News & Politics  |  Travel

Four Quick Winter Weekend Getaways from Washington, D.C.

Escape winter with whale-watching, a cocoa massage, skiing, or "glamping" in a heated yurt.

Winter is a great time to spot whales off the Virginia coast.

Weekend Getaway: Whale-Spotting in Virginia Beach

See the many birds and warm-blooded sea creatures wintering in the Atlantic Flyway at Virginia Beach’s annual Winter Wildlife Festival, January 25 through 27. There are photography workshops as well as boat trips in the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, where you can spy whales, seals, ducks, and other birds. This year’s keynote speaker is John Marzluff, a University of Washington wildlife-science professor who says urbanization’s impact on wild fauna can actually be a good thing. Some events are free; excursions come with a fee.

Virginia Beach is about a four-hour drive from DC. 

—Grace E. Cutler

Weekend Getaway: Sweet Spa Getaway

Known affectionately as “the chocolate spa,” the 40,000-square-foot haven at Pennsylvania’s Hotel Hershey boasts plenty of it. Guests can nosh pre- or post-treatment on Hershey’s Kisses, hot chocolate, or other seasonal snacks in one of four relaxation lounges, including the Whisper Room, which features an oversize fireplace. We love the Cocoa Massage, a Swedish treatment with infused oils, and the signature add-on Whipped Cocoa Bath, a hydrotherapy treatment. Arrive early and take advantage of the indoor pool, sauna, and steam areas.

The Hotel Hershey is a 2½-hour drive from DC. Rooms start at $129, spa treatments at $115.

—McLean Robbins

Enjoy hot chocolate and a cocoa massage at Pennsylvania’s Hotel Hershey. Photograph courtesy of Hotel Hershey.

Weekend Getaway: Winter Camping—With Heated Floors

Here are two words that usually don’t go together—winter and camping. But at Savage River Lodge in Western Maryland, instead of a basic tent you can “glamp” in a 700-square-foot yurt with heated floors, a fireplace, a king-size bed, and a bathroom. The eight canvas-covered yurts are tucked into the trees, with easy access to miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.

Savage River Lodge is about a three-hour drive from DC. Rates for the yurts start at $270 a night.

—Matthew Graham

Weekend Getaway: New Reasons to Visit Wisp

Whether you’re a black-diamond skier or stick mainly to the bunny hill, Wisp Resort, near Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake, offers easy ski-in/ski-out access along with such amenities as an indoor heated pool and fitness center. This winter brings several fresh reasons to visit, including a renovated slope-side lodge with fire pits on the patio and a new Italian restaurant, Alpine Pasta House, perfect for carbo-loading before or after a day of shredding on the slopes. Thrill-seekers can head to the adventure park’s snowtubing course or take a death-defying plunge down the mountain on the Mountain Coaster, a 4,800-foot gravitational hybrid roller coaster.

Wisp Resort is about a three-hour drive from DC. Find package deals here.

—Tim Ebner

This article appears in the January 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

Grace Cutler

Grace Cutler is a media consultant and digital-video executive. In 2014, she contracted a tick-borne illness while working in her garden in western Loudoun County, forcing her to change the way she eats and drinks and how she thinks about the outdoors. On Twitter, she’s @gcutler.