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West Virginia's Charming Charleston

© By Mike Keenan
West Virginia State Capitol In Charleston

Each fall we drive through West Virginia's hills and valleys to visit friends further south, and we are always impressed with the dazzling natural beauty and colour of the state. A visit to the capital was in order.
     From my research, I was excited to learn that this was Daniel Boone territory. The first permanent settlement, Fort Lee, was built in 1788 and in 1791, Boone was a member of the Kanawha County Assembly. The origin of the word Kanawha (pronounced "KA-NAW"), derives from the region's Iroquois dialects meaning "water way" or "Canoe Way." It's the name of the river that flows past Charleston. When Boone was commissioned a lieutenant colonel of the Kanawha County militia and elected to serve in Virginia House of Delegates, he walked all the way to Richmond. At the Cultural Center, you will see George Washington 's telescope, Daniel Boone's rifle and the noose used to hang abolitionist John Brown among many historically significant artifacts. To emulate Boone, here are some places for you to walk to better enjoy Charleston:
• Arts: The arts community features music, theater, dance and visual works that will impress audiences, all within easy reach. The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra offers rich music with concerts at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences. The Clay Centre's Maier Foundation Performance Hall and Walker Theatre set the stage for many other musical and theatrical performances, while the Avampato Discovery Museum has art exhibits and large format films.
     Charleston hosts major performances such as Disney on Ice and the Harlem Globetrotters at the Charleston Civic Center, where venues include the Little Theater, Coliseum and Municipal Auditorium.
     You may take in dance performances by the Charleston Ballet and River City Youth Ballet Ensemble or theater shows by the Charleston Light Opera Guild and Kanawha Players.
     Up-and-coming musicians and some well-known artists perform live for the radio show Mountain Stage with Larry Groce. You may catch the show on select Sunday evenings at the West Virginia Cultural Center.
• Charleston Art Walk: The Art Walk is held on the third Thursday of the month between 5 pm and 8 pm, with participating galleries setting up new displays for each event.
• East End Art: A walking tour of Charleston's historic East End includes these interesting sights: a pair of homes built as mirror images of each other for two sisters; an office building that survived a cannonball hit during the 1862 Battle of Charleston; a brick house where the late former child star Anissa Jones spent summers with her grandfather. Walking tours of the gold-domed state Capitol and the Governor's Mansion are also available. For more information on how to get an East End Walking Tour Guide, contact East End Main Street at (304) 340-4253.
• Clay Center's Avampato Discovery Museum: Crawl though an indoor tree-house, discover and learn with hands-on earth and science-related activities and play tic-tac-toe with Funny Bone, Pelvis, Mrs. Lung and friends at the game show-themed Health Royale exhibit, all at the Clay Center's Avampato Discovery Museum. Travel to distant times and places with giant-screen films and planetarium shows at the Clay Center's ElectricSky Theater.
• Festivals and more: If you're here in late June, don't miss FestivALL Charleston, a 10-day arts extravaganza with music, theater, dance and visual art. Movie buffs can view some critically acclaimed works for a limited time each Spring and Fall during the International Film Festival at the WVSU Capitol Center Theatre. But anytime you're in town, spend part of a day watching the unique art of antique glass blowing at Blenko Glass in nearby Milton.
     There's lots to do in Charleston besides admiring West Virginia's natural beauty.

Charleston Town Center  Capitol Building  Charleston Night Glow Downtown  Clay Center Earth City  Clay Center For The Arts & Sciences  State Museum  State Museum

Mike Keenan writes for QMI Agency (Sun Media) Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune and Niagara Falls Review. Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine. His work is found in QMI published dailies such as the Toronto Sun, Ottawa Sun, Vancouver Sun, London Free Press, Calgary Sun, Winnipeg Sun and Edmonton Sun.

Photo Credits
Courtesy of Charleston CVB

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Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Charleston_%28West_Virginia%29
Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau: http://www.charlestonwv.com/

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