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The Greenbrier: Old-School Charm and Fresh Adventure


When it comes to traditional Southern elegance and grace, few resorts can match THE Greenbrier, situated amid the gorgeous Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia.

drive time: 6 hours.

stay here: The area where the Greenbrier now sits has been hosting guests from around the world—including 26 presidents since 1778. Early visitors came to sample the local mineral waters that were believed to restore good health. 

The original Greenbrier was built in 1913. Today, this National Historic Landmark, which sits on 10,000 acres, has five championship golf courses and uses the waters and minerals from the nearby white-sulphur springs in a variety of treatments at its full-service spa. In 2010, the resort opened a casino for overnight guests. It also has an indoor swimming pool. Standard rooms start at $204 weekdays, $244 weekends; junior suites from $284 weekdays, $334 weekends. 300 W. Main St., White Sulphur Springs, (855) 453-4858, www.greenbrier.com. 

eat here: The Greenbrier has six restaurants and cafés. Taxes and a 20-percent gratuity are automatically added to your bill. A long-standing dress code requires resort-casual wear, and the main dining room is strictly a jacket-and-tie affair. 

Breakfast in the main room is à la carte or buffet. Either way, you’ll have your omelets, sweet-potato pancakes or brook trout in opulent Southern- mansion-like surroundings. The buffet is $27 for adults, $17 for kids. Dinner is accompanied by live music. Recent dishes have included rosemary-rendered duck breast with kumquat tarte tatin, and dijonnaise lamb chops. $31-$54. 

Draper’s offers a more laid-back experience alongside traditional Southern classics like shrimp and grits, and chicken with sweet-potato waffles. Breakfast specialties include interesting variations on eggs Benedict for $8-$18. Lunch salads and sandwiches are $8-$16, dinner entrées $15-$35.

The Forum serves Italian fare, including coal-fired-oven pizzas ($19 for pepperoni, $25 for lobster, basil and olive oil). Entrées like house-made pasta are $15-$26. 

to-do list: The resort is best known for its Greenbrier Classic PGA Tour tournament. It’s held on the Old White, which first opened in 1914. Guests still play on it today. Rates are $235-$325 in October, $195 in November. Or play nine holes on America’s first golf course, Oakhurst Links, built in 1884. The cost is $79. 

During the Cold War period, a 112,544-square-foot bunker was built 720 feet into the hillside under the Greenbrier to serve as an emergency fallout shelter for Congress. It remained a secret for three decades. Guided tours are $30 for adults, $15 for kids. 

For an exciting off-road adventure, navigate the challenging mountain terrain in a specially equipped Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. $250/hour.

Fish for trout in Howard’s Creek, and bass in Swan Lake. A fishing guide and instruction costs $225 for two hours. A rod and a Howard’s Creek permit are $150 per day, $85 for kids. Swan Lake is great for families; a permit is $25 for adults, $15 for kids. 

Take a horseback trail ride. A group excursion is $95 for 50 minutes; a private ride is $150 an hour.

Supervised activities for kids ages 3-14 are available at the Adventure Zone on an all-day ($85), half-day ($60) or evening ($65 plus dinner) basis.

Browse the Art Colony Shops to check out work from local artisans. Virtu is known for its handmade jewelry and glass art. Appalachian Moon Woodworks features handmade furniture and other décor. Studio 40 sells painted and silk-screened clothing and accessories.

for thrifty types: Kids 12 and under can participate in many resort activities for free, when accompanied by a
paying adult.