Fall Travel Guide: Custom Weekends: Dig Out the Bermudas and Croquet Mallets

A spa, a shooting club, and three fabulous golf courses. Must we go on?

As we exited the highway, we figured it could only be another 20 minutes or so until we arrived at the Homestead. Wrong. An hour later, as we wended through hills and farms, stopping, ­tourist-like, to take pictures of cows and horses, I was glad for the extra mileage. The Homestead, tucked in Virginia’s Allegheny Mountains and freshly renovated, is the crowning gem in an area steeped in history, small-town charm and Southern hospitality. Since 1766, the regal resort has hosted “presidents, princes, and sporting enthusiasts alike,” who used to come by railcar for the area’s healing natural springs.

[sidebar]Two hundred and fifty years after the days of parasols and powdered wigs, a soak is still good for what ails you, though the modern impulse is to cram too many other activities into too few days. Where to begin? There’s a spa, a shooting club, three fabulous golf courses, indoor and outdoor pools, lawn games, dancing lessons, the springs themselves (contained in the Jefferson Pools), fine dining, high tea, and nearby outdoorsy excursions, too: We loved the Cascades Gorge hike and canoeing in the James River. But back at the resort, the reigning opulence demanded the denim come off: Ladies and gentlemen, jeans are acceptable if, and only if, you’re riding horseback.