The leaves are just beginning to turn in Charleston, West Virginia, a small city on the banks of the Kanawha River in the heart of Appalachia.  With the comfort of a small town, yet the resources and amenities of a big city, Charleston is a great place to visit.

Our stay started at the Embassy Suites, the city’s best hotel, where the service is impeccable, the rooms outstanding and the views spectacular.  Its location was ideal, right next to the Charleston Town Center (a mixed-use shopping mall), the Civic Center, and between three of the major boulevards connecting you to the entire city.

The Embassy Suites is a full-service hotel, complete with a fitness center, indoor pool and whirlpool spa, conference rooms, ballrooms, restaurants and business center.  It is perfect for both business and general travel.  While some may consider it a bit more expensive, you’ll understand the reasons why when you awaken to one of the finest breakfasts.  Many hotels put out a breakfast buffet.  At the Embassy Suites, it’s hot food, made to order omelets, pancakes, waffles, French toast, sausage gravy with biscuits, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage links and so much more.  It is a full breakfast menu, all included in your hotel rate, and the food’s first-rate!

The hotel’s restaurant is run by a creative chef with an eye for quality.   We enjoyed an incredibly delicious Deconstructed Beef Wellington, served with sauteed fresh seasonal vegetables, a puff-pastry crust, mushroom duxelles and filet mignons. The portions were large, and prices very reasonable.  An open-faced steak sandwich featured twin grilled steaks set on a pile of delicious hand dipped onion rings over a brioche roll, and served with French Fries, lettuce, tomato and red onion.  That has to have been one of the finest steak sandwiches ever!

Every afternoon, after 5:30, the very talented and gracious General Manager, Mark Cherry, hosts a two-hour reception with an assortment of snacks, dips, and complimentary drinks for guests.  This is a small feast, with a different selection of foods every day.  If you’re traveling with children, they’ll love the snack foods and Shirley Temple cocktails, and you’ll enjoy the drinks as well as the light, sophisticated snacks that tantalize the palate.

Our suite, which included a dining table, living room (with pull out sofa-bed) and a bedroom with two queen-sized beds, also had a magnificent bathroom. It was spacious, large, comfortable and relaxing — the perfect space to unwind after a long day visiting the city.

Charleston is just now beginning to experience the turning of leaves for the Autumn season.  With its river views, mountains, valleys and Appalachian scenery, Charleston is a colorful city, made more beautiful by the resplendent colors of changing leaves.  Just a few steps away from downtown, one is in the countryside, where you can enjoy the beauty of the region’s mountainous terrain.

Nearby, Blenko Glass Company produces outstanding vases, sculptures, and other pieces. Tours are provided where you can watch master glassblowers creating works of art with molten glass before your eyes.  Local farmers produce delicious foods, such as apple and pumpkin butters, lavender honey and so much more. It’s a foodie’s paradise, particularly if you like comfort foods made in the country.  You’ll find a plentiful variety of country farm markets in the area to please the most discerning palate.  In pumpkin season, there’s an abundance of great jack-o-lanterns waiting to happen, along with beautiful squashes and Indian corn.

Charleston also has a small casino-hotel, as well as many fine restaurants, including Recovery Grill, named for the recovery list of injured sports players.  Recovery Grill serves a wide range of outstanding food, cooked by a fast-working team.  This large sports-bar eatery produces some great food, including a great Crunch Burger.

Located in the city is the State’s Capitol, Supreme Court of Appeals and the Governor’s Mansion. Most of these are open to tourists, and tours can be arranged.  The Capitol Building is a fantastic work of architectural splendor, with a gilded dome, just slightly taller than the dome of the US Capitol, marble halls and classic Greco-Roman design.  The interiors are open, spacious and most interesting to see, reflecting the state’s rich history.  Attached to the Capitol is the Supreme Court of Appeals, designed by Cass Gilbert, who also designed the US Supreme Court building in Washington.  Its marble columns, red drapes and local walnut seating offer visitors the opportunity to see how the state’s judicial system works in its finest, as tourists are allowed to sit in the chamber during live sessions of the court.

Charleston is a cross-roads, with multiple interstate highways connecting the city to all parts of the country.  Amtrak and Greyhound service the city as well, providing visitors with multiple ways of arriving and departing the city.  Within easy drive of Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and even Pennsylvania, the city is well worth the time and effort to spend a few days visiting, exploring and enjoying its many pleasures and opportunities.

Note: Photos by J. P. Horsley

The Embassy Suites Hotel
300 Court Street
Charleston, West Virginia, 25301, USA
TEL: 1-304-347-8700
Embassy Suites

Blenko Glass Company
9 Bill Blenko Drive
Milton, WV 25541
info@blenkoglass.comhttp://www.blenko.com/
Call Toll Free (877) 425-3656

Recovery Sports Grill
600 Kanawha Blvd. E.
Charleston, WV 25301
681-205-8395
http://www.recoverysportsgrill.com/

Capitol Tours
WV Division Culture & History
Capitol Complex
Charleston, WEST VIRGINIA 25305
Contact phone: 304-558-4839
Fax: 304-558-2779
Web site: http://www.wvculture.org
Contact e-mail: dan.summers@wvculture.org

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