“Wild and Wonderful” West Virginia shines in Fringe Benefits: Charleston, highlighting the outdoor beauty and the history of this mountain state.
Charleston is the capital of the rugged state of West Virginia, tucked into an Appalachian Mountain valley. It’s a small city, but big on local pride. The people are friendly, eager to cheer on the local baseball team or attend a street festival. A beautiful new performing arts center anchors the cultural scene, and the Kanawha river provides a backdrop for the beautiful state capital building and an outdoor ampitheater.
Katie begins her tour on the extreme fringe – a day trip to Lewisburg, WV (about a 2-hour drive from Charleston). After hearing so much about Lewisburg, she had to visit! And the small city does not disappoint! There’s year-round professional theater, gourmet dining, Civil War History, and one of only three Carnegie-funded performance halls in the United States. Katie strolls the town with local shopkeeper Tamara Pence, who describes how the friendly town is a great place to live and visit. Katie and Tamara shop for local art and outdoor gear, and enjoy lunch.
One of Katie’s favorite interviews of all of the episodes is next up – at Blenko Glass. We meet Randy Rider – an artist and glassmaker who describes his pride in his work, and how sometimes he even dreams about glass! The Blenko factory is a West Virginia tradition, making the annual West Virginia birthday glass piece, and the annual Country Music Award. A colorful museum showcases stained glass windows.
West Virginia is known for outdoor adventure, and we team up with the folks at Ace Adventure Resort for a day out kayaking. The scenery is amazing in the New River Gorge National Recreation Area – a perfect spot for rafting, kayaking, biking, and hiking.
At JQ Dickinson Salt-Works, Katie gets to try her hand at salt harvesting with owner Nancy
Bruns. She and her brother, Lewis Payne, re-started a family business, using historic documents and records, and are again pulling and harvesting salt from an ancient seabed deep beneath the Charleston area. The salt tastes amazing, and we enjoy it over lunch.
For more information on Charleston area lodging, dining and attractions, visit the Destination Guide.