February 14 isn’t too far away, but it’s not too late to make plans! Mercer County has everything for the aspiring Cupid: romantic hikes, settings and places.
A date on “Millionaire Row”
Peaceful, quaint and picturesque, the town of Bramwell is inescapably lovely. It’s a Victorian gem. During the 1890s, coal barons lived here side by side— and they lived lavishly, too. Their exquisite mansions still stand today. Visit and you’ll see a jeweled landscape of turrets, stained glass and gingerbread woodwork.
As you can imagine, Bramwell makes a worthy Valentine’s Day outing. The town is small and compact, so it’s easy to stroll from one estate to another. Highlights include the Cooper House, a Queen Anne mansion with a copper roof. Its bricks and furniture were imported from England. Look closely, and you might see some Tiffany stained-glass windows. The Goodwill House is another favorite. It has a ballroom on the third floor! (Note: these homes are privately owned, so you can only admire them from the outside. However, Bramwell has tours in spring and Christmas.)
After touring the town, finish at The Corner Shop, an old-time diner. Its many charms include comfort food, homemade ice cream and an authentic soda fountain that still works. Stop in for a sweet afternoon treat, or enjoy dinner on Friday or Saturday nights!
Pinnacle Rock State Park
Share a moment together atop one of the region’s most dramatic monuments. At 3,100 feet high, Pinnacle Rock is an unusual sandstone formation near Bramwell. Stone steps take you all the way to the summit. From there, you can view miles of forests and mountains.
Lovely scenery continues on level ground. Wander 6 trails and look for curiosities like Turkey Rock, another geological formation, and an old homestead. The park also has a 15-acre lake.
Romantic tip: Bring a lunch or snack for a little day trip. Several picnic tables are available.
Taste of the South
At this B&B, glamor and history weave together. The Bluefield Inn has a mystique that comes from more than a century of existence. It’s just as alluring today, too.
As a guest, you have your pick of richly decorated and luxurious suites. Each has personality. The Abraham Lincoln, for example, has a handsome four-post bed, crystal chandelier and grand portrait of “Honest Abe.” A Persian carpet and toile fabrics further enhance the scene. Other fancy picks include The Scarlett O’Hara, a distinctly feminine room; The Rhett Butler and The George Washington.
The Bluefield Inn is just as lavish downstairs. There’s a verandah, lounge, billiards room and a private dining room. A terraced garden beckons outside. It’s a soothing view, particularly when you have breakfast in the sun room.
Romantic tip: when booking a room, you can request a dozen roses. Bouquets are $60 each.
Worth a thousand words
Stir your heart on Valentine’s Day with a spectacular view; all it takes is a trip to the East River Mountain Overlook in Bluefield. The lofty heights reveal breathtaking valleys, soft ridgelines and horizons of clouds. Sometimes you can watch distant storms. If your timing is right, you might see fog roll and snag along the mountains, too.
Romantic tip: after admiring the view, head back to Bluefield to The Corner Coffee Bar and Bistro for lunch or an afternoon cappuccino.
Camp Creek State Park
Take the trail less travelled for Valentine’s Day. Journey to Camp Creek State Park! There are lively waterfalls, streams and 35 miles of trails. For an invigorating outing, try Neely Knob Road and Trail; it’s a 2-mile jaunt and occasionally steep, but well worth the effort. Glorious mountain overlooks reward your efforts.
But if you’re not ready for anything too strenuous, White Oak Road and Trail is much easier. It’s a 1.4-mile path with thick rhododendron groves.
Romantic tip: If the weather isn’t too chilly, pack a lunch and have a picnic. Camp Creek Falls has many tables and grills.
Happy Valentine’s Day!