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City of Charleston


Below is a small sampling of the many opportunities available to UC students and their families.

Cultural Offerings

The Charleston Civic Center provides a venue for concerts, conferences, and sporting events. The Charleston Civic Center website boasts that the world's top recording artists country, pop, rock, jazz, and Christian receive their biggest encores in Charleston. You can also find live music in more intimate venues.

In addition, Charleston has a growing number of outdoor festivals that feature live music from all over the world. In late June, the UC riverfront is packed with visitors for Blues, Brews & BBQ, which brings a full day of blues to the UC campus, followed by Wine and All That Jazz, a day of jazz performers and wine tastings from West Virginia vineyards. Learn more about FestivALL.

The NPR radio show Mountain Stage is produced in Charleston, and attending these live recording sessions is a favorite Charleston pastime. Host Larry Groce brings an eclectic mix of well-known and up-and-coming artists to town to record the broadcast every Sunday evening. Learn more about Mountain Stage.

Students in Downtown Charleston 

Charleston’s art community features music, theater, dance and visual works that will impress cultural connoisseurs and more casual audiences alike. Stroll through downtown during the monthly art walks to check out the fine arts offerings of local galleries while enjoying refreshments, music and appearances by featured artists. Take a tour of the gold-domed State Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion, or the historic East End. Check out the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, home to the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Avampato Discovery Museum, and host to a full program of musical and theatrical performances each year. Schedules and more are available from the Clay Center.

Shopping & Dining

Pamper yourself with a trip to the Bridge Road shops, featuring unique businesses with art, food, clothing, toys, and jewelry, just 10 minutes from the UC campus. For wine, chocolates, and locally grown produce and flowers, visit the Capitol Market downtown. The Town Center Mall offers three indoor floors of retail therapy, and for outdoor shopping centers, try Southridge, Trace Fork, and Dudley Farms on U.S. Route 119 South.

For upscale dining with local flair, enjoy prime steaks at the Chop House or fresh sushi and Pan-Asian cuisine at Ichiban. Lola’s Pizza in South Hills has gourmet pizza and innovative salads. The Bridge Road Bistro, Soho’s, Bluegrass Kitchen, and Blossom Deli all offer delicious menus in inviting environs.

Whitewater Rafting in West Virginia 

Outdoor Pursuits

Charleston is a gateway to all kinds of outdoor excitement, including skiing, whitewater rafting, ATV and mountain bike trails, horseback riding, rock climbing, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking. In the winter, West Virginia offers the best skiing in the Southeast, with Snowshoe, Silver Creek, and Canaan Valley resorts all within a four-hour drive, and Winterplace only an hour away.

The Gauley and New Rivers are both within easy driving distance of Charleston, and attract whitewater rafters and kayakers, from beginners to extreme sports enthusiasts, to some of the best whitewater in the U.S. (photo courtesy of Class VI Rafting). For more information, visit the Department of Commerce website.

Nearby Kanawha State Forest, with 9,300 acres of hilly terrain and beautiful woodlands, has over 25 miles of trails, providing challenging terrain for hikers and mountain bikers. Coonskin Park has over 1,000 acres of woodland trails, picnic shelters, open meadows, tennis courts, and soccer fields. The Carriage Trail links the old Sunrise Mansion in South Hills with downtown via a mile-long wooded footpath.

Residents and visitors enjoy walking or jogging on the Kanawha Boulevard walk, which stretches three miles from Patrick Street to the 36th Street Bridge and offers scenic views of downtown, the State Capitol, and the University of Charleston.

Fresh Ideas

Charleston is a family-friendly city full of great things to see and do for people of all ages. In addition to great variety, everything is close by. Capitol Market, West Virginia’s best source for home-grown produce, plants, and flowers, hosts frequent chili cook-off events.

The Vandalia Gathering in May celebrates the music and culture of the Appalachian Mountains.

The West Virginia Power, Charleston’s minor league baseball team, plays in Power Park from April through August. The Charleston Rod Run and Doo Wop car show and the West Virginia Book Festival keep the city bustling in October.

For a leisurely day any time of year, stroll along tree-lined brick sidewalks and see first-hand why historic Capitol Street remains a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. Start from the levee and go all the way to the Capitol Market for an up-close look at what makes Charleston unique. Pop in the Peanut Shop for candy or fresh roasted nuts. Linger in Taylor Books, an independent bookstore with the added advantages of a cozy café and an art gallery annex. Savor homemade ice cream at Ellen’s or sample what’s fresh out of the oven at Charleston Bread Company.