Now that the kids are out of school and the weather is nice, it’s time to get out of the house and keep everyone entertained. There’s plenty of events going on in Charleston this summer that will be fun for the whole family. If you’re looking for something to do on a day off or something good to eat, we did the research for you. And if you’re tight on money this summer, we also found a bunch of festivals and concerts for none of the cost but all the excitement! Whether you’re a local or a tourist, this guide will help you find new things to do and places to visit.
Charleston’s Free Events
Looking for fun on a budget this summer? Charleston’s got you covered! We’ve got free music and festivals pretty much every weekend. Check out all these free events that will keep you and your family entertained all summer.
- Let’s Get Cooking with Chef Paul Smith. These culinary demonstrations in the outdoor market of Capitol Market feature different themes each month. The classes are held one Tuesday and Saturday of each month from July until October. The dates are July 9 & 27, Aug. 6 & 24, Sept. 3 & 21, and Oct. 15 & 26. For more information, visit Capitol Market’s site.
- Brown Bag Concerts. This Davis Park located concert series provides free lunchtime concerts by local musicians each month! Bring your own lunch or buy from local restaurants and vendors from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on July 10 and Aug 14.
- Moses Auto Group Live on the Levee. This free concert series, Live on the Levee, in Haddad River Front Park at The Schoenbaum Stage kicks off every Friday at 6:30 p.m. until August 30. There will be food and beverage vendors accompanying the live music. Find the list of performers here.
- Charleston parkrun. A timed 5k run/walk begins and ends at Magic Island Park every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. and the only competition is yourself! Even though it’s free, you still have to register at Parkrun.
- Downtown Streetfest. July Streetfest features live band, The Crunch. There will be games for children and adults alike. Craft beers will be available to anyone over 21 with an I.D. August Streetfest is dog themed, so bring your dog along for the fun! Activities include dog races, dog costume contests, and other contests. September Streetfest will have dancing in the street to the River Jam Band. Adults and children can play giant Jenga and chess, corn hole, and much more! Streetfests are all held from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on July 13, Aug. 10, and Sept. 7.
- Artwalk. This event is a self-guided walking tour of shops and galleries with live music on the sidewalks. Pop into restaurants or focus on the art from the community. Artwalk happens from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on July 18, Aug. 15, and Sept. 19.
- Vintage Flea Market. There will be antiques, vintage goods, crafts, furniture, and prize giveaways. The flea market will be held at City Center East starting at 10 a.m. on July 20.
- Summerfest at the Mound. This music festival offers dancing, food vendors, inflatables, fireworks and of course—live music! And admission to Summerfest at the Mound is free! The festival starts Aug. 14 and ends Aug. 17.
- Camp Virgil Tate’s 65th Anniversary. This celebration at Camp Virgil Tate for its 65th Anniversary will have live music, food, activities for children, and more. Attendance is free and open to the public. This event is on Aug. 17.
Free events are great for everybody, but there’s even more going on in Charleston this summer.
Other Great Local Events
Willing to spend a little money to attend a fun function? Interested in fundraisers for a good cause? Or wanting to chow down at a food fest? Then here’s a list of other events that require a fee but are well worth the money!
- Pets in the Park. The Cross Lanes Veterinary Hospital is hosting this event at Appalachian Power Park. Bring your pets with you to the West Virginia Power games on July 10 and 31. Owners must purchase game tickets as well as a $3 pet pass at the box office. All proceeds from the pet passes go to the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association.
- Charcon 2019. Charcon is Charleston’s weekend-long gaming convention with board games, RPGs, miniatures, panels, costume contests, vendors, and other activities. Tickets range from $10-45, depending on if you want to attend for one day or the whole weekend. The convention is from July 12 through 14 at the Clay Center.
- 2019 Mrs. International Pageant. Married women from across the globe will come to the West Virginia Culture Center to compete for the title of International. Prelims are July 19 and finals are July 20. Tickets are $60.
- 24th World Scout Jamboree. 45,000 Scouts and Scouters from over 165 countries will gather at the World Scout Jamboree to participate in different challenges and form bonds with fellow scouts from around the world. For more information on participating, click here, or for more information on spectating, click here. These events will take place from July 22 through Aug. 1.
- 2019 Miss Teen International Pageant. Pre-teens and teens from around the world will come together at Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences for the Miss Pre-Teen and Teen International Pageants that will be held on July 25 and 27. Tickets for both pageants cost $67.
- 2019 Miss International Pageant. Women from all over the globe will come to compete at the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences for the title of Miss International. Prelims are July 26 and finals are July 27. Tickets are available for $67.
- SouthEast Crab Feast. If you want to eat as much blue crab as you can, SouthEast Crab Feast at Coonskin Park is the event for you. Tickets are $12 for kids, $32 for adults, and specialty platter tickets are $55. There are two sessions, 1 p.m. and 4 pm., on Saturday, August 10.
- YWCA Girls Night Out. This women-only fundraiser, the largest of its kind in the area, is a party with a purpose—to end domestic violence. The theme for GNO this year is “Tropic Like It’s Hot.” Tickets start at $150 and include parking, food, open bar, signature cocktails, entertainment, and the opportunity to bid at a silent auction. After July 18, the ticket price will increase. The fundraiser will be held at Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center on Aug. 10.
- Light the Night. This fundraiser is sponsored by Sage Soul Productions and West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. There will be open dancing, performances by local dancers, cash bar, hors-d’oeuvres, and a raffle. Attendees must be 21 and older and the dress code is semi-formal. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. This dance against domestic violence takes place at Woman’s Club of Charleston at 6 p.m. on Aug. 31.
While you’re out and about in the city at free or paid events, you might want to wander into one of the many restaurants around for a bite to eat.
The Best Local Food
Everybody needs to eat. Whether you’re going on a date, getting takeout for yourself, or bringing the whole family to dinner, you need to know the fan favorites in Charleston. Below is a list of some of the best food in the city.
- Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill. This barbecue is so good that before chef Adrian Wright opened two restaurants and two food trucks, people would wait on the side of the road for his ribs, pulled pork, and homemade barbecue sauce. As seen on The Food Network, Dem 2 Brothers & A Grill is a local favorite that offers great barbecue at an even greater price.
- Bluegrass Kitchen. In one-of-a-kind style, Bluegrass Kitchen offers farm to table comfort food. Along with the food, they have a great atmosphere with live music from different local bands throughout the week at 7:00 pm, and open mics for all ages on Wednesdays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Bridge Road Bistro. Another farm to table spot, Bridge Road Bistro also has live music most Wednesdays and Saturdays. This fine food establishment opens at 11 a.m. every day except Sunday.
- Pies and Pints. If you’re in the mood for pizza and a beer, this is your place. Buy a slice or a whole pie for a good price from West Virginia’s most recommended restaurant on Facebook, Pies and Pints.
- Black Sheep Burrito & Brews. This place has typical American bar foods like wings and sandwiches, but they also offer a little twist: burritos. Tortilla-wrapped monstrosities aren’t the only southwestern fare on their menu, Black Sheep also offers quesadillas and tacos. On top of all that, they also include beer from their Bad Shepherd Brewery.
- The First Watch. In the mood for fresh breakfast? Even though it’s a chain, The First Watch offers amazing breakfast and lunch creations for reasonable prices. They open at 7 a.m. for those early risers.
- The Market. This fusion spot has plenty of lunch and dinner options for the whole family, and they recently brought back breakfast on Saturdays. The Market is perfect for a snack or a whole meal.
- Rollin Smoke BBQ. This restaurant and food truck in Kanawha City offer traditional barbecue dishes and brick oven pizzas. The sweet smoke you can smell from outside Rollin Smoke BBQ will pull you in like a magnet, and their great food will keep you there.
- Lola’s Pizza. This unique pizza place is a house converted into a restaurant, so you can feel at home while enjoying your pizza, sandwich, or salad. At Lola’s Pizza you can pick an artisan pie from the menu or create your own by choosing your favorite toppings.
- Mi Concina de Amor. Charleston’s most authentic Mexican restaurant, Mi Concina de Amor, serves Sonoran style cuisine. Not only can you get those tacos you’ve been craving, but you can also try one of the best margaritas in the city!
- Swiftwater Café. If you’re looking for options for breakfast or a sandwich for lunch, then Swiftwater Café is your go-to. Not only is this menu packed with classic choices, but it’s also all well-priced.
Once you’re finished eating, you might be so stuffed that you feel like you need to take a walk. There are plenty of trails nearby for a nice nature walk to help digest dinner.
Trails and Camping Nearby
If you can’t make it to the beach this year, going hiking or camping near home can feel just as much like a vacation. Thankfully, there are plenty of nature trails and campgrounds within an hour of Charleston where you can do just that. And even more good news: they’re all budget friendly.
- Kanawha State Forest Campground. This 9,300-acre forest right outside of Charleston has a vast network of hiking and biking trails as well as picnic areas, playgrounds, and camping areas. Kanawha State Forest is a great option for a day trip or you could camp out and stay for the whole weekend.
- Rippling Waters Campground. Rippling Waters Campground offers options for overnight, weekly, or monthly camping. You can bring your own tent or rent out a cabin in the quiet and peaceful setting of the West Virginia country.
- Huntington / Fox Fire KOA. Open all year, this KOA offers full hook-up sites for camping, tenting, and RVing. You can also rent one of their six cabins. While you’re staying, you can swim in the lake, sunbathe on a platform, play basketball on the courts, and so much more.
- Chief Logan State Park. Located in West Virginia’ southern coalfields an hour south of Charleston, this 4,000-acre park has lodging, campgrounds, hiking trails, and fishing. If you have an ATV or horse, you can take a ride through the trails at Chief Logan State Park.
- Little Beaver State Park. About an hour away from Charleston, this day-use park has newer campsites with bathhouses and a place to do laundry. At Little Beaver State Park, there’s nearly 20 miles of trails to satisfy hikers.
- New River Gorge. If you’re more adventurous, you should drive the hour outside of Charleston to discover New River Gorge. There’s hiking, climbing, and some of the best whitewater on the East Coast. There are options for both risk-takers and people who stay on the safe side alike at this scenic Appalachian site.
- Chestnut Creek Campground. If you’re visiting New River Gorge, you can stay at Chestnut Creek Campground. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire pit, and you can tent or rent a cabin. The campsite is a short walk from a general store and burrito bar, so you have everything you could need.
Now that you know all the best places to find festivals, food, and outdoor activities, you’re ready to take on summer!
DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress Wish You Fun-Filled Summer
Your local West Virginia personal injury lawyers in Charleston know summer is the best time to go out and find something to do. Whether you’re attending a festival, going out to eat, or camping in the woods, we hope your summer is memorable and exciting. Have a fun and safe summer, Charleston!