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Whether you’ve never been to Charleston, or just looking to get out of Charlie West for the weekend, the southwestern region of the Mountain State offers everything from outdoor adventure to small-town festivals and shopping.
Both the largest city and capital of West Virginia, Charleston is a historic yet bustling city set in the southwestern part of the state. Home to the University of Charleston, Charlie West is a charming city with plenty to see and do.
This being capital city, it may be important to see the West Virginia Capitol Complex – a U.S. Historic district found on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Covering 18 acres, the complex consists of the West Virginia State Capitol – of course – and the West Virginia Executive Mansion. Sign up at the West Virginia Culture Center for tours of the capitol – also West Virginia’s tallest building.
Charlie West is also teeming with cultural sites. Be sure to check out Charleston spots like Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences, Heritage Towers Museum & Culture Center, and the West Virginia Dance Festival.
Spanning over 9,000 acres in southwestern West Virginia, the Kanawha State Forest is just a 10-minute drive from central Charleston. Operated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the forest features summer, winter, and educational activities. Kanawha State Forest offers nine mountain biking trails, and 25 miles of hiking trails – including Alligator Rock, Johnson Hollow, and Lindy Trail. Kanawha also boasts swimming, fishing, hunting, picnicking, and cross-country skiing.
Charleston also acts as a gateway to the many scenic parks and rivers of eastern West Virginia. Most set along US Route 19 yields the Summersville Lake State Wildlife Area, Babcock State Park, Little Beaver State Park, and for you National Park lovers, the New River Gorge National River.
Follow the Kanawha River out of town to Barboursville – roughly 40 miles west of Charleston. Be sure to use US Route 60 – following the Midland Trail, a National Scenic Byway. Part of the Huntington metropolitan area, Barboursville is known as the Best Little Village in the State.
A great example of small-town charm in the Mountain State, Barboursville Park is a 750-acre green space featuring athletic fields and picnic spots, walking trails and an outdoor amphitheater. Barboursville Park also offers a fishing lake, archery range, and biking trails – all surrounded by scenic, West Virginia landscapes.
If you’re looking to get some shopping done, head to Huntington Mall – the largest shopping mall in West Virginia. Found along Interstate 64, the mall offers over 150 stores across more than 1.5 million square feet of retail space. Grab some backseat entertainment at Books-A-Million, catch a flick at Cinemark Theatres, or pick up some new hiking boots at Dick's Sporting Goods.
For more outdoor fun in Barboursville, Beech Fork State Park surrounds – you guessed it – Beech Fork Lake. Covering over 3,800 acres, Beech Fork offers hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and more. Visitors can rent a pontoon boat from Beech Fork Lake Marina, enjoy a family picnic, work on their tennis skills, or just enjoy some nature viewing.
The town of Chapmanville is located 50 south of Barboursville on State Route 10, or 45 southwest of Charleston along US Route 119. Located on Guyandotte River, Chapmanville is referred to as a “Town With Heart.”
Neighboring the famed Hatfield-McCoy Trails, Chapmanville moves at a leisurely pace. Grab a game of golf at Logan Country Club Golf Course, catch a game at Tiger Stadium, get a pizza at Giovannis, or just enjoy small-town life.
A festive spot in southern West Virginia, Chapmanville offers plenty of events throughout the year. Check out May’s Fish Fry in the Park, and the annual Applebutter Festival in September. Annual activities also include fireworks on Independence Day, Chapmanville Trick or Treating throughout town Halloween eve, and plenty of holiday events.
Set just south of C-town, Chief Logan State Park is a 4,000-acre outdoor escape and learning facility near Logan. The park offers the Liz Spurlock Outdoor Amphitheater, the C & O Kanawha train display, and the Museum in the Park. Nature lovers, enjoy 18 miles of hiking trails, a swimming pool, and plenty of wildlife viewing.