South Charleston lives up to its motto with family-friendly shopping, recreation, and dining.

Before we begin, there’s a few things to know about South Charleston. First, it actually lies west of West Virginia’s capital city. And second, it’s not just a neighborhood of Charleston—it’s a separate town, with a charm all its own.

While South Charleston is home to most of the area’s big box stores, what really makes the city shine is its antique shopping. You’ll find the South Charleston Antique Mall and the Mound Antique Mall sitting side by side, just behind the Native American mound along MacCorkle Avenue. Persistent pickers could spend the whole day in these two shops, exploring the floors of collectibles from dozens of vendors.

If shopping isn’t your sport, check out the South Charleston Memorial Ice Arena, which offers all-season ice skating and frequently plays host to West Virginia University’s and Marshall’s hockey teams. Or head to Little Creek Park for its playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic shelters, sports fields, disc golf course, and soapbox derby facility. The Little Creek Golf Course features 18 holes, a classy clubhouse, and an Olympic-size pool.

But it’s the dining scene that really sets South Charleston apart, with some of the best world cuisine in the Kanawha Valley. Yen’s specializes in Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches topped with pickled vegetables and your choice of meats or tofu, served on crunchy baguettes that are baked fresh every day. Just across the street sits Pho Vin Long, which highlights another Vietnamese favorite. Pho—pronounced “fuh”—is a bowl of rich broth and noodles mixed with your choice of brisket, thin-sliced ribeye, meatballs, chicken, or seafood.

For Mediterranean fare, check out The Olive Tree Cafe for baba ganoush, house-made hummus, and filling sandwiches like the Olive Tree Shawarma and the Mediterranean Grilled Cheese. King Kebab serves up chicken, steak, and lamb kebabs as well as pita sandwiches filled with falafel, lamb shawarma, and chicken shawarma. Grano offers soup and sandwiches options, along with pizzas and pasta dishes.

But no visit to South Charleston is complete without a stop at Spring Hill Pastry Shop for a ”hot dog,” an ingenious donut and eclair hybrid. Plenty of Kanawha Valley bakeries now serve these treats, but Spring Hill was the original—and remains the best.

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Zack Harold
Written by Zack Harold
Zack Harold is a southern West Virginia native. He covered education, health, and government at the Charleston Daily Mail before becoming the newspaper’s features editor. He joined New South Media in 2015, became managing editor of WV Living in January 2016, and took over as managing editor of Wonderful West Virginia in July 2016.