Greenbrier County (Video/Blog Series #7)

Greenbrier County is a unique blend of outdoors, culture and history.

“It’s such a great mix of different landscapes,” said Marlene Peirson-Jolliffee of the State Fair of West Virginia.  “You can have your mountains, you can have your rivers, but it’s all very cultured.”

Lewisburg, which has been named a “Coolest Small Town in America” and a top arts town, is full of unique shops, tucked in around the historic structures.

Antique stores in old homes, with room after room of cool finds. Furniture stores stuffed with old-fashioned and modern craftsmanship. Swanky kitchen utensils, quirky decor, local artisan works— you can find it all lining historic Lewisburg’s streets.

“Expect the unexpected,” said Monica Maxwell of Harmony Ridge Gallery, where you can find American-crafted artworks as well as a wine & gourmet coffee bar. “It is very true of this town. You’re expectation of a small town in West Virginia is really to find history, to discover nature. What you don’t expect is to find top chefs from across the country.”

The annual Chocolate Festival brings in some the best pastry chefs, too. But the town is full of flavor on a normal day. And the nearby Smooth Ambler distillery, which hand-bottles each of its homemade spirits, is great to wash down your dish.

Lewisburg was also the site of a Civil War battle, one of many historic moments you can learn about around town. Nearby Ronceverte and Alderson both offer unique small-town charm and history, too.

“Every town has some phenomenal history to it,” Maxwell said. “And there are always people around that love to talk about it. You can walk into a little diner, and someone will be sitting there that grew up in that town, and can tell you a ton of stories.”

And on the outskirts of all that roll miles of mountain wilderness.

“There are more than 3,000 known caves in Greenbrier County, which makes it kind of a hotbed for caving activities,” said Steve Silverburg of Lost World Caverns, a show cave in the area, which is open to the public 7 days a week. “There are only a couple that are lighted and marked that people can walk through.”

The Greenbrier State Forest beckons outdoor lovers to play and explore. The Greenbrier River Trail also runs along the riverbed, an easy path and a great stretch for families to enjoy, camping or stopping along the way.

The area packs in so much for families to enjoy, it is the home of the West Virginia State Fair.

“It’s very easy to sell the state fair in the Greenbrier Valley, because folks can make a family vacation out of a visit here,” Peirson-Jolliffee said. “The Greenbrier Valley is truly a wonderful mix of culture and historic trails and buildings, and Civil War History and the Greenbrier River and fishing, plus just the beautiful drives through the countryside.”

Even with all there is to do, it’s really the kindness of the people that makes the area such a treat to visit.

“The people here in West Virginia are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet,” Silverburg said. “That’s what brought me here 16 years ago, and it’s what’s kept me here. And probably will keep me here.”

 And all the charm is authentic!

“It’s not in a box,” Peirson-Jolliffee said. “It wasn’t created to look perfect. It just is truly the real thing.”