As you enter Charleston, West Virginia's state capital, it's hard to miss the beautiful gold-leaf dome of the State Capitol building rising 300 feet above the street?it's the largest in the country. Located at the terminus of the West Virginia turnpike in the western part of the state, Charleston is home to West Virginia State College and the University of Charleston. This trading and industrial center for the state offers plenty of cultural activities and outdoor recreation.
West Virginia's state capital has its share of history. Daniel Boone lived in Charleston until about 1795. During World War I, Charleston produced plate and bottle glass for war demands. Today, chemicals and glass are its primary products.
The Capitol Complex is a fitting start for a city tour. In addition to the capitol building surrounded by fountains and statues, the complex includes the West Virginia Cultural Center which houses the state museum and archives and hosts exhibitions and concerts. The Governor's Mansion and Holly Grove Mansion round out the site.
Sunrise Museum is an art and science museum housed in two historic mansions. Avampato Discovery Museum features hands-on science exhibits, art exhibits and planetarium shows. Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences presents performing and visual arts as well as sciences under one roof. West Virginia State College offers art exhibits to the public as well as a tour of facilities.
Enjoy shopping downtown at the Capitol Market, featuring an outdoor market, specialty shops and restaurant. Showcase West Virginia features products of small-scale manufacturing from the entire state. Casual dining includes Bluegrass Kitchen, offering "eclectic comfort food" and Cameron's Caf‚, featuring homemade soups and sandwiches. Fine dining includes Laury's Restaurant in the old C & O depot downtown and Blossom Deli serving contemporary American cuisine.
Outdoor recreation is abundant in and around Charleston. City parks include Coonskin Park, where swimming, fishing, pedal boating, hiking, golfing, tennis and picnicking are popular and Cato Park, with an executive par 3 golf course and Olympic-size swimming pool. Drive the Midland Trail National Scenic Byway to see art, history, antiques and mountain scenery. Watch minor league baseball at Appalachian Power Park. Kanawha State Forest, seven miles from town, offers swimming, hunting, hiking, horseback riding and cross country skiing. Try whitewater rafting on the nearby New and Gauley Rivers.
Nightlife options in Charleston range from performances by the Children's Theatre of Charleston, Appalachian Children's Choir, West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Charleston Stage Company.
Charleston is located roughly three and one-half hours southwest of Pittsburgh, PA. Take I-79 south to I-77 south.