A Summer Guide to Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston is full of life year-round, but the summer months are truly when it begins to show off. Check out this Summer Guide to Charleston to experience all the capital city has to offer!

Head outside

Whether you want to be in the downtown buzz or prefer a secluded trail, Charleston has it all. The historic Sunrise Carriage Trail is a 1.4-mile trail near downtown that provides picturesque views of the city as you work your way to the top of the hill. If you’re looking to be in a more sequestered area, Kanawha State Forest boasts 9,300 acres of rich West Virginia wildlife and is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Charleston. To experience the outdoor city life, attend a Charleston Dirty Birds baseball game or head over to Slack Plaza at City Center for a concert or afternoon yoga. Interested in the state’s history? Take a stroll through the State Capitol grounds.

Grab a bite

Known for its delicious hand-stretched and stone-baked pizzas, Pies and Pints is a local favorite, offering everything from wings to salads, pizzas, sandwiches, and craft beers. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, head across the street to Ellen’s Ice Cream to try their Espresso Oreo ice cream or brownie sundae. For a cozy night in the hills, gather around an outdoor table and order the Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Pizza or Goat Cheese Salad at Lola’s Pizza. Looking for something more elevated? Stop in 1010 Bridge to explore the tasty eats created by Chef Paul Smith, a James Beard Award Winner. For a quick lunch, check out Coco’s or Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill.

Explore Brewer’s Row

Located on Summers Street in downtown Charleston, Brewer’s Row consists of three unique breweries filled with delicious craft beers. Bad Shepherd, which is connected to the popular Black Sheep restaurant, is known for its sours and barrel-aged brews. Make sure to grab one of Fife Street Brewing’s IPAs (and one of their amazing grilled cheeses!), and don’t miss the imperial stout and Detroit-style pizzas at Short Story Brewing

Tip: Earn a Brewer’s Row pint glass by drinking three beers from each brewery and getting the Brewer’s Row Passport stamps to prove it!

Shop locally

Taylor Books is a must-visit in Charleston, offering delicious coffee, a vast array of books, quirky local art, pottery classes, and a hidden underground cinema. Down the street, you can find Charleston’s historic Capitol Market, equipped with the region’s finest plants, fruits and vegetables, Swiss chocolates from Holl’s Chocolates, West Virginia-made goods, and more. Enjoy Elk City’s Kin Ship Goods, stocked with a variety of Appalachian-inspired apparel, or head up to the charming Bridge Road Shops for trendy footwear, clothing, and home goods. Don’t miss Buck & Bette, a quaint shop downtown filled with curated goods and customizable stationery.

Stop in for a snack

As the city’s oldest business in its original location, The Peanut Shoppe has been a staple in the city since 1950. After grabbing some of their roasted nuts or handmade caramels, head across the street to check out Mea Cuppa at the freshly renovated Kanawha County Public Library. Also, make sure to hit up Charleston Bread a few blocks down and grab a loaf of freshly baked sourdough or a warm chocolate chip cookie. In the mood for a warm donut or pastry? Meander over to Elk City and stop in The Vandalia Company. Pop in next door to check out their sister store, The Vandalia Market, too!

Attend a festival

After its 13-year hiatus, The Charleston Sternwheel Regatta has been back in full swing since 2022 and has easily become one of the most sensational events in the city – it attracted over 220,000 people in 2023! Held each summer around July 4th, the Regatta hosts a variety of events, including concerts, a carnival, wiener dog and rubber duck races, parades, a car show, and more. Each June, Foam at the Dome, a beer festival dedicated to urban development efforts, is filled with people on Kanawha Boulevard. Another popular event in Charleston is FestivALL, which celebrates a variety of arts and creative people in June. As part of FestivALL, The Wine and Jazz Music Festival offers tasty food, live music from renowned jazz artists, and regional wines at the University of Charleston.

Enjoy the arts

While you can experience the arts year-round in Charleston, they really “put on a show” in the summer months. There is almost always a concert, musical, or event happening at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center or the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences of West Virginia. As part of FestivALL, the Charleston Light Opera Guild runs a show for a few weeks and often has a second show later in the summer. Mountain Stage, a live radio show concert, usually has a couple of performances each month at the Culture Center Theater, and ArtWalk, a self-guided walking tour of the city’s galleries and local businesses, typically happens on the third Thursday of each month. You can’t miss Live on the Levee, which is an outdoor concert held every Friday in the summer at Haddad Riverfront Park. It’s filled with great music, games, local food trucks, and lots of people!

Make sure to get your free West Virginia vacation guide to learn more about adventures in the Mountain State!

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This post was last updated on June 27, 2024