News & Politics

Fall Weekends 2009: Fun for Everyone

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

A restored spring-fed pool at Bedford Springs dates to 1905—when musicians used to serenade swimmers. Photograph courtesy of Omni Beford Springs

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Boar’s Head: Charlottesville, Virginia

Drive time: 2½ hours.

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

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

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

More information: 800-476-1988;

Hotel Hershey: Hershey, Pennsylvania

Drive time: 2½ hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-230-4134;

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay: Cambridge, Maryland

Drive time: About two hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-233-1234;

Inn at Perry Cabin: St. Michaels, Maryland

Drive time: About two hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Not really.

More information: 866-278-9601; 

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

Keswick Hall: Keswick, Virginia

Drive time: 2½ hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Not really.

More information: 888-778-2565;

Nemacolin Woodlands: Farmington, Pennsylvania

Drive time: About three hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-422-2736;

Omni Bedford Springs: Bedford, Pennsylvania

Drive time: Two hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Best for children under 13.

More information: 814-623-8100;

Tides Inn: Irvington, Virginia

Drive time: 2½ hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-843-3746; 

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

Rocky Gap Lodge : Flintstone, Maryland

Drive time: About 2½ hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 800-724-0828;

Wintergreen : Wintergreen, Virginia

Drive time: Three hours.

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

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

Great for kids? Definitely.

More information: 434-325-2200;

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Top Doctors, and Great Small Towns. She lives in DC.