LISTEN TO THE STORY HERE
It’s no secret that West Virginia is a feast for the senses, but we like to think that the state’s capital, Charleston, is especially so. Here you’ll find the ample opportunity to titillate all five of your senses: with one of a kind music, food, museums, and the chance to hit refresh on it all with a bright lungful of clear mountain air, Charleston is a one of a kind.
- Hear That Mountain Music Ra Ra Riot, Norah Jones, Martina McBride, Phish, and numerous others are among the count of those who appeared on the Mountain Stage
Sure, you could go to a handful of different live music venues around Charleston to hear a mix of traditional and new indie, jazz, country, and rock, or you could just head on down to the Culture Center Theater and catch them all in one go during the Mountain Stage radio show. For some thirty years, Mountain Stage has been a divining rod for up and coming talent, largely thanks to its host, Larry Groce, who invites any interested artists anywhere in the country to send in their material, and he personally chooses four or five of his favorites to come participate in the show’s two-hour, live radio performance.
- Touch It or (S)not Not that you’ve ever been inclined to ask, but at the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences, you can find out just what goes into (and comes out of) some of the crazier parts of the human body (photo courtesy of the Clay Center)
As a general rule, most museums aren’t known for their inclination to encourage visitors to touch their exhibits, but the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences isn’t “most museums.” Encompassing 240,000 square feet of space dedicated to visual art, performing art, and science, the Clay Center understands how itchy fingers can get while taking in priceless objets d’art and gives its visitors ample chance to work them out. A short walk away from the whitewashed walls of the Center’s gallery, you can tempt your ticklers with all manner of entertainment. Wrap your hands around and stretch an intestine (yup, you read that right), swing by the larger-than-life snotmaker (that one too), or take it all in with the bird’s-eye view from the top of the three-story climbing sculpture.
- Taste Pure Pie Joy There is no flavor left unturned at Charleston’s Pies and Pints (photo courtesy of Pies and Pints)
With over twenty pizza joints in the heart of Charleston, it should come as no surprise that locals have a high standard for their pies, but you’ll find the best in the city—and the state for that matter—at Pies and Pints on Capitol Street. Here you’ll not only find your standard issue pepperoni and cheese but half a dozen ingenious iterations that will satisfy even the fussiest of foodies. Feeling posh? Order the grape and Gorgonzola with rosemary. Exotic? Try the Thai; it’s topped with shrimp, toasted coconut, and curry sauce. Red-blooded and ready to go? Get your hands on the steak and mushroom, which is piled high with steak and Gorgonzola and served with horseradish cream and scallions. Wash it all down with one of over seventy craft brews on their menu and you’ve got a match made in heaven.
- See Pure Gold At 293 feet, the Capitol building in Charleston is the tallest state capitol in the country, and its dome is leafed in 23.5 karat gold (photo courtesy of David Wilson)
The Capitol in Charleston is a feast for the eyes. Begun in 1925, the building took eight years and almost ten million dollars to complete, but the attention to detail shows. The interior boasts not one, not two, but nine different types of marble, Italian Alabaster lampshades, and a four-thousand-pound chandelier, but believe it or not, it’s the exterior that will take your breath away. Perched above the banks of the Kanawha River and flanked with statues of Lincoln and Stonewall Jackson, the capital’s natural limestone walls seem to glow from within, and standing atop them, at 293 feet, is the capitol’s crowning glory: a gilded dome covered in 23.5-carat gold.
- Smell the Open Air Over 25 miles of walking trails offer idyllic views of Kanawha State Forest (photo courtesy of the West Virginia Department of Commerce)
We’re all for the city, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you made the trip to West Virginia and didn’t take a moment to fill your lungs with fresh, free mountain air. Lucky for you, opportunity awaits a quick seven-mile drive from Charleston, at the Kanawha State Forest. At 93,000 acres, the forest is a far, quiet cry from the bustle of the city, and it’s thick with the famously beautiful flora and fauna of the region, making it a haven for birders, bikers, skiers, hikers, campers, and those who just want to take a quiet pause. Pack a picnic and a fishing pole and spend the day pond-side, lace up your hiking shoes and take on any of the twenty-five miles of hiking trails, or just find a quiet rock upon which to perch.