The West Virginia State Capitol
Charleston , established in 1794, is the state capitol of West Virginia. With a population of 53,421 (as of 2000), Charleston is the largest city in West Virginia. It's located at the junction of Interstates 77, 79, and 64, as well as the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers, the latter of which flows prominently through the city.
Charleston is accessible by three interstates - I-77 goes from Parkersburg in the northwest to Beckley and Bluefield in the south; I-64 goes from Huntington in the west to Beckley and Lewisburg in the southeast; and I-79 begins in Charleston and continues to Morgantown in the northeast. Portions of I-64 to the east of Charleston are toll.
You can also fly into Yeager Airport (CRW), which is near the junction of I-77 and I-79.
- The West Virginia State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard E, 304-558-4839. Open 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday, and 12 pm to 7 pm on Sunday. The largest state capitol dome in the country, covered in 23-karat gold leaf. The complex also contains the Cultural Center, the Governor's Mansion and the Holly Grove Mansion, as well as many historical statues on the grounds. Guided tours available from 9 am to 3:30 pm Monday through Friday.
- Avampato Discovery Museum, 300 Leon Sullivan Way, 304-561-3575, . Open 10 am to 5 pm Wednesday through Saturday, and 12 pm to 5 pm on Sunday; closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Two floors of interactive science exhibits, an art gallery, and giant-screen films and planetarium shows in the ElectricSky domed theater. Admission $12.50.
- West Virginia Cultural Center, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard E, 304-558-0220, . Opem 9 am to 8 pm Monday through Thursday, 9 am to 6 pm Friday and Saturday, and 12 pm to 6 pm on Sunday. Three floors of exhibition space in the West Virginia State Museum, and research materials housed in the State Archives library.
- West Virginia Power, 601 Morris Street suite 201, 304-344-CATS (2287), . The local baseball team, a Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. Games played at Appalachian Power Park from April through September. Tickets are $7 for one game, up to $490 for a season pass.
Charleston has three newspapers published under the umbrella corporation of Charleston Newspapers, 1001 Virginia Street E, 800-WVA-NEWS (982-6397):
- The Charleston Gazette, . Daily weekday paper, published in some form since 1873.
- Charleston Daily Mail, . Daily afternoon newspaper.
- Sunday Gazette-Mail, . Sunday paper jointly published by the Gazette and the Daily Mail.
The city also has one university:
- University of Charleston, 2300 MacCorkle Avenue SE, 304-357-4750 or 800-995-GO-UC (4682), . A private, co-educational, residential university founded in 1888, offering baccalaureate degrees in 29 fields, associate degrees in 5 fields, and master's degrees in business administration and human resource management.
- Charleston Town Center Mall, 3000 Charleston Town Center, 304-345-9525, . Open 10 am to 9 pm Monday through Saturday, and 12:30 pm to 6 pm on Sunday.130 specialty stores, three major department stores, Picnic Place and specialty restaurants, and an atrium with a three-story waterfall and extensive greenery.
Although it isn't exactly a mecca of cuisine, Charleston is the mecca of cuisine for West Virginia, with a variety of options catering to different tastes and budgets. One of the best things about eating here is that there are very few tourist traps, since major tourism in Charleston has not yet caught on. Unfortunately, the lack of tourism also means that the restaurants can be be generic; chains like T.G.I. Friday's, Outback, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster are common. There are, however, some more unique local eateries:
- Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, 240 Capitol Street, 304-345-1427. Open 6:30 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday, and 7 am to 2 pm on Saturday; closed Sundays.
- Deli-D-Lite, 611 Chestnut Street, 304-768-5223. Open 5 - 11 pm Monday through Friday, 4 to 11 pm on Saturday, and 5 - 10 pm on Sunday.
- New Moon Café, 714 Lee Street, 304-342-7687. Open for lunch only, 11 am to 2:30 pm Monday through Friday; closed weekends.
- Penn Station, 4002 MacCorkle Avenue in Kanawha City, 304-720-7366. Open 11 am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday, and 11 am to 9 pm on Sunday.
- Shape Shop, 1801 Patrick Street Plaza, 304-346-5328. Open 9 am to 8 pm Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 9 am to 7 pm Wednesday and Friday, and 8 am to 4 pm on Saturday; closed Sundays. A low-cal deli.
- Capitol Roasters Café, 160 Summers Street, 304-720-7375 (cafe) and 304-344-4900 (market). Open 7 am to 8 pm Monday through Thursday, 7 am to 11 pm on Friday, 8 am to 11 pm on Saturday, and 10 am to 6 pm on Sunday.
- Rice Bowl, 121 Goff Mountain Road in Cross Lanes, 304-776-6888. Open daily from 11:30 am to 10 pm. Chinese.
- Banana Joe's, 201 Capitol Street, 304-342-1872. Open from 5 pm to 3 am Tuesday through Sunday. Caribbean bar and grill.
- Rock & Eat Too, 400 Second Avenue in the Ramada Plaza Hotel, 304-744-4641. Open daily for lunch from 11 am to 1 pm, and for dinner from 5 to 9 pm Monday through Thursday; weekend buffet from 5 to 8 pm.
- Delish, Inc., 110 McFarland Street, 304-346-4177. Open from 10 am to 3 pm on Monday, and 11 am to 8 pm Tuesday through Saturday. Gourmet wraps. Credit not accepted.
- Leonoro's Spaghetti House, 1507 Washington Street, 304-343-1851. Open 11 am to 8:30 pm Monday through Thursday, 11 am to 9 pm on Friday, and 3 to 9 pm on Saturday.
- Fuji Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar, 150 Court Street, 304-344-0500. Open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch from 11:30 am to 2 pm, and dinner from 5 to 9 pm.
- Fresh Seafood Co. Market & Restaurant, 6230 MacCorkle Avenue in St. Albans, 304-768-9728. Open from 10:30 am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday, and 12 pm to 8 pm on Sunday; Capitol Market (304-343-3134) open from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday, and 12 pm to 5 pm on Sunday.
- Embassy Suites Charleston, 300 Court Street, 304-347-8700, .
- Beckley is about 1 hour south on I-77.
- Weston is about 1.5 hours northeast on I-79.