North America is filled with special places just waiting to be explored. As we move farther into our blogging life, our journeys have opened our eyes to new landscapes. This trip allowed us our first views of West Virginia, “The Mountain State”. Located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, this capital city was once home to Daniel Boone. These days, travelers are drawn to Charleston, WV for its lively arts scene and natural beauty. With only one day to see as much as possible, we hit the ground running. Let’s see what this capital city has to offer.
Crossing the Line
Growing up in the heart of the Midwest has offered us a good starting point for adventures in every direction. When we started our blog, we knew our first readers would come from our region. Our approach began with trips to cities within four hours of our hometown. Over the years, we have started to travel farther distances. Since we primarily travel by car, we knew we would need some stops along the way. Our solution was to add One Day Stays to both ends of our journey. This adventure would ultimately lead to the eastern seaboard, so a Charleston, West Virginia stop was the perfect fit. After an 11-hour drive, we wanted a day away from the road.
Getting Our Bearings
Being our first excursion into the Mountain State, we wanted to learn more about its history. A great way to start our visit was a stop at the West Virginia State Museum. We knew the state had a significant coal mining history. The museum goes into substantial detail about this vital industry. With Crystal being born a McCoy, she was intrigued by the exhibit featuring their long feud with the Hatfields. It was our link to the Sunflower State that made us take notice of John Brown’s noose. His role in the “Border War” between Kansas and Missouri is well-known around the Midwest.
23 Karats of Beauty
The museum sits right next door to the West Virginia state capitol. It’s hard to overlook this attraction, as its dome is bedecked with 23-karat gold. We’ve begun focusing on adding new capitals to our growing list, so we were eager to see this one. It’s an impressive structure and the dome captivates your attention both day and night. When you visit Charleston, be sure to cross the Kanawha River for views after sunset. It’s well worth the short drive.
Heading to Capitol Market
For lunch, we decided to do things a little differently. We love a visit to the market and Charleston is home to a great one. Capitol Market is located in a refurbished freight station. This place is an eclectic blend of eateries, local shops, farmers market, and tourist attraction. It reminded us of our visit to Reading Station in Philadelphia. We snacked and sampled our way to full bellies. Before leaving, we had to stock up on some of those unusual foodstuffs we had never seen. This is why we like to travel by car.
Charleston, WV has a well-designed downtown. Its grid-pattern streets make it easy to keep track of which shops you’ve visited. Crystal was pleased to discover that many of the local boutiques were open for business. Part of our afternoon was spent checking them out. As we crisscrossed the streets, we happened upon Slack Plaza. The oversized statues made it easy to spot. While we shopped, a local art event began their setup. We were hoping to make our way back down for some live entertainment, later in the evening.
Charleston, WV lies in a valley created by the Kanawha and Elk Rivers. The local CVB had secured us a room at Four Points by Sheraton Charleston. This location made the perfect home base for our downtown explorations. Our room afforded us views of the riverfront park, which is used for local events. Since our visit occurred on Labor Day weekend, we woke to a 10K run happening just outside the hotel. It helped us feel that local vibe.
Having A Slice
After finishing our shopping, we headed back to the hotel to freshen up for the evening. It also gave us a chance to drop our purchases at the car. During our afternoon walk, we spotted a place we wanted to try out for dinner. It was only about four blocks from our hotel, so we were there in no time. Pies & Pints is a chain that we have never sampled. The place was packed with locals, which is a positive sign. When we finally got seated, it took no time to decide on the Chicken Gouda pizza. Piled high with chicken, bacon, red onion, and Gouda cheese made this pie a surperb choice. The chipotle crema sauce added another level of flavor and made this pizza an endangered dish.
When we stepped out of the pizza place, we found that the sun was threatening to set on us. This signaled time for one more fun outing. Heading back toward our hotel, we caught up with April Morgan, our guide for an evening of haunted history. After telling us a little about herself, we began our education on the dark and mysterious side of Charleston, WV. She led us from stop to stop and imparted stories at each pause. This particular tour was named “Mortar Man”, which is a nod to an unusual architectural feature downtown. By the end of our tour, darkness was beginning to stretch across the valley. Time to say our goodbyes and head across the river for a night-time view of the capitol.
Charleston, WV in One Day
It’s always bittersweet when the day comes to an end. Exploring Charleston, WV had been a non-stop blur of activity. As we prepared for bed, it gave us time to discuss some of the day’s highlights. While this particular visit was drawing to an end, we know that the future holds more trips to the “Mountain State”. We’d love to hear about your visits to West Virginia and hope you’ll suggest some more great cities to see. Thanks!