Take A Break is your ultimate guide to the perfect trips to recharge, rediscover yourself and your relationships, and reengage with the world. We’ll cover shopping stops, great bars, restaurants worth your money, photo opportunities, memorable drives and experiences, and other important details you need before you book.
Below, we chat with Paige Lavender, news director at HuffPost, about why you’ll want to put Lewisburg, West Virginia, on your bucket list.
What drew you to Lewisburg as a place to visit or explore?
I visited Lewisburg a lot in my childhood. It’s close to where the West Virginia State Fair takes place, and it’s home to a lot of events and businesses my family frequents. It was voted “Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel in 2011, and it definitely lives up to that title. There are so many wonderful places to eat and drink, and beautiful historic homes and buildings, like the local Carnegie Hall. Plus, it’s a short distance from a lot of places to hike, fish, swim, camp and more, if you’re into outdoor activities.
What are the best times of year to visit?
I definitely recommend going in the fall. The changing leaves are gorgeous and the weather is perfect. There are a ton of fun annual events, like Taste Of Our Towns, where all the local businesses and restaurants gather on one street with great food, crafts and music. (When the public health situation allows, anyway.)
What’s your best tip for getting there? How can you make the travel as stress-free as possible?
Driving is the easiest way to get there; the historic downtown area of Lewisburg is just a short drive from I-64, which runs through big cities like Richmond, Virginia, and Louisville, Kentucky. There is an airport nearby, the Greenbrier Valley Regional Airport, but it’s very small and flights may only come from a handful of cities. You’d have better luck flying into Charleston, West Virginia’s capital city, and renting a car. (Honestly, this is an even better plan in the fall, when the leaves on the trees are changing ― driving through southern West Virginia is a real treat that time of year.)
Where do you recommend staying when you go?
There are some Airbnbs around Lewisburg, as well as some affordable chain hotels. The General Lewis Inn is a historic hotel near lots of shops and restaurants. I’ve never stayed there but I’ve heard it’s great (and maybe haunted). There are also lots of campgrounds nearby if you’re into that. If you’re looking for something super-luxe, The Greenbrier Resort is about 20 minutes away.
What are your go-to restaurants or foods to eat while you’re there?
If you can only visit one spot, I’d make it The Humble Tomato, a delicious pizza place with fantastic cocktails (and tons of outdoor seating, which has been great during the pandemic). The Wild Bean & Thunderbird Taco is a combo coffee shop and taco spot, and I’ve never ordered anything there I haven’t liked. The French Goat and The Livery Tavern are on the fancier side if you’re having a date night. The Asylum has great burgers and beers. I could go on and on...
What bars or entertainment spots do you make sure to hit? What’s good to drink there or what else should people know?
Stardust Cafe has really tasty wine cocktails and is right in the downtown historic district. If you’ve got a car, it’s definitely worth driving to Hawk Knob Cidery & Meadery. It’s located on a gorgeous farm, and it’s the perfect spot to sip a cider and enjoy the cooler fall temps. Not far from Hawk Knob is Greenbrier Valley Brewing and Smooth Ambler Spirits, also both good spots to pick up locally crafted drinks.
What are your favorite shops and what do you look for when you’re there?
I love A New Chapter Bookstore. In addition to having a ton of good reads, they usually have a service-dog-in-training hanging out that is the cutest. Harmony Ridge Gallery has a ton of neat local art and textiles. Brick House Antiques is fun to walk through ― I particularly enjoy looking at all the old political buttons and memorabilia they’ve got, and they usually have a huge selection of dining and kitchen goods. It’s a short drive away in White Sulphur Springs, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Barnwood Living Showroom. My cousin Cindy Lavender-Bowe owns and runs this shop that’s filled with a lot of home goods, art and WV-made products. It’s the storefront associated with the TV series “Barnwood Builders,” which is hosted by Cindy’s husband Mark Bowe and airs on the Magnolia Network.
What’s your single favorite spot to go for photos and why?
Lewisburg is beautiful, but if you can afford to drive 30 minutes away to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (the nation’s newest national park!), there are so many beautiful mountain views there. Plus, the New River Gorge Bridge is beautiful to photograph.
What tourist attraction should people skip and what should they do instead?
Carnegie Hall is great, but I think you could skip going inside; the green space in front of the building is a great spot to have a picnic when the weather allows. Lost World Caverns is fun, and if you’ve never visited caverns, it would be worth going.
Where do you feel the most relaxed, calm or happy?
Hawk Knob Cidery or The Wild Bean. Being able to sit and relax with a good drink is the best, and the people-watching can be really interesting.
What scenic spots do you recommend checking out?
Anywhere in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
What’s one thing you make sure to pack if you’re going and why?
Comfortable shoes. You can definitely walk most of the historic downtown area, but as with all of West Virginia, it’s a little hilly.
What are some specific planning tips to know before you go so you’re not stressed?
Unless you’re going to the West Virginia State Fair, I’d avoid going that week, as the town gets a little crowded then. But the state fair is a lot of fun, with a lot of tasty food and concerts, so if you’re OK with the crowds, it’s an exciting time to be in town.
Also, it’s so easy to get around West Virginia with a car and there are so many other great spots within a short drive of Lewisburg. It’s worth planning to hop over to another town, like Charleston, Elkins or Green Bank, where you may not have cell service but you will see the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope.
What surprised you about Lewisburg when you went the first time?
I don’t remember my first time in Lewisburg because I was so young! But going as an adult, I’ve really realized how much the town has a little something for everyone. It’s very kid-friendly, pretty walkable, and full of food and drink options that will appeal to almost anyone. I love knowing it’ll be a low-stress place to visit with a group because everyone can find something to do or something they like.