We’re continually on the hunt for experiences that add richness to our lives. In the spirit of the revival of road trips, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston. We feel that our smart and savvy readers will find these trips interesting and entertaining.

Charleston, West Virginia

Have you ever heard of a Staycation? It essentially means staying at home and vacationing in your own city. Since many readers of this magazine are actively seeking to buy a home, are new to the area, or might just be looking to learn more about their city, let’s explore Charleston, West Virginia.

Where to Stay in Charleston

Staycations are often spent at home rather than incurring a hotel expense, but should you like to venture out, there are many choices that won’t break the bank. The Holiday Inn Express Civic Center is in a centralized location with nice sized stylish rooms, complimentary breakfast, and free WiFi and parking. Some may prefer the Charleston Marriott Town Center, with really good onsite restaurants, an indoor pool, and all of the amenities you would want in a luxury hotel. Four Points by Sheraton offers a spot right on the Kanawha River in the heart of town. You won’t get better views of Charleston than from this vantage point.

For those looking to step out of the box a bit, the Brass Pineapple on the East End is Charleston’s premier bed and breakfast. This 1910 home is filled with antiques and serves a killer breakfast and afternoon tea.

Staying at Corridor G is another option. The Southridge Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express & Suites are two popular offerings.

Where to Dine in Charleston

For a city as small as Charleston, it is surprising how many different ethnic restaurants are represented. For Mexican, head to Cozumel Mexican Restaurant, Los Agaves, or Mi Cocina de Amor. The Creperie Cafe Plus offers savory and sweet crepes while Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse has scrumptious Japanese fare and sushi.

Farm-to-table choices in the capital city are Bluegrass Kitchen (eclectic comfort food), South Hills Market & Cafe (casual American fare), Bridge Road Bistro (neighborhood gem and stellar bar), and Bricks and Barrels (awesome charcuterie platters!) that resonate highly with the locals.

In downtown Charleston, try a pizza and great happy hour beer prices at Pies & Pints, then cross the street and enjoy Charleston’s best ice cream at Ellen’s. Drop by The Block on Capital Street for contemporary dishes such as Wild Alaskan Salmon with White Truffle Tarragon Risotto. Sunday Brunch should be enjoyed at Black Sheep Burrito & Brews or neighboring First Watch, for favorites such as Chicken ‘N Waffles, Skillet Hash, and Eggs Benedict. Experience old-world Italian classics at Fazio’s or partake in happy hour at the Recovery Sports Grill or Adelphia Sports Bar.

Celebrating a special occasion or looking for Charleston’s best dining experience? Try The Chop House, at the Charleston Town Center Mall, for a mouth-watering steak or chilled seafood platter.

What to Do on Your Weekend Trip to Charleston

Cultural finds in Charleston range from the well-stocked booths at the Farmers Market, state-of-the-art exhibits at the West Virginia State Museum (or Cultural Center to locals), to WV Power AA baseball at Appalachian Power Park. At the Clay Center, discover the Avampato Discovery Museum for kids, Caperton Planetarium and Theater, and fine art museum for adults. Off-Broadway shows, concerts, and the West Virginia Symphony perform at the fantastic Maier Performance Hall.

Get your shopping fix at the Shoppes at South Hills with stores like Eggplant, Kids Country Toys, Eclectics, and Yarid’s Shoes. Pop in Sarah’s Bakery for the best pastries or quiche that you’ve ever tasted!

Located a few minutes from Charleston is the Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, a great venue for gambling, greyhound racing, tabletop games, and live entertainment. Another fun way to win some money is to play bingo at the Dunbar Athletic Building. The profits benefit local schools’ sports teams and extracurricular activities. Around $20 gets you 12 cards for regular bingo games; payouts are impressive. Later, visit Crowder Auctions in Pinch to take home your favorite QVC items at deep discounts.

Charleston is now offering a local food tour, Mountain State Food Tours, with five food stops and lots of history. How fun does that sound?

There is nightlife in Charleston, too. Popular spots include The Boulevard Tavern and Big Joe’s on Capitol street, the Red Carpet Lounge on Charleston’s East End, and the Empty Glass for awesome live music. Speaking of live music, Mountain Stage has been providing the mountain state with incredible live music from up and coming artists to crowd favorites every Sunday for over 30 years now. The show is distributed on NPR and can be heard on more than 150 stations around the world. Concerts typically take place at the Culture Center Theatre on the WV State Capitol grounds.

Charleston: More Than Meets the Eye

Charleston is a wonderful city to visit and especially to live in. There is as much or as little as you want to do. I may be biased, but Charleston has the most gorgeous state capitol in the nation. Get out and explore your hometown with these staycation suggestions.