The West Virginia Tourism Board invited me as a guest to experience their winter wonderland. As always, opinions and photos are my own.
Adventure, nature and southern hospitality in West Virginia.
I’m always drawn to the people and stories that make visiting a new place the most memorable, and West Virginia had no shortage of that southern hospitality. During our first night at dinner, we met Chip Chase, the owner of the White Grass Ski Touring Center who offered us chaga tea, made from mushrooms he foraged from the local forest earlier that day. On another stop in Davis, the owner of Sirianni’s Cafe shared stories about the memorabilia lining the wooden walls of his restaurant, which has been in his family for 30 years. And while staying at The Greenbrier, I met Frank, the friendliest bellman and greeter who’s been there for over 60 years welcoming guests.
West Virginia has something for everyone. From all types of fun winter activities to cozy cabins in the woods to staying in one of America’s most historic hotels, each spot had something unique to offer.
Here are my top three locations for the perfect winter getaway in West Virginia.
The Greenbrier Resort
There is a Southern charm that permeates throughout The Greenbrier. At first glance, it’s seen through the decor that features floral patterns and vibrant colors by interior designer Dorothy Draper. (Even the bathrooms are lined with bold textures and bright colors). But looking deeper, it’s probably more to do with its rich history. With a full-time historian on staff, one can only imagine all the events that took place between these color-filled walls.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by a kind gentleman at the front door. I ran into him throughout my stay and learned his name is Frank Mosely, a Vietnam vet who has been working at the hotel for over 60 years. He told me he has greeted celebrities, presidents and royalty and yet believes in treating everyone the same. During one of our encounters, he pulled me aside and said, “you’re a special one… and I’ve met a lot of people”! And I sincerely believed him.
Built in 1778, guests originally came to the resort for its famed springs. As an annual summer getaway spot, families would stay in cottages and private homes on the 11,000 acre property. With Washington, D.C. being only 3 hours away, the hotel has hosted 27 presidents and is popular for government-related events. There is even a secret emergency Cold War fallout shelter on property that could have accommodated the entire U.S. Congress if there was an attack. It was never used but is now available for tours.
What to do
With over 55 different activities, there’s always something to do at The Greenbrier. Activities include falconry, golf, spa treatments, wine tastings, shopping, tennis, a bunker tour and horse carriage ride. Every afternoon there’s high tea which kicks off with a performance of the Greenbrier Waltz by dancers. For nightly entertainment, there is a casino in the hotel that’s open only to guests. During the winter they offer ice skating at their on-site rink.
Even with all the offered activities, all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book in one of their cozy sofas. Communal areas are reminiscent of a family room with games and jigsaw puzzles waiting to bring people together.
Where to eat
With six full-time restaurants/cafés, three seasonal restaurants/cafés, five bars/lounges, and 24-hour room service, there is no need to leave the hotel for meals.
I would recommend breakfast in the Main Dining Room which offers a bountiful buffet and a la carte options, lunch at Drapers with traditional southern dishes and dinner in the Main Dining Room serving classic fine dining.
The Greenbrier is located in the Allegheny Mountains in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. It is easily accessible by car, train (Amtrak to White Sulphur Springs Station) and plane (SkyWest offers daily direct flights from Chicago and D.C. to Greenbrier Valley Airport)
101 W Main Street
White Sulphur Springs
At 4,848 feet above sea level, what’s most unique about Snowshoe Mountain is the resort is located at the top of the mountain, unlike most resorts which sit at the bottom of the trails. The resort, restaurants, lodging and skiing are all within walking distance in the village.
What to do
Home to 257 acres of skiable terrain and 60 trails, this is the area’s best ski resort. However, for those that prefer to stay off the slopes, there are many winter activities offered in addition to skiing. Some of my favorites include:
Where to eat
There are over 20 dining options in Snowshoe Mountain ranging from healthy breakfast spots like White Rabbit Market offering smoothie bowls and smashed burgers to homestyle southern dishes at The Junction and The Waffle Cabin, a slope-side cabin offering hot chocolate and Belgian sugar waffles.
For dinner, I highly recommend the Backcountry Hut Dinner Experience. After off-roading through the forests of Snowshoe Mountain in a Polaris RZR, you arrive at your mountain cabin just in time for dinner. The Hut Dinner is exactly what you would expect—hidden cabin in the forest with a delicious meal next to a cozy fireplace. Entrée options include Ribeye Steak, Duck, Salmon, or Squash.
Another favorite is Appalachia Kitchen for dinner, serving farm-to-table modern American cuisine. They work with local farms in the area for all their meats and produce, and even list out the various partners on the menu so you know exactly where your food is coming from.
Where to stay
There are many options for lodging at Snowshoe Mountain depending on what you’re looking for. There are hotels but condos and townhomes seem to be the most popular. I stayed in a suite at Allegheny Springs located slopeside, in the heart of the Village at Snowshoe. It had balcony views overlooking the courtyard with heated pool, hot tub and fire pit, and includes an exercise room, ski storage, sauna and concierge. The Hut Dinner cabin is also available for overnight rentals.
Snowshoe Mountain is located in Pocahontas County about 4.5 hours from Washington D.C. Getting to Snowshoe Mountain can be quite an adventure with its rugged location and limited cell phone service. GPS and smartphone maps aren’t always reliable so it’s best to do comprehensive pre-trip planning.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort
10 Snowshoe Drive
Snowshoe, West Virginia
Blackwater Falls State Park
What to do
The hike to the waterfall is a quick 10-minute stroll through a wooden-boarded path. Besides the main attraction, there is also hiking, cross country skiing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing and camping (in the summertime).
We spent a few hours sledding at the Blackwater Falls Sled Park. It has one of the longest and fastest sled parks in the United States complete with a conveyor belt that brings you back up the hill each time. I felt like a giddy adult child flying down the hill and would do it again in a heartbeat. Apres sledding, there’s a cozy cabin at the bottom of the hill with a fire pit and hot chocolate for warming up before heading out again!
Where to eat
White Grass Café is an iconic spot in Tucker County. Opened since 1981, they offer cross country skiing rentals in nearby trails and the cafe serves up cozy apres ski food like veggie chili and hot apple cider. I especially enjoyed their fresh maple water taken directly from the maple tree. This is where I tried Chip’s famous Chaga tea seeped from local mushrooms.
Before we went to visit the falls, we had a hearty breakfast at Blackwater Falls State Park Lodge with expansive views of the park. On our way to Snowshoe, we had home-cooked Italian bites at Sirianni’s Cafe in Davis with hearty home-cooked feel.
Where to stay
The Best of Canaan Luxury Cabins are comfy and cozy cabins with beautiful views of the surroundings. We stayed in a two-story, 3 bedroom home with a hot tub.
81 Woods End
Court 7 Woods End
Davis, WV 26260
To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect going to West Virginia, especially in the wintertime. I was pleasantly surprised at how charming everything is with tons of cozy cabins and genuinely kind people. When we first drove up to Snowshoe with the pine trees all iced over, it reminded me of beautiful winter imagery from the Nordic regions, minus the long flights and costs to get there.
West Virginia’s hidden gems are not always apparent, but if you take the time to get to know her, it’s well worth the stories and southern hospitality you’ll get in return.
Thank you to West Virginia Tourism for hosting me during this cozy winter getaway. All opinions and photos are my own.