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Details: Green Bank, W.Va.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GETTING THERE: From the Beltway, take Interstate 66 west to I-81 south, then U.S. 33 west into West Virginia; go south on U.S. 220, then west on U.S. 250 to Highway 28. Travel south to Highway 92 and south to Green Bank.

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WHERE TO STAY: Options in the immediate area include the Boyer Station motel (Highway 28/92, Boyer, 304-456-4667, http://www.boyerstation.com), with 20 clean, comfortable rooms at $49 for two people. The Hermitage Motel (junction of routes 250, 92 and 28, Bartow, 304-456-4808, http://www.hermitagemotel.com) has 47 rooms for $69-$89.

Among B&Bs, the Sweet Thyme Inn (Highway 28/92, Green Bank, 304-456-5535, http://www.sweetthymeinn.com) offers three cozy rooms at $66, including continental breakfast. Four large guest rooms are available for $90-$130, with full breakfast, at the Chestnut Ridge Country Inn (Highway 28, Dunmore, 304-456-4280, http://www.chestnutridgecountryinn.com).

Or you can rent a modernized 1810 log cabin at Green Bank Log Cabins (Green Bank, 304-456-4410, http://www.greenbankcabins.com) for $45-$95 per night; the cabins each have a kitchen and bathroom and sleep up to six people. White Oak Village Cabins (Highway 28/92, Dunmore, 304-456-4949, http://www.whiteoakvillagewv.com) rents roomy cabins for $60 (sleeps two) to $163.50 (sleeps six) per night.

WHERE TO EAT: The Starlight Cafe (at the observatory visitor center, 11 a.m. to closing) has hot and cold sandwiches ($4.25-$6.25) and snacks. Boyer Station Motel (see above) has a home-style restaurant open Friday-Sunday, serving such dishes as grilled pork chops and T-bone steak for $7-$10. The restaurant at the Hermitage Motel is also casual-country, with a no-nonsense menu that includes chicken fried steak and Boston cream pie; breakfast costs about $6, dinner entrees $10-$15.

WHAT TO DO: The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (Highway 28/92, 304-456-2150, http://www.gb.nrao.edu/epo/gp) offers free guided tours Wednesday through Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. November to Memorial Day weekend; daily on the hour 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day; and Wednesday through Sunday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. after Labor Day through October.

Cass Scenic Railroad State Park (Highway 28/92, Cass, 304-456-4300 or 800-225-5982, http://www.cassrailroad.com) in the lumber town of Cass runs rail excursions into the surrounding mountains from Memorial Day to October. But company houses ($71-$200 per cottage per night) can be rented year-round.

The Greenbrier River Trail (http://www.greenbrierrivertrail.com) is a lovely 79-mile hiking, biking and equestrian trail, formerly a railroad right-of-way, along the Greenbrier River, with a northern terminus in Cass.

Snowshoe Mountain Resort (U.S. 219, Snowshoe, 304-572-1000 or 877-441-4386, http://www.snowshoemtn.com) offers skiing and other activities Thanksgiving through early April.

-- J.M.T.


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