With the splendor of autumn, traditional favorites -- scenic drives and postcard-perfect photo-ops -- are especially rewarding in the Valley. Combine it with the colorful character of small town life, and you have a fall fling that tops them all.
To get acquainted with the lay of the land, take a look at this sampling of Greenbrier Valley excursions:
1. Take a “Cruise” - Beginning in mid-September, the fall transformation commences along the mountain top ridges, while the valley floor retains its dense, green canopy well into October. The landscape is dominated by poplars, oaks and maples promising a palette from yellow to red and just about every shade in between.
To get the full spectrum, retrace Route 60, a National Scenic Byway, from White Sulphur Springs through Lewisburg and west to Rainelle. This two-lane road winds and dips through some of the most scenic hardwood forests and farmlands in the county. For a spontaneous detour, head 2.2 miles down Secondary Route 60/11 to see one of only two remaining covered bridges in Greenbrier County, Hern’s Mill Bridge. Built in 1884, it is still travelled today.
2. Taste the Local “Spirits” - A jaunt up to Smooth Ambler Spirits will not only get you a grain-to-glass tour of the distillery, but the tasting room offers a robust selection of whiskey, bourbon, vodka and gin. If you prefer the flavor of hops, the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company is just a stone’s throw from Smooth Ambler. Drawing inspiration from WV local legends and mythical forest creatures, these brewers possess an innate flair for selecting flavors that go down smooth. Taste for yourself. Stop by the Brewing Company tap room for a sit-down pint or carry-out growler fill – a 64-oz, straight-from-the-draft alternative to the six-pack.
3. Join a Greenbrier Valley Tradition - Since 1984, the second Saturday in October has been reserved for the Taste of Our Towns festival, or TOOT. Held on the streets of downtown Lewisburg, local restaurants, shops and civic groups share their favorite delicacies from crab cakes and pot pies to pumpkin fudge and bread pudding. The flavors of the season are more than just tempting, each tasting is a little bite of paradise.
4. Roam “America’s Resort” – The Greenbrier resort dates back to 1778, luring wealthy visitors with its restorative sulphur springs and moderate summer climate. It continues today to be among the world's most famous – with notable guests that include U.S. presidents, royalty and foreign dignitaries. Open to day visitors, the hotel’s labyrinth of lobbies, ballrooms and galleries is often the star attraction. Decorated in the 1960’s by Dorothy Draper, her dramatic style of bold patterns and vibrant hues adorn every room -- right down to the bathrooms.
5. Don’t stop there. While on property, treat yourself to a horse-drawn carriage ride through the grounds. The acres of fall-inspired gardens, world-class golf courses, the 18th-century springhouse and the rolling hills of the Greenbrier Valley make for a relaxing afternoon of sight-seeing.
6. Step Inside America’s Secret-Agent Era Past - The resort’s proximity to capitol hill and secluded mountainous terrain was so appealing to lawmakers that a bunker designed to secretly house Congress was established beneath a wing of the hotel during the cold war. Exposed by a Washington Post reporter in 1992, it is now open for all to see.
7. Enjoy a Leisurely Stroll Around Town - Lewisburg topped Budget Travel’s “America’s Coolest Small Towns” list in 2011. An accolade that still holds true today, take some time sampling the artsy shops, quaint cafes and relaxing green spaces – albeit more golden this time of year. Sprinkled throughout town are pockets of historic sites, galleries and museums. Flanking the west end, the North House Museum, Old Stone Church, Civil War cemetery, and Carnegie Hall (one of only four in operation worldwide) are free to tour. With new exhibits every few months, the Carnegie galleries display a variety of West Virginia artists. Time it with lunch or dinner at one of three local hangouts on this end of town -- Food & Friends for great American home-style dining, Del Sol, a fresh take on Mexican, or Stella's for a farm-to-table menu and fireside seating in a circa 1790’s home.
The trails that once brought people here to settle are still used today… albeit paved. Whether you prefer to get off-the-beaten path this fall or are drawn to the footsteps of those who have been before, the Greenbrier Valley is a top performer in the mid-Atlantic search for a full spectrum of fall favorites. Allow plenty of time for “savoring.”
Getting here is easy. Click HERE for directions…