Road Trips on I-64: Metro Valley

Home to approximately 30% of West Virginia’s population, the Metro Valley Region is filled with a culturally rich atmosphere and some of the best shopping, dining, and entertainment options in the state.

Day One

Begin your trip in the beautiful and energetic city of Charleston. Charleston, West Virginia’s capital city, was founded in 1788 and is known for its rich culture and abundance of recreational activities. Located in Kanawha County, the largest and most populated county of all 55 counties in the state, Charleston offers plenty of festivities and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, and rafting. Driving into the heart of the city, you’ll likely catch a glimpse of the State Capitol Building with its 23-karat gold dome shining like the star that it is.

Right across the riverbank stands the stunning University of Charleston (UC), a private university known for its high-quality education—most notably its nursing and pharmacy programs—dedication to community service and top-performing athletics teams. With roughly 3,000 students from over 40 U.S. states and 44 different countries, the university has earned itself the title of the most diverse college campus in the state of West Virginia. Its men’s soccer team won two NCAA Division II national championships in 2017 and 2019, and the school’s athletic department has received awards for athletic excellence five times within the past six years. Approximately 85% of all UC graduates are employed within just six months of graduating.

Looking for a place with lots of art, music, family fun, and Appalachian culture? The Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences is an excellent place to explore music, theater, art and science all wrapped up in one building. Dedicated to promoting performing arts, visual arts and the sciences, the Clay Center offers two interactive science exhibits, a world-class art museum and multiple theatrical and instrumental performances.

If you want to check out some fresh food and local businesses, Capitol Market is the place to go. Located in what used to be a freight train station in the 1800s, this indoor and outdoor market is open all year round and offers fresh food fare, seasonal goods, gourmet treats, and even has a full-scale restaurant featuring Italian cuisine.

On the hunt for some good reads with a side of coffee? Located on the picturesque Capitol Street, Taylor Books is a must-visit place for book lovers and coffee lovers alike. A cozy atmosphere that offers decadent coffee and pastries, a broad selection of reads, and a small art gallery, Taylor Books is just the place to visit before heading across the street for some ice cream. Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream offers premium, homemade ice cream, gelato, sorbet and sherbet in a variety of classic as well as unique flavors. It also serves yummy soups, sandwiches, salads, and wraps. Ellen’s was voted “Favorite Dessert Shop” in the Charleston Visitors Bureau 2019 People’s Choice Awards. If you’re in the mood for some of the best pizza around, cross the street from Ellen’s and head over to Pies & Pints for some one-of-a-kind pizza and craft beer.

End your day at the Charleston Marriott Town Center, a 352-room hotel that is just a 5-minute walk from the Charleston Civic Center and a 5-mile drive from Yeager Airport.

Day Two

After seeing all the sites Charleston has to offer, head on down to Huntington. Huntington is the second-largest city in the state, and it is a bustling place known for its commerce and heavy industry. Nestled right along the Ohio River where the state meets both Kentucky and Ohio, this city is part of the largest inland port in the entire United States.

Head over to the Huntington Mall, the largest shopping center in the state. This mall is known for its vast array of entertainment options that feature over 150 retailers. Looking for some outdoor adventure instead? Ritter Park, named one of the “10 Great Public Spaces” in 2012 by the American Planning Association, is filled with scenic walking trails, tennis courts, a dog park and a nationally recognized rose garden that contains over 1,000 different types of plants.

Located just off the western end of Ritter Park is the Museum of Radio & Technology, a great place for antique radio lovers to learn all about the birth and growth of electronic communication. If museums are more your style, the Huntington Museum of Art is the largest museum between Pittsburgh (PA), Cincinnati (OH) and Richmond (VA). With a 52-acre campus, this museum offers featured collections, numerous exhibitions, educational programs and nature trails.

Huntington is also home to one of the most popular colleges in the state. Marshall University, a school nationally renowned for its programs in rural health delivery and its NCAA Division I football team. Marshall has around 13,000 students from all over the world and offers 57 distinct undergraduate degrees.

After a long day of exploring Huntington, spend the night at Fairfield Inn & Suites, a hotel with 79 rooms that is located just off of I-64 and is only 3 miles from Ritter Park and 4 miles from the Huntington Museum of Art.

With so much to do and see, how will you explore the Metro Valley?

This post was last updated on October 13, 2021