ArtsIt’s no secret that West Virginia’s natural landscape is simply stunning, but once you get here, you’ll find that the arts and culture tucked among our mountains can rival any big-city scene. Spend a few days in the outdoors and around our tiny towns, and you’ll discover where many West Virginia artists find their inspiration. From local galleries to museums and performing arts theatres, the culture of West Virginia shines best when experienced through the art that’s made and celebrated here.
Get familiar with Charleston’s hip and diverse arts scene with a stroll across town to view its impressive portfolio of public art. Make time for these “must-sees”: Charly Hamilton’s “West Side Wonder Mural,” the Clay Center’s massive “Hallelujah” sculpture, Capitol Street’s “Mortar Man” (if you can find him!) and the State Capitol Complex, which includes statues, sculptures and the Capitol’s brilliant gold dome.
Spend the afternoon browsing through local artwork and handmade goods in several downtown businesses like Art Emporium, Gallery 11, and Swiftwater General Store. Stop in Taylor Books to purchase tickets to its Floralee Hark Cohen Cinema where foreign, local, documentary, and indie film screenings are held every Friday and Saturday night.
There’s no nightly shortage of performing arts in West Virginia’s capital city. Catch performances by the Charleston Ballet Company, the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and the Charleston Light Opera Guild throughout the year.
Get inspired by the beauty of West Virginia on a scenic drive to historic Lewisburg, a charming town set at the crossroads of the Midland Trail (U.S. 60) and U.S. 219. Be sure to stop off in Gauley Bridge to see the breathtaking Cathedral Falls along the way.
Once you arrive, have a fresh farm-to-table meal at Stardust Café, where the colorful dishes are a work of art in their own right. After lunch, discover unique creations at the art galleries in downtown Lewisburg.
You’ll find not one, but three galleries with rotating bi-monthly exhibits at historic Carnegie Hall on Church Street. Paintings and photographs are often on display and for sale. Purchasing these works means supporting Carnegie’s mission to cultivate an appreciation for creativity and the arts.
The performing arts run deep in the Greenbrier Valley with music and theatre far beyond the traditional. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a live stage production, concert or evening jam session. Greenbrier Valley Theatre sets the stage for theatrical shows, opera performances and more.
Head to dinner at The French Goat before catching a show at the Lewis Theatre, where you can watch features and special films, as well as live performances by the company in residence, Trillium Performing Arts Collective.
Located on the edge of the Monongahela National Forest, Elkins is full of natural beauty, but its human-created arts scene is also vibrant, making it a worthwhile visit. Randolph County has its own arts center housed in a historic Catholic church, which offers classes to locals throughout the year.
For a dose of Appalachian culture, spend an afternoon at the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis and Elkins College. The center offers multi-week arts seminars, with a special focus on regional Appalachian dance, music and folklore, through the summer.
A stay in Elkins is incomplete if you miss the evening entertainment at the Gandy Dancer Theatre, which puts on full dinner and dancing extravaganzas. Shows at the Gandy Dancer are family-friendly, featuring a music and comedy from the 50s to the 90s, country, Motown, gospel, patriotic and legendary performers.
Arts and culture are a main feature in the daily life of Berkeley Springs, from public art and annual studio tours to a downtown historic district and vibrant nightlife. In between soaks at Berkeley Springs State Park, you can check out galleries and shops with unique products by local artists like the Mountain Laurel Gallery and Frog Valley Artisans.
The Morgan Arts Council (MAC) Ice House is part of the reason Berkeley Springs was the first certified arts town in West Virginia. Visit for studio tours, concerts, art classes, cultural lectures and an artists’ co-op. An afternoon spent here will have your artistic spirit rejuvenated in no time.
Cross county lines over to Shepherdstown for another small town that has arts and culture nailed down. Aside from a picture-perfect main street, Shepherdstown is known for the Contemporary American Theater Festival that takes place every summer to celebrate American playwrights on the campus of Shepherd University. For more nighttime arts action, catch film screenings or live music at the historic Shepherdstown Opera House.
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