Put an end to cabin fever and enjoy this spring driving tour, replete with access to hiking, biking and history in the nearby part of West Virginia.
The story below is an excerpt from our March/April 2015 issue. For the full story download our FREE iOS app or view our digital edition for FREE today!
I have to admit I’m a historic architecture freak, so it’s no surprise I find myself regularly drawn to Lewisburg, West Virginia, particularly in April when the town hosts its annual chocolate festival – the ninth, this year. Did I mention I love chocolate, too?
Lewisburg, which is little more than an hour and a half from Roanoke, presents the perfect jumping off point for a spring tour of eastern West Virginia, chocolate or no chocolate (though I highly recommend hitting town on April 11 if you have a sweet tooth!). Lewisburg sports an extensive historic district, which includes nearly 70 structures. Some, like The Barracks on Jefferson Street, date back to the late 1700s. The Old Stone Presbyterian Church on Church Street across from Carnegie Hall was built in 1796 and is still in continuous use and often open for public visitation.
The downtown commercial district offers plenty to explore as well with an eclectic collection of antique shops, art galleries and gift stores. With everything from fine oil paintings to folk art, a theater at the restored Carnegie Hall and even an organic food store, Lewisburg is a thriving center for art and culture enthusiasts.
If you choose to spend the night here, consider parking your bags at the General Lewis Inn on Washington Street. Rooms are cozy but comfortable, and there isn’t a bed in the place less than 100 years old, so the inn offers a special kind of ambience with its 25 rooms, restaurant, and a wide white veranda with a tempting row of rocking chairs.
Lewisburg also offers access to the Greenbrier River Trail, a 78-mile stretch of bike trail on a former C & O railroad bed stretching northward all the way to Cass. With less than a one percent grade, the trail offers a quiet, uncluttered escape for bicyclers and is easy enough for the kids to trail along. Running parallel to the wide, slow-moving Greenbrier River, passing alongside five state parks, around (not up) pointed mountain peaks, and through long, low meadows and grazing land, it offers plenty of scenery for a ride of a few hours or a full day.
From Lewisburg, I head up Route 219 to Hillsboro, home of the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace, and grab lunch at the Pretty Penny Café, which is known for its locally grown cuisine as well as live bluegrass music on Friday nights. The café is loaded with antiques, country store memorabilia, and wall-to-wall bookcases filled with used books, and I settle in at a front porch table to watch the local traffic go by.
After lunch, it’s time to take in some hiking at nearby Watoga State Park, where the one-mile Arrowhead Trail provides access to the Ann Bailey lookout tower. From here, I take in westward facing views of the high elevation plateau here known as Little Levels.