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By Dawn Klavon
In the words of the great philosopher, Dr. Seuss, “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” Granted, the renowned children’s author may not have been referring to fabulous weekend destinations, but we’re sure he wouldn’t mind extending a little poetic license.
This summer is prime time to get back out in the world and enjoy — whether traveling by trains, planes, or automobiles. Why not hit the dusty trail and carve out some “me” time over a lazy summer weekend? Prince William is conveniently located near some excellent spots to relax, recalibrate, and renew. Here are our
suggestions for memorable weekend destinations to amp up your summer.
Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts at Penn State University
For all you Nittany Lions out there — and even those who are not — plan to visit Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, July 14 to 17 for the gifts-galore Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts.
Here’s a weekend to get your shopping muscles moving. Penn State is about three and a half hours from Prince William and exists in the quaint, picturesque town of State College. It’s a weekend trifecta: a quick drive north, small-town charm, and unique shopping opportunities, which all make for an outstanding
weekend adventure. Alumni of the well-respected university may want to take a trip down memory lane as well and peruse the campus of their youth.
“State College is known as Happy Valley to the thousands of students who attend Penn State, but it is always a popular destination for adults and retirees,” said Carolyn Cafaro, a Pittsburgh-area resident who frequents State College. “The drive to State College is scenic, and upon arrival, you are welcomed by a vibrant town full of a variety of restaurants and bars.”
At the arts festival, you can support independent artist-entrepreneurs from across the country. Anyone can order items off Amazon, but you can find that just right, one-of-a-kind gift for friends or family at the festival. Whether you’re looking for a work of art, piece of jewelry, houseware, or all of the above, this
bevy of talented artists has something for you in a wide variety of media — from ceramics to wood.
Consistently ranked as one of the top outdoor fine art and fine craft shows in the nation, more than 300 exhibitors offer a wide variety of objects for sale including baskets, ceramics, jewelry, fiber, painting, photography, and wearable art. There will be something to suit everyone’s taste and wallet. With participating artisanal food vendors offering small-batch goodness from salsas to salad dressings, a variety of specialty foods, and hand-crafted goodies, you’ll be stuffed silly and happy as can be.
Hotels are plentiful in the State College area, as mobs of Penn State football fans make weekend pilgrimages to the town each fall and need a place to rest after long days of cheering on their team. Plan to arrive Friday afternoon and depart Sunday afternoon to maximize your time at the festival and fully enjoy
your summer adventure in Happy Valley.
Berkeley Springs, West Virginia
Berkeley Springs is a historic spa and art-filled town nestled in the West Virginia mountains, less than two hours from Prince William. Touted as “America’s First Spa,” tourists flock to the community for the landscapes, healing waters, nationally recognized art scene, various dining options, and distinctive shops. An easy drive from the D.C. area, it’s the perfect weekend escape to experience West Virginia charm.
Berkeley Springs is known for its warm mineral springs. The water conducted through Warm Springs Ridge emerges only in a single cluster of thermal springs now located in Berkeley Springs State Park. The 74°F temperature of the water is constant, which is delightful for visitors.
The original warm mineral springs are the centerpiece of various treatments offered to the public in two facilities operated by the state of West Virginia. The historic Roman Bath House on the north end of the park offers nine individual, 750-gallon walk-in tubs in private chambers available by the half hour. The park is located in the heart of town and also has an outdoor pool open in summer, a public tap for free spring water, and open pools of springs run-off. Budget-conscious spa goers will love the park’s modest prices.
“Folks should visit because Berkeley Springs is a hidden gem,” said Stephanie Rebant, President of Travel Berkeley Springs. “Embrace the great outdoors, shopping, dining, make a spa or alternative health appointment, and come with a sense of adventure!”
You won’t lack for activities, if that’s what you’re looking for. Just take your pick: mountain bike or enjoy a scenic hike on one of the many trails at Cacapon State Park, Sleepy Creek Wildlife Management Area, Eidolon Nature Preserve, stroll through the Paw Paw Tunnel Towpath, swim at the beach and lake area at
Cacapon State Park, paddle boat, paddle board, canoe, or fish, or just relax and soak your feet in the warm springs at the downtown Berkeley Springs State Park. Don’t forget to take a tubing trip with Crafts Adventures along the Cacapon or Potomac Rivers or at Lake Siri at Coolfont Resort. A stay in Berkeley Springs is sure to be filled with long-lasting memories and fun for the entire family.
“Experience meeting the quaint and quirky friendly locals and business owners,” Rebant said. “Enjoying the beautiful mountain scenery and finding your perfect chosen getaway is like stepping back in time to enjoy moving at a slower pace and remembering all the little things to love about life.”
Endless Caverns in New Market and Luray, Virginia
The theme of this weekend destination is stunning caverns, though there’s plenty more to explore in the area. Endless Caverns in New Market and Luray Caverns in Luray are both fascinating spots in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
In New Market, don’t miss the breathtaking caves, located at the Endless Caverns RV Resort. Discovered back in 1879 as simply a deep, dark hole covered by boulders, this beautiful underground treasure has been fascinating visitors for nearly 150 years. Sitting at the base of the Massanutten Mountain range, this 6-mile cave system still has areas that have yet to be explored. Tourists can be guided through a mile of the various cave rooms as you travel through the stunning limestone backdrop. Knowledgeable guides will talk about the history and teach you about the geology of this subterranean treasure.
Endless Caverns is a great stop for folks who RV or tent camp, and the tour of the caverns alone is worth the trip. The pet-friendly campground offers caves, a swimming pool, playground, nature trails, a catch-and-release pond, game room, and a bath house for camping enthusiasts.
Luray Caverns is the largest and most popular caverns destination in the eastern United States — experiencing them feels like you’re on another planet. Visitors can participate in tours along well-lit, paved walkways that lead visitors through cathedral-sized rooms with ceilings 10 stories high, towering stone formations, and natural wonders at every turn.
“For me, experiencing the wonders of nature as you walk through Luray Caverns is simply awe-inspiring,” said Bill Huffman, Director of Marketing and PR for the Luray Caverns Corporation. “The variety of formations, natural color and rooms filled with towering stone columns impresses me every time I stroll through this U.S. Natural Landmark.”
Open every day of the year, Luray Caverns’ general admission ticket includes the caverns, the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, Toy Town Junction, and the Shenandoah Heritage Village. On top of that, the largest evergreen hedge maze in the mid-Atlantic is on site, offering a half-mile of fun for tourists, and the physically fit in your party may enjoy the rope adventure park, offering two thrilling courses above the ground.
“My advice for visitors is stay and enjoy everything that is included in the general admission ticket,” Huffman said. “The Car and Carriage Caravan displays the history of America in a collection of fully restored cars, carriages, and coaches; the Shenandoah Heritage Village celebrates the region’s culture; Toy Town Junction showcases thousands of toys and various model trains. There is so much to do and enjoy here.”
Tilghman Island, Maryland
For a laid-back, relaxing waterfront getaway, plan a weekend excursion to Tilghman Island in Maryland. Located in Talbot County, this tiny fishing village will take you out of the rat race and transport you to a much simpler time and place. Situated between the Chesapeake Bay and Choptank River, you can access the picturesque island by car or boat. It’s less than three hours from Prince William to the island; an easy journey with a charming destination awaiting.
“We’re completely different from other destinations on the Eastern Shore,” said Tilghman Island resident and Country Store Co-owner Patricia McGlannan. “It’s like stepping back in time in a lot of respects — when people show up at the store, they’re surprised how friendly everyone is; you don’t get to be a stranger for very long.”
Visitors can rent a boat, go fishing, shop in a variety of inviting spots, and find an array of fun dining options for fresh seafood. Don’t miss the Sea Glass Museum or the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum, which celebrates the rich history of the island’s maritime culture and features historical artifacts and local artists.
“It’s getting to really have a great flavor of the folks and what the way of life was like back in the day,” McGlannon said.
The island has the busiest drawbridge in the United States, according to residents. Five quaint inns offer gracious hospitality for visitors. You easily put constant action on pause and enjoy the peace and serenity the island provides.
“I’m in love with the island,” said Mary McCarthy, Director of the island’s Sea Glass Museum and Owner of When’s Low Tide candles. “We’re just a tiny island in the middle of the Chesapeake, but it’s very much the end of the world. You can see forever — you can watch both the sunrise and sunset from the island, and both are incredibly scenic.”
For more information about Tilghman Island, visit tilghmanisland.com/.
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Who couldn’t use a little sunshine, sand between their toes, and a beachy cocktail? Rehoboth Beach, Delaware may be just the ticket for a weekend getaway by the shore. It’s about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Prince William and offers plenty of sun and fun.
Rehoboth Beach calls itself the “Nation’s Summer Capital” due to the large number of Washington, D.C. residents who vacation here annually. It’s a popular vacation destination for families and young singles alike, and also has a significant gay and lesbian community. There are several neighboring beaches — Bethany Beach and Dewey Beach — that offer slightly different vibes, but overall the Delaware shoreline offers compelling restaurants, boardwalks and outdoor activities.
The mile-long boardwalk at Rehoboth is crowded and lined with rides, food stands, and souvenir and beach-themed shops. Funland is geared toward the younger set, with rides and game booths sure to entertain the kids, while a number of bars and restaurants cater to a crowd looking to see and be seen.
Shopping is a popular sport in Rehoboth, and outlet malls and specialty shops are located throughout the area. Rehoboth has a plentiful number of bed and breakfasts and inns to choose from, as well as larger-scale hotels, and many restaurants with a leaning toward — you guessed it — seafood specialties.
“Year round it’s great rain or shine — the beaches are fabulous, there’s fantastic people watching and indoor/outdoor restaurants,” said Tracy Toth, a frequent Rehoboth visitor from the D.C. area. “When there’s bad weather, there’s awesome outlet shopping, lots of restaurants and movie theaters, so there’s plenty to do whatever the weather and whether you’re young or old.”
Charter a fishing boat, rent a bike or kayak, try windsurfing, paddleboards, or just check out local breweries and wineries; you’ll find it all on the Delaware shore.
For more information about Rehoboth Beach and the neighboring Delaware beaches, visit visitdebeaches.com/rehoboth-beach/.
Start Your Journey
No matter where you end up roaming this summer, be sure to unplug from your everyday routine to rest and reconnect with family and loved ones. May your weekend destinations create memories that will last a lifetime.
Dawn Klavon is a journalist, author, media director and recent transplant to NOVA. She thrives on juggling multiple projects, discovering local hot spots, consuming blue crab and conquering sudoku puzzles. Dawn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org