Charleston (West Virginia)

The West Virginia State Capitol

Charleston, established in 1794, is the state capital 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.

Get in

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. I-64 and I-77 run together along the West Virginia Turnpike, a toll road, from the far eastern end of Charleston to Beckley, and the Turnpike continues as I-77 to Princeton, near the state border with Virginia. However, tolls are not collected on the Turnpike in the immediate vicinity of Charleston; the nearest toll barrier is about 17 miles (27 km) south of downtown Charleston.

By plane

You can also fly into Yeager Airport (IATA: CRW) , which is near the junction of I-77 and I-64. Yeager Airport offers daily service to and from Atlanta (Delta), Charlotte (American), Chicago (United), Detroit (Delta), Houston (United), Myrtle Beach (Spirit Airlines, seasonal), New York City-LaGuardia (Delta), Philadelphia (American), and both Washington-Dulles (United) and Washington-Reagan National (American).

By train

Amtrak serves Charleston with its thrice-weekly Cardinal service between New York/Washington, D.C. and Chicago. Trains depart early evening westbound, and early morning on the eastbound leg.   Charleston station is located at 350 MacCorkle Avenue, across the river from downtown. There's an enclosed waiting area, but those catching the evening departure might want to instead linger in the fine dining restaurant Laury's, which now occupies a large part of the station building.

Get around

Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority, popularly called "KRT"



Charleston is home to Kanawha State Forest a 9,300-acre (38 km2) recreation area located near the community of Loudendale, West Virginia. There are many scenic walking, hiking, biking, and riding trails in the state forest. There is also an outdoor pool that is open in the summer, various camp sites, a shooting range, a small lake for fishing, and stables. Hunting and fishing are allowed in-season. Picnic shelters are available throughout the park and can be rented for parties. There are led walks at various times of the year, information on which is available on the website. Kanawha State Forest hosts an annual trail run called the "Dirty Dog 15K".

There are also various parks throughout the city such as Magic Island, a nice park located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha rivers in The City of Charleston's West Side area which is a favorite haunt for runners, volleyball players, and frisbee lovers. It has a walking track, sand volleyball court, and picnic areas.

A stones throw from downtown, in Charleston's South Hills, the Carriage Trail is a beautiful and historical trail that leads to former Governor William MacCorkle's hilltop mansion, the former site of the Sunrise Science Museum. At the bottom of the trail lies the burial ground of two Confederate spies executed by Union troops in 1863.


Charleston has three newspapers published under the umbrella corporation of Charleston Newspapers, 1001 Virginia Street E, +1-800-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 within its limits, and a second is in an unincorporated community about 8 miles (13 km) west of downtown. A two-year community college recently moved from the second university to a campus about 4 miles (6.5 km) from downtown in the separate city of South Charleston, and even more recently merged with another community college located about 30 miles upriver in Montgomery.

  • University of Charleston, 2300 MacCorkle Avenue SE, +1 304-357-4750 or +1 800-995-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.
  • West Virginia State University, WV Route 25, Institute, +1 800-987-2112 . A public coeducational university founded in 1891 for the state's African American community. Following the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, it transformed from a primarily residential black college to a predominantly commuter college with a heavily white student body, although its administration remains heavily African American to this day. "State", as the school is locally called, offers about 70 different bachelor's degrees in 20 different departments, plus master's degrees in biotechnology and media studies.
  • BridgeValley Community and Technical College, 2001 Union Carbide Drive, South Charleston, +1 304-205-6700 and 619 S. 2nd Avenue, Montgomery, +1 304-205-6600 . A public two-year college formed in 2014 by the merger of Kanawha Valley and Bridgemont Community and Technical Colleges (respectively in South Charleston and Montgomery). Both campuses had started as community colleges associated with four-year schools—KVCTC with State and Bridgemont with WVU Tech (originally the West Virginia Institute of Technology)—but were separated from the four-year schools early in the 21st century. Offers over 40 associate's degree programs and nearly 20 certificate programs. The South Charleston campus is at a large office park that had been a major R&D facility for chemical manufacturer Union Carbide until being largely abandoned after that company was bought by Dow Chemical.



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 generic; chains like T.G.I. Friday's, Outback, Olive Garden, and Red Lobster are common. There are, however, some more unique local eateries:





Go next

Routes through Charleston

Cincinnati Huntington  W  E  White Sulphur Springs Washington, D.C.
Lexington Hurricane  W  S  Beckley Charlottesville
Canton Parkersburg ← Jct W E  N  S  Beckley Wytheville
Morgantown Sutton  N  S  Merges into
Lexington Hurricane  W  E  Jct S NLewisburg Amherst

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