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The East Coast's largest corn maze is in Leesburg. By Renee Sklarew
Photograph courtesy of Visit Loudoun.

This weekend and next, you can get lost—in the East Coast’s largest cornfield maze. The 24-acre maze was hand-built on the sprawling grounds of Temple Hall Farm Park in Loudoun County. You must follow clues to find your way through the twists and turns, which spell out “Buy Fresh Buy Local” because Temple Hall is a working farm—it grows crops and raises animals year-round.

After you emerge, you can head to the Blast Zone to shoot a Corn Cannon or Pumpkin Blaster; the targets are scarecrows and old cars, and the corn and pumpkin “ammunition” typically flies about 50 to 60 miles an hour for 300 yards. Kids love cheering at the pig races, visiting the other barnyard animals, and hopping around on the Jumping Pillows—a cross between a giant trampoline and moon bounce. There are also wagon rides through the pumpkin patch, a 40-foot hay fort to climb, and food concessions. Watch out for the peacocks and guinea hens—they’ll beg for your kettle corn.

Temple Hall Farm Festival (15789 Temple Lane, Leesburg) is open October 24, 25 and 26; October 31, and November 1, 2, and 3. Buy tickets and find hours, ticket prices, activity fees, and directions online.

Posted at 10:06 AM/ET, 10/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Washington makes the list for the first time ever. By Tanya Pai
DC is the top city to visit in 2015, according to Lonely Planet. Image via Shutterstock.

When Forbes ranked DC the coolest city in America earlier this year, it drew plenty of internet ire. But maybe the magazine wasn’t so far off, after all: Travel publishing company Lonely Planet has named the District the top spot to visit in 2015. It’s not just Washington’s first time at the top of the list; this is the only time it’s ever been included, Washington Business Journal reports. It’s also the only US city in the top ten, which includes Vienna, Toronto, and Milan (see below for the full top ten).

Lonely Planet praises Washington’s “vibrant gay scene and incredible ethnic eats,” and its museum scene, citing Ford’s Theatre’s upcoming exhibit to mark the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination. Other highlights: the “life-changing” experience of visiting the Holocaust Museum, the cuisine at José Andrés’s Jaleo, the Georgetown shopping scene, and the historic charm of the Willard InterContinental.

Quite a distinction for our nation’s capital. Better start mentally preparing yourself for the influx of tourists—there's a reason Washington residents are more stressed out than the rest of the country.

Lonely Planet's Top 10 Destinations for 2015

1) Washington, DC

2) El Chaltén, Argentina

3) Milan, Italy

4) Zermatt, Switzerland

5) Valletta, Malta

6) Plovdiv, Bulgaria

7) Salisbury, UK

8) Vienna, Austria

9) Chennai, India

10) Toronto, Canada

Posted at 12:45 PM/ET, 10/20/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
New flights offer more options out of Dulles, BWI, and Reagan—and may mean lower prices. By Carol Ross Joynt
Illustration by Luci Gutiérrez.

With three airports in and around Washington, it’s always been fairly easy to get where you want to go—often without having to change planes. But it’s getting even better.

That’s partly due to the US Airways/American Airlines merger. The federal government required both airlines to give up some slots, making them available to other carriers and paving the way for new nonstops at Reagan National. The federal requirement didn’t open up slots at Dulles and BWI—where there are no caps—but both airports have their share of new nonstops as well.

“Travelers have more choices when booking out of our area airports,” says Robert Yingling, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees Dulles and Reagan National. “Increasing choices to nonstop destinations is a sign the market is healthy.”

Southwest, for example, has added new nonstops in the past year to Aruba, Montego Bay, Nassau, Cancún, and Oakland, all out of BWI. Meanwhile, at Reagan National, JetBlue is now flying nonstop to Nassau plus three Florida cities—Jacksonville, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach. At Dulles, Frontier Airlines is making a push into Florida, with nonstops to Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, and Tampa to go along with new nonstops to Memphis and Las Vegas.

While most of the new nonstops go to places that already had at least one other one from this area, many are new nonstops to that destination from that airport or airline. Better yet, the competition presented by these flights could mean lower fares.

We chose a half dozen of the new nonstops for their getaway appeal. Skiing in Wyoming? Beachcombing in Punta Cana? And we threw in some tips from locals.


Flying From Dulles

Jackson Hole

New nonstop on: United Airlines.

Flight time: About 4½ hours westbound, 4 hours eastbound.

Lowest round-trip fare we found: $528.

Downhill devotees flock to this Wyoming winter paradise—last season, it got 500 inches of snow. There are ski trails for every skill, fine hotels and dining, and a lively après-ski scene. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has new runs, and fans of DC’s Bourbon Steak will be happy to know that owner/chef Michael Mina has opened the Handle Bar at the Jackson Hole Four Seasons. United’s new nonstop runs daily December 20 through January 3, then weekly on Saturdays through March 21.

St. Augustine

New nonstop on: Frontier Airlines.

Flight time: About 2 hours.

Lowest round-trip fare we found: $105.

This Florida town is one of the earliest Spanish settlements in the United States and a very walkable city with some good restaurants. Nearby Anastasia State Park is a 1,600-plus-acre peninsula notable for white-sand beaches, water sports, RV and tent camping, and bird-watching. St. Augustine is also home to historic Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fortress in the mainland US, now managed by the National Park Service.


Flying From BWI

Punta Cana

New nonstop on: Southwest, beginning in November.

Flight time: About 4 hours.

Lowest round-trip fare we found: $424

Reality-TV stars travel to some of the world’s most beautiful spots—among them, beachy Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. In a notorious two-parter of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, the Gorgas, Giudices, Manzos, and Lauritas checked into the massive Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (causing a 300-percent jump in the hotel’s web traffic). Name-calling and brawls aside, most people go to Punta Cana for winter warmth (the average temp in January and February is 82) and to relax, swim, or get out on the links—there are about a dozen well-regarded golf courses attached to resorts on the Caribbean and Atlantic sides. For the non-golfer, there’s a day trip by speedboat or catamaran to Sanoa Island, part of the National Park of the East and, according to USA Today, known for its “unspoiled hotel-free beaches lined with palms.” For history buffs, there’s the home of Ponce de León in nearby San Rafael de Yuma. Dating to the early 1500s, it was where he planned his expeditions. For thrill-seekers, there’s cave rappelling and ziplining.

Seattle

New nonstop on: Alaska Airlines.

Flight time: About 5½ hours.

Lowest round-trip fare we found: $344.

What started as a timber town is now one of the nation’s fastest-growing and most culturally modern cities. Sure, the rainy weather is legendary, but there’s a lot to do indoors and out. Visit the original Starbucks at the historic and vast Pike Place Market, which claims to be one of the nation’s oldest farmers markets. Go old-school and ride to the top of the Space Needle (at 605 feet, it’s taller than the Washington Monument). Get out on the water by taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island, grabbing breakfast or lunch at Streamliner, then wandering the Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre garden and arboretum with a mission to provide a “tranquil” experience. If you’re a football fan, catch a Seahawks game at the loudest stadium in the NFL, CenturyLink Field. Film buff? At your hotel, grab a copy of the “Reel Life in Seattle” brochure, which pinpoints locations used in Sleepless in Seattle and other movies. Alaska Airlines also runs a twice-daily nonstop to Seattle out of Reagan National.


From Reagan National

Charleston

New nonstop on: JetBlue.

Flight time: About 2 hours.

Lowest round-trip fare we found: $98.

The climate in Charleston, South Carolina, is comparable to Bermuda’s, meaning fall and winter temperatures are pleasant, sometimes warm. Just outside town there are historic plantations to visit, such as Middleton Place, which was settled in the 17th century. In town, the charming streets are lined with architectural eye candy. Though it may surprise you, Charleston also has a nightlife scene. Whitney Sudler-Smith, producer and cast member of the Charleston-shot Bravo show Southern Charm, says that the Cocktail Club is a favorite. He also recommends the Ordinary, an “oyster hall” created by James Beard Award winner Mike Lata, and the Rarebit, where some go for the classic grilled cheese sandwich, others for the Moscow Mule. Says Sudler-Smith: “The whole area of Upper King is the new nightlife district.”

New Orleans

New nonstop on: Southwest.

Flight time: 2½ hours.

Lowest round-trip fare we found: $288.

Though this city is famous for Mardi Gras, there’s plenty of good jazz, fine food, and interesting art to see between now and Fat Tuesday. The city’s third International Contemporary Art Biennial runs October 25 through January 25 in spaces throughout town, including the exhibit “Basquiat and the Bayou” at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. The Simpsons cast member and NoLa habitué Harry Shearer recommends the galleries along the St. Claude corridor and the Arthur Roger Gallery on Julia Street. He’s also a fan of Domenica, a “brilliant” Italian restaurant at the Roosevelt Hotel. Make time to stroll the Riverwalk along the Mississippi and visit the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, adjacent to the French Quarter.


This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 02:30 PM/ET, 10/16/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Enjoy a hike full of fall color, good antiques shopping, and a nip of whiskey. By Renee Sklarew
Off scenic Skyline Drive, the trail to Mary's Rock Summit leads to a spectacular 360-degree view. Photograph courtesy of Shenandoah National Park.

Every October, Washingtonians point their cars toward Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, and for good reason: With the brilliant fall foliage, it’s a great time to take a hike.

We suggest going into the park at the Thornton Gap entrance. The drive from Washington then takes you along scenic Route 211, past vineyards, farmland, and wildflower meadows. Before entering, you can buy fresh-picked apples to take on your hike from Thornton River Orchard.

After entering at Thornton Gap, at mile marker 31.5, drive south on Skyline Drive. You’ll enjoy sweeping views of the Piedmont Plateau in the east and the Shenandoah Valley in the west, easily seen from numerous overlooks.

If you’re up for a hike, park at the Meadow Spring parking area just after mile marker 33 and then find the Meadow Spring Trailhead on the other side of the road. The first half mile of the 2.8-mile hike is steep, before you turn right onto the Appalachian Trail. On the trail, the surrounding forest changes to a riot of fall colors: Hickory leaves turn gold, red-maple trees become garnet, sumac bushes transform to shocking purple and red—all against the backdrop of speckled rocks with patches of lichen and moss.

The hike’s payoff, Mary’s Rock Summit, is one of the few peaks in the park with a 360-degree view. Hikers report seeing birds of prey and bears in this area. To return, retrace your steps for a hike that takes a total of two to three hours, depending on your pace.

After a hike, stop in the town of Sperryville to refuel with a burger on Thorton River Grille's roof. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Afterward, you might visit the quaint town of Sperryville, directly outside the park on Route 211. This pastoral village in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains is known for its bountiful farms and first-rate antiques shops.

Thornton River Grille, on the main thoroughfare, is one post-hike dining option. The rustic bistro, featuring fresh-cut steaks and burgers, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturdays, brunch and dinner on Sundays. In good weather, you can dine on the rooftop deck (open weekends only).

About a half mile away is Sperryville’s River District Arts, a former apple-packing plant that is now a multi-use facility housing art studios and a restaurant. You can refuel with a signature sangría and tapas at El Quijote, a new Spanish restaurant, and then wander through the galleries to see artists working in ceramics, textiles, paint, and photography.

Browse the galleries of River District Arts. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Directly behind River District Arts is Copper Fox Distillery. Inside the yellow warehouse awaits an entertaining tour demonstrating how spirits are made. In the past, the family-owned facility brewed apple cider, but it now produces small batches of malt whiskey, rye, and gin. You can sample a few or bring a bottle home.

Before heading back, walk next door to Copper Fox Antiques, a 30,000-square-foot warehouse originally used to store apples. Today it’s full of European, Asian, and American furniture, salvaged items, and collectibles.


Renee Sklarew (reneesklarew@gmail.com) is a travel writer in Washington. This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

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Posted at 12:15 PM/ET, 10/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fall in love with the season with these great travel deals, all exclusive to Washingtonian readers. By Alice Shapin
Save at Skyland Resort in Luray, Virginia, this month. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Leaf-Peeping in Shenandoah National Park

Where: Skyland Resort, Luray, Va.; 877-847-1919.

What’s special: Skyland is perched 3,680 feet up, at the highest point along Skyline Drive, the scenic byway that runs the length of Shenandoah National Park. Visitors can enjoy panoramic vistas and 500 miles of hiking trails—plus, this time of year, take in a kaleidoscope of fall color.

The deal: Washingtonian readers receive complimentary breakfast for two, a savings of $13.95 a person, and one free slice of blackberry-ice-cream pie (enough for two) during their stay, an $8 value. Prices start at $121 for a cabin room. Use the promo code “Washington” when calling or booking online.

When: Valid Sunday through Thursday through November 30, 2014.


Vermont’s Fall Glory

Where: Stowe Mountain Lodge, 7412 Mountain Rd., Stowe, Vt.; 802-253-3560.

What’s special: This lodge was built using Vermont wood and stone and is decorated in vibrant reds, deep oranges, warm yellows, and soothing greens to reflect the seasons. Fall is prime time in Vermont, and floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby and some of the guest rooms bring the beauty of Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak indoors. A huge lobby fireplace and fireplaces in some guest rooms add to the pleasure. Guests get twice-daily housekeeping plus goose-down feather beds, pillows, and duvets. There’s a state-of-the-art fitness center, a luxe spa, hiking and biking, and, through October 19, golf. A 5½-mile paved walking/biking path takes you to town via a scenic route through the woods and along West Branch River. For more New England autumn glory, you can drive the historic Auto Toll Road—a narrow, zigzag route up to the summit ridge of Mount Mansfield for views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.

The deal: The Washingtonian Stowe Fall Escape offers luxury accommodations at the best available rate, breakfast (a $25-per-person value), and valet parking (normally $21 a day). Prices start at $229 for two in a one-bedroom unit. To book online, visit their website; or call 802-760-4755, when calling, mention this deal.

When: Valid through November 15, 2014.


Eating and Drinking in Low Country

Where: Wild Dunes Resort, 5757 Palm Blvd., Isle of Palms, S.C.; 866-682-4672.

What’s special: Wild Dunes is on the northern tip of Isle of Palms, a lush barrier island off the coast of South Carolina. The oceanfront resort sits on 1,600 acres and offers championship golf, tennis, a spa, a fitness center, restaurants, and five pools. Just 30 minutes away is historic Charleston.

The deal: The Island Brews and Chews Beercation package features one night’s accommodations and admission for two adults to the Second Annual Island Brews and Chews Craft Beer Festival on November 1, with unlimited food and drink. Sample food such as house-cured smoked ham with mascarpone mac and cheese and a local pumpkin-style brew, or try wild-mushroom ravioli with sage-and-brown-butter sauce served with an amber ale, or peanut butter ice cream and a chocolate-chip cookie paired with an espresso porter. Washingtonian readers also get a complimentary Wild Dunes Resort bucket filled with six assorted local beers, a bag of snack mix, and Charleston Trio popcorn, a $25 value. Rates start at $179, a savings of $89. Mention Washingtonian when calling to reserve.

When: Valid Saturday, November 1 and 2, 2014.


Fall and Winter Beach Getaway

Where: The Sea Pines Resort, 32 Greenwood Dr., Hilton Head Island, S.C.; 866-561-8802.

What’s special: The resort is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Calibogue Sound and offers magnificent views, five miles of beach, 14 miles of biking and walking trails, 54 holes of championship golf, tennis, horseback riding, and several restaurants.

The deal: The Fall & Winter Getaway Package includes complimentary dinner entrées for two at Live Oak or Topside Waterfront Restaurant; complimentary lunch entrées for two at Live Oak, the Quarterdeck, or the Harbour Town Bakery; free bikes for two during your stay; a $50 resort credit if you stay seven nights or more; one free photo-portrait session; a 10-percent dining discount at the restaurants, excluding alcohol; two hours of tennis a day; unlimited use of the fitness center; and preferred golf rates at all courses. Readers also get an additional $25 resort credit regardless of length of stay. Rates start at $153 a night for three nights in a two-bedroom deluxe villa. To book, visit their website or call 866-561-8802 and mention Washingtonian.

When: Valid through February 28, 2015.


Red Rocks and Fall Color in Sedona

Where: Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa, 90 Ridge Trail Dr., Sedona Ariz.; 928-284-4040.

What’s special: Magnificent red rock formations create a dramatic backdrop for the resort, which just underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation. Every room features luxurious bedding, a fireplace, a private balcony or patio, and stunning views. Visitors also can see spectacular fall foliage across the 1.8 million acres of forest surrounding the city. There’s a full-service spa and fitness center, championship golf, a Southwestern menu at the Grille at ShadowRock, and outdoor dining with great views at the Fireside Patio. The area offers fun shopping, mountain biking, Jeep tours, horseback riding, and hot-air ballooning.

The deal: The Essence of Sedona package includes suite accommodations, a bottle of Northern Arizona wine, a Sedona backpack, a guide to the area’s best hiking trails, a collapsible water bottle, and 20 percent off the Full Circle Massage at the spa, for a total savings of 25 percent. Mention Washingtonian on check-in and also get free breakfast for two the first morning, a $30 value. Rates start at $219 a night.

When: Valid through December 31, 2014.


Art and Snowshoeing in New Mexico

Where: Palacio de Marquesa Taos, 405 Cordoba Rd., Taos, N.M.; 855-846-8267.

What’s special: In the mountains of northern New Mexico, Palacio de Marquesa offers stunning scenery and natural beauty. Each room celebrates a different female artist of Taos—including Georgia O’Keeffe—through its color, design, and artwork. The newly renovated adobestyle inn mirrors the Southwestern ambience and has eight well-appointed rooms with fireplaces, fine bedding, marble bathrooms, and private entrances. Guests enjoy free high-speed wi-fi plus access to a community room with a living room, dining room, two fireplaces, and beverage centers stocked with complimentary water and sodas. The inn is a few minutes’ walk from shops, galleries, and restaurants.

The deal: The Custom Snowshoe Tour in Taos package includes two nights in a standard king room for two people (the Modernist or Illuminator room) plus made-to-order breakfast (for example, spinach-and-mushroom frittata or Belgian waffles) served in the community room or in your room. Also included are a bottle of wine, locally made chocolate truffles, and a guided snowshoe tour, including equipment, hot beverages, snacks, and a hot lunch. The package is $229 a night per room with a two-night minimum, a 30-percent savings. The snowshoe tour is available based on snow and weather conditions. If there’s no snow, a wilderness tour with a guide will be provided. When booking online, use the code WP; if calling, ask for the Washingtonian package.

When: Valid November through February, 2015, with blackout dates on holidays.

Posted at 03:34 PM/ET, 10/01/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Known for one-of-a-kind Viogniers and unique Meritage blends, Virginia wineries are also crafting out-of-the-box events. On the menu for fall: camping, cigar nights, yoga, and an Indian festival of lights. By Nancy Bauer Collier
Little Washington Winery’s weekend boot camp features a few hours of tasting, with lunch and a chocolate pairing. Photograph by Andrew Propp.

Camping in a Vineyard

Custom Adventure Tours arranges everything except steaks for the grill at Cobbler Mountain Cellars’ “Wine Under the Stars” camp-out. Arrive at your leisure on Friday afternoon, then relax over a tasting of Cobbler Mountain’s wines and hard ciders while your creekside campsite is set up with tents, inflatable mattresses, cots, sleeping bags, and camp chairs. Canopy tents and tables create an outdoor dining room, where you can mingle with the few dozen other campers over dinner. Fresh-grilled corn, salads, and breads complement the rib eyes or other main course you bring to grill, and campfires blaze until midnight.

In the morning, a healthy breakfast of fruit, muffins, orange juice, and coffee also includes trail mix—fortification for the moderate, guided hike up the mountain. Live music accompanies the cornhole, bocce, volleyball, and horseshoe competitions all afternoon. The $165-a-person price for three days and two nights includes all gear ($105 with no gear rental); side dishes for dinner; breakfast; winetastings all weekend (maximum three); the guided hike; and games. September 5 through 7 or October 3 through 5. Kids and pets welcome. 5909 Long Fall La., Delaplane; 540-364-2802; cobblercellars.com.


Friday Evening in Paradise

“Swagger Friday and Cigar Bar” lights up the patio at Paradise Springs Winery the third Friday of every month from 5 to 9. Choose from a variety of stogies for sale—with a cigar purchase, you get a free tasting of Swagger, a fortified port-style wine. Or bring your own cigars and buy Swagger by the glass. Virginia Wine & Cigar Trail (vawineandcigar.com) offers other smoke-and-sip venues. 13219 Yates Ford Rd., Clifton; 703-830-9463; paradisespringswinery.com.


Crush Course

Wine boot camps teach winemaker wannabes to taste as the pros do, navigate a wine shop, handle a cork, and pair food and wine fearlessly. Several wineries in the region offer boot camps, including Little Washington Winery,which hosts four camps every weekend. The cost is $40 a person for the 2½-hour class, which includes a chocolate pairing, lunch, and a glass of wine. 72 Christmas Tree La., Washington; 540-987-8330; littlewashingtonwinery.com.

For a deeper dive into winemaking, try the “Winemaker for a Day” program at Sunset Hills Vineyard. Participants create their own blend and even custom-bottle their creation. The next sessions are November 7 and 9 and cost $40. 38295 Fremont Overlook La., Purcellville; 540-882-4560; sunsethillsvineyard.com.

Or consider a weekend-long wine camp at Veramar Vineyard ($1,800 for two nights’ lodging, meals, and tastings for two people; 905 Quarry Rd., Berryville; 540-955-5510; veramar.com) or at the Virginia Wine Camp hosted by the new upscale Inn at Vineyards Crossing ($1,200 for two nights’ lodging, meals, and tastings for two people; 5024 Leeds Manor Rd., Hume; 540-364-2466; vineyardscrossing.com).

Like to paint? Bring your brushes to Philip Carter Winery for “En Plein Air Weekend.” Photograph courtesy of Philip Carter Winery.

More Fun Winery Events

Strike a Pose: Perk up your prana with “Yoga at the Vineyard.” All levels are welcome the third Saturday of the month, 10:30 to 11:30 am. Free. Stone Tower Winery, 19925 Hogback Mountain Rd., Leesburg; 703-777-2797; stonetowerwinery.com.

Set Up an Easel: Capture the autumn vineyard on canvas—and enjoy a complimentary glass of wine as an artist—during “En Plein Air Weekend: The Art of Winescapes,” October 4 and 5; free. Philip Carter Winery, 4366 Stillhouse Rd., Hume; 540-364-1203; pcwinery.com

Light Up the Night: Celebrate Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, with a harvest bonfire and fireworks at dusk on Saturday, October 18. Daytime festivities include wine and food specials, raffles, and music. Free admission. Narmada Winery, 43 Narmada La., Amissville; 540-937-8215; narmadawinery.com.

Before sipping at Stone Tower Winery, you can strike a pose at a free yoga class. Photograph Courtesy of Stone Tower Winery. 

Get Spooked: Get into the Halloween spirit with haunted-vineyard tours featuring actors, storytellers, and a ghostly bog monster. October 30 to November 1; around $25, including mulled wine. Notaviva Vineyards, 13274 Sagle Rd., Purcellville; 540-668-6756; notavivavineyards.com.

Read Minds: Get an up-close look at mentalist and magician Max Major’s popular show, “Think: An Evening of Mind Reading and Magic,” September 12 from 8:30 to 10. $40 to $69 a person; wine available for purchase. The Winery at Bull Run, 15950 Lee Hwy., Centreville; 703-815-2233; wineryatbullrun.com.

Sip and Slice: Pair Sunset Hills Vineyard’s new releases with made-to-order pizza from Wood Fired Foods’ pizza truck. September 13 and 14, 1 to 5 pm. Free admission; charge for wine and pizza. 38295 Fremont Overlook La., Purcellville; 540-882-4560; sunsethillsvineyard.com.


Nancy Bauer Collier (nancy@nancybauer.com) co-created Virginia Wine in My Pocket, a social-media website and travel app. This article appears in the September 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 09/05/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Hold onto summer a little longer with these exclusive getaway deals. By Alice Shapin
Save on a stay in Naples, Florida this month. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Retreat, Renew, Reconnect

Where: Lansdowne Resort, 44050 Woodridge Pkwy., Leesburg; 877-509-8400.

What’s special: The AAA Four Diamond resort, 30 miles west of DC overlooking the Potomac River, has 45 holes of championship golf by renowned designers Robert Trent Jones II and Greg Norman, a 12,000-square-foot luxury spa, a five-pool indoor/outdoor aquatic complex including the adults-only Quiet Pool (open weekends until September 28), lighted tennis courts, a fitness center, and a new CrossFit-like BOX Gym with equipment such as kettle bells and climbing ropes. The bounty from Virginia farms and seafood from the Chesapeake Bay are on the menus at the property’s eateries—Stonewalls Tavern, Riverside Hearth, Crooked Billet, and Pub 46 Lounge. Love wine? You can tour local vineyards a short drive away.

The deal: The Washingtonian package, which gives 30 percent off room rates, includes one night’s accommodations, breakfast for two, the resort fee, and a $50 resort credit. Use the promo code WASHFALL.

When: Valid September 1 through November 30, 2014.


Eastern Shore Escape

Where: Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond, 308 Watkins La., St. Michaels; 410-745-2200.

What’s special: On the edge of the Miles River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, the Inn at Perry Cabin exudes serenity and elegance. The guest rooms feature luxurious bedding and high-end bathrooms. The inn has inviting common spaces, excellent cuisine, and terrific service. Linden Spa, named for the trees lining the driveway, offers rejuvenating treatments. Guests can stroll from the resort to the town of St. Michaels, with shops and waterside restaurants.

The deal: The Linden Spa Experience—midweek rates start at $512.50—includes a $125 spa credit per room, daily breakfast for two at Stars, and access to resort amenities such as the fitness center and bicycles. Mention Washingtonian when booking to also receive a free bottle of wine and a complimentary room upgrade. The package’s add-ons represent a $95 savings.

When: Valid for midweek stays through November 20, 2014.


Mountains of Fun

Where: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, 1001 Lafayette Dr., Farmington, Pa.; 866-344-6957.

What’s special: Nemacolin, on 2,000 acres in southwestern Pennsylvania, offers a variety of outdoor and indoor diversions. You can play tennis and golf, head to the shooting academy, tackle the climbing wall, enjoy miniature golf, go off-road driving in a Jeep Rubicon, take flight on a 3,000-foot-long zipline, bowl, tour the $45-million Hardy Family Art Collection, swim in the indoor pool, work out at the 2,400-square-foot fitness center, or unwind at the Woodlands Spa. Nemacolin’s Lady Luck Casino has nearly 600 slot machines and 28 table games. The newest addition is the Holistic Healing Center, which focuses on integrative methods to achieve life balance; it offers wellness classes, acupuncture, meditation, and more.

The deal: The Simply the Best Package includes one night’s accommodations, a $150 resort credit, breakfast, and the daily resort fee. Mention Washingtonian when booking to also receive a complimentary Holistic Healing Center Welcome Amenity (a logo bag with a water bottle, small bag of granola, Holistic Healing Center T-shirt, and 15-percent-off coupon for Holistic Healing Center services). Rates start at $359 in the lodge, a 35-percent savings.

When: Valid September 1-4, 14-15, 18, 21-22, 25, and 28-30; October 5-7, 12-14, 19, 21, 26, and 30; November 1-5, 9-10, 13, 19, 20-25, and 29-30; and December 1-5, 7-11, and 14-23. (Dates subject to change.)


Sunshine State

Where: Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, 851 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples, Fla.; 800-237-7600.

What’s special: The resort, on the Gulf of Mexico’s white-sand beaches, has undergone a $45-million renovation that included its rooms; the waterfront restaurant, HB’s on the Gulf; and the Sunset Beach Bar & Grill. The redo also added a beachfront complex with two pools, two whirlpools, and a pool bar. Guests can enjoy 1,000 feet of white-sand beach; an 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course; a spa; a fitness center; and a tennis center. The resort is blocks from Naples’s shopping districts of 5th Avenue South and historic 3rd Street South.

The deal: Stay two nights and get a third free. With this offer, you can also play golf for free (paying cart fees only) and get free tennis. To book, call and ask for the 3rd Night Free Promotion or visit their website. Washingtonian readers also receive a free bottle of Kendall-Jackson wine (a $50 value) with the purchase of two dinner entrées at HB’s (entrées start at $16.75). Prices per night start at $209 Sunday through Thursday, $259 Friday and Saturday.

When: Valid through September 30, 2014.

Posted at 11:20 AM/ET, 09/02/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Canoe back in time or discover a wildlife sanctuary with these getaways.
Parkers Creek. Photograph by Flickr user baldeaglebluff.

Canoe Back in Time

To see what a Chesapeake tributary looked like when John Smith explored the region 400 years ago, book a guided canoe trip of Parkers Creek with the American Chestnut Land Trust. The Calvert County preservation group hosts three-hour tours spring through fall along the unspoiled creek, providing an opportunity to spot bald eagles, kingfishers, and great blue herons. Canoes are provided (or you can bring your own kayak), and the varied terrain ranges from shoreline cliffs to fresh- and saltwater marshes to some of the best-preserved forest tracts on the western shore. Tours are free but fill fast; $15 donation to ACLT suggested; 410-414-3400. 49 miles.

M (Moderate Difficulty) / $ ($35 or less per person)


Discover a Wildlife Sanctuary

Just a dozen miles outside the Beltway, Jug Bay Natural Area, a 2,000-acre wetland preserve along the Patuxent River in Prince George’s County, feels worlds away. You can hike, bike, or drive the area, but the best way to see the dive-bombing ospreys, wading blue herons, and regal egrets—and even the rare American bittern—is to rent a canoe or kayak from the visitors center ($16 for county residents, $20 nonresidents; reservations on weekends are a must). Naturalists also offer guided pontoon rides (free; Sundays 2 to 3 pm) and kayak tours ($20 residents, $24 nonresidents). 301-627-6074. 23 miles.

M (Moderate Difficulty) / $ ($35 or less per person)

Posted at 02:17 PM/ET, 08/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Sit back at relax on these river outings.
Photograph by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters/Corbis.

Float Past Mountains

The South Fork of the Shenandoah River winds blissfully between the scenic mountain range of Virginia’s Skyline Drive and the Massanutten range. Every bend seems to afford fantastic vistas of forested mountains. At Shenandoah River Outfitters in Luray, you can pick out your flotation device of choice (canoe, kayak, or inner tube), hop on a shuttle to one of the numerous put-ins, and paddle back to base. Mile markers along the banks indicate how far you’ve traveled. Choices include a three-mile, hourlong float through easy riffles; a daylong outing featuring Class II whitewater at Compton Rapid; and a two- or three-day trip with camping in George Washington National Forest. Daylong canoe rental $56; 800-622-6632. Downriver Canoe Company (540-635-5526) and Front Royal Outdoors (540-635-5440) offer similar trips. 102 miles.

E - M (Easy - Moderate Difficulty) / Great for Groups / Good for Romance / Kid-Friendly / $$ ($35 to $76 per person)


Tube Past History

Against the backdrop of historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, you can challenge the whitewater where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet. The swift water flows through a mile-long course of rapids called the Shenandoah Staircase and continues through Class I and II rapids. Two companies, River Riders and River & Trail Outfitters, offer fun, regular tubing trips. The one-to-four-hour excursions will have you laughing and yelling with joy as the tubes bounce through the water and shoot up and down better than any roller coaster. $30 per adult on weekends through River Riders (800-326-7238), $29 on weekends through River & Trail Outfitters (301-695-5177). Whitewater rafting and flat-water tubing trips also available. 70 miles.

E - M (Easy - Moderate Difficulty) / Great for Groups / Kid-Friendly / $ ($35 or less per person)


Chill Out and Float

When the thermometer hits 95 in Washington, point your car toward Boonsboro, Maryland, where you’ll find air temps in the 80s along shaded, spring-fed Antietam Creek. Cool off further by dipping your backside into a rented inner tube ($25) and floating along for two to four hours past farms, through riffles and small rapids, and under arched stone bridges—including Burnside Bridge, a Civil War-era landmark. There are a few spots to beach the tubes, so bring an ice chest with beverages and snacks (there’s a tube for that, too). Antietam Creek Canoe owner Greg Mallet-Prevost or his wife, P.A. Lynch, will be waiting for you at the end of the trip and shuttle you back to your car. Canoe and kayak rentals also available. Groups of three or more recommended. E-mail paddle@antietamcreek.com for reservations. 68 miles.

E (Easy Difficulty) / Great for Groups / Kid-Friendly / $ ($35 or less per person)

Posted at 03:28 PM/ET, 08/27/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Go fly-fishing, catch of a rockfish, or cast a line from a kayak. By Sherri Dalphonse
Photograph by Malcolm MacGregor/Getty Images/ Flickr RF.

Catch Fish on a Fly

Fly-fishing can be as frustrating as it is rewarding—particularly for novices. Luckily, the folks at Backwater Angler, along the Gunpowder River north of Baltimore, can help demystify the sport. Backwater’s easygoing guides offer everything from fly-casting lessons for newbies ($50 and up) to fully outfitted, daylong guided trips in search of elusive brown trout ($275 half day, $325 full day). Your chances of landing a fish are good: Field & Streamnamed this section of the Gunpowder one of the top five tailwater trout streams in America a few years back. 410-357-9557. 68 miles.

E - M (Easy - Moderate Difficulty) / $$ $$$ ($76 and up per person)


Catch a Sport Fish

Rockfish are the Chesapeake Bay’s premier sport fish, and finding these striped bass can be a thrill for anglers. Charter boats headquartered at the Rod ’N’ Reel Dock at the Chesapeake Beach Resort & Spa specialize in catching this prized species, and their crews can teach you the art of reeling in a “keeper”—rockfish must measure at least 18 inches or be set free. You can choose a private charter for six people ($600 for six hours, $750 for eight); reservations are required. After a half day on the water, you might stretch your legs on a bike ride on Chesapeake Beach’s Railway Trail or, if kids are along, splash around at nearby Chesapeake Beach Water Park. 301-855-8450. 34 miles.

E (Easy Difficulty) / Great for Groups / $$$ ($76 and up per person)


Fish from a ’Yak

The cool thing about fishing from a kayak is that it lets you access shallow waters where anglers can find rockfish, bluefish, and speckled trout. Captain Chris Dollar is one of few outfitters specializing in kayak fishing. A former educator at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, he draws on 25 years of angling knowledge to dispense bay ecology lessons. Rest assured these kayaks aren’t those tippy touring kinds but boats with comfy seats and wide, stable hulls designed so anglers can even stand up to land the big one. Trips—out of the Chester River—cost $225 for half day ($75 each additional angler), $350 for full day; 410-991-8468. 49 miles.

M (Moderate Difficulty) / Great for Groups / $$$ ($76 and up per person)

Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 08/26/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()