Then there’s the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, in historic Staunton Virginia. This has lots of things to do for visitors of all ages. There’s a self-guided tour through seven galleries which explore his life and presidency during the eventful years of suffrage, prohibition and World War I. A new exhibit, complete with lights and sound, recreates what life was like in the trenches for soldiers during World War I. Also there’s a guided tour of President Wilson’s birthplace, a Greek Revival mansion, and National Historic Landmark, restored to an authentic example of a Shenandoah Valley pre-civil war home.
Once you reach the I-64 portion of the trip, you’ll be treated to a spectacular drive up into the wooded Alleghany mountains, with mile after mile of awesome, ear-popping twists and turns and then dipping down into valleys with sparkling streams and rivers running through them. You’ll pass close to Douthat State Park (what a great name), which The Outside Family Vacation Guide named one of the nation’s top 10 parks. It features some of the most spectacular scenery in Virginia, 40 miles of trails, outdoor camping and a 50-acre lake with swimming, boating and seasonal trout fishing.
Quaint Clifton Forge, dating back to the early 1800’s is next in view. It offers a rich railroad history, with the first passenger train arriving in 1857. Clifton Forge would be a great stopping off point for trips to nearby Douthut Park, Lake Moomar and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. The Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center is located downtown, along with lots of other cute shops and restaurants. Just up the road, you can visit the 100 foot long, covered Humpback Bridge, the oldest remaining covered bridge in Virginia.
In nearby Covington, you can take in the beautiful site of the Falling Spring Falls. These falls have an elevation of over 2,000 feet and due to recent renovations to the overlook and grounds, there are plenty of opportunities to safely stop and enjoy the view. These spectacular falls are one of the most visited sites in the Alleghany Highlands.
About 60 miles away from the New River Gorge, you’ll cross into West Virginia, which looks a lot like East Virginia at this point. The first exit is for The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, which is a fabulous resort that we stayed at a few years back. The Greenbrier has a PGA Tour golf course s voted the Best-in-Class tournament on the PGA TOUR in 2011!
Next up is Lewisburg, voted Coolest Small Town in America in 2011 and a Top Mountain Town in America. Nestled it beautiful farmland with winding roads, surprisingly it boasts a selection of over 50 art galleries, award-winning restaurants, sidewalk cafes, antique shops and boutiques. A former Mayor of Lewisburg was apparently fond of saying, “Only two types of people leave Lewisburg, those who will return, and those who wish they could”.
While I’m sure there are lots of other enjoyable detours on the way to the New River Gorge, at this point I stopped chronicling them so I could take in the lovely scenery of West Virginia, which becomes much more dramatic than Virginia at this point.