Charleston, WV is Cooler Than you Think

Today I returned from another delightful weekend in West Virginia. While I very much enjoyed my last trip (and am still dreaming about Secret Sandwich Society), this time, I wanted to be sure to explore Charleston. While Charleston might not be a top tourist destination for many, there are certainly some great things to do there. I’m personally feeling very inspired by all the cute restaurants and shops I’ve seen so far.


Capitol Building

Charleston has actually had many capitol building throughout the years, and the capitol hasn’t always been in Charleston either. The current building was built in the 1920s and 30s and has been there ever since. It’s open to the public and is a beautiful complex. It’s probably one of the most beautiful and grandiose of state capitol buildings in the entire country (I mean the dome has real gold on it). I’ve always remembered it from drives out to or from the Midwest and was glad to visit it. Visitors can enter for free and see some parts of the wings. The grounds are also filled with some statues honoring veterans, coal miners, Abraham Lincoln and more. Exit the capitol building from the second floor, and you’ll have a great view of the Charleston riverfront.



Black Sheep Burrito and Brews

This is one of the coolest restaurants I’ve ever been to. The menu includes items like a falafel and hummus burrito, Thai burrito and Hawaiian taco. I ordered the chicken burrito (chili-lime marinated chicken, house black beans, mesclun, fire-roasted salsa and queso fresco with lime-sriracha cream), and my boyfriend, per the waiter’s recommendation, ordered the bulgogi burrito (ginger and sesame marinated flank steak, house-made kimchi, cilantro Dijon and smoked cashews). We both loved our burritos and also enjoyed sharing two flights of beer. If you order two flights, of four beers each, you can try all of the beers that Black Sheep brews on site. The restaurant also has a great brunch!




Lola’s Pizza

If you’re ever anywhere near Charleston, you have to go to Lola’s. This has been one of my most favorite experiences of all time. To start, the pizza is to die for. We ended up ordering a large pizza with half of the sausage and onion and half of the fig jam and rosemary. The fig jam and rosemary was my absolute favorite. It was so different than anything you could get anywhere else, and it was so good. We also enjoyed a salad there. Some people even think that the salads are even better than the pizza! We enjoyed the roasted sweet potato salad. Lola’s also had a nice selection of West Virginia, domestic and imported beers. More than anything, the best part of this restaurant was it’s atmosphere. It’s located inside of a cute house, which makes it very cozy and relaxing – the perfect fit for any occasion. The restaurant is also conveniently located right next to a cute shopping area called the Bridge Road Shops.

Photo courtesy of Taylor Books

Taylor Books

When my boyfriend asked me if I wanted to check out this bookshop, I honestly wasn’t that enthused. But I am so glad we went because this place is so much more than a normal bookshop. It has a clay studio where you can take art classes, there’s a small movie theater, and there’s a super cute café. I wish I wasn’t five hours away because I’d love to go back to this bookstore to cozy up with a book and sip on a cup of coffee. The bookstore also hosts events that include live music, improve groups and more.



Photo courtesy of

Capitol Market

This cute little food market is a must see in Charleston. Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome event visited! In warmer months, there’s a full-blown farmers market outside. Inside, there are other food vendors. There’s also a small section full of some good West Virginia gifts. I enjoyed purchasing some local strawberry and rhubarb jam that I can’t wait to try.


I didn’t go to these places myself, but here are a few other things I wish I had had time to do in Charleston:

Mountain Stage – live shows of bands performing for the Mountain Stage program on the local NPR station

Pies and Pints – a delicious small pizza chain that started in West Virginia (apparently it has the best beer selection in town)

Kanawha State Forest – nearby hiking with one of the best views in the state

Ridge View BBQ – located in Institute just 15 minutes away from Charleston, one of the best barbecue joints in the state


Where have you been in Charleston? What food have you eaten in or around the city? Share with us in the comments below!


8 thoughts on “Charleston, WV is Cooler Than you Think

  1. I love this! I have never been to West Virginia (or any of the South for that matter other than Texas). I think it’s so wonderful to highlight smaller towns and less-traveled areas. Travel does not always have to mean glitzy international destinations. Exploring your own backyard is so important 🙂


  2. Just wanted to add that Mountain Stage is indeed recorded in Charleston and broadcasted on the local Public Broadcasting station, but it is also on over 200 NPR stations nation wide and overseas. The post mountain stage jam at the Empty Galss is also something everyone should check out! Musicians from the show perform with the house band for an up close and personal music experience 🙂


  3. You missed the amazing West Virginia State Museum in the basement of the WV Culture Center where you can learn about the Mountain State’s creation during the Civil War, understand the role of the coal industry in the state’s development, and enjoy wonderful displays tied to Appalachian culture. FREE admission, plus there’s also nice gift shop with locally-made china, glass and goodies.

    Kanawha State Forest has one of the state’s only wheelchair accessible trails. The Spotted Salamander Trail is a quarter-mile paved pathway, complete with full-color nature signs and guide ropes for the blind. Every spring, spotted salamanders return to the spot where they were born to lay eggs in the nearby vernal pools.


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