You don’t have to have a green thumb to dig Longwood Gardens, one of the premiere botanical gardens in the country. This former DuPont estate in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania—a two-and-a-half-hour drive from DC—features more than 1,000 acres carpeted year-round with spectacular plantings.
Starting this Saturday, January 24, and running through Sunday, March 29, is Longwood’s annual Orchid Extravaganza, where nearly 5,000 orchids will bloom throughout the indoor, four-acre conservatory. The displays will include an oncidium “waterfall,” an “orchid meadow,” and all manner of floral arrangements to take the chill out of winter.
Admission to Longwood Gardens is $20 for adults, $17 for seniors ages 62 and up, and $10 for children ages 5 through 18 and for students of any age with a valid ID. Tickets are timed, and should be bought online before your visit.
To many locals, Adams Morgan is where college kids go to get hammered at dumpy, swill-serving bars and soak up their inebriation with a greasy jumbo slice. The reputation isn’t entirely undeserved—most Fridays and Saturdays, the sidewalks are filled with young revelers, some less upright and coherent than others.
But the arrival of new restaurants and worthwhile taverns—along with renewed interest in the shops that dot 18th Street—has given the “devil’s playground” a fresh coat of respectability. Not that it’s lost its sense of fun—the mural advertising the mainstay blues bar Madam’s Organ (2461 18th St., NW; 202-667-5370) looms as buxomly as ever.
At the same time, the neighborhood is slowly losing its character as the hub of the District’s Latino community, with rising real-estate prices and high-end condos pushing working-class residents north and shuttering hole-in-the-wall taco and pupusa joints. Former dives are being rechristened with craft cocktails, and a recent decision by DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Control board to lift a moratorium on liquor licenses means more drinking and dining options could arrive quickly.
Yet even so, the area isn’t as chichi as the rebuilt 14th Street, Northwest. The biggest change in Adams Morgan is that you can actually make a day of visiting while the sun’s still up or stay out late without channeling your frat-party days.
Start in the afternoon at the bottom of the hill where 18th Street connects with Florida Avenue and seek out coffee and something sweet at either Pleasant Pops (1781 Florida Ave., NW; 202-558-5224), featuring house-made popsicles in flavors like peach hibiscus and Mexican sweet cream, or the CakeRoom (2006 18th St., NW; 202-450-4462), full of indulgent baked goods.
Once you’re sated with sugar and caffeine, hike up 18th Street and drop into one of AdMo’s reliable record shops. Crooked Beat (2116 18th St., NW; 202-483-2328) stayed ahead of cratering music sales by going vinyl-only in 2010. The encyclopedic selection spans every genre from classic-rock rarities to new major- and minor-label releases to exotic world music, with plenty of LPs from local labels such as Dischord. A few blocks up, you’ll find Smash (2314 18th St., NW; 202-387-6274) and its library of punk and hardcore treasures.
If you’re thirsty for something visual, seek out the latest exhibit at Hierarchy (1847 Columbia Rd., NW; no phone), a former basement bar turned sleek gallery filled with contemporary installations. Or get tickets for a show at DC Arts Center (2438 18th St., NW; 202-462-7833), a black-box theater that hosts some of the city’s most daring stage productions as well as a gallery showcasing local artists.
When it’s drinking time, pick your poison and head to one of several spirit-specific bars: Scotch aficionados flock to Jack Rose Dining Saloon (2007 18th St., NW; 202-588-7388) and its floor-to-ceiling shelves of rare bottles. Bourbon (2321 18th St., NW; 202-332-0800) presents its biblical selection of American whiskeys in a heavy, copper-bound menu. Libertine (2435 18th St., NW; 202-450-3106) caters to more bohemian tastes with its perfumy lineup of absinthes and draft cocktails. The Black Squirrel (2427 18th St., NW; 202-232-1011) pairs lardy bar snacks like macaroni and cheese (made with five kinds of cheese) and poutine with a deeply sourced and frequently changing roster of bottled and draft beers.
Nineteen years after opening, Cashion’s Eat Place (1819 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-797-1819) still impresses. Cashion’s seasonal American menu makes for lively dinners and lusty weekend brunches. (We wish it would revive the late-night cheesesteak, though.) A few doors down, Mintwood Place (1813 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-234-6732) is always packed for its Francophile twists on comfort fare. Or if you’re going more casual, wade into Pop’s SeaBar (1817 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-534-3933) a Jersey Shore-inspired seafood shack—thankfully, without the tanning oil and hair spray (but you can take home your beer Koozie for a buck—or get one free by exchanging it for a Koozie you bring in).
Some of Adams Morgan’s good restaurants aren’t always easy to spot. You’d probably walk right by the subterranean Sakuramen (2441 18th St., NW; 202-656-5285) if not for the line that snakes down the sidewalk every night, full of people anticipating steaming bowls of ramen soup garnished with pork belly chashu, rib-eye bulgogi, and fresh vegetables. Across the street and tucked into the doorway of the DC Arts Center, the 14-seat counter at Donburi (2438 18th St., NW; 202-629-1047) serves terrific Japanese rice bowls topped with raw fish, braised meats, and pickled vegetables.
Where regrettable dives once reigned, established chefs are moving in. Marjorie Meek-Bradley of Cleveland Park’s Ripple turned the former Reef into Roofers Union (2446 18th St., NW; 202-232-7663), where you can nibble on house-made veal-heart sausages or pig-ear salad while sipping a cask-fermented ale.
Not too long ago, Adams Morgan’s nighttime economy depended almost entirely on Jell-O shots and other rotgut. While the party crowd still rules weekend nights, the neighborhood is no longer a forbidden zone for anyone over age 23.
And, hey, if you do want a jumbo slice, the best one’s at Duccini’s (1778 U St., NW; 202-483-0007).
This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
At the end of a frigid week comes some cool deals to save cold cash.
Head up to Baltimore on Sunday the 11th, and you can take advantage of the National Aquarium’s first ever Pay What You Want Day. Admission is normally $34.95 for adults, $21.95 for children ages 3 through 11. Whatever you choose to give goes toward various aquarium programs such as youth education and animal rescue. The aquarium is open from 9 to 5, and you must buy the tickets in person. We’re guessing it could be a zoo, with long lines and crowds, so getting there early might be best.
Also at the harbor that day, chef Bryan Voltaggio’s new Family Meal restaurant is offering “pay what you want fried chicken.” Bring a ticket stub from the aquarium and you can name your price for a three-piece or six-piece plate of their terrific fried chicken, normally $10.99 and $15.99, and served with a buttermilk biscuit and pickles. The offer is good at lunch and dinner, from 11 AM to 10 PM, for dine-in customers only. Family Meal is at 621 East Pratt Street, next door to the aquarium. You can walk in or make a reservation online.
Uptown, Downtown, All Around New York
Where: Sofitel New York, 45 W. 44th St., New York, NY; 212-354-8844
What’s special: The 30-story Sofitel puts you in the heart of midtown—near Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Broadway theaters, restaurants, shopping, and art museums. The contemporary hotel features large rooms with feather-top beds and luxury bedding, complimentary wi-fi, and an elegant lobby.
The deal: The $269 Washingtonian deal includes accommodations, a complimentary upgrade to a Superior Queen room, and a $50 dining credit for use at the on-site Gaby Brasserie Française. Mention Washingtonian when making a reservation.
When: Valid for stays in January 2015.
Where: Gild Hall Hotel, 15 Gold St., New York, NY; 212-232-7700
What’s special: This hotel is in the financial district, a part of Manhattan with narrow, curving, Colonial-era streets. You can explore Trinity Church, visit the World Trade Center Memorial, take a water taxi to Brooklyn, or catch a ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. The rooms are simple yet luxurious, with oversize, leather-tufted headboards and elegant, custom-designed wooden furniture. The hotel’s bilevel, Tuscan-style wine bar and lounge, Felice Ristorante & Wine Bar, is adorned with dramatic chandeliers.
The deal: The Washingtonian deal includes 10 percent off the best available rate, continental breakfast for two each day at Felice (normally $16 per person per day), welcome cocktails (valued at $14 each), and complimentary wi-fi. Rooms start at $209 a night. Use the booking code DCTONYC.
When: Valid for stays Thursday through Sunday nights, January through March 31, 2015.
Where: Hotel Du Pont, 42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, Del.; 302-594-3100
What’s special: Built in 1913, this historic hotel showcases the work of fine French and Italian craftsmen of that time. Guests can also enjoy modern-day touches such as high-speed internet, a fitness center, renovated rooms, and luxury bathrooms with a separate shower and a deep soaking tub. The hotel is a good base for exploring the area, including the Delaware Art Museum (with its collection of American art), Winterthur Museum (a trove of American decorative arts), the Brandywine River Museum of Art (where an Andrew Wyeth exhibition is currently on view), and Longwood Gardens (whose Christmas display runs through January 11; the Orchid Extravaganza starts January 24).
The deal: The Brandywine River Museum Package includes lodging, valet parking for one vehicle, and breakfast for two adults in the property’s restaurant. Prices start at $239, a $61 savings. Mention Washingtonian when you book or check in and also receive a complimentary upgrade to the next-best room category, a $33 savings. To make a reservation, click here or call 302-594-3125.
When: For stays Thursday through Sunday nights in January 2015.
Where: North Fork Mountain Inn, Smoke Hole Rd., Cabins, W.Va.; 304-257-1108
What’s special: In a remote part of West Virginia, this rustic inn offers impressive views, including overhead. The stars shine so brightly at night, it’s like being in a planetarium. The Great Room, with its stone fireplace, is a nice spot to relax with a book. The seven rooms in the main inn are each uniquely decorated, some with two-person Jacuzzis and fireplaces. The log-cabin suites feature a king bed, a whirlpool tub, a gas fireplace, a loft with queen sleeper sofa, and a mini-kitchen. All guests enjoy a full breakfast, and massages are available.
The deal: The Winter Escape Package includes two nights in one of the seven inn rooms, dinner for two at the inn on one of the evenings, a bottle of wine, two logo keepsake wine glasses, a gourmet picnic basket, and a $25 gift-shop credit. A weekend stay costs $395 (a 25-percent savings); a stay Sunday through Thursday is $280 (a 50-percent savings). An upgrade is available to the Hideaway Cabin for $25 or to one of the suites for $100. Mention Washingtonian when booking to also receive chocolate-covered strawberries, a $15 value.
When: Purchase this deal during January and redeem it between January 9 and April 30, 2015. Payment in full is due at the time of reservation. Blackout dates: January 16 through 18, February 13 through 16, and April 1 through 8.
Adventure and Nature
Where: Spring Creek Ranch, 1800 Spirit Dance Rd., Jackson Hole, Wyo.; 888-734-8503
What’s special: Spring Creek Ranch is on a bluff high above the town of Jackson Hole, providing panoramic views of the Teton Mountain Range. Guests can explore surrounding Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks; go dog-sledding, tubing, skiing, and heli-skiing; or relax at the spa. The Granary restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling views of the Grand Tetons, offers “upscale mountain cooking,” according to Bon Appétit. United offers new direct flights to Jackson Hole from Dulles International Airport.
The deal: The Winter Adventure Package lets you build your own adventure, including four nights in a deluxe hotel room with fireplace, breakfast each morning in the Granary, and a choice of four of the following activities: a sleigh ride including a three-course meal at the Granary; a snowshoe hike with Spring Creek Ranch’s naturalist and a sleigh ride on the National Elk Refuge; admission to the National Museum of Wildlife Art and a sleigh ride on the National Elk Refuge; a snowshoe hike and admission to the National Museum of Wildlife Art; a dawn or dusk wildlife safari to spot elk, bison, moose, and bald eagles; a 60-minute massage, facial, or body scrub; and a full- or half-day snowmobile tour to Granite Hot Springs. Depending on activities chosen, savings range from $50 to $200 a person. Other activities, such as coach tours to Old Faithful, are offered at discounted rates. Prices are $1,076 per adult, $796 per child. Washingtonian readers also get a free cowboy basket (a cowboy hat filled with pretzels, peanuts, butter cookies, and two bottles of water), a $25 value. Use the online code Washingtonian.
When: Valid for stays January through March 15, 2015.
Family Ski Time
Where: Angel Fire Resort, 10 Miller La., Angel Fire, N.M.; 844-218-4107
What’s special: This family-friendly lodge, at more than 8,600 feet elevation in the southern Rocky Mountains, offers slopeside access to skiing, including night skiing. Guests can also enjoy snowboarding, Nordic skiing, tubing, and sledding. The property offers multiple dining options, free wi-fi, an indoor pool, and a hot tub.
The deal: The Washingtonian deal includes accommodations for two nights, four daily lift tickets, and a $50 food-and-beverage credit valid at any Angel Fire Resort restaurant. The price is $178 per night, double occupancy. To book, click here.
When: Valid January through March 23, 2015.
When you close your eyes and picture the quintessential holiday scene, it probably looks a lot like Morven Park in Leesburg, the 1,000-acre estate of former Virginia governor Westmoreland Davis.
Until December 29, visitors can tour the beautiful Greek Revival mansion and see its halls decked in high 1920s style, with a 17-foot Christmas tree soaring to the ceiling of the parlor and a holiday table set with imported crystal and Tiffany china. The 45-minute tours are offered every hour on the hour. Visitors can also get a glimpse of what servant life was like, through tours of the kitchen and staff quarters.
The Morven Park estate is actually three museums in one. Tucked into a wing of the mansion is the Museum of Hounds & Hunting, which exhibits art and artifacts relating to the sporting tradition. A must-see here is “The Surrey,” an oil painting of an imaginary foxhunt, which features some famous faces such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Also on the property is the Winmill Carriage Museum, which showcases 40 antique coaches, including a diminutive coach custom-made for the performer Tom Thumb from Barnum & Bailey’s Circus.
The estate has been chosen as the new permanent home of Mac and Cheese, the pair of turkeys President Obama pardoned this year before Thanksgiving. Visitors can stroll to the turkey yard to see them scratching about freely, along with Caramel, last year’s freed bird.
Morven Park also happens to be one of the “stars” of this winter’s acclaimed movie Foxcatcher. The stately mansion was used for exterior shots—because the real Du Pont mansion in Pennsylvania had been torn down—and the Morven Park estate is featured on the movie posters.
Entrance to tour Morven Park mansion and museums is $10 for adults, $5 for children.
The Battle of Antietam, on September 17, 1862, was the bloodiest single day of fighting in this country’s history, with nearly 23,000 Civil War soldiers left wounded, missing, or dead.
The scale of such loss is hard to fathom. Which is the point of the annual Memorial Illumination at Antietam National Battlefield, this year scheduled for Saturday, December 13. On that evening, some 23,000 candles—one for each soldier—will blaze across the battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland.
Visitors cannot walk the battlefield or get out of their car; drivers simply inch along the five-mile route (using only their parking lights), a process that takes about 45 minutes.
“As you’re driving through the park, you have a stunning visual effect because the terrain at Antietam is very rolling,” says Susan Trail, the superintendent of Antietam National Battlefield. “You’ll drive around a corner and you’ll see a large group of candles. Then you’ll see another group. After a while, it’s almost overpowering, in terms of the numbers of candles and thinking of these as individuals who fought in the battle and either died or went missing or were wounded. It’s very evocative.”
In a few spots along the route, you’ll see volunteers in Civil War uniforms posed around campfires, to further add to the atmosphere.
If you’re thinking that this event—now in its 26th year—would make a perfect Instagram shot, you’re thinking about it all wrong.
“If you’re there with your iPhone or your point-and-shoot, the photos are not going to turn out,” because it’s so dark, Trail says. “It’s really something to be savored with the senses.”
It’s a popular event, typically drawing up to 10,000 people. The first visitors are allowed to drive in at 6 PM, and some people line up hours in advance. The line of cars can be up to two hours long, and there are no bathrooms along the way. Trail’s advice? “We cut the line off at midnight. Whoever’s in line at midnight gets to go through,” she says. “It has in the past been better to come later; the line tends to be shorter as the night goes on.”
Directions and more visitor tips are available online.
Shop Old Town
Where: Morrison House, 116 S. Alfred St., Alexandria; 703-838-8000
What’s special: Warm and welcoming, this Kimpton Hotel in Old Town Alexandria reflects the area’s Colonial charm but has just the right mix of modern luxuries (flat-screen TVs, marble-counter bathrooms, luxe linens). Guests enjoy free use of the hotel’s custom Public bikes, free shuttle to and from Ronald Reagan National Airport, free use of yoga mats, complimentary morning coffee and tea, and free daily wine hour. Pets stay free. If you’re not already a member, you can sign up for the free Kimpton Karma Rewards to get complimentary wi-fi and a $10 Raid the Bar credit. Within walking distance of the hotel are boutiques such as the Shoe Hive (for the latest fashions, including Tory Burch and Kate Spade) and Red Barn Mercantile (for home accent pieces), as well as the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
The deal: The Boutique to Boutique Shopping package includes deluxe accommodations, a $100 American Express gift card, continental breakfast for two, free valet parking, and two cocktails at the Grille. Mention Washingtonian upon arrival to also receive two free appetizers, a $30 value. Discounted rates start at $274 a night. Use the online booking code SHOPB.
When: Valid through December 31, 2014.
Where: Goodstone Inn & Restaurant, 36205 Snake Hill Rd., Middleburg; 540-687-3090
What’s special: The Goodstone Inn & Restaurant sits on 265 acres of countryside. Enjoy a full breakfast in the morning, and cozy up by the fire each afternoon in the Carriage House and enjoy coffee and tea. Guests can also hike the property or drive into Middleburg to do some holiday shopping at the antiques stores and boutiques.
The deal: The Hunt Country Midweek Retreat package includes a two-night stay (Sunday through Wednesday) with the second night at 50 percent off. Rates start at $310 a night. To get the deal, mention the package when booking.
When: Valid through January 2015.
Tax-Free Shopping in Philly
What’s special: Pick the neighborhood—both hotels are central to the city’s shopping destinations. The Monaco is in the heart of Old City’s independent-boutique scene, and the Palomar is steps from Walnut and Chestnut streets, with big-name retailers and local shops. For another fun shopping experience, drive or take public transportation to nearby Manayunk, a small town within city limits that’s been designated a National Historic District. While there, stop at Remix for a wealth of old and new couture finds, and grab something to eat at the Goat’s Beard, with local American fare and domestic whiskeys and craft beers.
The deal: The Cure for Cabin Fever package includes complimentary overnight valet parking (a $42 value), a $20 gas card, and a holiday treat valued at $10. Rates start at $199 a night. To book, click here [kimptonhotels.com] and use the rate code WASHDC.
When: Valid for stays December 2014 through February 28, 2015, if booked by December 31.
Explore New Hope
Where: The Inn at Bowman’s Hill, 518 Lurgan Rd., New Hope, Pa.; 215-862-8090
What’s special: This romantic retreat is on a five-acre manicured estate two miles from the town of New Hope. It features four rooms and four suites. Guests enjoy heated tubs for two, fireplaces, steam showers, king-size featherbeds, gourmet breakfasts, and an optional in-suite couples massage. New Hope offers good dining, a historic railroad you can ride, horse-drawn carriages, museums, professional theater productions, and venues that have live music seven nights a week.
The deal: Book two consecutive nights in the 800-square-foot Penthouse Suite or the 500-square-foot General Washington Suite and receive a complimentary in-suite couples massage (two therapists for 60 minutes); hand-dipped, chocolate-covered strawberries; and two $50 dinner certificates that can be used like cash at one of three restaurants: Marsh Brown Restaurant, Francisco’s on the River, or Bowman’s Tavern (which has live music every night). Reserve two consecutive nights in any other room or suite and get a complimentary one-hour in-suite massage; hand-dipped, chocolate-covered strawberries; and one $50 dinner certificate to be used at one of the three restaurants. Rates start at $395 a night and go up to $895 for the Penthouse Suite. Attention, history buffs: Stay December 24 and receive VIP tickets to view General Washington and his troops reenact the 1776 crossing of the Delaware River, an annual tradition five miles from the inn (weather and conditions permitting). To book, call 215-862-8090 or reserve a suite online and use the code wash2014.
When: Valid December through March 26, 2015.
Fly Direct to Jackson Hole
Where: Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa, 3385 Cody La., Teton Village, Wyo.; 855-842-8798
What’s special: Located slopeside to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the lodge is easy walking distance to the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort ski lifts and aerial tram. It’s also near the entrance to Grand Teton National Park, and an hour and a half south of Yellowstone. The rooms, with spectacular views of the Teton and Gros Ventre mountains, feature Western decor including reclaimed fir timbers in the lobby, hardwood floors, down bedding, and, in most guest rooms’ living areas, gas fireplaces. Accommodations include rooms, studios, and suites. The lodge has a full-service spa, a fitness center, a rooftop studio for yoga and Pilates, indoor and outdoor heated pools, and five whirlpool tubs (three indoor and two outdoor), including a 24-person rooftop tub. Starting December 20, United Airlines flies nonstop to Jackson Hole from Dulles.
The deal: The Winter 20-30-40 package includes a 20-percent savings on the room, a $30 breakfast credit at Spur Restaurant & Bar, and a $40 spa credit at Solitude Spa. Washingtonian readers also get two free glasses of wine, a $16 value each, at the new Lobby Bar. Rates start at $231 a night. To book, click here.
When: Valid now through April 5, 2015, with blackout dates December 20 through January 3, February 1 through 4, February 13 through 16, and February 25 through 27.
Where: Hotel Terra, 3335 W. Village Dr., Teton Village, Wyo.; 855-842-8798
What’s special: Hotel Terra is in the heart of Teton Village and at the base of the majestic Teton mountains. In the lobby you’ll find fireplaces and antler-adorned walls, but modern furniture and pops of color give it a trendy feel. This luxury hotel features a rooftop spa with a fitness center, infinity pool, and hot tub; two restaurants; a bar; and lobby lounges. The hotel is steps from excellent skiing and snowboarding, and a ski valet will store your skis and offer advice on the best runs and conditions.
The deal: The Powderhound package includes 20 percent off rooms, a $20 daily breakfast credit, and 25 percent off ski rental from Teton Village Sports. Washingtonian readers also receive 20 percent off spa treatments. Prices start at $159 a night. To book, click here.
When: Valid now through April 5, 2015, with blackout dates December 25 through January 2, January 27 through 30, February 1 through 4, February 9 through 11, and February 14 through 16.
1. Running With Santa
During the holidays, the boardwalk in Virginia Beach glows with coastal-inspired light displays—pirate ships, dancing seahorses, open-jawed sharks. A fun way to see it is to run the Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler at twilight on December 20. While there, make a weekend of it. You can join naturalists from the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center on a whale-watching trip—winter is when migrating humpbacks trace the coastline. This also happens to be the time of year that horseback riding is permitted on the beach; you can saddle up with Virginia Beach Horseback. Cold weather means oyster season, too, so consider a tour and tasting at Pleasure House Oysters. You can book an oceanfront room at the new Hilton Garden Inn on the boardwalk; it offers a stylish indoor pool and local beer on tap at the buzzy bar. Rooms from $129.
2. A Very Cool Place
Downtown Pittsburgh is transformed into a winter wonderland each year with the outdoor ice rink at PPG Place and a German-style Christkindlmarkt, where international vendors sell handicrafts from wooden chalets. The Duquesne Incline, an uphill cable car that overlooks the city, is lit with hundreds of red lights. And this is a great city for quirky, with events such as the Dirty Dozen (an icy uphill bike race) and, in the hipster neighborhood of Lawrenceville, the Joy of Cookies tour. You can also admire Gilded Age holiday finery at Clayton, the former mansion of industrialist and art collector Henry Clay Frick. Stay at the sleek new Fairmont hotel, which has a resident dog named Edie (as in Sedgwick—this is Warhol’s hometown, after all). Rooms from $259.
3. Take the Plunge
They call the snowtubing park at Virginia’s Wintergreen Resort simply the Plunge—and plunge you will, at speeds up to 30 mph down a hillside with a vertical drop equivalent to that of a ten-story building. With ten lanes running the length of three football fields, it’s the largest snowtubing park in the state. (Ninety-minute sessions are $26 on weekends, $18 weekdays.) For little tubers under 42 inches tall—the height required to take the plunge—there’s Ridgely’s Fun Park with its mini-tubing carousel, bear-paw snowshoes, and a much smaller plunge. $18 for one adult and child, $10 extra per child and $5 extra per adult. Wintergreen has a variety of overnight options, from hotel-like guest rooms ($155 and up) to apartment condominiums ($175 and up) to house rentals ($289 and up).
4. Winter in Williamsburg
The Grand Illumination kicks off the holidays at Colonial Williamsburg. Fireworks blaze over the historic village on December 7, and period homes throw open their doors to showcase holiday decorations through January 4. Meanwhile, the Spa of Colonial Williamsburg, an airy retreat with aromatherapy steam baths, features treatments that take aim at moisture-deprived winter skin. Stay in one of the new cottages fronting the James River, each tricked out with fireplaces and stylish kitchens, at Kingsmill Resort, which runs a free shuttle to the Revolutionary City. Rooms from $149, three-bedroom cottages from $699.
5. Mansions and Microbrews
In the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania and Delaware, beautiful holiday decorations deck the halls at the DuPont family mansions—Winterthur, Nemours, and Hagley, the original homestead—while acres of winter plantings, fountains, and candlelit treehouses tempt at Longwood Gardens. The swank life doesn’t have to end when the mansion tour does: You can dine in front of the fireplaces at the historic Dilworthtown Inn and stay in an 18th-century man-or house at Sweetwater Farm, an estate on 50 acres that’s owned by the late Princess Grace’s nephew. Rooms and cottages from $150. On February 28, Winterfest takes over the town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania—“the mushroom capital of the world”—with local bites, beers from 40 craft brewers, and live music.
6. Bounty of the Bay
Winter means one thing to many on the Eastern Shore of Maryland: oysters. Harrison House Charter Fishing, owned by the same Tilghman Island family for generations, takes visitors on oyster-dredging outings on a skipjack. Or just eat the bivalves: Back at Harrison’s Chesapeake House, the Friday-night buffet includes oysters Rockefeller, fried oysters, and oysters on the half shell. Stay overnight at the nearby Tilghman Island Inn. The rooms have broad water views, and the restaurant, reimagined under new ownership, serves fresh local seafood like—naturally—oysters. Rooms from $175.
7. Snow Fun
The prime location of Massanutten Resort in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley means it’s tailor-made for winter pleasures such as skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and ice skating. When you’re ready for warmer fun, you’ll find an elaborate indoor water park, a family-friendly spa experience, crafting classes with grown-up offerings like digital photography, and a new healthy-living program in which guests can take healing-herb workshops and tai chi classes. A crisp winter night demands a window seat at Fareways, the resort’s laid-back restaurant, where you can order a flight of Virginia wine and watch the lights from the ski run twinkle in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rooms from $150.
8. Wine and Dine
Throughout the year, the Peacock Restaurant & Lounge at the Inn at 202 Dover in Easton, Maryland—which Food & Wine named one of the best bed-and-breakfasts in America—celebrates the grape. On February 27, the restaurant hosts an Italian-wine dinner featuring small wineries, such as the Rocca di Fabbri Estate in Umbria run by sisters Roberta and Simona Vitali. The chef, who has cooked at the prestigious James Beard House in New York, will pair the wines with a five-course Italian-accented dinner. You can hunker down at the inn with your honey for the weekend in one of the plush suites, the smallest of which is 600 square feet. The wine dinner costs $100 a person, but if you also book an overnight room—rates start at $475—the dinner drops to $75 a person. Book two nights and the second night is half price.
9. Winter Wildlife
Late February through early March is the peak time of year to witness the annual snow-goose migration, where as many as 80,000 birds create a blanket of white in the sky over northern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Also in February, check out local food, microbrews, and music at the Fire & Ice Festival in Lititz, dubbed the coolest small town in America by Budget Travel magazine. Stay at the Speedwell Forge B&B, an 18th-century stone mansion that’s home to the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, where you can take a full-moon tour and get up close to the 46 rescued wolves in residence. Rooms from $135, cottages from $250.
10. Your Best Foot Forward
The folks at Savage River Lodge in Frostburg, Maryland, say that if you can walk, you can snowshoe, which means you won’t need snowshoeing lessons if you’ve never tried the sport. The lodge offers rentals of snowshoes ($25 a day) and cross-country skis ($35 a day) for exploring the property’s 14 miles of wooded trails. The best part: After your walk in the woods, you can relax with a gourmet meal and a massage by the fire in your own private cabin. Standard queen cabins start at $225.
11. Cooking in the Country
Hole up in an antiques-decorated room in the mansion or gather a group in the Carriage House at the Clifton Inn, a Relais & Châteaux property outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Chef Tucker Yoder, a farm-to-table devotee, cooks fabulous meals, often with ingredients from the inn’s garden. Learn how to make holiday hors d’oeuvres and cocktails this month during “12 Days of Clifton,” a hands-on cooking-demonstration series at the marble-topped counter in Yoder’s intimate kitchen. Classes run from December 13 through 24 and cost $20 to $35 a person. After the new year, classes, demos, and tastings feature winter’s bounty. Rooms from $199, cottages from $279.
12. Going Cross-Country
About three hours west of DC, White Grass in Davis, West Virginia,is a touch of Scandinavia on the East Coast. It boasts some of the area’s oldest and most extensive Nordic cross-country ski trails, with more than 30 miles of manicured, wooded routes, plus full ski rentals and lessons for newbies ($15 per hourlong lesson). Its laid-back White Grass Cafe serves up tasty organic cuisine and live music on weekends. After a day on the trails, bunk among the funky furnishings at the nearby Cooper House Bed & Cocktail. You’ll have to scout your own breakfast in town, but innkeeper Joy Malinowski provides the hors d’oeuvres—and makes a mean martini. Rooms from $90.
13. Flex Time
No snow? No worries. Head to Liberty Mountain’s Snowflex Centre in Lynchburg, Virginia, the country’s first artificial-snow park. Snowflex is a synthetic material that simulates the feel of the real thing—without the chill—so skiers, snowboarders, and tubers can hit the slopes year-round. The park includes beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes plus an 11-foot-tall quarter pipe, a wall ride, and a 90-foot-long landing ramp for snowboarders and skiers. An alpine-like day lodge lets you warm up inside—or cool off as the case may be. For overnight accommodations, head to the boutique Craddock Terry Hotel, in a renovated shoe factory in Lynchburg’s historic district. Rooms from $149.
14. Hanging With the Peeps
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is home to the Just Born factory, which produces some 5 million Peeps every day. So it’s no surprise the marshmallow confections are the theme of an annual Peepsfest, December 30 and 31. Live music, an African penguin, a dogsled team, arts and crafts, and a Peeps scavenger hunt are some of the activities, most of which are free. The highlight, though, is the New Year’s Eve drop of a 4½-foot-tall, 85-pound, brightly lit fiberglass-resin Peeps at 5:15 pm (early enough for children to enjoy), followed by fireworks. Known as the Christmas City, Bethlehem also offers horse-drawn carriage rides and other city tours. The Historic Hotel Bethlehem puts you within an easy walk to restaurants, boutiques, and the Moravian Book Shop, the oldest continuously running bookstore in the world (established 1745).
This article appears in the December 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
This Cyber Monday, don’t just think TVs, jewelry, and clothing—you can also score some great travel deals. So grab your calendar and click away or call. These deals are all available on Cyber Monday, December 1.
IN THE US
New York City
Where: Triumph Hotels has six boutique New York City properties—the Iroquois New York, Hotel Chandler, Hotel Belleclaire, the Cosmopolitan Hotel-Tribeca, the Gershwin Hotel, and the Washington Jefferson Hotel. Each offers a unique experience in a different neighborhood, whether you want to be on the East Side or West Side.
The deal: Receive 30 percent off all room categories at any Triumph property. Or book between 4 and 5 PM Eastern Standard Time and take an additional 50 percent off premium rooms and suites at any Triumph property.
Valid: For stays December 2, 2014, through March 31, 2015.
To book: Click here or call 855-787-4867.
Where: The Jade Hotel in New York’s Greenwich Village.
The deal: The Jade is offering Cyber Monday shoppers a $500 deal—for that price, get a two-night stay, a complimentary bottle of Prosecco on arrival, and a $150 food-and-beverage credit redeemable at its Grape & Vine restaurant, in the lobby lounge, and for room service.
Valid: For stays January 2 through February 28, 2015.
To book: Click here and use the promo code CYBERMON or call 212-375-1300.
Where: The Maritime Hotel in West Chelsea, across the street from Chelsea Market and around the corner from the Meatpacking District’s shops and nightlife.
The deal: Get 25 percent off rooms.
Valid: For stays December 12, 2014, through March 31, 2015. Blackout dates apply: December 1 through 11, December 31, and February 12 through 19.
To book: Click here and use the rate code MARIMON.
Where: The New York Palace in Midtown Manhattan.
The deal: The 50% Off at 50th and Madison package offers half off Towers Corner Suites. The 1,200-square-foot suites, in the “hotel within a hotel” feature kitchens and dining-room tables and chairs for six.
Valid: January 1 through March 31, 2015.
To book: Click here.
Where: Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
The deal: Get a midweek stay in a Classic Room, with complimentary internet, starting at $79 a night. Or get a midweek overnight stay in a Fiore Suite, with complimentary internet, starting at $109. Both are savings of about 60 percent.
Valid: For stays December 2, 2014, through February 26, 2015.
To book: Click here and use the booking code CYB79 for a Classic Room or CYB109 for a Fiore Suite.
Where: Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa in Guanica, Puerto Rico.
The deal: Get 30 percent off bookings, with a two-night minimum. Discounted rates start at $135 a night and include two drink coupons on arrival, two gifts at check-in, a room upgrade if available at check-in, and 20 percent off an Enterprise car rental. For the discount code, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valid: For stays December 1, 2014, through March 31, 2015.
To book: Click here and use the booking code CYBER15 or call 800-468-4553.
Where: Hotel El Convento in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The deal: Get 25 percent off the best available room rate with a minimum stay of two nights.
Valid: For stays January 6 through 9 or January 11 through 14, 2015.
To book: Call 800-468-2779 and mention Cyber Monday.
The deal: Get 20 percent off a deluxe room when you book a five-night minimum stay. Also receive a two-person flight tasting of fine tequilas at Mexicado restaurant, a $50 spa credit at ZoiA Spa, and a $50 food-and-beverage credit at Footprints Beach Grill.
Valid: For stays throughout 2015.
To book: Call 800-544-2883 and use the offer code CYBER2014.
Turks and Caicos
Where: Ocean Club West Resorts in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.
The deal: Receive a fourth night free.
Valid: For stays May through August 15, 2015. Offer excludes studio accommodations at Ocean Club West.
To book: Call 800-457-8787.
You’re finished with the Thanksgiving bird. You’ve shopped ’til you dropped. Yet you still have a house full of guests for the holiday weekend. What’s a host to do?
Consider taking a candlelight tour of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The tours begin for the season on November 28, and are offered on various Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights through December 21. The timed tickets cost $22 for adults, $15 for children 11 and under. Tickets can sell out, so it’s recommended you buy them online before going.
Don’t expect elaborate Christmas decorations—the mansion is done up for the holidays as it would have been during George and Martha’s day, meaning just a bit of greenery here and there. Instead, the tour is an atmospheric chance to hear stories about the estate and the family’s life there (fun fact: George Washington, an avid dog lover and breeder, is father of the American Foxhound). Visitors get to see the first and second floors of the mansion—with costumed interpreters scattered throughout, including an animated Martha Washington. Much of the guided tour—which takes at least half an hour—is outside, so be sure to dress for the weather.
After the tour, you can enjoy hot cider and a ginger cookie by a kettle fire; explore the many outbuilding exhibits; check out the resident camel, Aladdin; and watch Colonial dancing in the greenhouse.
Want to visit Mount Vernon this weekend but can’t make it there at night? Take advantage of special admission prices Wednesday, November 26, through Sunday, November 30 (excluding Friday)—yes, it’s open Thanksgiving Day—when adult and youth tickets are 25 percent off. Use the online discount code 20142611 or mention the offer, which is good for up to six tickets, at the box office.
And if you can’t make it to Mount Vernon at all this year, check out the terrific virtual tour.