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The DC neighborhood was once a lone cosmopolitan outpost. Today it has competition—but there are still plenty of good reasons to visit. By Anna Spiegel
Dupont Circle proper, the traffic circle/park that defines the neighborhood, is a good people-watching spot. Photograph by Philip Scalia/Alamy.

Washington neighborhoods tend to have a singular feel—either residential or commercial, tourist-centric or governmental. In contrast, Dupont Circle is a vibrant blend of local haunts and traveler attractions, historic homes and thriving nightlife. While much remains unchanged in recent years—including the area’s status as a center of gay life and host of the Pride Parade in June—there are also enticing new restaurants and shops that keep even longtime Washingtonians coming back.

A day of exploring can start at virtually any hour thanks to one of Dupont’s landmarks, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe (1517 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-387-1400). The funky bookstore and cafe/bar is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays—early and late on other days—and serves a classic American brunch all weekend.

In warm weather, another good spot to sip coffee and people-watch is on the benches ringing the marble fountain in Dupont Circle proper, the traffic circle/park that defines the neighborhood and is home to chess matches, political rallies, and, in winter, snowball fights.

There’s much to admire—including Renoirs and Rothkos—at the Phillips Collection. Photograph by Hong Le.

After you’ve fueled up, head to the Phillips Collection (1600 21st St., NW; 202-387-2151), America’s first museum of modern art. The Phillips boasts some 3,000 works by the greats—including Renoir, Monet, and Rothko—plus exhibits ranging from Georgia O’Keeffe to local collector Anita Reiner. If emerging talents are of interest, don’t miss Hillyer Art Space (9 Hillyer Ct., NW; 202-338-0325), steps away. The contemporary commercial gallery features international artists and is a must-stop during First Fridays (, when Dupont’s galleries stay open late and offer the chance to chat with curators.

More into shopping than admiring? Well-dressed women like Emporium DNA (1666 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-232-1770) for contemporary designer labels, while those on a budget love Secondi (1702 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-667-1122), a bright consignment shop where Chanel and Kate Spade can be found in top condition at discount prices. Offbeat items fill Proper Topper (1350 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-842-3055), including statement hats and funky jewelry. Nearby, Tabletop (1608 20th St., NW; 202-387-7117) is a haven for homebodies, with an array of decorative pillows and coasters, bar- and kitchenware, and cookbooks.

(Left) Top off the day at Proper Topper, a gift shop whose selection goes far beyond hats; (Right) another is the Sunday farmers market, a favorite among local chefs. Photographs by Hong Le.

Dupont is a good bet for anyone looking to stock a kitchen, especially on Sundays, when the Dupont FreshFarm Market is held from 10 am to 1 pm (April through December, 9 to 2). Other shopping opportunities span the globe: from Pansaari (1603 17th St., NW; no phone), which specializes in Indian spices and prepared foods, to Glen’s Garden Market (2001 S St., NW; 202-588-5698), a source for items from the Chesapeake watershed. The latter also offers a tasty quick lunch, including sandwiches with house-roasted meats, thin-crust pizzas, and local beers. Duke’s Grocery (1513 17th St., NW; 202-733-5623)—not a store, despite the name—offers another relaxed lunch option, with cold pints and a British-inspired menu of bacon “sarnies,” or sandwiches, as well as burgers and pub plates.

After lunch, you might visit the neighborhood’s baronial gem: Anderson House (2118 Massachusetts Ave., NW; 202-785-2040), a magnificent Beaux Arts mansion that’s home to the Society of the Cincinnati, Washington’s oldest historical organization, founded by American Revolution officers in 1783. Visitors can take hourlong guided tours of the home or browse through the museum, which features weapons, portraits, and artifacts from the Revolutionary War. History buffs can also explore the more recent past at the Woodrow Wilson House (2340 S St., NW; 202-387-4062), a Georgian Revival mansion where the 28th president spent his final years. An hourlong tour reveals quirky personal items, including an early slow cooker and Wilson’s surprisingly large shoes.

Not-so-hidden gem: Anderson House, one of the area’s grandest mansions, is open for tours. Photograph by Mark Finkenstaedt.

Iron Gate restaurant—a recently revived version of one of Washington’s oldest, the Iron Gate Inn—makes for an atmospheric evening stop (1734 N St., NW; 202-524-5202). Guests can savor expertly crafted cocktails on the patio under century-old wisteria vines, warmed by fire pits and heat lamps in winter, or linger over Mediterranean tasting menus in the firelit dining room. Not in the mood for multiple courses? Drop by a neighborhood favorite, Hank’s Oyster Bar (1624 Q St., NW; 202-462-4265) for New England-style seafood and one of the best lobster rolls in town.

(Left) Hank’s Oyster Bar makes one of the best lobster rolls in town; (Right) have fun playing games at the Board Room. Photograph of Board Room courtesy of Elizabeth Lindsay; lobster roll by Daniel Swartz.

Come nighttime, the neighborhood offers watering holes as varied as their clientele. Fans of authentic dives can play tunes on the jukebox at the Fox & Hounds (1537 17th St., NW; 202-232-6307), which pours straight glasses of booze with a mixer alongside (go for a gin and tonic). A youthful crowd rents board games like Jenga to play at the Board Room (1737 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-518-7666), while Alex Ovechkin and fans of infused vodka flock to Mari Vanna (1141 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-783-7777), a Russian bar and restaurant modeled after a babushka’s home—it’s known for Friday-night diskoteka dance parties. The 17th Street strip, a draw for gay nightlife, is home to the spirited club Cobalt and the adjoining Level One restaurant (1639 R St., NW; 202-745-0025) plus Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse (1609 17th St., NW; 202-232-0395), which welcomes all and is open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday.

Regardless of the evening’s flavor, a nightcap at cozy McClellan’s Retreat (2031 Florida Ave., NW; 202-265-6270), modeled after a Civil War-era officers club, is a fitting farewell to the neighborhood. Union Army general George McClellan’s statue stands nearby.

Posted at 10:33 AM/ET, 02/20/2015 | 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
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;

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 ( offers other smoke-and-sip venues. 13219 Yates Ford Rd., Clifton; 703-830-9463;

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;

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;

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; 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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

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;

Nancy Bauer Collier ( 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 ()
Great travel deals in July for Washingtonian readers By Alice Shapin

Appreciate the great outdoors at Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa, which is set on 2,200 acres in the Allegheny Mountains. Washingtonian readers can receive a free room upgrade. Photo courtesy of Omni Hotels

Summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors. Whether you want to stay close to home and explore Washington, get away to a luxury resort or a B&B, or go cycling, we’ve got great deals just for Washingtonian readers.

Where: Omni Bedford Springs Resort & Spa, 2138 Business Route 220, Bedford, Pa.; 814-623-8100

What’s special: The resort, set on more than 2,200 acres in the Allegheny Mountains, has served as a meeting place for numerous US Presidents and dignitaries over the past 200 years. Stroll the halls and see many artifacts and memorabilia that reveal the resort’s rich history. Guests can enjoy a wide range of family activities on- and off-site, including the Anderson Explorers Kids’ Day Camp, hiking, biking, fishing, geocaching, and scavenger hunts. The outdoor aquatic complex includes an expansive sun deck, an oversize Jacuzzi, and private cabanas. Guests can also play tennis, golf on a championship course, take a dip in the heated indoor spring-fed swimming pool, and relax at the luxurious spa with its menu of treatments.

The deal:
The Family Glamping Getaway—“glamping” is short for “glamorous camping”—offers lots of luxuries and creature comforts without the hassles of traditional camping. The package includes deluxe overnight accommodations, breakfast for up to two adults and two children, a choice of two hours of geocaching or two hours of fishing at Red Oak Lake (pole and worms included ), and a s’mores kit to roast at the fire pit. Also included is an REI Camp Dome Tent that you can set up on the resort’s front lawn or in your room or simply take home after your getaway. Package rates start at $409 a night on weekdays and $439 on weekends, a 30 percent savings. Washingtonian readers also receive a free room upgrade, depending on availability.

When: Valid now through Labor Day weekend, September 6, 2011.

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Posted at 11:50 AM/ET, 07/06/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Escape for the weekend, or clue your visitors in to where to stay right here in town By Alice Shapin

Photograph courtesy of Hotel Giraffe.

Longer days and budding flowers give everyone spring fever. It’s a good time to get away and enjoy the outdoors. Here are great exclusive deals for Washingtonian readers.

Hotel Giraffe, 365 Park Ave. S., New York, N.Y.; 212-685-7700

Located at Park Avenue South and 26th Street, the Hotel Giraffe is close to great dining, Union Square, and the Empire State Building. If you don’t mind walking—and there’s no better way to people-watch in New York—you can head to Times Square, Broadway, or Grand Central Terminal to see iconic landmarks. If you’d rather take the subway, it’s two blocks away. This boutique hotel also has a rooftop patio for relaxing and a lobby for enjoying breakfast and evening wine and cheese.

The deal: Recharge your mind, body, and spirit with a culture-filled weekend and recharge your mobile devices with a free gift from Powermat. This Washingtonian exclusive includes overnight accommodations, a Powermat charging device mat and a power rechargeable backup battery—yours to keep, a value of $100—and 15 percent off standard promotional room rates. The rate after the discount starts at $263. Included is a European-style breakfast (bagels, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt, coffee), a nightly wine-and-cheese reception (except Sunday), and passes to the New York Sports Club. Book here, using the promotional code Washingtonian.

When: Valid April 1 through 30, 2011.

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Posted at 02:55 PM/ET, 04/18/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Whether you like to pick your own peaches or enjoy pulled pork, fried pickles, and fresh pie, here are three delicious outings for food lovers. By Cynthia Hacinli
Brian Noyes's Red Truck Bakery is worth a drive for its pies, pastries, quiches including Virginia ham and apple, and house-made breads and sandwiches.

SWEET STUFF: Warrenton, Virginia

Housed in a former Esso station in downtown Warrenton, the Red Truck Bakery (22 Waterloo St.; 540-347-2224) exudes quirky charm with its communal table and country-contemporary look. Owner Brian Noyes takes a locavore approach, using eggs, chickens, produce, and cheeses from nearby farms. Rosemary focaccia and harvest wheat with fruit elevate sandwiches—think egg salad on potato bread—while chilled carrot-ginger soup and an intense brownie turn a simple lunch into a midday feast. Closed Sunday. 

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Posted at 05:38 PM/ET, 04/11/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Spring skiing means small crowds, discounted rates, and non-frigid temperatures By Matthew Graham

Just because the grass is getting green and the birds are singing doesn’t mean winter is over. Wisp Resort in Western Maryland and Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia often remain open for skiing through March.

Wisp is three hours away. Spring weekend packages at Wisp Resort Hotel (301-387-4000) start at $80 a person per night and include lodging and lift tickets. For more luxurious accommodations, try Lake Pointe Inn (800-523-5253), starting at $247 a night, or Haley Farm Bed and Breakfast & Spa (301-387 9050), starting at $180.

Snowshoe (877-441-4386) is 4½ hours from Washington. A late-season, one-bedroom mountaintop-condo lift/lodging package starts at $159 a person per night. Kids ages 12 and under ski free on any four-night package.

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Posted at 03:13 PM/ET, 02/24/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
With warm-weather activities such as golf, hiking, and tennis, mountain getaways aren't just for winter. Here are five you might want to consider for your vacation home. By Mollie Reilly
Wintergreen resort has the area's biggest tubing park.

You don’t have to brave the airport to find decent ski slopes—nice resorts are within driving distance of Washington. And with warm-weather activities such as golf, hiking, and tennis, mountain getaways aren’t just for winter. Here are five that are fun all year.

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Posted at 06:59 AM/ET, 02/03/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Pretty lakes, fine art, and food worth a trip. By Kate Nerenberg
Star chefs are making Minneapolis a culinary hot spot.

In summer, Minneapolis is an outdoor playground, and natives happily trade scarves for sunscreen as they water-ski on the city’s 22 lakes, pedal along nearly 50 miles of paved bike trails, and hike through shady woods to 53-foot Minnehaha Falls. It’s long been a Midwestern arts-and-music destination—Prince got his start there, and Frommer’s says the city has more theater seats per capita than anywhere else outside New York City.

We used personal experience, input from locals, and Minnesota senator Al Franken’s favorites for our guide to the city.

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Posted at 02:02 PM/ET, 02/01/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Rooms with a view, free Cirque du Soleil, and tasty fromage. By Erin Delmore
Quebec's Chateau Frontenac hotel, on a hill in the Old City, offers vistas of the Saint Lawrence River.

Quebec is both historic and modern—a city where 400-year-old cobblestone streets are now lined with artisanal bakeries and cheese markets. Don’t worry about language barriers; though French is the official language, English is widely understood and friendly natives will happily lend a hand.

July is a month of near-constant celebration in Quebec, beginning with Canada Day on the 1st and the anniversary of the founding of the city—Fête de la Ville de Québec—on the 3rd. During the Festival d’Été de Québec (July 8 through 18), more than 300 musical performers take to the clubs and streets. This year’s lineup includes the Black Eyed Peas, heavy-metal Brits Iron Maiden, techno-pop darlings Passion Pit, Canadian indie rockers the Arcade Fire, and the legendary Carlos Santana.

Built on cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Old City is divided into Haute-Ville (Upper Town) and Basse-Ville (Lower Town), with the upper sections cordoned off by a rock wall. More than 25 staircases connect Haute-Ville, with its panoramic views, to the waterfront Basse-Ville. Brave the stairways, ride the funicular, or navigate Côte de la Montagne, a steep, winding street, to traverse the two. Head to Observatoire de la Capitale (daily 10 to 5; 418-644-9841; adults $5) or Dufferin Terrace for the best views of the Citadel, the Parliament, and the Plains of Abraham, an 18th-centurybattleground where British and French troops fought during the French and Indian War.

Quebec summers are temperate, and the city’s compact layout makes walking and biking preferable. Urban bike paths are open April through October, and local favorites are the paths of the Promenade Samuel-de-Champlain and the St. Charles River Linear Park. For a dose of history and a workout, bike to Cartier-Brébeuf Park in the district of Limoilou, where the first French explorers wintered nearly five centuries ago. While there, fuel up at one of the cafes along Third Avenue, where the food rivals the city center’s at a fraction of the price.

Originally settled by the French as a trading post, Quebec is still famous for many of its original exports, such as furs and leather goods. Explore Petit Champlain, North America’s oldest shopping district, and its more than 50 boutiques. Comb the streets of Saint-Jean, Saint-Louis, Saint-Pierre, and De Buade in the Latin Quarter of the Old City for art, sculpture, and jewelry. Along Rue du Trésor, you’ll find an open-air art gallery worth exploring.

In summer, Cirque du Soleil pays homage to its roots with free open-air performances. This summer’s show, Les Chemins Invisibles, is performed five nights a week at sunset through September 5. For details, visit and search for “Cirque du Soleil.”

Quebec is a cheese lover’s heaven, with hundreds of varieties produced in the province. You can savor unpasteurized, or lait cru, cheeses—which are hard to find in the United States—at Aux Petits Délices (1191 Ave. Cartier; 418-522-5154), a gourmet shop in Les Halles du Petit Quartier market.

For a taste of Quebec’s signature fresh bread, try La Boîte à Pain (289 Rue Saint-Joseph Est; 418-647-3666) or nearby La Croquembouche (235 Rue Saint-Joseph Est; 418-523-9009) in Saint Roch. Épicerie J.A. Moisan (699 Rue Saint-Jean; 418-522-0685), established in 1871, is North America’s oldest grocer. It’s worth browsing the shelves for domestic cheeses, house-made sushi and curries, and French soaps.

One of the city’s finest restaurants is Panache (8 Rue Saint-Antoine; 418-692-1022), a romantic cavern tucked inside the hotel Auberge Saint-Antoine. The restaurant offers a seven-course tasting menu, and specialties include foie gras, sweetbreads, and locally raised game and seafood. Le Patriarche (17 Rue Saint-Stanislas; 418-692-5488) in the Old City features roasted rack of caribou, seared-pheasant crépinette, and wild-boar osso buco.

Chocoholics should head to Choco-Musée Érico (634 Rue Saint-Jean; 418-524-2122), a charming chocolatier and museum, and peek in on the chocolate-making process through the kitchen window.

Feel like royalty at the Fairmont le Château Frontenac (1 Rue des Carrières; 866-540-4460; July rates start at $245), one of the world’s most photographed hotels. On a hilltop in the old city, it features castle-like turrets offering majestic views of the Saint Lawrence River. Book a room or just take in the luxurious surroundings with one of the craft martinis named after Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, who met here for two wartime summits.

If you’d prefer a boutique hotel close to the restaurant and shopping districts, try Auberge Saint-Antoine (8 Rue Saint-Antoine; 888-692-2211; rates from $197) in Old Quebec, a block from the Old Port. If you crave a dose of Québecois hospitality with your breakfast, try the charming Auberge Le Vincent (295 Rue Saint-Vallier Est; 418-523-5000; rates from $188), a 20th-century newspaper office turned cozy B&B located near the Old City and Saint-Roch areas.

This article first appeared in the July 2010 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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Posted at 01:48 PM/ET, 02/01/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()
Whether you’re a certified ski bunny or can tackle only the bunny slopes, there’s a place for you only a short drive from Washington By Laura McKenzie

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, Farmington, Pennsylvania
Distance from Washington: 3 hours.
Nemacolin Woodlands’s Mystic Mountain has seven slopes, three lifts, and a variety of other snow activities such as night skiing, dog sledding, and tubing. There are six on-site lodging options from Falling Rock—a boutique hotel—to the Lodge, which has English Tudor-style rooms. Meals include fine dining, pub fare, and the largest wine cellar in Pennsylvania.
Lift tickets are $38 for an adult day pass, and it’s $29 to rent skis, boots, and poles.

Wisp, Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
Distance from Washington: 3 hours.
There are 32 slopes here as well as snow tubing, night skiing, an ice-skating rink, and best of all, the East Coast’s only Mountain Coaster—a roller coaster that goes through the forest on the side of Wisp Mountain. Lodging options include the Wisp Resort Hotel and Conference Center, and there’s an Martin Luther King weekend package for $181 per night. For dining, there are theme nights with such options as sushi, prime rib, and Yuengling and wings.
An adult daytime weekend lift ticket is $59, and equipment-rental packages start at $36.

Wintergreen, Wintergreen, Virginia
Distance from Washington: 3 hours.
Escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains to ride six lifts and race down 26 slopes and trails. There’s a snow-sports school for beginners, a 900-foot zipline, and a tubing park. Other features include a full-service spa and year-round indoor tennis. Midweek packages start at $79 per person, and weekend getaways start at $116.
Adult full-session lift tickets start at $47, and ski-equipment rentals are $36.

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Posted at 06:25 AM/ET, 01/07/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()