The community of Lewisburg compliments itself, with each component of this small town fitting together to create a larger puzzle, one that has become an intended destination for visitors both near and far. Voted America’s Coolest Small Town by Budget Travel magazine in 2011, Lewisburg possesses a rich mosaic with quaint country charm and big city amenities. This not-so-well-kept secret is home to eclectic art galleries, live theatre and entertainment, fine dining, numerous retail shops, wine vineyards, local farmer’s markets, and so much more.
One of Lewisburg’s greatest assets is its Historic Downtown Shopping district. Small, locally owned shops, in many instances run by the owners themselves, offer unique atmospheres in appearance and character. Providing a personal experience that comes with expert knowledge and helpful staff, the employees and owners know and believe in their products.
Ensuring each piece of the complimentary puzzle remains intact is not always an easy task. Growing competition from online merchants and big box store chains continues to eat away at small businesses, with successive loss of sales meaning the difference between an open or permanently closed sign hanging on the front door. To guarantee the survival of small town shopping districts, such as downtown Lewisburg, and many others scattered across the Greenbrier Valley and around the country, the importance of shopping locally has never been more imperative.
Fortunately, when it comes to shopping locally, downtown Lewisburg has options galore; with many other amenities that has surprised even the most seasoned traveler. The storefronts, several of which are housed in buildings dating back to the 1800’s, are conveniently situated along a few main streets, allowing for a leisurely walking pace as you visit each unique location. The fact that you don’t have to drive from shop to shop is refreshing, something that is oftentimes lost in sprawling box stores with football sized parking lots. Several park benches line the streets of downtown Lewisburg, including a child-friendly Green space area, complete with a walking fountain and additional shaded seating.
A great place to start your day is at the local coffee shop, appropriately named The Wild Bean. Mud coffee and vegetarian sandwiches are their specialty, as well as being a casual location for meeting friends and informal business meetings. Once you’ve had your morning snack and caffeine fix, it might be a good idea to mosey across the street and visit Edith’s Health and Beauty Store. This well established business is situated in a very well laid out and inviting storefront, and is the go-to place for organic and gluten-free minerals and supplements.
As the sun begins to grow high in the sky, Wolf Creek Gallery is a recommended location to ease any blinding discomfort. Stocking many famous female-based brands, and featuring a kid’s boutique, this place also has a great summer selection of sun hats and women’s tote bags.
Many antique shops can be found downtown, with creative names such as Little Brick House. The largest antique shop in downtown Lewisburg, Robert’s Antiques is diversely sophisticated. A large array of antique furniture, rugs, and a whole lot more, Robert’s Antiques & Wine Shop also happens to have one of the largest wine selections in the state, carrying over 600 labels.
All About Beauty carries a wide variety of yarn and hair products, while Love Child has many educational and instructional themed toys to keep the youngsters busy on the ride home.
Numerous art galleries can be found along the streets of downtown Lewisburg. Places like Washington Street Gallery and Harmony Ridge Gallery feature numerous local and nationally known artists, with items available for all budgets.
You’ll find several unique and widely held items, including the very colorful Fiesta dinnerware, at Bella the Corner Gourmet. With frequent tasting parties to allow discovery of desirability, Bella the Corner Gourmet has many local WV made wines such as Watt’s Roost Vineyard and cheeses, including Sprint Gap Mountain Creamery. This retail shop is also proud to be stocking Bouchaine Vineyards, a 2013 sponsor for the PGA Greenbrier Classic, to its current wine list.
Carnegie Hall, one of only four in the world, sits proudly right around the corner from the main shopping district. On Thursday, July 11th, Carnegie Hall is holding a free concert on the lawn. See LBSPY Agenda for more info. Downtown Lewisburg has two bakeries: The Bakery on North Court Street and The Greenbrier Valley Baking Company, with each of which serving up a smorgasbord of tasty treats.
Downtown Lewisburg also has a wide variety of shops tailoring to the female form. In addition to Wolf Creek Gallery, Cecilia’s Bridal and Formal Wear is a fantastic spot to find that next evening gown or formal dress. High Country Boutique carries the much sought after Eileen Fisher line, while Serenity Now Outfitters features organic cotton dresses by Patagonia.
Local knowledge and experience abounds within the outdoor side of things in Downtown Lewisburg. Clothing and footwear for outside adventures, along with fly-fishing and river supplies can be found at Serenity Now Outfitters. Hill and Holler Bicycles provides rentals, shuttle services, and expert bike repair, as well as instructional classes for the two-wheeled enthusiasts.
The nightlife shines in the evening hours, with area flavor unique to the town. Restaurants with outdoor seating, such as Del Sol, The Livery, Stella’s, and The Asylum are great places to take in the local atmosphere while you enjoy your dinner. The General Lewis Inn & Restaurant and the Stardust Café offer top-notch dining, providing fabulous meals in an intimate setting. Featured on the Food Network, Food and Friends Restaurant remains a popular stop for locals and visitors alike.
If a nice way to end your day consists of having a cocktail and listening to live music, you’ve come to the right place, for the diversity of establishments and talent in the area is astonishing. Live Celtic music can be found at The Irish Pub with Patrick O’Flaherty, while the Sweet Shoppe serves up various local bands, and always without a cover charge. Del Sol not only features a full menu, they also serve up a pretty mean margarita. Carnegie Hall brings in many well-known acts, as does Greenbrier Valley Theatre and its ever-changing series of productions and casts.
While most of the shops listed above reside on the main Washington Street thoroughfare, please Turn the Corner to one of the many side streets to find additional storefronts. The Pepper Shed, next to the Lewis Theatre and Show your Colors WV Store, has a variety of West Virginia item.
Downtown Lewisburg thrives due to the people who visit and live within her historic setting, reinvesting in this charming local community. With no shortage of places to visit while you’re in the area, whether it’s a women’s boutique, an antique dealer, or a night out at your favorite restaurant, your dollars spent in America’s Coolest Small Town are greatly appreciated.
– Craig Miller, LBSPY 36 (July 1-15) *revised*