Editor’s Choice Award: Enjoy a World-Class Romantic Getaway in Charleston, West Virginia

Men's Dating

Editor’s Choice Award: Enjoy a World-Class Romantic Getaway in Charleston, West Virginia

Amber Brooks Amber Brooks
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The Short Version: Charleston, West Virginia, is the pride of the Appalachian Mountain region. Since its establishment in the 18th century, the capital city has become a hub of cultural celebration, outdoor recreation, and economic growth. The natural beauty and trendy downtown area has attracted many couples on romantic getaways in the South. Charleston’s hip vibes and budget-friendly date activities can help couples create treasured memories.

American folk singer John Denver immortalized the Blue Ridge Mountains and painted skies of West Virginia in his song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” His nostalgic song captures the imagination and makes people yearn for this “almost heaven” where everyone can belong and find a home far away.

The Mountain State is famous for its coal-powered country lifestyle, but the modern-day West Virginia has a lot more than coal mining and country music to offer its residents and visitors.

Photo of Charleston, West Virginia

Many couples plan dates in the quaint yet affordable destination of Charleston, West Virginia.

The state capital of Charleston is an up-and-coming city with a rich history and diverse population. Its food and art scene has delighted visitors from around the world, and its live concerts feature rock, punk, and jazz — as well as classic bluegrass music.

Ever since Charleston was founded in 1788, salt mining, not coal mining, has been key to its economic growth and prosperity. Today, the city proudly stays true to its Southern roots while making room for new generations.

“Charleston’s residents are hospitable and driven,” said Jama Jarrett, spokesperson for the Charleston Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Over the past few years, Charleston has seen growth in both new local businesses and within its artistic community as well.”

Charleston is the most populous city in West Virginia, and it has a variety of entertainment and recreational opportunities for sightseers in the area. If you’re planning a date or romantic getaway in Charleston, we recommend making a thorough exploration of the music, food, and history of this vibrant area.

Live Music Can Entertain Couples Throughout the Night

Charleston offers live musical performances throughout the year at its bars and concert halls. West Virginia Public Broadcasting produces a live radio show called Mountain Stage distributed worldwide by National Public Radio. Locals often show up for these live performances, which showcase diverse music, from the traditional to modern, and then head to the Empty Glass for a post-broadcast jam session.

The Empty Glass is known for its top-tier music scene, which includes Charleston’s longest-running open mic night every Monday. This bar puts on a show every night of the week. The bar has happy hour jazz on Fridays and no cover charge on Tuesdays. The main stage hosts both local bands and touring groups, and the kitchen serves pizza and wings late into the night.

Couples can also get their groove on during the Sound Checks music series at the Clay Center. This stage hosts many eclectic and up-and-coming artists and celebrates the diversity of Charleston’s music scene. This series runs in the fall and winter months.

Live on the Levee is a summer concert series that runs from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day weekend. Every Friday, families, couples, and singles gather to enjoy food trucks and free music by the river. The main show starts at 6:30 p.m., but couples can get there as early as 5 p.m. to save their spot and get a bite to eat while they watch the opening acts.

Lovefest made its debut in Charleston on Valentine’s Day 2019. This charitable and musical event featured local bands, including DuoGrove, Hallo June, and Bob Thompson Unit. Its proceeds went to WV Health Right, a clinic that provides quality healthcare to uninsured, under-insured, and medically under-served West Virginians.

“This is something new,” said John Inghram, the bandleader who organized the fundraiser. “It’s a chance to use the really amazing, new space here and also see how much of an interest there is for something like this.”

A Rich Foodie Culture Full of Indulgences

As a Southern city, Charleston is all about old-fashioned hospitality and hearty home-cooked meals. Its food scene offers a taste of Southern living, and you can’t beat the folksy, down-to-earth atmosphere of these restaurants.

Pies & Pints is a beloved local pizzeria known for its cheesy slices piled with fresh toppings. The menu features 14 specialty pies, but diners can also create their own pizzas. Vegan and gluten-free options are available.

Photo of a woman holding an ice cream cone

Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream is a cool place to finish up a date night.

Couples can split a pizza and a pitcher of beer at this casual hangout, and then they can walk across the street for dessert or coffee at Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream.

Ellen’s has been serving creamy ice cream, gelato, sherbet, and sorbet since 1997, and it has become a date-night staple for many sweethearts in Charleston. The ice cream shop also makes fresh baked goods and can top its brownies and cookies with the ice cream flavor of your choice. This is the perfect cherry on top of a dinner date on Capitol Street.

What’s more, Bricks and Barrels offers an intimate and upscale dining experience. Some of the tables are set into alcoves that resemble giant wine barrels, and this private seating is popular among couples looking to get away from the crowds.

Bricks and Barrels serves 12 craft beers, 50 bottled beers, and dozens of wines. Its elevated menu includes bacon-wrapped shrimp, lobster bisque, bone-in ribeye, and cajun pasta. The restaurant’s signature PB and J Burger, which is made with jalapeno pepper jelly, offers couples a memorable way to spice up their meal. Whatever you order, be sure to save room for the gooey chocolate lava cake or classic crème brûlée.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly date idea, you can share hot dogs and milkshakes at Trivillian’s Pharmacy and Soda Fountain. This old-school eatery was originally established in 1950 and has retained that old-school charm that made it so popular. Its to-go menu features a breakfast sandwich and coffee for under $4 and a cheeseburger, fries, and drink for under $7.

Charleston’s walkable downtown area is ideal for couples who want to extend their dates by taking an afternoon or evening stroll. You can take a turn about this friendly area and find dozens of bars, restaurants, and cafés.

Appreciate the Outdoors & Learn About the City

Hundreds of millions of years ago, West Virginia was at the bottom of the Iapertus Ocean, and its current salt deposits are the last vestiges of that ancient body of water. Modern-day salt miners in Charleston can bring a taste of a prehistoric ocean to American tables.

JQ Dickinson Salt-Works is a family-run operation that goes back seven generations. It produces clean, artisanal salt harvested by hand. The family takes pride in sharing this natural ingredient with others, and they host monthly farm-to-table dinners available by reservation only. Its salty events would be a great date activity.

Photo of JQ Dickinson Salt-Works

JQ Dickinson Salt-Works runs one-of-a-kind events that revolve around seasonal salty dishes.

“J.Q. Dickinson salt celebrates the beauty and purity of farming and its connectedness to our families and communities,” according to the website. “Our salt is farm-to-table in its truest form — a means of sharing, from our family to yours.”

Whether you’re taking a trip to the salt farms or the riverfront park, West Virginia’s capital city has a lot of unique sights and experiences to tempt you to stay awhile.

Charleston’s most popular outdoor recreations include mountain biking and freestyle swimming. Active couples can go on an adventure and get the blood pumping at the local parks and community centers.

Sunrise Carriage Trail offers a picturesque way to see the natural beauty of the area and also take in an aerial view of the hip downtown. The gravel trail runs for about 0.65 miles, so it shouldn’t be too arduous to wend your way through the forest and take some stunning selfies with your significant other. This beautiful backdrop is great for couples exploring Charleston for the first time.

Many local couples also head to Charleston’s parks and capitol steps to take their engagement or wedding photos. It’s not unusual to see lovebirds posting for a professional photographer in Charleston’s downtown area.

Charleston: A Hip Yet Historic Place to Make a Date

West Virginia’s country roads can take people back to their roots and make them feel at home among awe-inspiring mountains and forests. Even if you’ve never been here before, it’s easy to feel a sense of belonging in such a naturally beautiful place.

Charleston is a warm and welcoming city full of adventure and promise. Couples can take advantage of the city’s unique sights by exploring the downtown area, public parks, and music festivals here. Whether you want to learn about West Virginia’s history or discover something new, you can find many interesting and affordable activities around town.

In Charleston, the older generations pass on beloved traditions and timeless values, and new generations forge their own paths and create new traditions of their own. It’s a wonderful mixture of old-school values and trendsetting innovations.

“We are passionate about delivering on our hip, historic, almost-heaven brand by striving to provide world-class food, arts, recreation, and music,” Jama said.