Whether you’re looking for adventure or a dreamy and romantic spa resort, these nearby getaways are an easy drive from the First State.
By Marilyn Odesser-Torpey and Sydney Kerelo
When cabin fever strikes, there’s no surer cure than a weekend road trip. Whether you’re in the mood for an exciting new adventure, a romantic rendezvous, some much-needed relaxation or a new way of experiencing a favorite place, there are perfect destinations just a four-hour-or-less car ride away. Not sure which one to choose? Take our quiz to help you decide where to go, then scroll below to learn more about each nearby getaway.
Where: Garrett County, Maryland
Travel Time: Three hours, 50 minutes from Newark
With 10 state parks and a full-service ski resort, this scenic part of western Maryland offers all the outdoor activities you could want for an adventurous getaway. Adding to the serene beauty of this area is the centerpiece 3,900-acre Deep Creek Lake.
WHAT TO DO
Whether your sport of choice is skiing or snowboarding, Wisp Resort, on Marsh Hill Road in McHenry, has 172 acres of terrain and 33 slopes for downhill thrills. Lift tickets are $39-$84 depending on the hours rented, equipment rentals are $39-$49 plus $9 for helmet. Purchase a Standard Day Premium package to get the whole shebang—lift ticket, equipment and group lesson—for $89. Snow tubing shoots you through 750-foot-long chutes ($24). Wisp’s Mountain Coaster twists, turns, dips and rolls you for a 3,500-foot downhill run that’s sure to give you an adrenaline rush. Single rider $19, double $24. 800-462-9477
If Nordic skiing is more your speed, you’ll find 10 miles of cross-country and snowshoeing trails from beginner to intermediate tucked away in the woodlands at Herrington Manor State Park, on Herrington Lane in Oakland. You’ll feel like a kid again when you take to the park’s hills on a sled. Rentals of skis, boots and poles or snowshoes are $10 per hour, $25 per day. Sleds are $6 per day. (301) 334-9180
WHERE TO CRASH
Get cozy in a two-story log cabin or yurt tucked amid the 700 state forest acres of Savage River Lodge on Mt. Aetna Road, Frostburg. All accommodations include a morning delivery of a basket of fresh juice and muffins. Pet-friendly cabins are available. $260-$280 double occupancy for cabins, $280 for yurts. Prices vary if scheduled within peak season. (301) 689-3200
The cabins may be tiny (250 to 300 square feet) at Blue Moon Rising, on Blue Moon Rising Way in McHenry, but they pack a lot of charm and comfort into their small footprint within their 15-acre forest setting overlooking Deep Creek Lake. Made of reclaimed and recycled materials, each is uniquely designed and furnished with loft-style and/or Murphy beds and kitchens. $225 weekdays double occupancy, $249 weekends. (240) 442-5287
WHAT TO EAT
Enjoy delicious eats at the restaurant at Savage River Lodge, with dishes such as Pistachio Duck and the Wood Oven Tandoori Chicken. Even the signature meatloaf gets gussied up with a wrap of maple bacon. Small plates are $12-$36, full entrées $10-$35.
Reuben sandwich aficionados will be pleased to know that the corned beef is brined in-house and the serving is generous at Moonshadow Café on Bumblebee Road in McHenry. The dinner menu features creative twists such as Steak Chimichurri topped with chimichurri sauce, red peppers and tomatoes. Sandwiches $12-$16, small plates $8-$16 and entrées $18-$31. (240) 442-5542
Where: The Skylands Region, New Jersey
Travel Time: Three hours from Wilmington
Let the stress of the day melt away as you commune with nature on the back roads of the 65,000 acres of state parkland, rolling farmland and mountains dotted with sparkling lakes and rivers that make up this off-the-beaten-path destination in northwestern New Jersey. A little retail therapy can boost your mood as well and you’ll find both the antique and handcrafted shops lining the main streets in The Skylands’ charming small towns.
WHAT TO DO
Expend some of your pent-up energy with a hike in the Kittatinny Mountains and along the numerous waterfalls in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. For a breathtaking tri-state view, climb the 291 steps to the top of High Point Monument.
You don’t have to fly to a South Seas island to tan in a tropical paradise in the middle of winter. The unique (first in the U.S.) roof of the 10,000-square-foot, glass-enclosed Biosphere Pool Complex at Crystal Springs Resort, on Wild Turkey Way in Hamburg, is made of a special material that allows for year-round sunbathing. To complete the island-like ambiance, the complex has heated pools with waterfalls, Jacuzzi, sauna, underground aquarium, exotic plants, gorgeous mountain views and even a 140-foot water slide. (855) 977-6473
Enjoy the pampering of a lifetime with the Spa & Stay Package at Reflections Spa at Crystal Springs Resort with a 50-minute Art of Reflection massage.
WHERE TO CRASH
Crystal Springs Resort has two distinctive luxury hotels, 13 dining spots from fine dining to pub casual and two full-service spas. At the Grand Cascades Lodge, you have your choice of a studio, traditional one-bedroom, and outdoor fireplace deck suites of up to two bedrooms, which also feature fully equipped kitchens; some have jetted tubs.
WHAT TO EAT
Watch the sun set over the mountains as you experience the chef’s culinary prowess at Restaurant Latour at Grand Cascades Lodge at the Crystal Springs Resort. Its three-course and seven-course menus offer delicious upscale dishes crafted by resort Executive Chef Aishling Stevens and Chef de Cuisine Matt Laurich. The award-winning wine cellar boasts a one-of-a-kind collection from around the world. Visitors can sip their unique wines at the eight-seat Sommelier Table.
It’s pinkies up for an oh-so-civilized Victorian High Tea with finger sandwiches, a scone and mini desserts or Cream Tea with a scone and a sweet shortbread tart at Sally Lunn’s Tea Room & Restaurant on Perry Street in Chester. (908) 879-7731
Where: Loudoun County, Virginia
Travel Time: Two hours, 30 minutes from Dover
Located in the northern part of the state, this is Virginia wine country, with more than 40 wineries. And what could be more romantic than a chauffeured tour to sip and sample some of them? Or take a long bike ride together along the Potomac River to soak up the scenery, followed by a couple’s massage in a glamorous spa.
WHAT TO DO
On weekends, you can visit two wineries and leave the driving to the Express Wine Excursion Shuttle offered by Lansdowne Resort and Spa, Woodridge Parkway in Leesburg. (703) 729-8400
It turns out that wine is as good for the body as it is for the spirit, so you’ll want to start or finish your day with a luxurious couple’s massage at Lansdowne Resort’s Spa Minérale. The spa is known for its facials, body wraps, massages and nail treatments. (703) 729-4036.
Rent a bike at Lansdowne Resort for $25 per day to explore the property’s 500 acres or the Potomac Heritage Trail on the bluffs overlooking the river. The Loudoun trail will lead you to stop-worthy sites such as Ball’s Bluff, a famous Civil War battle site with an interpretive trail relating its place in history, and the sweeping views from Red Rock Wilderness Overlook.
WHERE TO CRASH
Check into a room or suite at Lansdowne Resort and Spa to take advantage of all the activities such as the wineries tour and bike rentals as well as amenities such as the indoor heated pool and three outdoor pools. If you want to bring along the other love of your life, the resort welcomes pets, too. Rooms start at $212-399. (703) 729-8400.
WHAT TO EAT
Linger over the apple cider mimosa and the shrimp & scallop puttanesca at Piedmont’s at Lansdowne Resort, which also offers seafood hot pot, Korean rice bowl bibimbap, and burrata dolce. Looking for something sweet? Head on over to Coton & Rye at Lansdowne Resort to try the duo bread pudding and the strawberry short cake.
The Wine Kitchen, on South King Street in downtown Leesburg, is a tiny dining spot, so be sure to make reservations. The pastas are all handmade and the small plates and wine flights range from the whimsical to the inspired. If it’s on the menu, try the burger melt (two 4 oz Roseda Farms beef patties with crispy salami, fancy sauce and cacao cavalla cheese) or the smoked eggplant with vegan xo sauce, mushrooms, lentils and a cherry tomato marmalade. $9-$46 (703) 777-9463
Start with the seared scallops with sweet potato pancakes made with pineapple salsa and honey black pepper Beurre Blanc at Lightfoot Restaurant on North King Street in Leesburg. Then go for the roasted salmon or the shrimp and grits with braised pork and sautéed shrimp. (703) 771-2233
WHERE: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
TRAVEL TIME: Two hours, 40 minutes from Lewes
Maybe you’ve been to this pretty area of the south-central part of the state to experience the Pennsylvania Dutch culture. But there’s more to Lancaster County than shoo-fly pie, quilts and belly-busting buffets. You’ll also find a wealth of fine arts, lively entertainment and sophisticated food options downtown and in the surrounding small towns and villages.
WHAT TO DO
Along Gallery Row in downtown Lancaster, you can visit more than 20 galleries, museums and working artists’ studios representing a wide range of genres. The East King Street residence/studio of watercolorist and leader of the Precisionist Movement Charles Demuth in Lancaster has been preserved and now exhibits over 40 of his paintings. Free admission but donations are welcome. (717-299-9940, demuth.org). The Lancaster Museum of Art on Lime Street in Lancaster displays works by such greats as David Brumbach, Lee Rowan and Richard William Huck. Free. Donations are welcome. (717) 394-3497, imapa.org.
It’s been more than a century since the last wild wolf was known to exist in Pennsylvania. But you can meet more than 40 of these majestic animals, many rescued from private residences or unable to live in the wild for other reasons, at the 80-acre-plus Wolf Sanctuary of PA on Speedwell Road, Lititz. Guided tours are available for $13-$15. On a Saturday closet to the full moon, adults can bring a blanket, flashlight and chairs for a Full Moon Tour of the sanctuary followed by a bonfire. $35. Reservations are required. (717) 626-4617
You would never expect to come across a pirate, Roman emperor or person from medieval days in Lancaster County, but you can make the acquaintance of any of the above at a themed feast at Bube’s Brewery on North Market Street in Mount Joy. Or follow the clues to their often surprising conclusion during one of Bube’s murder mystery dinners. $60 per person. (717) 653-2056
WHERE TO CRASH
On the same property as the Wolf Sanctuary of PA is a 1760 mansion that is home to Speedwell Forge Bed & Breakfast. Two rooms and three private cottages are available for overnighting. The Paymaster’s Cottage has a magnificent floor-to-ceiling brick gas fireplace and an oversize whirlpool bath. The two-story Summer Kitchen has a whirlpool tub, gas fireplace and kitchenette. Full three-course breakfast is included. Rooms are $150-$175, suites $275-$315. (717) 626-1760
WHAT TO EAT
Luca, on Lancaster’s West James Street, is one of the hottest tickets in the city because this casual dining spot excels at rustic Italian food prepared in a wood-burning hearth and handmade Neapolitan oven, and pastas are made in-house. Small plates are $6-$14, entrées $15-$32. (717) 553-5770
Situated in the Lancaster Arts Hotel on Harrisburg Avenue in downtown Lancaster, John J. Jeffries Restaurant is all about organic meats and vegetables crafted into upscale small plates such as smoked beef tongue, fried green tomatoes and full entrées like Meadow Run Heritage matured pork chop. Small plates are $9-$16, entrées $22-$28. (717) 431-3307
Established in 1730, Lancaster’s Central Market, on North Market Street, is the oldest continually operating farmers market in the United States and has more than 60 local vendors. Open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. (717) 735-6890