Spring Break: Hot Springs
When our car pulls to a stop in front of the Homestead’s grand entrance, two bellhops swing open our doors, cheerfully dealing with the shuttling of bags from curbside to room as we take in the fresh mountain air. A couple walks across the perfectly manicured lawn, legs stuffed into riding boots. I overhear a group that’s spent the day hiking waterfall-lined trails plan to rendezvous for afternoon tea. “Do you have plans?” one bellhop asks as we arrive at our draped in-Southern-charm room. “Golf? Hiking? Maybe the spa?” As I glimpse the Allegheny Mountains through the open window by the bed, I answer: “Oh, hopefully a little of all three.”
HEAT INDEX: Highs for March and April are generally 54 to 65 degrees.
STAY: The Homestead Resort is set on 3,000 acres in the Allegheny Mountains and offers on-site activities such as archery, golf (on three award-winning courses), horseback riding, hiking or biking along more than 100 miles of trails, and pampering at the spa. The grand, yet somehow utterly homey, 483 rooms and suites are the perfect retreat after a day of nonstop outdoor adventure. Rooms from $185 per night; all-inclusive activities from $295 per night.
DO: If you’re looking to bond over something new, opt for a lesson in fly-fishing (they’ll pair you with an Orvis-certified instructor), off-roading through the rolling hillside, or pelting one another in paintball. For a romantic afternoon, head to the nearby Jefferson Pools, the same hot springs that Thomas Jefferson himself once soaked in for their reputed healing benefits. For a little solo time, treat yourself to a mineral mud wrap at the spa. Indoors, make time for the Homestead’s complimentary afternoon tea, served daily at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall.
EAT: Fuel up for a day of fun with breakfast at the refined main dining room, and pause for a lunch of Greek flatbread pizza or crisp Cobb salad at the Casino Restaurant (riding boots and golf shirts expected). Then, forget you’re anywhere remote with a jacket-required dinner of whole English sole and prepped-tableside Caesar salad at the elegant 1766 Grille. For a change of pace, walk down the hill to the laid-back Sam Snead’s Tavern, where you can feast on pan-seared Allegheny Mountain rainbow trout or a meaty, all-American burger.
GET THERE: We mentioned “remote,” right? Amtrak (amtrak.com) runs a day-long trip from Philadelphia to Clifton Forge, Virginia (almost eight hours), and the Homestead can arrange transportation from the station to the hotel (roughly 30 minutes). US Airways (usairways.com) offers nonstop service to Roanoke, Virginia, in under two hours; the Homestead can arrange transportation for the 70-mile drive from the airport to hotel.
STAY: The Homestead Resort, 7696 Sam Snead Highway, 540-839-1766, thehomestead.com.