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Charleston, WV (Population: 51,176)

The capital of West Virginia, and the largest metro area in the state, Charleston sits where the Elk and the Kanawha Rivers meet. Early in its history, Charleston was best known for its salt supplies, and at times, oil and coal supplies. It was West Virginia's rich resources and industry that truly recommended the state to the North during the Civil War. This in fact, is how it came to be a state of it's own-- during the Civil War, there was a battle fought over Charleston, and it was ultimately held by the North until West Virginia was made its own state at which time Charleston became the capital.

Charleston has several public parks, such as Cato Park and Coonskin park which offers swimming, golfing, fishing and a clubhouse with dining facilities. The Daniel Boone Park which is a four acre park with fishing and picnicking. If you're noting a theme here, that's because Daniel Boone was once on the Kanawha County Assembly, and it was from here that he walked to Richmond to serve on the Virginia House of Delegates in 1791. Other places in which to appreciate nature include the Kanawha State Forest and the Haddad Riverfront Park.

There are many annual events taking place in Charleston each year, especially during the seasonable spring and summer months. The West Virginia Dance Festival in April targets dance students from across the state with a free performance at the West Virginia State Theater at the end. Also in April, the West Virginia International Film Festival takes place. On Memorial Day the Vandalia Gathering is held which brings thousands of folks to enjoy the traditional arts that are showcased. Like many mountain cultures, West Virginia brings its own flair to the music, stories, food and craft traditions that have been passed down through the years.