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Wandering Lewisburg, the Coolest Small Town in West Virginia

January 26, 2018

Picture this: It’s Sunday morning and you’re enjoying a relaxing, all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. The light is shining through floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows and glistening on the Gone With the Wind chandelier that dangles high above your head. This regal dining room is rich with history dating back to 1858. Presidential busts and larger-than-life-size portraits hang from the walls, which once housed a hospital during World War II, though now, not one square inch is spared from Dorothy Draper’s bright and bold decor. You wonder if any celebrities or royals—Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, or Prince Rainer and Princess Grace of Monaco, perhaps—ever sat in your very seat. You attempt to count the countless flamboyant “Draperized” floral wall coverings, cushions, floors, and carpets, then reflect on your weekend of firsts at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. All in a day you’ve shot sporting clays, got behind the wheel of a tricked-out off-road Jeep to explore the backcountry, toured the historical hidden bunker carved deep into the hotel’s mountainside, and soaked in your very own sulfur-spring bath. You could call it a successful weekend—one for the books—and hit the road home. . . but you’d be mistaken to end your trip here.

Less than 10 miles down the road from “America’s Resort” is a little-known town called Lewisburg. It’s easy to overlook (the main street stretches no more than five city blocks), but that doesn’t mean you should pass it by. With its low-key good vibes and extensive history (it was the site of the last major battle of the Civil War), Lewisburg has become a cultural outpost and weekend getaway for Southern states that’s well worth a wander. From breathtaking vistas and outdoor activities to a lively culinary and cultural scene, there’s plenty to keep you busy or to get away from it all, if that’s what you’re seeking. Below, the best spots to stay, see, and snack.

Where to Stay: The historic and restored General Lewis Inn on the edge of town is the work of local husband-and-wife duo Aaron and Sparrow Huffman. It’s a Lewisburg institution—first, a private home built in early 19th century, later a family-run hotel—that, under the Huffmans’ five-year ownership, has fast become a haven for in-the-know locals and visitors alike. Upon entry, admire the thoughtfully curated décor (a mix of found treasures, family heirlooms, and new pieces) and grab a homemade cookie; you’ll instantly feel at home. Picturesque guest rooms with creaky charm and modern flourishes certainly help the cause—as does locally sourced comfort food served up in the dining room followed by a cup of hot cider in the parlor by the fireplace. Another place to find warmth? Your suite’s claw-foot tub, which will surely prep you for a good sleep. Bonus: It’s walking distance to town. Nearby, Maison Marcel, best described as a B&B that doesn’t feel like a B&B—more like an outrageously elegant home to occupy on vacation—also makes for a quiet stay. Even better: Rent out the whole house with your crew.

What to See: There are only four remaining Carnegie Halls in the world, and one happens to be located right here in Lewisburg. Built in 1902, the hall is home to comedy acts, dance and musical performances, and so much more. (The building also boasts multiple art galleries and studios.) Arts aside, there’s no better way to experience Lewisburg than by way of the great outdoors. If you love hiking (really, it’s just walking!), head to the Greenbrier River Trail or The Cranberry. Work up a sweat, take in the scenery, and—if you’re visiting in the summertime—snack on the berries that line the trails. Need speed? Rent a bike and make a break for Meadow Creek, or whitewater rafting on the New River.

Where to Eat: Take a stroll down the main drag and you’ll encounter a pretty eclectic food scene for such a little town. For starters, swing by Stardust Café, a coffeehouse-style spot that’s the sister restaurant to General Lewis Inn and happens to serve up the best fair-trade brunch, lunch, and dinner. In the mood for something sweet? Stop by Food & Friends for homemade fudge and chocolates, among other confections and throwback comfort food. And if all you want is a really good piece of pizza, make sure to hit up Hill and Holler. Follow up a hike with a fresh pie—after all, you’ll need fuel for the long drive home.

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Downtown Lewisburg WV


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