Pioneers began coming to this north central Arkansas town around 1818. According to the Faulkner County Historical Society, four brothers by the name of Wiley settled near East Fork Cadron, about eight miles east of the present town site. Originally named Mooresville, for early resident Henderson Moore, it was changed to Greenbrier when the first post office was established on September 15, 1857. Moore became the first postmaster. The Historical Society credits local lore for the new name. “The name Greenbrier was suggested by a traveler who camped for a week on Greenbrier Creek a short distance from Sid Moore's (Henderson's cousin) store where he bought supplies. He complained about the extensive growth of saw briers (which are green in color) growing along the creek and suggested Greenbrier. The common name of wild smilax or saw brier is greenbrier.”

Greenbrier is located 12 miles north of Conway on U.S. 65, a major north-south route through the state.

Numerous flea markets and antique shops are found along the corridor, joined by a variety of other businesses. Nearby Cadron Crest Orchard in Guy is a great place for homegrown produce in season. Also in Greenbrier is the internationally known Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary. The haven is the only recognized facility in the world which accepts any elephant, regardless of species, gender or disposition. It is open to visitors during specified times.

Two local outdoor recreation spots are Cadron Creek and Woolly Hollow State Park. “The Cadron,” as it is usually called, is a popular central Arkansas float stream that includes some rapids, bluffs and canyon-like surroundings long its path. Woolly Hollow State Park is centered by Lake Bennett which features a very popular swimming beach. The park also offers camping, boat rentals, fishing, hiking, interpretive programs and the historic Woolly cabin.