Whereas it’s troublesome to sort out most state capitals in a 24-hour window, West Virginia’s is approachable sufficient to allure throughout even for the briefest of stays. In a super world, Charleston — which has a inhabitants of about 47,000 — makes an ideal basecamp for a number of days of Appalachian mountaineering. However once you solely have 24 hours within the Mountain State’s capital, right here’s learn how to pack within the sights and sounds whereas nonetheless having fun with West Virginia’s relaxed tempo.
You’ll seemingly arrive in Charleston by airplane or prepare. Yeager Airport (CRW) is a compact, relaxed transportation hub situated lower than 5 miles from the center of downtown Charleston. From the airport you’ll be able to take an Uber downtown (about $13) or lease a automotive for the day (beginning at about $35).
The Charleston Amtrak station is simply throughout the Kanawha River from town heart. The early Twentieth-century constructing, listed on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations, is on the New-York-to-Chicago Cardinal line. It is a fast automotive experience over the bridge to downtown, or a modest thirty minute stroll.
Regardless of which transportation mode you select, head straight from the station or airport to Charleston’s Capitol Market.
Capitol Market is an indoor-outdoor assortment of native eateries, meals stalls and outlets that breathed new life again right into a turn-of-the-century prepare depot. It’s a central level to begin the day: Seize a espresso and breakfast on the Mea Cuppa counter, then meander by way of native companies such because the Purple Onion, Holl’s Swiss Candies, and WV Market.
When you’ve had your fill of searching groceries and West Virginia collectibles, stroll just a few blocks over to Taylor Books. This native enterprise has turn out to be a gathering place and landmark unto itself. The bookshelves lining the cafe and artwork gallery home a heady mixture of nationwide bestsellers and native lore. It’s a wonderful reminder that unbiased companies thrive even in West Virginia’s city heart.
Sufficiently caffeinated, go away the downtown heart and goal for the Kanawha River. Comply with Kanawha Boulevard south for two miles to the State Capitol constructing, a gleaming gold-leafed dome bigger than even the US Capitol constructing. Approaching it from the river, with the luxurious inexperienced Allegheny mountains rising round you, it’s simple to examine the grandeur architect Cass Gilbert wished to showcase on this small-but-mighty metropolis.
Wander the State Capitol complicated for a couple of minutes earlier than heading to the West Virginia State Museum. This bold museum traces the West Virginia’s historical past from antiquity to the twenty first century. Whereas it’s attainable to spend hours within the museum’s 26 discovery rooms, you’ll be able to see the primary exhibit pathway in about 45 minutes.
By now, your riverside stroll and stroll by way of millennia of historical past may need your abdomen rumbling. Whether or not you’re within the temper for a lightweight lunch or a homegrown feast, Bluegrass Kitchen delivers. This Nineteen Twenties-style deli serves up consolation meals sourced from Appalachian farms. The menu is vegetarian-friendly, although the kitchen nonetheless dishes out omnivore favorites equivalent to grass-fed brisket and smoke-cured West Virginia bacon.
Now that your stomach is full, seize a experience six miles right down to the highway to J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works. This seventh-generation household salt farm is constructed over an historic underground saltwater lake. Siblings Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne harvest salt by pumping the water to the floor, separating salt from the brine by way of solar evaporation, then sifting out impurities by hand. After a free tour of the property, style the pure sea salt and purchase your individual jar of salt or salted caramel to take house. It’s the proper hand-luggage-sized memento that may solely be present in West Virginia.
Your afternoon will rely on the climate and your pursuits. Are you feeling the urge to buy, get your inventive juices flowing, or take a stroll by way of the West Virginia woods?
For a hyper-local purchasing expertise, head to Elk Metropolis on Charleston’s west facet. Spot latest mural artwork within the neighborhood whilst you cease between Elk Metropolis Information, Base Camp Printing Co., and Kin Ship Items. If designer boutiques are extra your velocity, cease by the Bridge Street Retailers within the South Hills space.
In case you are pining for extra mountain air, spend a pair hours tromping by way of the Kanawha State Forest. This 9,300-acre haven is rife with leafy mountaineering and biking trails – together with the Noticed Salamander Path, a wheel-chair accessible interpretive path close to a historic barn.
Within the temper for inventive vibes? Cease by the Clay Middle for the Arts & Sciences. The huge interactive museum and performing arts heart is a success with households. For lower than $15, you’ll get entry to all the pieces from hands-on science and artwork reveals to an artwork gallery and planetarium.
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At The Market, chew into chef Steve Samples’ basic Appalachian recipes—with a contemporary twist. Like different eating institutions following the farm-to-table development, The Market’s menu shifts with the seasons. Regardless of that, the menu is expansive, together with all the pieces from pork stomach tacos to basic Southern mixtures like hen and waffles. The cocktail and wine menus are strong at any time of yr.
Charleston’s hidden expertise is its leisure scene, from bluegrass on West Virginia Public Radio’s Mountain Stage to eclectic movies in an underground micro-theater. Stay radio broadcasts or live shows normally begin round 7PM on the Mountain Stage. To jumpstart your night time with dwell music from native bands, hightail it to the Clay Middle for the Sound Checks live performance sequence. Or in the event you’re within the temper to catch an indie flick in a tiny 29-seat theater, descend to Floralee Hark Cohen Cinema within the basement of Taylor Books.
Daylight has light, so it is time to for another hurrah earlier than ending your time in Charleston. Seize a drink at Bridge Street Bistro, identified domestically for its signature cocktails and regional wine record. The ambiance is laidback, particularly within the lounge, so no must arrive dressed to the nines. Unwinding in Charleston is a no-frills affair.
If you happen to’re within the temper for one final tipple earlier than mattress, cease into Bar 101. Then hit the hay in one among downtown’s array of ordinary lodging, from easy-on-the-wallet High quality Inn & Suites to the Marriott anchored close to City Middle shopping center.