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.
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 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 traveled today.
JOIN THE CELEBRATION. 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.
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. If you prefer the flavor of hops, the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Company is just a stone’s throw away. 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.
Just off the Midland Trail, owner-operators of Hawk Knob Hard Cider & Mead have begun to capitalize 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.
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, her dramatic style of bold patterns and vibrant hues adorn every room -- right down to the bathrooms.
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.
STEP INSIDE A COLD WAR BUNKER. 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.
ENJOY A STROLL AROUND TOWN. Fodor’s, an 80-year authority on travel, recently selected downtown Lewisburg for its “America’s 25 Cutest Main Streets in Small(er) Towns” 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, Civil War cemetery, and Carnegie Hall (one of only four in operation worldwide) are free to tour. On the east end of town, Lee Street Studios is a historic public-school-turned-art-cooperative and performance venue. The Historic General Lewis Inn makes a convenient stopping point. The roomy veranda and full bar with selection of hand-crafted cocktails are added bonuses.
CHECK OUT THE CULINARY SCENE. When you’re ready to call it a day, a plethora of local dining venues await. It just depends on your mood! To name a few, Food & Friends is known for tasty, American home-style cuisine, Del Sol is a fresh take on Mexican and Hill and Holler has dialed in the hand-tossed-brick-oven-pizza-with-side-of-wings.
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.