Fall Weekends 2009: Fun for Everyone

With activities for all ages, resorts can be easy family getaways. Here are ten favorites within a three-hour drive.

By: Mary Burnham, Sherri Dalphonse, Matthew Graham, Cynthia Hacinli, Dale Leatherman, Rina Rapuano

See the full Fall Weekends Guide >>

Boar’s Head: Charlottesville, Virginia

Drive time: 2½ hours.

What sets it apart: State-of-the-art recreation and Southern charm.

Try not to miss: The indoor/outdoor tennis center and sports club where fitness professionals and a nutritionist can customize a weekend of wellness; some 55 fitness classes a week including Pilates, yoga, cycling, and interval training.

Great for kids? Not unless they’re tennis players.

More information: 800-476-1988; boarsheadinn.com.

Hotel Hershey: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Drive time: 2½ hours.

What sets it apart: Chocolate as a motif (think fondue wraps at the spa and roaming characters dressed as Hershey candies); a whole town’s worth of Hershey-related activities.

Try not to miss: Two new pools with water features such as a crazy slide and gurgling fountains as well as optional $200-a-day cabanas; Hersheypark, with its 11 roller coasters and water park; outdoor ice-skating year-round; the three good golf courses (this has been named in the past by both Condé Nast Traveler and Golfweek as one of the top 100 golf resorts in the country); room options from rustic lodge to elegant hotel to new luxe cottages with porch rockers, great rooms, microwaves, and mini-fridges.

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-230-4134; thehotelhershey.com.

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay: Cambridge, Maryland

Drive time: About two hours.

What sets it apart: An airy, by-the-shore vibe and big windows framing glorious marsh and bay views; great package deals that often trump those of other nearby resorts.

Try not to miss: An 18-hole golf course that wends its way around the bay; s’mores at the outdoor fireplace on a starry night; family movies by the pool Friday and Saturday; a kids program in conjunction with National Geographic.

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-233-1234; chesapeakebay.hyatt.com.

Inn at Perry Cabin: St. Michaels, Maryland

Drive time: About two hours.

What sets it apart: Picturesque water views and nautical-chic decor; guests can sign up for a crabbing expedition; for $110 more per person, the inn will turn your catch into a multi-course extravagance.

Try not to miss: The chef’s crabcakes, braised lamb shanks, and breakfast lobster hash; seasonal spa offerings such as pumpkin scrubs and apple-cider massage.

Great for kids? Not really.

More information: 866-278-9601; perrycabin.com. 

Rocky Gap entertains kids with lots of activities, from fishing to campfires. Photograph courtesy of Rocky Gap Lodge

Keswick Hall: Keswick, Virginia

Drive time: 2½ hours.

What sets it apart: With just 48 rooms, lush grounds, and attentive service, Keswick is like the country estate of a wealthy friend—who has three pools. You’ll feel pampered and to the manner born.

Try not to miss: Tennis on clay courts; an infinity-edge pool, overlooking the Arnold Palmer golf course, that features underwater music and poolside service; dinner at C&O Restaurant’s cozy downstairs bistro, off Charlottesville’s lively pedestrian mall; tastings at nearby wineries such as Kluge Estate.

Great for kids? Not really.

More information: 888-778-2565; keswick.com.

Nemacolin Woodlands: Farmington, Pennsylvania

Drive time: About three hours.

What sets it apart: Out-of-the-ordinary activities, from off-road driving to winetasting to dogsled rides; lodging that ranges from a French-inspired chateau to a boutique hotel to an English Tudor–style lodge.

Try not to miss: The terrific Frank Lloyd Wright–influenced spa; the Kidz Spa with treatments such as up-dos and movie-star makeup; the challenging Mystic Rock golf course, designed by Pete Dye; cuisine that’s several cuts above that of most resorts—especially high-end Lautrec.

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-422-2736; nemacolin.com.

Omni Bedford Springs: Bedford, Pennsylvania

Drive time: Two hours.

What sets it apart: The hotel’s pastoral setting and historic authenticity evoke a genteel era when life was uncomplicated—especially for those who summered here.

Try not to miss: Golf on the celebrated Bedford Old Course; swimming in the historic indoor pool; the bath ritual (scrub, shower, steam, hot and cold plunges) before a spa treatment.

Great for kids? Best for children under 13.

More information: 814-623-8100; omnihotels.com.

Tides Inn: Irvington, Virginia

Drive time: 2½ hours.

What sets it apart: Overlooking tranquil Carters Creek, this intimate resort has drawn generations of boating families. Parents love the wholesome fun, from croquet to crabbing.

Try not to miss: A sailing school operating through mid-November (refreshing breezes make autumn a lovely time to sail); captaining your own cruise on an easy-to-operate, 16-foot electric Duffy; relaxing afterward with an aquatic-inspired spa treatment; the terrific Golden Eagle golf course.

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-843-3746; tidesinn.com. 

Nemacolin has perhaps the most unusual activities, from a ropes course to disc golf to dogsled rides. Photograph courtesy of Nemacolin Woodlands

Rocky Gap Lodge : Flintstone, Maryland

Drive time: About 2½ hours.

What sets it apart: At lake’s edge in a 3,000-acre state park, Rocky Gap has stunning mountain views at good rates. More than 30 outdoor adventures include fishing, canoeing, and nighttime owl walks.

Try not to miss: Horseback riding on wooded trails (a buddy saddle is available for little kids); golf without eco-guilt—the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course has been recognized for its environmental practices.

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-724-0828; rockygapresort.com.

Wintergreen : Wintergreen, Virginia

Drive time: Three hours.

What sets it apart: At this Blue Ridge Mountain resort, ridgeline condos are spacious with inspiring views—and offer the option of eating in or out at one of four top-notch yet casual restaurants. A daily activity schedule—golf to aquatics to skiing—and shuttles allow everyone to do his or her thing.

Try not to miss: Some 30 miles of hiking trails; terrific Devils Knob, a mountain golf course with fun elevation changes; lots for teens, including an arcade with Xbox and Wii, a rock-climbing tower, bungee trampoline, and mountain-bike rentals.

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 434-325-2200; wintergreenresort.com.