We’re continually on the hunt for opportunities to add richness to our lives. In the time of the road trip revival, we are proud to feature a monthly section featuring destinations within driving distance of Charleston that make for a great getaway. We feel that our worldly and devoted readers will find these places interesting.
Driving a little less than two hours southeast of Charleston, West Virginia, brings you to Lewisburg, nestled in the Allegheny Mountains and named Coolest Town in America in the past. Not only does Lewisburg pack a powerful punch, but it is also a great getaway to transport you somewhere unique that won’t break the bank with rising gas prices. Indulge in a dose of fresh mountain air, feast on gourmet grub, take in the arts and history and have a lovely weekend in a town that thrives on being a community leader and West Virginia jewel.
WHAT TO SEE & DO IN LEWISBURG
Lewisburg is cram-packed with offerings from exploring history to shopping high-end locally-owned boutiques. The Main Street in Lewisburg (Washington) is lined with intriguing shops, manicured parks, and gorgeous flower displays. Shops I recommend seeing are Yarid’s (great shoes), Edith’s (natural and holistic foods), Wolf Creek Gallery and Studio 40 (ladies apparel), Harmony Ridge (glassware, jewelry), and A New Chapter Bookstore. A special find is the wine shop in the back of Robert’s Antiques, offering some 700 kinds of wine and beer. Bella the Corner Gourmet is a must for barware, bakeware, gourmet foods, cheeses, wine, and kitchen accessories.
Lost World Caverns is a National Natural Landmark and a family favorite in the Greenbrier Valley. The caverns are a wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites 120′ below the earth. Dress appropriately—the temperature is low 50s year-round. Self-guided tours are 45 minutes long and cost $12 for adults $6 for kids.
Visit the Greenbrier Historical Society and North House Museum for the latest African-American history and local textiles exhibits. If cemetery visits are in your wheelhouse, you’ll appreciate the headstones on the gravesites in the Confederate Cemetery, circa the Civil War era.
Pencil in a drive to the Hern Mills Covered Bridge for photo-ops if you want the quintessential “Almost Heaven” town offering.
First Fridays highlight Lewisburg’s diverse and impressive arts and culture, with shops open late, entertainment, and refreshments. Notable events in Lewisburg include the 14th annual Lewisburg Chocolate Festival on April 9th, Healing Appalachia in September (a mission to raise funds and awareness to celebrate recovery the 23-24th), and West Virginia State Fair August 11-20th, chock full of food, games, entertainment, and big-name concerts.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
The Wild Bean is excellent for coffee, pastries, and wraps for breakfast. The Jefferson Dining Room at the General Lewis Inn has a weekend brunch with mimosas and Bloody Marys for a fancier breakfast option. If you arrive in Lewisburg on a weekday, try Corn + Flour, a magnificent local bakery with bagels, cinnamon rolls, and muffins, but they are closed on weekends.
Stardust Cafe (closed on Sunday) gets my vote for eclectic sandwich creations and salads for lunch. Across the street is Thunderbird Taco for guacamole, vegetarian fare, and upscale Mexican favorites. For something old-school and fun, Jim’s on Route 60 has burgers, fries, hot dogs, shakes, and cobblers, plus you can experience car-hop service.
Food and Friends is your go-to for steaks, classic entrees, and bread pudding with butter rum sauce, Livery Tavern for farm-to-table meals, or Stardust Cafe for pasta, lamb, and chicken dishes. The French Goat would be a fine dining experience— a raved-about bougie eatery with exotic choices, such as seasonal oysters, garlic escargot, and a Sunday brunch featuring duck confit Benedicts, quiche, and Croque Madame. Reservations are recommended regardless of where you pick.
Explore the Greenbrier Valley Brewing Co. for your craft beer needs (10 minutes away in Maxwelton) and Hawk Knob for Appalachian hard cider and mead in their tasting room with live music, open weekends and Friday nights.
WHERE TO STAY IN LEWISBURG
There is great diversity for lodging choices in Lewisburg, ranging from very affordable at the Motel M Lewisburg, just right off the highway, to the General Lewis Inn, the premier luxury accommodations in town that date back to the 19th century. Be sure to check out the craft cocktails at the Inn, too. Middle ground options include Hampton Inn and Home2Suites by Hilton, both with a pool and complimentary breakfast. Rates run around $100 per night.
Washington Street Quarters is a nice pick for comfortably outfitted rooms with modern amenities within walking distance to almost everything mentioned above.
For a more rugged adventure, consider Greenbrier River Campground & Cabins (RV sites, too), where you can also rent boats, canoes, kayaks, and tubes.