You know the best thing about winter is that Downton Abbey is back on TV! Well, okay there are some other good things, but winter can seem endless and uninspiring. So it’s an ideal time to start planning a weekend trip to a nearby destination. Getting away during the off season means the prices are significantly lower at resorts. Most have activities that are perfect for cold weather–access to ski slopes, skating, shopping or just hanging out by a roaring fireplace. One of my recommendations will get you closer to your favorite show!
Here are a few places to consider escaping the doldrums of January, February and March:
Brandywine Valley, Longwood Gardens and Downton Abbey
Yes, you can see the costumes of Downton Abbey up close and personal. Just head up to Wilmington, Delaware to visit the gorgeous Winterthur Mansion with its new exhibit of gowns from the show beginning March 1. There will be lectures and other events celebrating the show and how it parallels the time that Henry Francis DuPont lived here. Yes!
One of the most impressive planned gardens in the US, Longwood Gardens was built by the DuPont Family and has breathtaking year-round plantings on view–many in their indoor greenhouses. January is the kick off their extraordinary orchid event with lasts until late March. Nestled in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the Brandywine Valley has multiple attractions, including gambling, horseback riding, point-to-point and cultural events. Tour the Delaware Art Museum. Stay overnight at one of the romantic Bed and Breakfasts and picnic on the Brandywine River. There’s almost too much to do in one weekend, but this area has something for everyone.
The beach town has been a destination for gambling and beaches, but the luxury resort Revel with it’s elegant casino and upscale restaurants has enhanced Atlantic City’s reputation as a swanky, all-season weekend destination. Check out their Spa-aah package on Sunday through Thursday for only $169 per night.
Besides Revel, with restaurants by Washingtonian’s Jeff Black and Robert Weidmaier dynasties, you can see a show. Some upcoming events feature Usher, the Gipsy Kings or Aretha Franklin. Or maybe hang out at the Burlesque Show. There’s also upscale shopping. If weather allows, get back to nature by touring the local national wildlife refuge and lighthouse.
Cape May, New Jersey
Voted most picturesque beach town by Trip Advisor and Forbes, Cape May has colorful Victorian houses, long, windswept beaches, excellent bike trails and trolley tours. Weekend getaways feature cooking and wine events and classes, or a visit to the local parks or zoo.
Besides being the site of one of the most important battles in American history, Gettysburg is a charming town with boutique hotels, live music, wineries and fine restaurants. The National Battlefield Visitors Center is open year round, or tour the Eisenhower Historic Site, an old-fashioned saloon or wax museum. Thanks to nearby Amish Country, visitors are treated to unique hospitality and the freshest locally produced food.
Berkeley Springs and the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia
Historic homes, gurgling rivers, pine-covered mountains and bountiful antique shops, Berkeley and the surrounding area is a getaway that feels completely different from city-life but is only 90 minutes away. Tour important Civil War structures and battlefields, dine at a country inn or check out some local bluegrass. Hike some snowy trails or take in Spa Feast--a Berkeley event that involves a combination of spa treatments and gourmet eating. What could be better?
Nemacolin Resort in Laurel Highlands, PA
This is my favorite resort and probably the most luxurious. It has all the amenities with a new casino, high end shopping, Asian spa and fitness programs, skiing, sledding, snowboarding, terrain parks, tubing and snowshoeing. The restaurants are exceptional–fine dining, casual diners, they have it all. A short distance from Frank Lloyd Wright’s magnificent Falling Water, tour the property and make it back to the resort in time to hit the spa. Nemacolin also offers a pet resort so you don’t have to leave your furry friend home alone. Kids love the pony rides, petting zoo and year-round dog sledding, but one particularly fun activity for the whole family — safari jeep rides to view abundant wildlife. Weather permitting, you can play golf, tennis, fly-fishing, shoot rifles, or hike trails meandering through endless acres of hills and valleys.
Harper’s Ferry, Shepherdstown and Antietam
Like a European city on a hill, the scenic, historic river town of Harper’s Ferry is filled with charming shops and tiny cafes. Don’t miss the small but fascinating John Brown Museum. Stay overnight at the absolutely divine Bavarian Inn atop the roaring Potomac. The Bavarian Inn is a short distance from the intellectual fun found in collegiate Shepherdstown—check out avant garde films at the Shepherdstown Opera House and dine at one of many restaurants. During the day, hike along the Potomac, up to Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, or weather permitting, tour the Antietam Battlefields by bike to cover the most Hallowed Ground.
Okay so these are just a few great getaways in the MidAtlantic. What are your favorite winter escapes?
Food for Thought MidAtlantic Travel Travel Antietam art galleries Atlantic City Battlefields Berkeley Springs Brandywine Valley Cape May Civil War costumes Delaware Downton Abbey Gettysburg Harpers Ferry Longwood Gardens Mid Atlantic beaches Nemacolin Revel Shepardstown Winterthur
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.