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Snapshot: Charleston, West Virginia

By: Brittany Furbee

Where to find great brews, chef-driven food, and city scenery in Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia, is nestled between the picturesque Kanawha River and the lush rolling hills of the Allegheny Mountains. Unbeknownst to many, the historic town sits atop an ancient ocean that is over 400 million years old, known as the Iapetus. This geological wonder contributed to the state’s thriving salt industry during the 1700 and 1800s, leading it to become the largest salt producing region in the country. Today, you can visit the nearby J.Q. Dickenson Salt-Works for a taste of history, as the seventh-generation salt makers are still producing artisan salts by hand.

Embracing its distinct history while anticipating the future is what Charleston does best. In recent years, the downtown area has welcomed a flood of new art galleries, chic boutiques, and diverse restaurants and breweries, reinventing itself with a fresh edge. Whether you’re looking to explore historic landmarks like the magnificent gold-domed State Capitol Building, interested in discovering the arts by catching a performance at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, or wanting to enjoy nearby natural wonders like the New River Gorge, the river city is the perfect jumping-off point for an immersive West Virginia experience. 

Downtown at Your Doorstep

At the heart of downtown, the Four Points by Sheraton Charleston boasts prime views of the Kanawha River and direct access to Haddad Riverfront Park, the epicenter of entertainment in the city. In the summer and fall, the park comes alive with popular festivals like the annual Ribfest barbecue festival. Just around the corner from the hotel are boutique shops like the cozy apparel and home goods store Buck & Bette, and just minutes from the Charleston Town Center mall and the vibrant Capitol Market, a year-round indoor-outdoor market features farm fresh goods and specialty shops. 

A colorful stand "Johnnie's Fresh Meat Market" selling colorful canned goods inside Charleston, West Virginia's Capital Market
Inside Charleston, West Virginia’s Capital Market

Captivating Cuisine 

Charleston is home to chef Paul Smith, who is leading the charge in redefining the culinary landscape of the Mountain State. Smith is the owner of 1010 Bridge, a farm-to-table restaurant focusing on modern Appalachian and Southern cuisine. With menu items like Bloody Butcher corn and scallion griddle cakes and pan-seared day boat scallops with preserved ramp butter, it’s clear why Smith is West Virginia’s first James Beard Award finalist for Best Chef: Southeast.

 For a relaxed atmosphere, Black Sheep Burritos and Brews delivers with their funky art-lined walls, Mexican-inspired menu items, and array of local brews and craft cocktails. If a sweet treat after dinner sparks your interest, simply walk around the corner to Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream, a beloved staple that has been serving up scoops for more than 20 years.  

Chef Paul Smith holding a knife leaning against a counter in his restaurant 1010 Bridge in charleston, West Virginia
Chef Paul Smith pictured in his restaurant 1010 Bridge. Image by Ryan Donnell.

Welcome to Brewers Row 

Hopping on the craft brewery movement, Charleston recently launched a campaign to promote “Brewers Row,” a portion of Summers Street that features a high concentration of craft breweries and taprooms. Visit the anchor businesses—Bad Shepherd Beer Company, Fife Street Brewing, and Short Story Brewing—or the other dozen bars and restaurants in between. Beer lovers can get in on even more fun with a Brewer’s Row Passport from Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau; stamps from the three flagship breweries earn a pint glass to commemorate the trip. 

A image of a man holding a glass under a tap, pouring a beer at Bridge  Brew Works in Charleston, West Virginia.
Find the perfect pour at one of Charleston, West Virginia’s famous breweries!
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