The capital of West Virginia, Charleston is tiny, with a population just under 50,000 at last count. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for with passion and civic pride. And have you seen the view? This compact place is nestled below the gorgeous Appalachians and flanked by the scenic Kanawha River. The striking gold-plated dome of the state capitol building – it's hard to miss – is purely unnecessary, but kind of fun. The city was hit with some deserved bad press in 2014 after a chemical spill in the adjacent Elk River forced residents to shut off their water for days. But in the ensuing years a creative class of young citizens has injected optimistic energy into the city, opening new restaurants and shops in emerging neighborhoods to much acclaim and appreciation.