Best Water Park Close to Home
At SplashDown Waterpark in Manassas, kids can zip down the four-story-high water slides, float on the “lazy river,” step across the pool on logs and lily pads, or play volleyball at the sand beach. With 13 acres of water features, SplashDown is one of Northern Virginia’s largest water parks. On Thursdays from 9 to 10:30 am, kids ages five and under and their adults get into the park early.
$14.95 for guests 48 inches tall or more; $11.25 under 48 inches. Free for ages two and younger. 703-792-8200.
Best Water Park Worth a Drive
WaterWorks at Virginia’s Kings Dominion, about 85 miles from DC, offers 20 acres of ways to get wet. Tots can cool off at Lil’ Barefoot Beach’s pool, while families float on the gentle current of a quarter-mile river. For more splash, jump through the surf at the two wave pools or try Tornado, a funnel ride that drops you and then rocks you from side to side.
$54 adults; $41 for those under 48 inches tall or 62 years or older. Free for ages two and younger. Admission includes access to all rides, wet and dry. 804-876-5000.
Best Water Park for Teens and Adults
As Maryland’s largest water park, Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro gushes with adrenaline-pumping possibilities. Tune up by swimming in the nearly million-gallon wave pool. Next, swirl up the slope and then down at more than 20 miles an hour on Halfpipe. Follow with fun on Shark Attack or with a six-story plunge on Bonzai Pipelines.
With online discounts, admission starts at $39.99 and includes access to all rides. 301-249-1500.
Best Splash Park for Getting Soaked
While there are a few fountains to run through at the Yards Park in DC, kids generate their own splash in an 11-inch-deep, 66,000-gallon pool with views of the Anacostia River. A waterfall at one end is a popular place to stand. Allow time to stroll on the boardwalk, relax in wooden chaises in the shady garden, picnic on the lawn, or dine at one of the park’s restaurants. At Ice Cream Jubilee, grab a cool and tasty cone. Part of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, the Yards is a short walk to Nationals Park.
Best Splash Park for Young Kids
At SplashPark & MiniGolf in Boyds, 280 water jets dance in three concentric circles, enticing tots and bigger kids alike. You can also get doused by a waterfall as well as “rain” from two giant mushrooms. Dry off by playing 18 holes of mini-golf at the adjacent course. South Germantown Recreational Park—where the splash park is located—also has a playground, tennis courts, a driving range, and an indoor swim center.
Splash park: $4 ages two and up. Mini-golf: $3. Combo ticket: $6.50. 301-670-4680.
Local Water Park With the Best Wave Pool
One highlight that packs in the crowds at Great Waves Water Park in Alexandria’s Cameron Run Regional Park is jumping through the “surf.” At the Reef—another must-do—get screamingly wet by zipping down twisting water slides. You can up the excitement by selecting an enclosed—i.e., dark—tube versus an open one. For young kids, the Lagoon play pool features mini-slides, Splash Zone offers sprays, and Paradise Play tempts with crawl-through fish, climbing equipment, and a sandbox. The park’s 20 acres include 18 holes of miniature golf, too.
$14.50 for Alexandria residents 48 inches tall or more; $14.75 for nonresidents; $11.50 or $11.75 for those 48 inches or under; under two years old, free. 703-960-0767.
Water Parks With the Best Bucket Dumps
At Ocean Dunes Water Park in Arlington, stand under the big blue bucket, one of the region’s largest water dumps, and wait for it to tip, drenching you with 500 gallons. Tamer sprays and fountains, as well as a wading pool, cool off little ones. Swimmers can stroke through laps at one of the park’s other pools. Part of Upton Hill Regional Park, Ocean Dunes also features miniature golf and batting cages.
$8 for children 42 inches tall or more; $6.75 for those 42 inches or shorter; under two years old, free. 703-534-3437.
At Volcano Island Waterpark’s play pool, kids slip down short tubes or wade through the one-to-three-foot-deep water to face the park’s jewel: a 500-gallon dumping bucket. Bigger kids enter the main pool by twisting down a 230-foot open slide or curling down a 170-foot dark slide. Tots can build castles in the sandy area and then rinse off by running through the splash pad’s sprinklers and sprays. An 18-hole miniature golf course is adjacent to Volcano Island, part of Algonkian Regional Park in Sterling.
$8 for children 48 inches tall or more; $6.75 under 48 inches. Free for ages two and younger. 703-430-7683.
Best Splash Parks for Shopping Breaks
An oasis of greenery, Georgetown Waterfront Park, at the foot of busy M Street, Northwest, gives shoppers with tag-along children space to relax on the grass and admire the Potomac River views. Kids cool off by running through the sole water feature, a row of synchronized sprays that form an arcing tunnel of water. Take hesitant little kids by the hand and walk through the highest point of the arc so that only the tot’s feet get wet or go for it, and dance through the jets.
At Silver Plaza Fountain in Silver Spring, kids hop through the water jets that ring the circular blue, green, and yellow mosaic that defines the splash area, dodging or dashing into the geysers that bubble up every few minutes. The splash fountain is not large; it lies within a brick courtyard with tree-shaded ledges and outdoor cafes that make it easy for parents to watch their children. To further insulate tots from traffic, a pedestrian mall of shops and eateries borders the area, and on Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and all day Saturday and Sunday, Ellsworth Drive from Fenton Street to Georgia Avenue closes to vehicles.
Best Local Indoor Water Park
As an indoor water park, Cub Run RECenter Aquatics in Chantilly is a boon to both sun-sensitive water lovers who wilt at outdoor facilities and to those seeking year-round fun. Older kids can drop into the leisure pool via two tall, twisting slides and also spin in a swirling vortex. Younger children glide down smaller slides and splash through water curtains, spurting pipes, and sprays. The facility also has a 25-yard-by-25-meter pool offering swim classes for tots to adults, as well as a fitness area with cardio equipment, weights, and exercise classes.
$8 for adult county residents, $10.50 nonresidents; $6.50 residents ages 5 through 18, $10.50 nonresidents; free ages 4 and younger with a paying adult; $16 resident family rate for up to five people (one or two adults and up to four children); $30 nonresident family rate. 703-817-9407.
Best Water Park for an Overnight Getaway
Virginia’s largest water park, Water Country USA in Williamsburg, also known as Water Country Busch Gardens, features a mix of wild, mild, and family-friendly rides. For thrills, try Colossal Curl, a funnel ride that twirls you before flushing you down 46 feet, enough to propel you over wave-like hills. On Vanish Point, you pick how to experience the near-vertical drop: Either stand-up to feel the floor disappear beneath you or lie down and let go. At the wave pool, Surfer’s Bay, float over ripples near “shore” or fight through bigger breakers in the deep end. Tots can splash through sprays and fountains at Critter Coral.
$38.99 for those 48 inches tall or more (or $32.99 for a seven-day advance ticket); $26.99 for those 48 inches and shorter and for ages 65 and up. Combination tickets provide access to Water Country and nearby Busch Gardens. Open daily through September 1. 757-229-9300.
Best Year-Round Water Park for a Getaway
It’s always 84 degrees at Great Wolf Lodge America, a 79,000-square-foot, indoor water park in Williamsburg. Highlights include a wading pool, mini-slides, a wave pool, plus a Flowrider that creates surf for kneeboarding. At Fort Mackenzie, the four-story centerpiece treehouse, kids climb cargo nets, cross rope bridges, slip down slides, and get doused by the 1,000-gallon water bucket. Soak in the sun and the water at Racoon Lagoon, the outdoor pool area, where sprays and geysers as well as an 18-hole miniature golf course add fun. A family resort, Great Wolf Lodge features a kids’ spa, an arcade with more than 100 games, on-site dining, and regular and themed suites.
Room rates in July and August start at $200. Admission to the water park is free but for overnight guests only. 757-229-9700.
More Water Fun
At Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole in Reston—a park with a loose western theme—families can float on inner tubes along Rattlesnake River, a “lazy river” dotted with small bucket dumps and sprays that encircles the one acre-plus park. Kids wriggle down “Big Pete” and “Little Pete,” two sets of slides that land them in a pool whose deep end bottoms out at about four feet. Youngsters climb through a covered wagon to glide down a slide and tots romp through Tenderfoot Pond, a splash area with pint-sized slides and geysers. The Water Mine is located in Lake Fairfax Park, home to a 20-acre lake, marina, carousel, and skatepark.
$14.50 for those 48 inches tall or more on weekends and holidays, $13.50 Monday through Friday; $11.25 under 48 inches. Free for ages two and younger. 703-471-5414.
At Lane Manor Splash Park in Hyattsville, kids can enter the 25-meter outdoor pool by slithering down two enclosed slides, and then “walk on water” by stepping on lily pads or pulling themselves across the surface by hanging onto a rope net. Little ones can splash in a wading pool. Lane Manor Splash Park is part of the Lane Manor Community Recreation Center in the Northwest Branch Stream Valley Park.
$5 adult residents, $6 nonresidents; $4 residents ages 3 through 17, $5 nonresidents; free for ages 2 and younger. 301-422-7284 (summer); 301-853-9115.
Check back in late July for more from our Fun With Water package!
The Art of the Craft Cocktail
Where: The Greenbrier, 300 W. Main St., White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.; 855-453-4858.
What’s special: The Greenbrier, a National Historic Landmark, has been welcoming guests since 1778. In addition to traditional resort activities—three great golf courses, indoor and outdoor pools, bowling, biking, tennis, and a spa and fitness center—it has falconry, an off-road driving adventure, a 103,000-square-foot underground casino, and a tour of a Cold War bunker designed to hold members of Congress in the event of a nuclear attack on Washington. For one special weekend, guests can learn the secrets of master mixologist Brendan Murphy of the Gibson in DC, who is recognized as one of the country’s leading mixologists.
The deal: The Gibson Goes to the Greenbrier package includes a two-night stay, a $25 voucher for the slot machines, and a class in the art of craft cocktails led by Brendan Murphy. (Choose from either a Sunday or Monday 5 PM course.) Washingtonian readers also receive a free bottle of wine in their room, a $40 value. (When you reserve, indicate your preference of white or red.) Prices for the package start at $589. (A $35 resort fee is extra.) Call 855-897-3339 and mention the promo code Washingtonian. For more information, click here.
When: Valid for a stay Sunday, July 13, through Tuesday, July 15, 2014.
Where: Snowshoe Mountain, 10 Snowshoe Dr., Snowshoe, W.Va.; 877-441-4386.
What’s special: The resort offers summer adventures for the entire family including ziplining; a bike park; a lake with paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks; an indoor/outdoor swimming pool; hiking; an off-road, four-seat Polaris RZR utility vehicle that travels over creeks and hills (children must be at least 12 years old); and a championship golf course. There’s a variety of lodging options as well as several places to dine.
The deal: The Couples Mountain Adventure package includes three nights in a Deluxe Junior Studio Condo in the mountaintop village, a 60-minute massage for two, and a Mountain Adventure Pass giving two people access to the bike park, Segway tours, lake activities and rentals, golf, and more. Prices start at $999. Or book a three-night Family Mountain Adventure (two adults and one child), which includes accommodations in a mountaintop village deluxe one-bedroom and a three-day camp for children and teens (ziplining, canoeing, rock climbing, standup paddleboarding, crafts, and more). Parents can have fun golfing, mountain-biking, and enjoying other adventures. The price starts at $1,149. Add an additional adult or child for $216.67. These packages save 30 percent compared with à la carte pricing. In addition, mention Washingtonian when booking to get a $150 dining credit good at eight resort restaurants that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
When: Valid for stays in July 2014.
Where: The Lodge at Glendorn, 1000 Glendorn Dr., Bradford, Pa.; 814-362-6511.
What’s special: This luxury camp for families is on 1,500 acres in northwestern Pennsylvania, adjacent to Allegheny National Forest. Built in 1927 as a family retreat, it was purchased in 2009 by Cliff Forrest, who set out to preserve the property’s history, natural surroundings, and activities. The Big House, with four elegantly appointed guest rooms and a dining room, was built in 1929 and looks much like it did then, with original furnishings, wrought-iron chandeliers, and redwood paneling. Twelve guest cabins in secluded woodlands surround the lodge, each featuring an outdoor campfire ring. All rooms have fine linens and twice-daily housekeeping. Included in your stay are chef-prepared breakfasts (fresh-baked muffins, homemade granola, local eggs); on-site fly-fishing on three trout ponds or 3½ miles of mountain streams, plus the use of Orvis fly-fishing equipment; tennis courts with racquets; kayaking and canoeing on Bondieu Lake; hiking on 18 miles of trails; the use of tandem, Cannondale mountain, and cruiser bikes; outdoor campfires; swimming; and, on Saturday evenings, a bonfire at Skipper Lake with s’mores and beer. In addition, there’s a luxury spa, dining with farm-to-table cuisine (you can even dine by the lake), and shooting sports.
The deal: Mention Washingtonian when booking to get 20 percent off lodging as well as two complimentary mini-massages at the new Forest Spa, valued at $40 each. Rates start at $425 before the discount. All on-site, non-guided activities are included.
When: Valid for stays in July 2014 (blackout dates July 3 through 6).
Virginia Is for Lovers
Where: The Inn at Willow Grove, 14079 Plantation Way, Orange, Va.; 540-317-1206.
What’s special: On 40 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 18th-century plantation house and surrounding cottages feature rooms and suites with a mix of antique and modern touches, including wi-fi and flat-screen TVs. Many rooms have wet bars, large soaking tubs, sitting rooms, and porches. Guests can enjoy farm-to-table cuisine, exquisite gardens, area vineyards, and the nearby James Madison Museum.
The deal: Stay on a Wednesday night and get Thursday night at 50 percent off. Or, with the Washingtonian Sizzler special, stay Friday and Saturday at regular rates and get Sunday night free. Washingtonian readers also receive a bottle of house red or white wine, a $40 value. Reservations by phone only; call 540-317-1206.
When: Valid July 1 through 31, 2014 (blackout dates July 4 weekend).
Where: Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, 36205 Snake Hill Rd., Middleburg, Va.; 877-219-4663.
What’s special: This luxurious inn sits on 265 acres of rolling hills and countryside in Virginia’s horse and wine country. Guests enjoy a complimentary country breakfast of eggs from the farm, baked goods, and coffee. Afternoon pastries and tea are served in the Carriage House. The farm-to-table restaurant serves French country cuisine and uses ingredients from the inn’s gardens and local farms. The wine cellar has 1,500 bottles from all over the world, and there’s an on-site bar. Guests can hike and bike on miles of trails and swim in the heated pool or relax in the hot tub. Enjoy a relaxing massage at the spa, in an elegantly renovated barn.
The deal: The Goodstone’s Midweek Summer Getaway package includes two nights in one of six guesthouses, with 50 percent off the second night and a $50 dining credit. Prices range from $537 to $987, depending on room type.
When: Valid Sunday through Wednesday (non-holidays), through August 28, 2014.
Renew Yourself in Middleburg
Where: Salamander Resort & Spa, 500 N. Pendleton St., Middleburg, Va.; 540-687-3600.
What’s special: The 168-room luxury property, built by BET cofounder Sheila Johnson, wants guests to feel as though they’re visiting a posh country estate. The main floor has a library, a billiards room, and a living room. Guest rooms are large (545 to 575 square feet) and have terraces or stone balconies. The bathrooms feature pedestal tubs, large walk-in showers with body jets, and 19-inch TVs. Plush bedding and throws evoke the seasons and equestrian life. At the spa, you can choose from a variety of treatments; a ceramic steam room has delicate aromas that change with the time of year. In keeping with the “country home” theme, the resort is dog-friendly.
The deal: Washingtonian readers receive 10 percent off the Restore & Discover Path, one of the new spa packages. It includes accommodations, a heart-healthy breakfast in your room or the restaurant, access to the fitness center (including exercise classes), a 50-minute spa service of your choice each day, a $125 “wellness credit” per night per person that can be used toward any activity on the property (including winetastings and cooking classes), and complimentary car service within five miles of the resort, including to area wineries. Prices for the three- and four-night packages start at $754 a day for single occupancy, $540 a person for double occupancy. Use the promo code RDPWASH.
When: Valid in June for stays Sunday through Thursday.
Wine in Style
Where: The Inn at 400 West High, 400 W. High St., Charlottesville, Va.; 434-981-0458.
What’s special: Located in the heart of Charlottesville, five miles from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and a short drive from the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Inn—a member of Select Registry—features bright spaces and whimsical decor and art, much of it by local artists. Each morning in the sun-filled Gathering Room, guests enjoy a breakfast featuring such choices as Belgian waffles, omelets, quiches, fresh fruit, and locally roasted coffee. Afterward, you can step outside and take in the flower-filled garden terrace before spending the day visiting Monticello, hiking or biking, or shopping.
The deal: Mention the Luxury Wine Tour package and get, exclusively for Washingtonian readers, two nights’ accommodations for two, a bottle of Virginia wine with two monogrammed wineglasses, and a five-hour tour of three wineries with a custom-designed itinerary, a tour guide, and a gourmet snack featuring local fare (cheese, olives, and crackers). The cost of the two-night package is $880, a $120 savings.
When: Valid for stays in June and July 2014.
Where: North Fork Mountain Inn, 235 Canyon View La., Cabins, W. Va.; 304-257-1108.
What’s special: In the Monongahela National Forest, this inn offers wonderful views. Co-owner Ed Fischer is a chef and sommelier; his wife, Carol, is a baker. Gourmet breakfasts feature such choices as eggs florentine and Sleep Late French Toast. If you wish, they’ll create a gourmet picnic lunch ($25 for two). Saturdays, they prepare a fine-dining dinner ($40 a person); casual dining is offered all other evenings ($25). Between meals, you can relax on the wraparound porch, enjoy the outdoor hot tub, or go hiking, bird watching, golfing, rock climbing, fishing, and ziplining, all nearby. Other local attractions include Seneca Rocks, Blackwater Falls, Dolly Sods Wilderness, and Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia.
The deal: With a two-night minimum stay, Washingtonian readers get 20 percent off rooms Sunday through Thursday and 10 percent off Friday and Saturday nights. They also receive a free bottle of wine. Rates before the discount are $150 to $245 a night. Mention Washingtonian when making a reservation. The special applies to new reservations only.
When: Book by June 30 for stays June through August 31, 2014.
New York Experience
Where: Excelsior Hotel, 45 W. 81st St., New York, N.Y.; 212-362-9200.
What’s special: This renovated Upper West Side landmark is perfectly situated near Central Park, where you can stretch out on a blanket and enjoy concerts by the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera, Counting Crows, and more. The hotel overlooks the American Museum of Natural History and is walking distance to Lincoln Center, the Beacon Theatre, and the subway. You’ll find great restaurants and boutique shopping in the neighborhood, and the hotel offers a fitness center.
The deal: Washingtonian readers receive 15 percent off the best available rate and a free upgrade (a value of $80 to $100), based on availability at check-in. Rooms start at $179. Mention the promo code “Washington” when booking; contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-362-9200.
When: Valid for stays June through September 1, 2014.
Downtown Fun in Miami
Where: B2 Miami Downtown, 146 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, Fla.; 855-336-2594.
What’s special: This hotel in downtown Miami features chic guest rooms, some with breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay. The hotel is within walking distance to American Airlines Arena for concerts and Bayside Marketplace shops and restaurants, and it’s minutes from South Beach and Miami International Airport.
The deal: The B in the Center of It All package for two includes accommodations in a B Enhanced Junior Suite, free full breakfast, two drink vouchers at the hotel’s Biscayne Tavern, and free parking. Also included is a cruise on Biscayne Bay, by Island Queen Cruises, past homes of the rich and famous. Prices start at $275 a room, a savings of more than $100. Use the code “Miami” when making your reservation.
When: Valid for stays in June 2014, Sunday through Thursday.
Play Where the Pros Play
Where: Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, 2 Grasslawn Ave., Hilton Head Island, S.C.; 843-681-4000.
What’s special: This oceanfront resort just underwent a $30-million renovation. Guests can enjoy gorgeous sandy beaches, dip into three swimming pools, bike and explore the area, be pampered at the Heavenly Spa by Westin, golf on three spectacular 18-hole courses, or play tennis at the Port Royal Golf and Racquet Club along the Atlantic coastline. The area also offers fishing, sailing, boat tours, kayaking, and a zipline.
The deal: The exclusive Heritage Collection Washingtonian Stay-and-Play Package includes three nights’ accommodations, three rounds of golf at any of the seven Heritage Golf Collection courses on Hilton Head, complimentary resort drinks for two with a welcome appetizer, a discount card worth 20 percent off at the Heritage Golf Shops, and complimentary golf-range balls. The package is $225 a person a night, based on double occupancy, a $400 savings per person. The package includes all taxes and fees. To book, call Vanessa at 843-681-1706 or e-mail email@example.com and mention Washingtonian.
When: Valid for stays June 1 through July 25, 2014; not valid July 4 weekend.
Play Along Virginia’s Chesapeake
Where: The Tides Inn, 480 King Carter Dr., Irvington, Va.; 804-438-5000.
What’s special: Overlooking Carter’s Creek in Virginia’s Northern Neck, this resort offers serene views along with lots of things to do on the water: You can learn to sail, test your crabbing skills, take a cove cruise, or go paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing. You can also golf, relax at the spa, or bike around the area. Nearby, there’s the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail (including Ingleside Vineyards and Jacey Vineyards), the Steamboat Era Museum, and the town of Kilmarnock, with its galleries and antiques stores.
The deal: Book two consecutive nights and get a third free. Rates begin at $195 a night. Use the promotion code WASH when booking or click here to make a reservation and you’ll also get a free fruit-and-cheese platter with two chocolate-covered strawberries, a $50 value.
When: Valid May 1 through August 29, 2014.
Relax and Rewind
Where: Mirbeau Inn & Spa, 851 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles, N.Y.; 877-647-2328.
What’s special: The 12-acre Mirbeau Inn feels like a private French country estate. Guests enjoy health-and-wellness classes, a fitness center, bicycles, turndown service including bottled water and chocolate, and free wi-fi. The 14,000-square-foot spa—the centerpiece of Mirbeau—has 18 treatment rooms with fireplaces, a resting area with a stone fireplace and heated foot pool, and an outdoor terrace featuring a heated pool with massage jets, a waterfall, an oversize fireplace, and a cafe and bar.
The deal: Exclusive for Washingtonian.com readers, the Merci Beaucoup package includes accommodations, a European continental breakfast, a $50 credit to use toward dining or the spa, and a bottle of Riesling. Rates start at $234 for the main inn or cottage rooms, a savings of 30 percent or more. To get the discount, use the booking code WA2014.
When: Valid for stays in May 2014, Sunday through Thursday (blackout dates May 11 and May 25).
Romantic Mountain Retreat
Where: The French Manor Inn and Spa, 50 Huntingdon Dr., South Sterling, Pa.; 570-676-3244.
What’s special: A stone chateau atop Huckleberry Mountain is home to this bed-and-breakfast in the northern Pocono Mountains. It was built during the Depression by mining magnate Joseph Hirshhorn, who brought German and Italian artisans in to erect a “summer retreat.” The roof is made of Spanish slate, the windows are leaded glass, and much of the interior wood is cypress and cedar. An elegant Romanesque arched entranceway and massive stone fireplaces welcome you to the dining room. Most recently, the owners constructed the La Maisonneuve building, which houses six romantic suites, each with a fireplace, Jacuzzi, and private balcony. Le Spa Foret, a “green spa,” offers five additional fireplaces and Jacuzzi suites, all with private balconies.
The deal: The Couples Mountain Spa Retreat includes accommodations and all activities plus afternoon tea, gourmet breakfast for two, a daily $100-per-person spa credit, and a welcome fruit-and-cheese plate and a decanter of sherry in your room upon arrival. Rates start at $398 a couple. Mention Washingtonian.com to also receive a $50 dining credit each night.
When: Valid for stays May through August 2014.
Grab the Family and Go
Where: Destination Hotels & Resorts.
What’s special: Destination Hotels & Resorts offers hotel rooms and condos in the Washington area as well as Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, California, Vermont, and elsewhere. Because the chain has properties in the mountains, at the beach, and in cities, you can choose site-specific activities ranging from painting classes and museum tours to kayaking and ziplining.
The deal: Listed on the Destination Family Escapes website are a variety of family-friendly itineraries. Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, for example, has an Education Package that includes accommodations in adjoining rooms, dinner on-site, a geocaching adventure on the hotel’s grounds, and a shuttle to the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. Rates begin at $174 a night. Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont offers a Get Out and Go deal: Families enjoy two nights’ accommodations, a furniture-making class, a guided hike or snowshoe adventure, dinner, and a welcome amenity of milk and cookies. Rates begin at $1,254 for two nights for a family of four. For all the Destination Family Escapes, mention Washingtonian.com to receive a $50 credit good for dining, the spa, or golf.
When: Valid for stays through June 30, 2014.
Where: Avista Resort, 300 N. Ocean Blvd., North Myrtle Beach, S.C.; 888-506-9253.
What’s special: This high-rise condo features one-, two-, and three-bedroom units with kitchens, internet service, and private balconies with expansive ocean views. There are one indoor and two outdoor pools, three hot tubs, two “lazy rivers,” and three dining options.
The deal: The Myrtle Beach Seaside Resorts Yoga Beach Retreat package includes two nights’ accommodation, unlimited yoga on the beach, unlimited fitness classes, a healthy breakfast delivered to your room, lunch delivered daily to the yoga studio or resort, dinner nightly, a beach bag with spa gifts (an eye pillow and T-shirt), a beach asana portrait, and a journal with meditation, pranayama, and asana guidelines. The price is $660 a person based on double occupancy in an oceanview one-bedroom, a 20-percent savings. Washingtonian.com readers get a free health-boost smoothie from Avista’s Just Off Main onsite restaurant and complimentary daily yoga-mat and towel rental, a $25 savings.
When: Valid for stays in May 2014.
On the Ocean
Where: B Ocean Fort Lauderdale, 999 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; 954-564-1000.
What’s special: This oceanfront hotel is steps from the beach and minutes from the airport and the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, which offers concerts, galleries, boutiques, and fine dining. The area has a wide range of activities, including boating, snorkeling, and deep-sea fishing. The guest rooms and suites feature white leather furnishings and ocean views. There’s a heated infinity pool, a spa, a fitness center, and two restaurants.
The deal: Exclusive to Washingtonian.com readers, the B Indulged at B Ocean package includes two nights’ accommodations, breakfast for two daily, one dinner for two at the hotel’s sushi restaurant, two cocktails at the Lobby Bar, a couples hot-stone massage, and two passes to the nearby historic Stranahan House Museum. The package for two costs $589, a 30-percent savings. To book, click here or call 954-389-1919 and use the promo code Indulge.
When: Valid for stays May 1 through 30, 2014.
Playing a Round
Where: PGA Golf Club at PGA Village, 1916 Perfect Dr., Port St. Lucie, Fla.; 800-800-4653.
What’s special: PGA Village boasts 54 championship holes at the PGA Golf Club, designed by legendary architects Tom Fazio and Pete Dye. The 35-acre PGA Center for Golf Learning and Performance offers more than 100 swing stations and nine bunker types simulating play from around the world. Also on-site, the PGA Museum of Golf traces the history of the game and displays the four major championship trophies of golf.
The deal: The three-night, four-day Stay-and-Play package starts at $462 a person. Rates per golfer are based on four people sharing a two-bedroom villa. The package features three nights’ accommodations at nearby Perfect Drive Villas, three rounds of golf at the PGA Golf Club, a $25 food-and-beverage coupon for each golfer, and free admission to the PGA Museum of Golf. Mention Washingtonian.com to also receive a 60-minute TrackMan club analysis and a $25 food-and-beverage gift card.
When: Valid for stays in May 2014.
Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has a single path leading to its center and back out—there’s just one way to go, with no decisions to make about which way to turn. This is by design. The idea is to allow those who walk a labyrinth to focus on inner thoughts.
“People walk a labyrinth for centering, feeling grounded, as prayer, for aspirations and yearnings,” says Sue Mosher, who offers guided labyrinth walks throughout Washington. “They allow the labyrinth to speak to them so they make space for their inner lives.”
Interested in trying one? While labyrinths date back four millennia, there’s been renewed interest in recent years, and two dozen labyrinths now exist within a ten-mile radius of DC. There are also versions as small as a smartphone app.
Starting in 2009, the Labyrinth Society designated the first Saturday in May—this year, May 3—as World Labyrinth Day, when, at 1 pm local time, people are invited to walk a labyrinth. To find one near you, check labyrinthlocator.com. For more information about labyrinths, see labyrinthsociety.org.
These six labyrinths, representing a range of designs, are open to the public. Although the patterns vary, the effect is the same. Unless otherwise noted, they’re open daily from sunrise to sunset or a bit after.
American Psychological Association
On a green rooftop near Union Station, the 42-foot labyrinth features trellises, plantings, tables, a journal, and a finger labyrinth that you can “walk” with your fingers—a good option for those with ambulatory issues. Open Monday through Friday 7 to 7. Sign in at the security desk to go up to the roof, or call Holly Siprelle (202-336-5519) to arrange a guided walk. 10 G St., NE.
Part of the former Northern Virginia Whitman-Walker Clinic’s healing garden, the 37-foot labyrinth of precast stone and pavers went into storage when that branch of the clinic closed, then it was moved to this Arlington public park in late 2013. Two benches sit amid the trees and plantings. Corner of North Barton and 10th St. N., Arlington.
Georgetown Waterfront Park
Although this ten-acre park can be busy, its paved labyrinth offers not only views of the Potomac River, Roosevelt Island, and Key Bridge but also a chance to quiet any outside noise. It’s accessible for wheelchair users and stroller-pushers. A contemplative bench is nearby with a journal for your thoughts. 33rd and K sts., NW.
St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church
Set among old pines and other trees, the 40-foot labyrinth is made of rubber mulch with white stones outlining the path and is set near a memorial garden with benches. At nearby Art at the Center, parishioner Kathryn Horn Coneway offers workshops on making finger labyrinths from clay. 8531 Riverside Rd., Alexandria.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
A 62-foot labyrinth is made from turf and pavers, while a 36-by-36-inch plexiglass finger labyrinth is also available. A journal for your thoughts is under the bench. 6030 Grosvenor La., Bethesda.
University of Maryland
The Garden of Reflection and Remembrance labyrinth is adjacent to the campus chapel. Guided walks, yoga sessions, and special events are regularly scheduled. Benches, trees, and water elements help visitors connect with nature. 7600 Baltimore Ave., College Park.
Judy Colbert (firstname.lastname@example.org) is coauthor of Peaceful Places Washington, DC.
This article appears in the April 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
Little Washington, Virginia, has been a hot draw for travelers both local and far-flung for decades, thanks to the acclaimed Inn at Little Washington, which boasts luxurious rooms upstairs and in several nearby restored buildings, and whose restaurant—number one on our 100 Very Best list this year—serves dinner every evening. Due to the cost and the limited availability, not everyone can stay at the inn—but the town offers several options for lodging, including the newest: the just-opened White Moose Inn. If the Inn is Little Washington’s venerable grand dame, the nearby “Moose,” as it’s called, is the contemporary—dare we say “hipster”—alternative.
The Moose offers a relaxed vibe from the moment guests enter through the bright-yellow front door to be greeted by manager Christina Luke, who offers wine, whiskey, and even M&Ms. The front room, with its white-painted wood floors and white beamed ceiling, is adorned in shades of beige and gray with boldly patterned seating or the choice of a furry or leather ottoman. Over the fireplace is a custom-made white moose head, illuminated from within. Nearby is a self-service bar with water, sodas, and a Keurig coffee maker. On a sunny day, light streams in through the windows.
The dining area, adjacent to the front room, hosts complimentary breakfast each morning, sourced from the Red Truck Bakery in nearby Warrenton. The round breakfast table is also used for occasional guest-chef dinners—this past weekend, Seasonal Pantry’s Dan O’Brien was behind the meal—and the fee for dinner also includes a room for the night. The Moose serves no other meals, but there are other restaurants nearby, including the Inn at Little Washington just a short walk up Main Street.
I was there as a guest of owner Jim Abdo, the Washington developer who bought and converted the old Heritage House. I stayed in room three, also known as the Suite, which features a king-size bed with plush white linens and four big windows that look toward the mountains; a bedside device quietly lowers the shades at the touch of a button. For a quiet night in, there’s a TV offering the full range of Comcast channels and free Netflix; there’s also free wi-fi.
The bathroom features rustic tile flooring, piles of white towels, and bath amenities from L’Occitane. Manager Christina likes to point out that embedded in the shower head is a device that enables a guest to use Bluetooth to access the music on a smartphone. Still, don’t expect to make a lot of cell-phone calls; the cell signal in Rappahannock County is limited at best. The room includes a landline phone.
Adjacent to the main building, which has five rooms, is a converted ice house known as the Cottage, a romantic one-bedroom with a bay window that looks out on Main Street. We checked room rates online, and for a random Friday in May prices range from $675 for the Cottage to $375 for the Mountain or Piedmont superior rooms. Every room has its own bathroom. The Cottage also has a fireplace and a flagstone terrace.
It’s worth noting that the Inn at Little Washington recently expanded its existing inventory of 18 rooms, adding six in the newly renovated Parsonage, which is across the street from the inn itself.
Where: The George, 15 E St., NW; 202-347-4200.
What’s special: This newly renovated boutique hotel features a bold, bright style with marble bathrooms, luxury bedding, and plenty of references to American history—such as wallpaper printed with George Washington’s inaugural address and custom accent pillows inspired by his uniform. The hotel is ideal for locals who want to spend a night in DC or for guests arriving at Union Station. It’s within walking distance of the Capitol, one block from Union Station and its Metro stop, and close to the Mall and the Smithsonian museums. Enjoy the free evening wine hour and complimentary internet access for Kimpton InTouch guest-loyalty members (it’s free to sign up online).
The deal: The Washington Nationals Package includes accommodations, two tickets to that night’s baseball game at Nationals Park (section 109, row RR, seats 25 and 26—a $62 value), and transportation in a private car to the game (a $20 value). Mention Washingtonian.com when booking to also receive a free six-pack of locally brewed DC Brau beer upon check-in. Package rates start at $159 a night. The reservation must be prepaid and is nonrefundable. Only one package available per home game. Book using the rate code PNATS on The George's website or calling 800-546-7866.
When: Valid through June 2014.
Nature Done Right
Where: Skyland Resort, Skyline Dr., Luray, Va.; 540-999-2211.
What’s special: On the highest point of Skyline Drive—3,680 feet up—sits Skyland Resort with its magnificent views. Forget about wi-fi and enjoy the serenity and beauty of the area. Accommodations range from small, rustic cabins to traditional rooms. With so many hiking trails, you can choose the difficulty level that’s right for you. Other activities include driving 105-mile Skyline Drive, stargazing, and ranger talks and guided walks.
The deal: The Early Bird Package includes a traditional room for two, dinner for two, and gratuities. Mention Washingtonian.com when booking to also receive breakfast for two, a $25 value. Package prices start at $171 a night.
When: Valid through June 19, 2014.
By the Bay
Where: Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina, 100 Heron Blvd. at Route 50, Cambridge, Md.; 410-901-1234.
What’s special: This 400-acre resort on the Choptank River offers enough activities to keep everyone in the family happy. Enjoy the indoor pool, boating, biking, tennis, the Blue Heron Rookery, a kids’ camp, and an 18-hole championship course that winds along the water. Relax at the renovated 18,000-square-foot spa, where many of the treatments use products—such as lavender and extract of white pine—that reflect the rich ecosystems of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The newly renovated Blue Point restaurant serves local seafood; other dining choices include the Water’s Edge Grill. Starting April 11, the heated outdoor pool will be open along with the indoor heated pool, which hosts nightly “dive-in” movies. Other events, through April 27, include deejay-hosted pool-deck parties, magic shows, Easter-egg hunts, a family Iron Chef competition, family four-hole golf, cooking demos, golf clinics, yoga classes, and winetastings.
The deal: The Spring Fever Package includes accommodations and a s’mores kit. Rates start at $169 a night Sunday through Thursday and $199 a night Friday and Saturday, a discount of up to 30 percent. Show a printout of this article at check-in and receive a $20 resort credit to use for golf, dining, or the spa or marina. The package reservation must be made in advance. To book or for more information, call 410-901-1234 and request the offer code SFEVER, or visit their website.
When: Valid April 1 through May 30, 2014.
The Windy City
Where: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus Dr., Chicago, Ill.; 312-565-5258.
What’s special: Enjoy spectacular views of Lake Michigan and some of Chicago’s landmarks from this hotel. The soaring skyscraper is walking distance to the Magnificent Mile, Millennium Park, the lakefront (we recommend an architectural boat tour), Navy Pier, and great restaurants, bars, and music venues. The hotel has indoor and outdoor pools and a health club. There’s on-site parking, free internet access, and complimentary use of an iPad.
The deal: Rates usually start at $199, but stay at least two nights to get a standard city-view room for $139 or a business-class room for $177. The business-class accommodations, on the 17th and 18th floors, include access to the 24-hour business lounge, which offers free continental breakfast, beverages, evening cocktails, and concierge service. In addition, mention Washingtonian.com to also receive one complimentary glass of wine per person at the hotel bar.
When: Valid through April 2014.
Where: The Greenbrier, 300 W. Main St., White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.; 855-453-4858.
What’s special: The Greenbrier, a National Historic Landmark, has been welcoming guests since 1778. In addition to traditional resort activities—three great golf courses, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, bowling, biking, tennis, and a spa and fitness center—it has falconry, an off-road driving adventure, a canopy zipline, a tour of the Cold War-era bunker designed to hold members of Congress in the event of an attack, and, the resort’s newest addition, a 103,000-square-foot underground casino.
The deal: The Greenbrier is hosting a series of theme weekends in March, including Wellness Weekend (March 7 through 9), Antique Treasures Weekend (March 14 through 16), Art Enthusiasts Weekend (March 21 through 23), and Women’s Weekend (March 27 through 30). Visit their website for more information. Rates start at $219 a night (room only) for all weekends except Women’s, which is a three-night package starting at $1,640 for two guests sharing a room and includes a long list of activities (welcome reception, demonstrations, lectures, and meals). Mention Washingtonian.com when booking to get a two-for-one deal at the wine-tasting held Friday evenings at 5, a $40 savings. Those who can’t make the tasting receive a free bottle of wine. To book, call 855-897-3339.
When: Valid through March 2014.
Where: Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, 36205 Snake Hill Rd., Middleburg, Va.; 540-687-3333.
What’s special: This luxurious inn sits on 265 acres of pastures and woodlands in Northern Virginia’s horse and wine country. The 18 elegant guest rooms and suites are done up in English and French country styles. The inn offers vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the restaurant features a farm-to-table menu, and a spa is available for massages and facials.
The deal: The Romantic Getaway Package includes overnight accommodations, choice of Champagne or wine upon arrival, chocolate-covered strawberries, a four-course dinner for two in the restaurant, candlelit turn-down service, and late checkout (1 PM). Rates start at $455 midweek, $505 weekends—at least a 15-percent savings off regular rates. Mention Washingtonian.com (both when booking and again at check-in) to get a free room upgrade (a $30 value), subject to availability.
When: Valid through March 31, 2014.
Fifth Avenue Luxury
Where: The Peninsula, 700 Fifth Ave., New York, N.Y.; 212-956-2888.
What’s special: The Peninsula, on New York City’s famous Fifth Avenue, is known for its exceptional service, posh rooms, and restaurants. A rooftop oasis with spectacular views houses a fitness facility, yoga studio, indoor pool, and a Forbes five-star-rated spa. For more great views, you can have a drink at Salon de Ning, a beautiful rooftop bar. The Peninsula is close to shopping, restaurants, Central Park, and the theater district.
The deal: The Manhattan 25th Anniversary Retreat includes overnight accommodations; daily continental breakfast for two (juice, pastries, and coffee or tea) via room service or in Clement restaurant; a $75 dining credit in Clement; use of the fitness center, sun terrace, and swimming pool; 30-percent off any treatment at the Peninsula Spa; 4 PM late checkout; free in-room wired and wireless high-speed internet access; and a daily local newspaper. Rates start at $545 for a minimum of two nights, a savings of more than $200. Washingtonian.com readers also receive a free bottle of wine. In addition, everyone who books online gets to draw for a gift upon check-in; these include cocktails, room upgrades, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Book here or, if you call, use the booking code WASH14.
When: Valid through March 31, 2014.
Fun in the Sun
Where: El Conquistador Resort & Las Casitas Village, 1000 El Conquistador Ave., Fajardo, Puerto Rico; 888-543-1282.
What’s special: Guests at this luxury resort—a Waldorf Astoria property—can swim in one of seven pools (including a water park), play tennis (on four clay and three hard courts) or golf (on a challenging hilly course), hit the fitness center, or be pampered at the Waldorf Astoria spa. Take a short catamaran ride to the resort’s private 100-acre Palomino Island, where you can relax in a lounge chair on the white-sand beach, snorkel, scuba-dive, or go windsurfing, sailing, or horseback riding. The resort offers 23 restaurants, bars, and lounges, from gourmet to casual, many with ocean views, including the sultry Chops Steakhouse.
The deal: The Family Escape Package includes accommodations, complimentary kids’ meals, a $50 nightly resort credit, and daily buffet breakfast for four. Nightly rates start at $259 at El Conquistador Resort and $309 at Las Casitas Village, a savings of more than 30 percent. Mention Washingtonian.com when checking in to receive two free tickets to the Coqui Water Park, a state-of-the-art aquatic playground with an 8,500-square-foot pool, a speed slide, a tube slide, a body slide, a rope bridge, and a lazy river—a $40 value.
When: Valid through April 10, 2014.
Love Is in the Air
Where: Lansdowne Resort, 44050 Woodbridge Pkwy., Leesburg; 703-729-8400.
What’s special: This resort may be close by, but it feels a million miles away. Guests can get pampered at the 12,000-square-foot spa, work out at the fitness center, swim, dine at one of four restaurants, enjoy the evening stars by the fire pit, and, weather permitting, play tennis or golf.
The deal: The Date Night package includes accommodations, a bottle of Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to your room upon arrival, a $150 credit at any of the resort’s restaurants, buffet breakfast for two at the Riverside Hearth, and a s’mores kit to enjoy at the fire pit. The package costs $308 (the regular price is $355). In addition, Washingtonian.com readers receive a $50 credit at Spa Minérale. The package can be booked only by calling 877-261-3456 and asking for the Washingtonian Date Night Package.
When: Valid in February 2014.
Virginia Is for Lovers
Where: Smithfield Station, 415 S. Church St., Smithfield, Va.; 877-703-7701.
What’s special: This inn is in the small river-port town of Smithfield, on the Pagan River, three hours from DC. Visitors can stroll the historic district to see Victorian homes and browse in art galleries. Nearby is Windsor Castle Park, featuring more than four miles of walking trails. Smithfield Station offers 22 rooms with fireplaces, balconies with water views, and free internet. There’s also waterfront dining and an on-site boardwalk with shops and a marina.
The deal: The Washingtonian Package at Smithfield Station includes overnight accommodations in a Deluxe Lodge King room, a bottle of Champagne, and chocolate-covered strawberries. The price is $129 for one night or $249 for two nights. Also included is a $25 dining credit at the inn’s waterfront restaurant, for a total savings of more than 50 percent. To book, call 877-703-7701 or visit their website.
When: Valid February through May 15, 2014 (except February 13 through 15).
Hit the Slopes
Where: Snowshoe Mountain Resort, 10 Snowshoe Dr., Snowshoe, W. Va.; 877-441-4386.
What’s special: This mountain playground has an elevation of 4,848 feet, a 1,500-foot vertical drop, and 251 skiable acres—offering snow lovers great skiing and snowboarding. The mountaintop village boasts a variety of things to do, including dining, shopping, two activity centers for kids and teens, and the new state-of-the-art Spa at Snowshoe. The resort was voted Best Nightlife and Best Terrain by readers at OntheSnow.com.
The deal: Book a one-bedroom condo in Snowshoe’s mountaintop village for a two-night stay in February and get a discounted rate—$204 for a deluxe room (normally $287). The offer is valid for the highly desirable Allegheny Springs, Highland House, and Rimfire properties. Plus, save 20 percent on any service at the new Spa at Snowshoe, including massages, facials, and manicures and pedicures. To take advantage of this exclusive spa offer, call 304-572-4700 and mention the Washingtonian.com deal to the Spa at Snowshoe staff.
When: Valid Sunday through Thursday, through February 27, 2014. Not valid Sunday, February 16.
Where: South Seas Island Resort, 5400 Plantation Rd., Captiva Island, Fla.; 866-565-5089.
What’s special: This resort on Captiva Island—known for its abundant seashells—offers 2½ miles of beach along the Gulf of Mexico, a 330-acre wildlife sanctuary, 11 tennis courts, a nine-hole executive golf course, a sailing school, 20 swimming pools, a full-service yacht harbor and marina, a spa, restaurants, and shops. Accommodations include guest rooms, condominiums, and cottages.
The deal: The CaptivaEscape package includes a 10-percent discounted room rate plus a one-time $50 resort credit. Rates with the discounts start at $399 through April, $229 in May and June.
When: Valid through June 30, 2014. You must book by February 28, 2014, and mention the Washingtonian Great Getaways offer when calling 855-339-9383.
Luxury in Paradise
Where: Royal Isabela, 396 Ave. Noel Estrada, Isabela, Puerto Rico; 855-609-5888.
What’s special: This resort on Puerto Rico’s northwestern coast is set on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Each of the 20 casitas is perched at the highest elevation to capture the breezes and spectacular ocean views. Each also has a living room and a bedroom, wood floors and ceilings, and a private plunge pool and terrace. Spacious bathrooms feature a tub for two and a walk-in rain shower that opens onto the outdoor plunge pool. The resort’s golf course, though difficult, is a visual treat: It sits high on the rugged, ocean-hugging cliffs. There’s also an outdoor tennis court, a private beach, an open-air stone bar with sea and sunset views, and free wi-fi. The restaurant emphasizes local produce, with much of the food grown in its own gardens.
The deal: Mention Washingtonian.com when booking and pay $499 a day for weekday accommodations (a savings of $100 a day) or $699 on weekends (also a $100-a-day savings). The rate includes continental breakfast daily for two.
When: Valid in February 2014.
This is an update from this original article.
Best Overall Ski Resort: Snowshoe Mountain Resort
With 57 trails, Snowshoe is not only the largest ski resort in the region; it also has the highest vertical drop (1,500 feet) and the most natural snow (an average of 180 inches annually), although all 251 acres are covered by snow-making if necessary. Four terrain parks and an Olympic-size Superpipe make the West Virginia retreat a top pick for snowboarders and freestyle skiers, too. An abundance of blue runs on the main face and in the Silver Creek area make Snowshoe a great choice for intermediate skiers as well. Lodging ranges from inexpensive, comfortable hotels in the valley to slope-side condos. The mountaintop village also includes an array of shops and restaurants as well as swimming pools and a 15,000-square-foot arcade. 877-441-4386; snowshoemtn.com.
Best for Families: Wisp Resort
Adjacent to Deep Creek Lake, Wisp—Maryland’s only ski resort—is ideal for families, with plenty of discounted ski-and-stay packages. Thirty percent of the terrain is rated easy, so children and other beginners will have a fine time. Off-slope family fun includes snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and riding the Mountain Coaster—whose cars zoom along 3,500 feet of downhill steel track snaking through the woods. 301-387-4000; wispresort.com.
Most Romantic: Wintergreen Resort
Wintergreen offers a mountaintop spa with outdoor hot tubs as well as nicely appointed condos along a ridgeline facing east over the Blue Ridge Mountains and Virginia wine country. Couples can ski, get a massage, snuggle in front of their fireplace, and wake to a spectacular sunrise. 434-325-2200; wintergreenresort.com.
Best for Expert Skiers: Blue Knob
There’s nothing fancy about Blue Knob, in Claysburg, Pennsylvania. It’s a skier’s mountain, with five beginner slopes, 15 intermediate, and a whopping 14 expert runs on the steepest terrain in the region, including the Extrovert and the Lower Shortway, two of the toughest slopes in the Mid-Atlantic. The resort also features expert glade skiing through the trees, tight chutes, and an open bowl area. 800-458-3403; blueknob.com.
Best Ski School: Seven Springs
There’s a learning program for everyone at Seven Springs in Pennsylvania. Amost all instructors are certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America or the American Association of Snowboard Instructors. Group lessons are limited to eight students and based on skill level. The resort also offers private lessons, the Burton Snowboards Learn to Ride program, a Tiny Tots School, a Youth Academy, telemark skiing classes, and a 55-plus program for older skiers of intermediate ability who wish to take it to the next level. After a lesson, you can enjoy the best nightlife of any regional resort, including live music on weekends, bowling, swimming, roller-skating, and indoor mini-golf. 800-452-2223; 7springs.com.
Best Night Skiing: Liberty Mountain Resort
Only an hour and a half’s drive north of DC, Liberty in Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania, is the most convenient resort for Washingtonians. All 16 trails are well lit for night skiing: You can leave work at 4 and be on the slopes for the 5-to-10-pm ticket. Want a bite to eat? McKee’s Tavern serves great burgers, sandwiches, and a variety of beers on tap and in bottles. 717-642-8282; libertymountainresort.com.
Best Day Trip: Whitetail Resort
Also 90 minutes from DC, Whitetail in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, is a lot bigger than Liberty. There are 22 trails (six more than at Liberty) and 935 feet of vertical drop (compared with Liberty’s 620). All of the slopes are wide open, and the east-facing mountain helps keep the snow from turning to ice. There are two terrain parks, a halfpipe, and the area’s best mogul run. The bumps on the Bold Decision expert slope are big and relentless but generally soft. Don’t miss the beginner Sidewinder Trail, where the pitch is constant from top to bottom. 717-328-9400; skiwhitetail.com.
Least Crowded: Montage Mountain
Right off of Interstate 81 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Montage—formerly Sno Mountain—is an easy drive, at less than four hours from DC, but never overrun. Even on holiday weekends, lift lines are usually short to nonexistent. The mountain offers 26 trails with a 1,000-foot vertical drop, and all are lit for night skiing. For a fun getaway, head to Montage for a Saturday-afternoon/evening ticket, book a cheap hotel room near the interstate in Scranton that night, then on Sunday continue about 50 minutes north to ski Elk Mountain (elkskier.com), a bit of Vermont in Pennsylvania. 855-754-7946; montageisback.com.
Best Bargain: Canaan Valley
A high-season, adult weekend lift ticket at Canaan Valley in Davis, West Virginia, is only $52—compared with $62 and up at most other regional resorts. That’s just the start of the bargains: A weekend pass runs $85, and a midweek lodging/ski/breakfast package is $84 per person per night (based on double occupancy). If you crave more than Canaan’s 43 trails—and don’t mind spending more money—visit adjacent Timberline Resort (timberlineresort.com), home of the two-mile Salamander Trail, the longest run in the Mid-Atlantic. 304-866-4121; canaanresort.com.
Best Adaptive Skiing: Wintergreen Resort
Founded in 1984, Wintergreen Adaptive Sports, which works with the Wounded Warrior Project, brings skiing and snowboarding to the physically and mentally challenged. Each skier is provided with customized equipment, such as a sit-down ski sled, and specialized assistance from some 100 volunteer instructors. 434-325-2007; wintergreenresort.com.
Best Snow Tubing: Massanutten Resort
The 900-foot-long, 125-foot-high tubing hill at Massanutten in Harrisonburg, Virginia, thrills riders with three whoop-de-doo jumps, high-walled individual lanes, and one magic-carpet lift that makes it an easy trip back up for multiple runs on a two-hour lift ticket. 540-289-4954; massresort.com.
This article appears in the January 2014 issue of Washingtonian.