile riverwalk that extends from Patrick Street to 35th street.

The huge public open space known as Haddad Riverfront Park serves as a focal point for the community.

You will come across a lot of historical markers, including the State Capitol. You will also come across the historic Eastern area, Magic Island Park with family-friendly water elements along this path.

Furthermore, a 36,000-square-foot concrete amphitheater is part of the Haddad Riverfront Park.

The amphitheater has 2,500 seats and is located on the banks of the Kanawha River, providing a captivating view of Charleston’s waterfront.

Attend the numerous concerts and private events held regularly in this park.

Similarly, boaters can moor at the riverfront park and enjoy peaceful water views of the city’s activity.

Address: Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25302-1719, United States

23. Art Emporium, Charleston

Art Emporium, Charleston

Art Emporium, Charleston

Are you an art lover? Or you just want to see something beautiful? then you should visit the art Emporium.

Located in downtown Charleston, art emporium is a locally owned custom picture framing business.

Art Emporium carries works by more than 60 local and regional artists, including paintings, pottery, photography, glass, carpentry, and more.

Similarly, the company has been in Charleston since 1991 and has spent the last ten years in the same spot right in the middle of the city.

In fact, this is more than just a framing store. You will see different types of original art available, including pottery, metal works, glass, jewelry, and many more unusual products.

Additionally, they occasionally host different artists in their galleries.

Enjoy exploring the 2000-square-foot gallery of this intriguing Art Emporium.

Address: 823 Quarrier St, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

24. Pies & Pints, Charleston

Pies & Pints, Charleston

Pies & Pints, Charleston

After a long day of touring or sightseeing, Pies & Pints is the ideal spot to meet up with friends and enjoy some delicious meals.

Unique pizza and craft beer are served at the Pies & Pints restaurant in the heart of Charleston’s downtown business district.

There is a wood-fired oven where delicious pizzas are produced, and you can choose from a huge variety of toppings.

On the menu, there are also combo recommendations.

There are tables outside if you’d like to go outdoors, and there is also a maze of rooms and a bar for dining inside.

Don’t forget to try their mouthwatering hand-tossed pizzas, crisp salads, and superb potato skins.

Address: 222 Capitol St, Charleston, WV 25301, United States

25. Cato Park

Cato Park

Cato Park

Want more to do outdoors? Then come to this 90+ acre park situated on Baker Lane, in the hills of Charleston’s West Side.

The park provides a tranquil escape from the city and has a number of enticing attractions, including picnic areas, plenty of parking, a playground, and more.

The park also features a nine-hole par-3 golf course, tennis courts, and an Olympic-sized pool.

Bicyclists, hikers, dog walkers, and runners/walkers will find the place enjoyable as there are more than five miles of trail system.

Address: 200 Baker Ln, Charleston, WV 25302, United States

26. Daniel Boone Park & Ruffner Cabin

Daniel Boone Park & Ruffner Cabin

Daniel Boone Park & Ruffner Cabin

The Ruffner Cabin in Daniel Boone Park is a national historical landmark offering a retreat deep within nature.

According to legend, the building was initially constructed in 1803 as a residence for Joseph Ruffner.

Similarly, according to the loclas, the home is the oldest standing structure in Kanawha County.

This lovely cottage in Daniel Boone Park has picnic tables, a fishing pier, and boat mooring.

Take a break from the bustle of the city and come into the woods, and have a nice time.

Address: 2901 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25311, United States

Final Remarks

With the city’s numerous parks, many structures and historic sites, museums, and great dining opportunities, Charleston is a great travel destination you should include on your bucket list.

So whether you’re coming alone, with family with friends, you will love it here.