With 3,900 acres and 65 miles of shoreline, the state’s largest freshwater lake becomes one big playground during the warm weather months. You name it, you can rent it—from a sports boat to a stand-up paddle board. The scenery is spectacular, and you can get a great view as you clip clop along peaceful wooded trails on the back of a gentle steed.
âž DRIVE TIME: 4 hours.
âž STAY HERE: Good Timber Bed & Breakfast is a lovely cedar-log home on the lake with soaring ceilings and handcrafted furniture, and art from the Maryland mountains and around the world. The Buffalo Run room ($225 double occupancy) has a private deck and whirlpool for two. Each of the other two rooms is $175 per night. 2159 Mayhew Inn Road, Oakland, (301) 387-0097, www.goodtimber.net. Railey Mountain Lake Vacations offers two- to nine-bedroom lakefront and lake-access accommodations, some with amenities that include gourmet kitchens, wet bars, indoor pools, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, fully equipped game rooms and flat-screen televisions. Many also are pet friendly. One-bedroom lakeside cabins begin at $165 per night. 5 Vacation Way, McHenry, (866) 544-3223, www.rentals.deepcreek.com.
âž EAT HERE: Victorian elegance without the stuffiness best describes Cornish Manor, cozily situated in a former home. Dinner entrées range from under $17 to just over $30, featuring items such as Cognac pepper steak and Brazilian shrimp and scallops. For lunch, the warm chicken salad in a bread bowl is a hands-down favorite of the locals. $8.95-$14.95. 830 Memorial Drive, Oakland, (301) 334-6499, www.cornishmanorrestaurant.com. For basic, country-style food at down-to-earth prices, the breakfast-to-dinner offerings at The Casselman Inn & Restaurant are always a good bet. For example, the all-you-can-eat pancakes are $4.99 and the Friday dinner buffet is $11.59 for adults, $6.49 for children. 113 E. Main St., Grantsville, (301) 895-5266, www.thecasselman.com.
âž DO THIS: Rent a gas-powered sport boat built for two to four from Aquatic Center. $77-$99 for one hour. 634 Deep Creek Drive, McHenry, (301) 387-8233, www.aquatic-center.com. At Deep Creek Marina Club, you can rent a ski boat or pontoon for $180 for two hours, a wave runner for $89 an hour, a one-person kayak for $30 for four hours and $40 for eight hours, a canoe for $40 for four hours and $50 for eight hours and a stand-up paddle board for $25 for one hour. 2010 Deep Creek Drive, McHenry, (301) 387-6977, www.deepcreekmarina.com. At Water Sports Center at Deep Creek Marina Club, Greg Rouse teaches water skiing, wakeboarding, wake skating and tubing. $175 approximately one hour for one or two people. (301) 387-0732. Sit back, relax and check out the scenery or the stars on a carriage ride with Pleasant Valley Dream Rides. $14 for adults, $10 children, $50 private ride. 1689 Pleasant Valley Road, Oakland, (301) 334- 1688, www.pleasantvalleydreamrides.com. Visit the resident and guest craftspeople at Spruce Forest Artisan Village. Specialties range from bird sculptures and pottery to slate painting and weaving. Some of the artists offer one-day workshops for visitors. 177 Casselman Road, Grantsville, (301) 895-3332, www.spruceforest.org.
If you’re looking for a place that will pamper you, this tiny town, built around warm mineral springs, has spas offering every kind of treatment from the basic Roman baths to the latest in massage techniques. George Washington “took the waters” here and his “bathtub” is still in the 4.5-acre state park that sits in the center of the downtown area. Nearby Cacapon Mountain is a great place to hike, and the unspoiled scenery and serenity are well worth the effort.
âž DRIVE TIME: 2 hours, 45 minutes.
âž STAY HERE: As comfy as it is classy, the Victorian bed-and-breakfast Highlawn Inn offers unparalleled views of the town from its hilltop perch. But you’re still only a short walk away from the downtown spas, shops and dining spots. Rooms and suites range from $98 double occupancy to $205. Some have whirlpool baths. Multi-course breakfast is included. Try to time your visit to coincide with one of innkeeper Sandra Kauffman’s memorable “Silver Service” dinners. $49. 171 Market St., (304) 258-5700, www.highlawninn.com.
âž EAT HERE: If weather permits, ask to be seated on the porch at the 1913-built home-turned-restaurant called Lot 12 Public House. Owner/chef Damian Heath serves what he calls “seasonal upscale comfort cuisine,” which pretty much sums up selections such as shrimp and grits and Amish-style chicken with sage cornbread stuffing. $26-$36. 117 Warren St., (304) 258-6264, www.lot12.com. Crab cakes are a specialty at Tari’s Café, and there are always some nice vegetarian options on the menu. $19-$29 dinner, $9-$12 lunch. 33 N. Washington St., (304) 258-1196, www.tariscafe.com.
âž DO THIS: At Berkeley Springs State Park’s Bathhouse, which first opened in 1930, sauna, Swedish-style massage and original Roman or Jacuzzi baths are basic and well-priced. A bath, shower and 30-minute massage package is $45 weekdays, $50 weekends; 60-minute massage package $85 and $95. (304) 258-2711, www.berkeleyspringssp.com. A signature treatment at Atasia Spa is the 45-minute bracing eucalyptus steam and cocoon of hot herb-soaked linens ($70). Raindrop therapy uses 10 essential oils to soothe (50 minutes, $110). Day spa packages ranging from 1.5 to six hours ($99-$415) are also available. 41 Congress St., (304) 258-7888, www.atasiaspa.com. Cacapon Resort State Park has over 6,000 acres and more than 20 miles of maintained trails for hiking. You can also go trap shooting, $23. (304) 258-1022. Or take a guided horseback ride, in the daytime or under the moonlight. $26- $75 for one to three hours. (304) 258-1022, ext. 4170. 818 Cacapon Lodge Dr., (304) 258-1022, www.cacaponresort.com.
The name Harpers Ferry is synonymous with the 1859 raid staged by abolitionist John Brown and his 21-man “army of liberation” to capture a weapons-filled arsenal. Although the raid failed, it did focus the nation’s attention on the issue of slavery and, to paraphrase Frederick Douglass, began the war that ended it. The town has been re-created, complete with costumed interpreters who will tell you about life during this period in history. Its location at the meeting of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers also makes Harpers Ferry the perfect place for various water sporting activities.
âž DRIVE TIME: 2 hours, 15 minutes.
âž STAY HERE: Located about 12 miles north of Harpers Ferry, the Bavarian Inn, set on an 11-acre estate, has a surprisingly European style with its Alpine-inspired main house and chalets. Some rooms have whirlpool tubs. There’s also an infinity pool, and guests have access to the private championship golf course at nearby Cress Creek Country Club. $149-$349. 164 Shepherd Grade Road, Shepherdstown, (304) 876-2551, www.bavarianinnwv.com.
âž EAT HERE: You’ll find seasonal ingredients and simple, yet innovative preparations (some vegetarian) at Canal House Café. $11 $23. 1226 W. Washington St., Harpers Ferry, (304) 535-2880, www.canalhousecafe.com. At Greystone Mansion at the Bavarian Inn, dinner ($18-$40) showcases traditional German favorites—from jaeger schnitzel to schweinebraten—and contemporary fare, including American wild game dishes. A five-course tasting menu is $65. The wine list features hundreds of labels from around the world. Breakfast ($8.50-$14.75), lunch ($8.75- $14.50) and Sunday brunch ($32.95, $12.95 children) are also served. (304) 876-2551, www.bavarianinnwv.com/dining.php.
âž DO THIS: Stroll the brick sidewalks of Shenandoah Street, where you can visit the restored 19th-century shops, museums and other buildings, chat with costumed interpreters and watch cooking, craft and artillery demonstrations at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Trace the progression of John Brown’s 36-hour raid and its repercussions during a ranger-guided tour—and be sure to visit the John Brown and Black Voices museums. Park entrance is $10 per car. 171 Shoreline Drive, Harpers Ferry, (304) 535-6029, www.nps.gov/hafe. River Riders can take you on a seven-mile, white-water rafting trip in the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers where Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia come together. Weekdays are $64 in the morning, $55 evening; Saturday $74; Sunday $69. Combine your rafting adventure with a zip-line canopy tour for $128 weekday a.m., $119 weekday p.m., $153 Saturday, $138 Sunday. Or go tubing on a lazy part of the Shenandoah River. $28-$38 weekdays, $32-$42 weekends. 408 Alstadts Hill Road, Harpers Ferry, (304) 535-2663, www.riverriders.com.