Getty Images

"Take Me Home" to West Virginia's Beautiful Capital City of Charleston

West Virginia borders Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, and a tiny slice of Maryland. The 35th state in the U.S., West Virginia, was the only state in the Union that split from a Confederate state (Virginia) after the Civil War.

The vote in Richmond to secede from the Union in 1861 solidified West Virginia's statehood.

What is the Capital of West Virginia?

Situated at the merging of the Kanawha and Elk Rivers, Charleston became the capital city of West Virginia in 1877. It was a close call between Martinsburg and Clarksburg (with some competition from the previous two-time capital of Wheeling). Still, Charleston pulled through with the win for the home of the permanent state capital.

Charleston is the largest city in the U.S. State of West Virginia, with an estimated 46,536 in the city and 208,089 in the entire metropolitan area (as of 2019). The city of Charleston is home to the West Virginia Power professional baseball team, the Yeager Airport, and The University of Charleston. And of course, the Mountain State offers endless outdoor recreation with Allegheny Mountains and the Appalachian Mountains surrounding this Kanawha County city.

7 Things to Do & See In Charleston, West Virginia

1. Haddad Riverfront Park

Located in the heart of the city on the banks of the Kanawha River, Haddad Riverfront Park is a great place to enjoy a picnic, bring the family to play on the lawn, or take in the views. If you get lucky, you may even catch a free concert in the park!

2. State Capitol Building

The Capitol Complex is where the West Virginia State Capitol resides and is a wonderful place to shop, dine, and check out the Capitol Market. After two previous capitol buildings unfortunately burned down, architect Cass Gilbert designed the new capitol with buff-colored Indiana limestone in an Italian Renaissance style. Governor William G. Conley dedicated this building that seats the state government on June 20, 1932.

3. Downtown Charleston

No visit to Charleston is complete without taking a full walking tour of Downtown. Downtown Charleston features charming blocks of historical sites, fascinating museums, and popular eateries and shops. Catch a game at Appalachian Power Park, stroll through Capitol Market, or make a visit to the Clay Center.

4. Governor's Mansion

RELATED: Go Swim in "The Devil's Bathtub" at this Virginia Hideaway

Over 100 years old, the Governor's Mansion is the official residence of the state's Governor. You can visit this traditional Georgian colonial mansion for tours on Thursday and Friday mornings.

5. West Virginia State Museum

Preserving the history, artifacts, and important files of the state, the West Virginia State Museum is a wonderful way to get acquainted with WV. Admission to the museum is free, and the hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 5 PM.

6. Kanawha State Forest

Situated approximately 20 minutes from downtown Charleston, the Kanawha State Forest is a welcomed reprieve into nature in the area. Outdoor lovers head to the Kanawha to use its 25 miles of biking and hiking trails, picnic areas, wildflower sightings, and wildlife populations. For hunters with a valid license, in-season hunting is permitted in designated areas.

7. Craik-Patton House

The premier house museum in the city, the Craik-Patton House, was built in 1834 and showcases artifacts from the home's first residents, including James Craik. Craik's family had might ties to George Washington and Colonel George Smith Patton, founder of the Kanawha Rifleman and grandfather of a famous WWII general.

Notable Nearby Attractions

-New River Gorge National Park & Preserve

-Ohio River in Huntington


-West Virginia University in Parkersburg

Did we miss some Charleston hotspots? Share your favorites on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!

READ MORE: Visit Georgia's Best Beaches for a Perfect Weekend Away