Charleston

20 Free (or Nearly Free!) Things to Do in Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston is the capital of West Virginia. The city itself might be small and the population low, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things to do there. You will find lots of fun things to do in Charleston, WV. There are also numerous free things to do in Charleston, which is probably the main reason why you are reading this post! You can easily plan what to do in Charleston, West Virginia for your next vacation. Your list of things to do can include all the Charleston, WV tourist attractions or you can simply choose the ones you are interested in the most. If we have one piece of advice for you though, it would be to make sure you take time to see at least one of the unique things to do in Charleston when you are visiting.


Where is Charleston, West Virginia?

Charleston, West Virginia
Credits: Edsel Little, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

You will find the city of Charleston, West Virginia where the Kanawha and Elk Rivers meet. It is part of Kanawha County.


Best Time to Visit Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia happens to be an amazing vacation destination year-round. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t better times to visit. Some people believe the months of March, April, and May are the best times to visit Charleston, West Virginia. At that time of the year, the flowers are beginning to bloom and it isn’t too hot or humid yet.

The fall months of September, October, and November are also perfect for visiting Charleston, West Virginia. Those months are when the crowds finally dissipate, and bargains can be found.


Weather in Charleston, West Virginia

The winters are moderately warm in Charleston, West Virginia. It rarely goes below freezing. The temperatures warm up during the spring and it gets hot and humid during the summer. The summer months also bring lots of rain. It dries out again in the fall, as the temperatures begin to drop, and it becomes easier to spend more time outside.


20 Free (or Nearly Free!) Things to Do in Charleston, West Virginia

1. Wander Around Taylor Books

Taylor Books is a nice small bookstore and coffee shop in Charleston, WV. You can easily browse the books and never spend a dime. However, you may be tempted to grab a cup of coffee to drink, as you listen to the local bands play. This is one of the fun things to do in Charleston for couples.

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2. Wander Around the Capitol Market

Capitol Market in Charleston, West Virginia
Credits: Richie Diesterheft, Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Capitol Market in Charleston, WV is filled with fresh produce and other local goods. This outdoor market is open during the summer and fall. During the winter months, it is the perfect spot for purchasing a Christmas tree. If you are ever looking for family things to do in Charleston, this should be at the top of your list.

3. Do a Little Antique Window Shopping at Stray Dog Antiques

There are some people that can simply just not window shop when they are looking at antiques. If you are one of those people, you may want to skip over this free thing to do in Charleston, West Virginia! If you can do this, then you will love looking at all the antique furniture, books, jewelry, and so much more at Stray Dog Antiques.

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4. Take a Tour of the West Virginia State Capitol

West Virginia State Capitol, Charleston, WV
Credits: David Wilson, Flickr CC BY 2.0

One of the most beautiful buildings in Charleston, WV is the State Capitol. Tours of this building are available. If you love looking at the inside of buildings, and enjoy history, this is one of the must-do things in Charleston, West Virginia.

5. Stop at the Veteran Memorial

The Veteran Memorial is located on the grounds of the Capitol, so you can easily do both these free things in Charleston, WV at once. This memorial honors the more than ten thousand West Virginians who lost their lives while serving their country.

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6. Check Out the Governor’s Mansion

Governor’s Mansion in Charleston, West Virginia
Credits: J. Stephen Conn, Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

The Governor’s Mansion is also located in Charleston, WV. There is a fee to enter the mansion and take a tour of the rooms on the first floor. But it won’t cost you anything to look at the building from the outside! This is one of the activities in Charleston, WV you can do as you are wandering around the city streets.

7. See the Replica of the Liberty Bell

The Replica of the Liberty Bell is also located near the State Capitol, so you will find yourself quickly checking off many items on your list of things to do in Charleston, West Virginia. This is one of the fifty-three replicas of this bell.

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8. Explore Kanawha State Forest

Kanawha State Forest in Charleston, West Virginia
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

One of the best attractions near Charleston, WV is the Kanawha State Park. You will find this park to the south of the downtown area. There are multiple picnic areas, as well as playgrounds. We recommend taking the time to walk on the Spotted Salamander Trail. The trail is paved, so you won’t need to worry about getting stuck with a stroller. There are also guided walks offered throughout the week if you want to learn more about local nature.

9. Wander Around the Haddad Riverfront Park

It is so easy to spend hours wandering around Haddad Riverfront Park. As you walk around, you will see views of the water. There is a massive amphitheater located within this park and many special events are held there throughout the year. While most of the events are not free, you can still enjoy the beauty of this park without spending a cent.

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10. Visit the West Virginia State Museum

West Virginia State Museum
Credits: howderfamily.com, Flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The West Virginia State Museum is free for everyone to enter. Inside, you will find numerous interactive exhibits, as well as artifacts from all over the state. This is an excellent thing to do in Charleston, West Virginia if you are looking to learn as much about the history of the state as you can.

11. Get Some Exercise in at Cato Park

Cato Park is the perfect option when you need to get some exercise in during your time in Charleston, WV. You can play golf or soccer, but if you are visiting in the middle of the summer, swimming will be at the top of your list. There are also more than five miles of trails for you to walk or run along. You won’t need to worry about creating a larger list of things to do with kids in Charleston once this park makes it onto your list of fun!

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12. Stroll Along Capitol Street

Capitol Street in Charleston, West Virginia
Credits: Richie Diesterheft, Flickr CC BY 2.0

Some of the best West Virginia historical sites can be seen during a stroll along Capitol Street. There are many historical buildings that have been carefully preserved over the years. If you happen to time your visit for the months of March through December, you can participate in the ArtWalk events that are hosted by the city.

13. Explore Daniel Boone Park

There are so many things to do in Daniel Boone Park. But you must make sure you take the time to see the Ruffner Cabin. This cabin was reconstructed inside this park. It was originally constructed by Joseph Ruffner, who was the original owner of much of the land that is now known as Charleston.

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14. Visit the Craik-Patton House

Craik-Patton House in Charleston, West Virginia
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The Craik-Patton House is on the National Register of Historic Places. The house was constructed in 1834 but not in its current location. At first, this home was over in central Charleston, but now it is located next to Daniel Boone Park. Tours of the home are free. Once you have seen the inside of the house, you can wander through the gardens and even tour the log cabin on the grounds.

15. Window Shop at Charleston Town Center

On rainy days, you may think you will have a difficult time finding free and fun things to do with kids in Charleston. One of the places to visit in Charleston on rainy days that we like to recommend is the Charleston Town Center. Although, many people will tell you it is one of the top things to do in Charleston on any day of the year. This enclosed shopping mall has been open since 1983. There are two floors filled with stores and restaurants. We recommend checking into the Kids Club and the Teen Program for the time you are in Charleston.

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16. Drive Along the Midland Trail

Midland Trail in Charleston, West Virginia
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The Midland Trail is approximately 190 miles long. While it goes through Charleston, WV, you can take it to areas like Kenova and White Sulphur Springs. This scenic drive is perfect if you are looking for things to do near Charleston, WV. There are plenty of places to stop to see historic sites and stunning views. There are even rafting opportunities along the way, but those won’t be free.

17. Visit the South Charleston Museum

You will find the South Charleston Museum inside LaBelle Theater. The inside of the museum is filled with historical artifacts, as well as items from the present. You can also see many different documents that have been gathered and put on display.

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18. Check Out the South Charleston Indian Mound

South Charleston Indian Mound
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The South Charleston Indian Mound is the second largest Indian mound in the state. It is one of many things to do in Charleston, WV this weekend. The mound is 175 feet across and almost thirty-five feet high. According to local stories, this Indian mound belonged to Adena Culture Indians.

19. Wander Through the Blenko Glass Company

The Blenko Glass Company has been open since 1893. They create beautiful hand-blown glass pieces like bowls, pitchers, and water bottles. You can take a tour and stand on the observation deck to watch them perform this craft. However, if time is short, you can simply wander through their shop and grab a few souvenirs to take home.

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20. See the Birds at Hawks Nest State Park

Hawks Nest State Park, Charleston, West Virginia
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Numerous birds call Hawks Nest State Park home. This is one of the best things to do near Charleston, West Virginia. A visit here can have your entire family seeing hawks, black vultures, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and so many other feathered friends. When you decide to do this Charleston, WV activity, you must remember to take your binoculars with you!


Expert Tips for Traveling to Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia is an incredible destination for family vacations or solo trips. However, a few helpful tips can make your visit better than you could ever imagine. Here are a couple helpful expert tips for traveling to Charleston, West Virginia:

Stop at the Charleston Visitors Desk First – The very first thing you must do when you arrive in Charleston, WV is stop at the Charleston Visitors Desk. It is located at the Capitol Market. There are numerous brochures available, as well as a person who can answer any questions you may have.

Charleston Visitors Desk First
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Utilize the Kanawha Rapid Transit – If you do not plan on walking everywhere in Charleston, WV, you must download the smartphone app for the Kanawha Rapid Transit. It is the best way to explore the city with just a couple taps of your fingers.

These are the twenty free, or nearly, free things you can do when you are visiting Charleston, West Virginia. As you can see, there are so many places to see in Charleston, WV. And with so many cheap things to do in Charleston, you won’t break your vacation budget during your visit.

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