48 Hours in West Virginia: The Greenbrier

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Nestled in the spectacular mountains of West Virginia, The Greenbrier is a National Historic Landmark and world-class resort that has been hosting guests for 240 years (no joke!). Their guest list includes 27 presidents and celebrities galore. But, don’t be intimidated by all those VIP visitors. Today’s Greenbrier welcomes a new generation to come out and play and they’re SUPER family friendly! A three hour drive from D.C., The Greenbrier is a place where you can unwind, have amazing adventures and create everlasting family memories. And they take care of everything for you. All you have to do, is show up. 

Photo: The Greenbrier

A Little History Lesson
Walk around The Greenbrier and the essence of Dorothy Draper, a pioneer in interior design, is palpable. From 1925 to 1960, Draper slayed the American interior design field! She was hired, by The Greenbrier, to renovate the resort after it was used as a hospital during World War II. She certainly left her mark and personality, using bold, bright colors and maxi patterns which pepper the resort with whim, elegance and sense of history throughout. Her décor truly makes The Greenbrier a one-of-a-kind property with guestrooms, suites and cottages unlike any other in the world. Upon Draper’s retirement in the 60’s, her protégé Carleton Varney took over and he continues as The Greenbrier Designer/Curator and President of Dorothy Draper & Co.

Size Matters
The Greenbrier is spacious and that’s a must when it comes to traveling with families. Especially when plan
ning a multigenerational trip, The Greenbrier has its Legacy Cottages which offer ample space for everyone. Named after the Louisiana parish from which its first governor came, Tansas Row (one of seven sets of Legacy Cottage rows) was built in 1858. During World War II the cottages served as housing units for U.S. Army physicians when The Greenbrier was converted into a hospital. Families of Greenbrier executives lived in these cottages in the post-war period. In the past 40 years, all of the cottages have been extensively renovated and expanded for guests. Tansas Row offers two and three bedroom cottages with private baths so there’s ample room for parents, kids and grandparents.

Day One

Start your morning off in the Dorothy Draper dazzle of the Main Dining Room. But don’t be scared away by the chandeliers and stately columns, this place is totally kid friendly! The bountiful breakfast buffet is chockful of treats your kids will love including a waffle station with everything from whipped cream to jimmies. Once they’re fueled up, get to having fun!

Cycle Away
Biking through the scenic Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia is a one of a kind treat. Ride on The Greenbrier’s many trails or try the scenic Greenbrier River Trail located just a few miles away. Enjoy the magnificent mountain landscape with your family. Bonus: You can rent bikes at the resort.

Giddy Up!
Into horses more than bikes? From private rides to guided group tours, beginners and seasoned riders alike can head over to the equestrian center and find a friendly horse. They even have special pony rides for the younger set.

Photo: The Greenbrier

When Hunger Hits
Step back in time and head over to Drapers for lunch. A bright and colorful tribute to The Greenbrier’s powerhouse decorator, Draper’s offers casual dining with classic recipes. Nom on Fried Green Tomatoes or Chicken Pot Pie, but make sure to save some room for dessert at this cheerful and unique setting!

The Adventure Zone
After lunch, let the kids get some wiggles out at The Adventure Zone. Guests between the ages of 3 and 14, will participate in many fun and engrossing activities while under the supervision of the resort’s highly trained staff. While they’re at AZ, you can head to the Bunker Tour.

Bunker Tour
The secret is out! The derestricted Bunker, an emergency Cold War fallout shelter, is a must-see experience that takes you behind the scenes and walks you through an intriguing period in the resort’s history. Once a top secret U.S. government transfer location for Congress, The Bunker is now open to anyone who wants to relive a legendary piece of history. The 90 minute Bunker Tour provides an exclusive and extensive look behind hidden doors. No cameras allowed and you must be 10 or older to participate!

Photo: Guiomar Ochoa

Afternoon Tea
All that playing and bunkering calls for some settling down. 4:15 is tea time at The Greenbrier. Join in this tradition that guests have been enjoying since the 1930s. Nibble on a lovely and light selection of pastries and cookies in the grand Upper Lobby. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of dancers swaying to the Greenbrier Waltz. And, don’t worry, there’s hot chocolate for the kiddos!

Dinner at Prime 44 West
Prime 44 West, honoring NBA legend and West Virginia native Jerry West, is the ultimate classic steakhouse and your kids will love itAll their plates feature exceptional local ingredients and the kid’s menu is off the charts. They truly have something for everyone. One of the funnest features of Prime 44 West is that their friendly staff prepares many of the meals tableside. Order the Bananas Foster for dessert so you can see the kids’ eyes light up with the flambé bananas!

Laser Tag before Lights Out
End the evening by having a blast with the fam at Laser Tag! The Greenbrier’s laser tag challenge features an intense sound system that puts you in the middle of the action and makes you the star of your own video game. What adult (I mean, kid!) doesn’t love that?! This is guaranteed to be the most powerful 45-minutes of laser tag you’ve ever experienced!

Day Two

Today, relax and play!

Go for a Swim
Regardless of the weather, the indoor pool offers year-round fun within a lovely, fanciful backdrop. Ms. Draper had a hand in remodeling this 30-meter pool in the late 1940s and it is truly magnificent. With old movie posters and touches of 40’s architecture adorning it, this is a lovely place to take a dip.

Lunch on the Playground
The Greenbrier’s playground is a fun gathering place for families with children. If it’s a nice day, order a picnic lunch from one of the resort’s many restaurants or markets and enjoy a relaxing lunch on the North Lawn. The kids can play on the playground and you can just take in the sunshine.

Photo: Guiomar Ochoa

Strike Up Some Fun!
Strike up some fun in the eight-lane bowling alley! The lanes have built-in bumpers for kids or guests with disabilities and lane-by-lane multi-colored rope lights which add to the flexibility and fun. They even have pool tables if you want to try your hand at billiards!

Take in Some Art
After being indoors, get yourselves outside and take in some art. Located in the historic Alabama Row Cottages, the Art Colony Shops offer a unique experience for everyone. Kids will be mesmerized watching skilled artisans working with metals, leather, brass, wood, glass and pottery. The shops are open and you can purchase artwork to take home as well.

Take a Leisurely Carriage Ride
What better way to explore the resort than with a cozy carriage ride? These charming jaunts provide scenic views of the property and a fun, moment for the family to relax and enjoy a moment together. You might even get to visit with the horses afterward!

Photo: Guiomar Ochoa

Food at the Forum
Have a casual dinner in an Italian neighborhood nestled in Rome. Yes, the ambience and décor will make you feel like you’re in Rome at The Forum! From hand-tossed Neapolitan pizza made to simple pastas, this menu offers something for everyone in the family.

Catch a Flick
Make sure to check out the family movie playing at The Greenbrier Theatre. They host nightly movie screenings with family options available most days. It’s the perfect way to end a perfect day!

Living at The Greenbrier
Fall head over heels with The Greenbrier? Well, who wouldn’t?! You can live there. For reals, you can buy a home and live there all year or come up for weekends and holidays. Nestled within The Greenbrier’s 10,000 pristine acres, The Sporting Club is a private community of distinguished neighborhoods offering creekside, mountain, fairway and wooded homes. Benefits include a members-only golf course, lodges, restaurants, spa, equestrian center, and more! The Sports Complex has the latest in sports technology and features a 25ft indoor climbing wall, squash courts, classes, heated outdoor infinity pool, tennis courts, and even a seasonal grillAnd don’t worry, the kids will not be bored! Whether it’s building and launching model rockets or learning how to bake cookies, children’s activities are personalized to the interests of your family. Scheduled activities include Pony Camp, Young Explorers, Open Climb, Kids’ Night Out, and Golf/Tennis Clinics.

Have you experienced West Virginia’s The Greenbrier? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. 

300 W Main St. (White Sulphur Springs, Wv)
Online: greenbrier.com

–Guiomar Ochoa