Tips for how to spend a dog-friendly weekend in Charleston, West Virginia.
Let’s be honest. Charleston, West Virginia doesn’t exactly spark excitement when it comes to choosing your next travel destination. That was true for Kyle and me too, but I’m determined to visit all 50 states, and since West Virginia is within driving distance, I decided I had to cross it off my list before we move next year. We brought Gunther with us and made it a family road trip and actually had a really fun weekend.
Things to do:
* Hike at Kanawha State Forest
* Walk, shop, and eat on Capitol Street
* Go to Haddad Riverfront Park
* Kayak with Coal River Group
Places to eat:
* Tricky Fish
* Several restaurants on Capitol Street
Where to stay:
* Brass Pineapple Inn
SATURDAY, AUGUST 3
KANAWHA STATE FOREST
We left Dayton early in the morning and drove straight to Kanawha State Forest to go on a hike. I recommend stopping by their information center for a map because the place is huge. We took Gunther for a hike on Overlook Trail so we could hike to the top, see the view from the overlook, and then make our way back down. Gunther is a dachshund mix, so he has some tiny legs, but he was such a trooper for the hike. He kept moving along, only stopping when there was a legitimate obstacle or when we stopped to give him some water.
On our hike, we saw a deer up high that ended up walking parallel to us for a little bit of the hike. It’s so neat to see animals undisturbed in their natural habitat. We’re glad Gunther didn’t see it though, because he would’ve gone crazy.
BRASS PINEAPPLE INN
While there aren’t tons of dog-friendly hotels in the area, there are definitely some decent options to choose from. We decided to stay at the Brass Pineapple Inn, which is a local bed and breakfast. It was our first time staying at a bed and breakfast, and I 100% recommend it. Brass Pineapple was so cute, and the owner was so nice. She made some tea cakes and put them out after we checked in. She also had some hot tea available.
After dropping our stuff off at the bed and breakfast and letting Gunther get some more water, we walked a couple blocks to a restaurant with a dog-friendly patio called Tricky Fish. They have a counter where you order food and a separate bar where you can order drinks. I got some mahi mahi tacos, and Kyle got a crab cake basket. Everything was so good. To drink, I had a spiked mango lemonade, and it was so refreshing, y’all. So, so good.
While we were eating, Gunther was able to look out of the fence and people watch. There were some interesting things to see during this time. He also got some attention from some of the other people eating on the patio.
After lunch, we walked back to the bed and breakfast to eat some tea cakes and drink some tea. We sat in the living room and admired the old decor. We took a nap afterward because we were exhausted, then we woke up, fed Gunther, and took him for a short walk.
We ended up leaving Gunther at the bed and breakfast while we went downtown to explore Capitol Street. Note that Capitol Street is dog-friendly, and there are several restaurants and a bookstore called Taylor’s Books that allow dogs, but we chose to keep Gunther at the bed and breakfast while we wandered. It was after 6 pm by the time we got there, and unfortunately, most of the shops had closed even though it was Saturday. There were several bars and restaurants open though.
We spent most of our time at Taylor’s Books, which is a bookstore, art gallery, and coffee shop all in one. I always love wandering around bookshops and having several internal battles about buying/not buying all the books. In the art gallery section, there was a puzzle that people have collectively been putting together while visiting. There was also a musician playing his guitar and singing in the coffee shop section.
MULTIFEST AT HADDAD RIVERFRONT PARK
We’re lucky there was a festival going on during the weekend we visited, because honestly, I have no idea what we would have done during the evening otherwise. We found Haddad Riverfront Park by accident, but we were planning on going that evening anyway. There were several vendors with items for sale, many booths with a variety of different foods, and there was also a stage where live entertainment was performing throughout the day.
We found one booth that was selling Filipino food, so we stocked up on lumpia. We also got some ribs, and both things were so tasty. We took our food near the stage so we could watch some of the performances. A DJ was playing when we first sat down, and then the 69 Boyz started their set. If you don’t know who the 69 Boyz are, they sing “Tootsie Roll.” Most of their set was just hyping up the crowd and singing or singing along to some older R&B songs. I had so much fun listening to them.
We left in the middle of their set so we could go get Gunther and bring him back to Multifest. We came just in time to see the headliner, Jagged Edge. If you don’t know who Jagged Edge is, they sing “Where the Party At” with Nelly. I grew up listening to a lot of R&B and was surprised that I knew as many Jagged Edge songs as I did. Kyle only knew one song, but we both had fun seeing them perform, and Gunther had fun scavenging for chicken and rib bones.
At the end of the festival, they had a fireworks show. Gunther was a little anxious during it, but he always does fine when we hold him and cuddle him tight, so we made sure to do that. The fireworks show was actually insanely good, and it was the perfect way to end our first day in Charleston.
Note: There are several festivals that take place throughout the year at Haddad Riverfront Park, but even if there isn’t a festival going on while you’re there, the park is always dog-friendly.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 4
BREAKFAST AT BRASS PINEAPPLE INN
The reason I was so excited about staying at a bed and breakfast was, of course, the breakfast. The owner made an incredible meal that I definitely wouldn’t eat on any regular day. As a starter, she had out cantaloupe with homemade granola with fresh coconut oil. Y’all, it was so good. I’m not a big granola eater, but this makes me want to start, and it’s such a simple recipe. For the main course, she served a peach oven pancake that was made with eggs, fresh peaches, and a bunch of other ingredients that I don’t remember, but it was all very good. She also served it with some local sausage, and it was the perfect combination. To drink, we had some peach and mango juice with a slice of peach in it. Y’all, I would go back to the Brass Pineapple Inn just to eat breakfast again. I seriously loved everything.
KAYAKING WITH COAL RIVER GROUP
The last item on our agenda was to bring Gunther on his first kayaking trip. A couple months ago, Kyle and I went canoeing, and we thought about bringing Gunther along, but didn’t for a number of reasons, including the lack of a dog life jacket. We wanted to find a place that rented canoes in Charleston, but we could only find places that rented kayaks. We decided to take a risk and bring Gunther along for a kayaking trip, and it ended up being a highlight of the trip.
We bought Gunther a life jacket with a fin that makes him look like a little shark. He’s already adorable, but the life jacket made him look even cuter. He did so well on the river, especially when he was kayaking with Kyle. He loveloveloves Kyle, so he was very relaxed with him. When he was with me, he was a little more exploratory. He even fell in at one point, and he just kind of laid in the water with his life jacket before realizing that he could doggy paddle. By the looks of it, it may have been his first time in enough water where he could swim. He did a pretty good job swimming, but you could tell he prefers the land life.
While kayaking with Coal River Group was a lot of fun, we got so tired. The length of the river that you have to travel is seven miles, so our arms were aching by the end of it, especially because there hadn’t been much rain in the area and there were zero rapids in the river. We were so excited (and exhausted) by the time we reached the end. Even Gunther ended up falling asleep by mile six. But it was such a fun way to end our trip, and if your dog is a little adventurer, I highly recommend taking him kayaking down the river.
While we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do on our visit to Charleston, West Virginia, I’d say we had a pretty full trip, and I can confidently cross West Virginia off of the list of states I’ve visited. This is the most active we’ve ever been on a dog-friendly vacation, and it was such a great and memorable way to spend a weekend this summer.
Where is your favorite place to vacation with your pets?