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 weekend getaway that tops them all. To get acquainted with the lay of the land, take a look at this sampling of Greenbrier Valley excursions.
TAKE A CRUISE. Beginning in mid-September, the fall transformation commences along the mountaintop 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 scenic hardwood forests and farmlands. For a mini 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 traveled today.
GET OUTSIDE. One drive across the Valley’s rolling landscape, and you’ll be inclined to venture off the beaten path. And whether it's hiking, biking, boating or full-throttle adventuring you're after, these mountains deliver!
An ancient system of limestone caves and passageways runs all through the region. Get a glimpse of this underground world, and walk among the stalagmites and stalactites at Lost World Caverns. Short on time? The self-guided tour is about 45 minutes at a leisurely pace. For hikers and bikers, the Greenbrier River Trail gently meanders for miles. Take on as many as your day allows—there's easy access at the southern trailhead near downtown Lewisburg.
Looking for mountain goat-like capabilities without the workout? Hop in a Polaris RZR side-by-side. Greenbrier Off-Road Adventures is equipped with a whole fleet of these gravity-defying machines. Power up steep hills, wind around trees, rocks and drop into car-sized ruts. Beware, mud is in your future!
CHECK OUT THE CULINARY SCENE. If you've been looking for West Virginia's "best town for foodies," you've found it. Lewisburg has held WV Living Magazine's highly-coveted title for two years running, touting its fresh and flavorful cuisine scene. Dozens of local dining venues extend across town and beyond, from on-the-go breakfast foods to fine French food.
A Greenbrier Valley mainstay for generations, Food & Friends is well regarded for its American home-style dining done to perfection. Everyone can find a favorite on this extensive menu! The Humble Tomato takes Italian to a whole new level of "delizioso." The restored circa 1790's home features relaxed garden dining and more intimate indoor seating dispersed throughout the house's original rooms. Drop-in Del Sol Cantina & Grille for a round of tapas and craft cocktails under the shade sails if you want to get a laid-back feel of the dining landscape. And burger-lovers take note — The Asylum has dialed in the most flavorful Angus burger concoction you'll find this side of the Mississippi.
TOUR 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 and currently undergoing the latest refresh, her dramatic style endures with bold patterns and vibrant hues adorning every room -- right down to the bathrooms.
Don’t stop there. While on property, treat yourself to a horse-drawn carriage ride around 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.
ENJOY A STROLL AROUND TOWN. Travel Awaits, recently selected downtown Lewisburg for its “11 Small Towns to Visit in West Virginia” list. Take some time poking around 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, and Civil War cemetery are within an easy walk. Or sit on the lawn of Carnegie Hall (one of only four in operation worldwide) with a picnic lunch and take in the crisp autumn breeze. On the east end of town, the Historic General Lewis Inn makes a convenient stopping point. The roomy veranda and full bar with a selection of hand-crafted cocktails are added bonuses.
Only 15 minutes away, White Sulphur Springs is undergoing a resurgence of equal proportions. You’ll find the same friendly folks but with a “Carhartt meets Patagonia” kind of vibe. We like to say it has the makings of a relaxing afternoon hanging out with the local contingency. Yes, we’re guilty! So check out the new shops, restaurants and gathering places. We’re confident you’ll uncover another stroll-worthy downtown in the Greenbrier Valley.
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 spirits to try for yourself. Sip samples of the Appalachian-made spirits and maybe walk away with a bottle for later. Just off the Midland Trail, owner-operators of Hawk Knob Hard Cider & Mead are capitalizing on the valley's robust variety of heirloom apples. Using traditional hand-crafted methods, they feature four flavors of hard cider and a cyser apple honey mead.
At Big Draft Brewing in downtown White Sulphur Springs, brewmaster and creative expert J.W. Groseclose leads a team in pursuit of world-class beer. Although you'll find easy-drinking beers on the menu—like the Forman American Lager—the flavor profiles of which J.W. is most proud are truly appreciated by those who know beer. But don't take J.W.'s word for it. Stop in for a bite—Big Draft's menu is as flavorful as its beer—and order a flight to decide for yourself. They currently have eleven of their own on tap, so narrowing it down may be a challenge!
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