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5 Great Summer Getaways

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Times are tough, and the weather’s warm. Sounds like reason enough to hop in the car and head for the water. Challenge a river’s raging current, bob on a lake, cruise a canal or come face-to-face with thundering falls. Whether your preference is wild or mild, there’s plenty of bang for your buck at these five drivable destinations—and not a beach tag in sight.
 

DON'T MISS: A chance to ride the wind on Lake Naomi—experienced sailors can rent boats on midweek days. Or sit back and watch the sailboat races on weekends.Lake Naomi Club, Pennsylvania

Nicknamed “The Other Hamptons,” this Pocono Mountains resort community is private. But homes are available for rent, along with the opportunity to purchase a temporary membership ($165/family for the weekend, $240 for a week). A membership includes access to all amenities, including dining, golf, tennis, pools and other recreational facilities. A 25,000-acre state forest is adjacent to the property.

Stay here: Rent a cabin or luxury home that accommodates up to 14 people at Lake Naomi Club from Lake Naomi Real Estate (800-537-1479, lakenaomi.com, lakenaomiclub.com; $450 and up weekends, $900-$4,000/week). The club is built around three private lakes, including the 277-acre Lake Naomi, one of the largest in the Pennsylvania mountains, and has five sandy beaches for sunning and swimming. Three Olympic swimming pools—one indoors and two outdoors—provide more water fun. Catch (and release) bass, trout, pickerel, panfish and walleye from the property’s stocked fishing pond.

Eat here: Try to score a seat by the window overlooking Lake Naomi in the pretty dining room of the Waterfront Clubhouse at Lake Naomi (lunch $9-$16, dinner $16-$25). Lunch specialties in the Grill Room include tuna wakame and a crab sandwich. For dinner, try the duck confit and juniper-infused ravioli, Jail Island salmon, or fettuccini Gorgonzola with grilled chicken. There’s live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings.

To-do list:
Play the challenging greens of the Timber Trails Golf Course ($20 weekdays, $30 weekends for 18 holes), or try the 18 soft-surface tennis courts ($5/person doubles, $10/person singles for 90 minutes). Take a guided kayak tour with a nature specialist on Lake Naomi, or rent a canoe, kayak or rowboat ($20 for two hours) for a solo excursion.

Steal some grown-up time and let the young ones play at the Kids Klub (ages 4-13) or Kub Klub (potty-trained 3-year-olds), both of which offer age-appropriate activities for $95/week.
 

A stunning aerial view of Niagara FallsNiagara Falls, New York

Carved out of the earth 12,000 years ago, Niagara Falls, the world’s second largest, has long been considered one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights, its three falls plunging from heights of up to 20 stories. Hardly the tacky, one-off cliché it’s been labeled by some travel snobs, this majestic wonder holds a powerful and legitimate attraction for couples and families.

Beyond Niagara Falls State Park (716-278-1796, niagarafallsstatepark.com) and its miles of gorge-side trails, you’ll find charming small towns, interactive historic sites, and a full-scale casino. Be sure to bring your passport if you want to hop the border to the Canadian side. It’s well worth it.

Stay here: You won’t find any heart-shaped bathtubs, but you will find a totally romantic atmosphere at the Barton Hill Hotel & Spa (100 Center St., Lewiston; 800-754-9070, bartonhillhotel.com). Elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites run $200-$360 a night at this upscale boutique hotel—some with whirlpool tubs, fireplaces and river views. And the service is extraordinary.

Other destinations featured in this article …
Winvian in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
St. Mary’s County, Maryland
 

Niagara Falls continued on page 2 …
 

DON'T MISS: Getting wet or staying dry (your choice) on the Niagara River’s Class 5 rapids with Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours ($57/adults, $48/kids for 45 minutes; 115 S. Water St., Lewiston; 888-428-4444, whirlpooljet.com).Eat here: For lunch or dinner with a view, head to the outdoor patio at Top of the Falls Restaurant on Goat Island in the park (716-278-0340, topofthefallsrestaurant.com; lunch $5.95-$12.95, dinner $17-$29), a casual spot serving everything from sandwiches to a signature roasted, cider-brined pork chop. And don’t miss the homemade gnocchi, super-tender lamb osso bucco or gelato flight at Carmelo’s Ristorante (425 Center St., Lewiston; 716-754-2311, carmelos-restaurant.com; $16-$22).

Vegetarians and carnivores alike will appreciate the fresh and thoughtful preparations at the Red Coach Inn (2 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls; 716-282-1459, redcoach.com; lunch $6.95-$12.95, dinner $12.95-$24.95). Join the locals for the $5.99 all-you-can-eat specials—ribs on Wednesdays, fish on Fridays—with a side of live jazz at Water Street Landing (115 S. Water St., Lewiston; 716-754-9200, waterstreetlanding.com). The restaurant also has a fine dining side ($17-$29).

Sip a cup with all the delectable trimmings at the Tea Rooms at Murphy Orchards (2402 McClew Road, Burt; 716-778-7926, murphyorchards.com; $8.95-$11.95), situated in a charming mid-19th-century home. And order the signature bone-in, 6-ounce filet mignon at The Western Door (310 Fourth St., Niagara Falls; 877-873-6322, senecaniagaracasino.com; $22-$75).

To-do list: Sail past the base of the American Falls and into the basin of Horseshoe Falls on the Maid of the Mist (716-284-8897, maidofthemist.com; $12.50/adults, $7.30/kids). Brave the torrents and up-to-60-mile-an-hour winds as you scale the wooden walkways up the face of Bridal Veil Falls at the Cave of the Winds (716-278-1730; $10/adults, $7/kids). Return to the cave for the nightly falls illumination, and the Wednesday and weekend fireworks displays. Save 35 percent on many area attractions with a Niagara USA Discovery Pass ($30/adults, $23/kids).

Cruising the Erie Canal in LockportCast your line for bass and walleyes on a guided excursion with Riverside Sportfishing (160 S. Water St., Lewiston; 716-754-4101, niagarafish.com; $320 for two) or from a quiet dock at Joseph Davis State Park (4143 Lower River Road, Lewiston; 716-754-4596, nysparks.com). Later on, stroll the streets and browse the boutiques in downtown Lewiston, said to be the birthplace of the “cocktail” (a “gin mixture” stirred with the feather of a cockerel), and take in a free or ticketed concert or Broadway show at its outdoor Artpark (450 S. Fourth St.; 716-754-4375, artpark.net).

More than 2,000 re-enactors will recreate the 1759 Siege of Old Fort Niagara (Fort Niagara Historic Site, Robert Moses Pkwy., Youngstown; oldfortniagara.org, 716-745-7611; $10/adults, $6/kids) to commemorate the event’s 250th anniversary. Hear riveting stories of the area’s Underground Railroad activities at Murphy Orchards (donations appreciated), the Freedom Crossing exhibit at the Castellani Art Museum on the campus of Niagara University (Senior Drive, Niagara Falls, 716-286-8200, niagara.edu/cam; free), and on the four-hour guided Freedom Seekers Tour of Niagara from Motherland Connextions (176 Bridge Street Station, Niagara Falls; 866-726-0864, motherlandconnextions.com; $78/adults, $48/kids). Or relive your childhood with a 1916 carousel ride on a hand-carved horse at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum (180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda; carrouselmuseum.org, 716-693-1885; $5/adults, $2.50/kids).

Put some glitz into your getaway at the new Seneca Niagara Casino (310 Fourth St., Niagara Falls; niagarawinetrail.org, 877-873-6322). Savor the fruits of the region’s rich soil at Vizcarra Vineyards on Becker Farms (3760 Quaker Road, Gasport; 716-772-2211, beckerfarms.com), known for its variety of not-too-sweet fruit wines, or ride an antique train to Spring Lake Winery (7373 Rochester Road, Lockport; springlakewinery.com, 716-439-5253; $45/person) for a continental breakfast, lunch, music and samples.

Soar over the falls with Rainbow Air Helicopter Tours (454 Main St., Niagara Falls; 716-284-2800, rainbowair.us.com, $90/person for a 10-minute ride). And the two-hour narrated Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises (210 Market St., Lockport; 800-378-0352, lockportlocks.com; $14.50/adults, $8/kids) may have its ups and downs, but it’s all fun and fascinating.
 
Other destinations featured in this article …
Lake Naomi Club, Pennsylvania
Winvian in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
St. Mary’s County, Maryland
 

Continued on page 3 …
 

DON’T MISS: Golfing at the exclusive 18-hole, 72-par Fairview Farm championship course, located at 300 Hill Road in Harwinton ($120 for 18 holes, includes cart; 860-689-1000).Winvian in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut

Ever wanted to stay in a beaver lodge, a grown-up treehouse suspended more than 30 feet above the ground, or amidst the medieval splendor of King Arthur’s court? Have you ever shared sleeping space with a restored 17,000-pound Sikorsky helicopter? Situated in the northwest corner of Connecticut, Winvian (155 Alain White Road, Morris; 860-567-9600, winvian.com), a new 113-wooded-acre resort, offers all this and more. Its 18 cottages were custom designed by 15 different architects, and most of the property borders the 4,000-acre White Memorial Foundation wildlife sanctuary.

Stay here: All of the themed cottages at Winvian have wood-burning fireplaces, fully stocked wet bars, private screened-in porches, whirlpool tubs, and walk-in steam showers with radiant floor heating. There’s also a three-room suite spanning the entire first level of the property’s 18th-century main house. Your nightly tab at any of the Winvian cottages or suites ($1,450-$1,950) is all-inclusive, covering meals (continental and full breakfasts, lunch, picnics, spa snacks, room service, afternoon tea, dinner, and after-dinner petits fours), liquor, and unlimited use of the property’s facilities and equipment, including bikes, canoes, kayaks and tennis courts.

Eat here:
Linger over breakfast in Winvian’s sunny Terrace, snack in the Solarium, or have the kitchen pack and lay out a picnic in a secluded spot. Select from chef Chris Eddy’s ever-changing tasting menu, featuring produce grown on-site and other fresh seasonal ingredients, in the private Ortan Hill Dining Room. French-trained pastry chef Gilles Ballay creates imaginative and often unexpected endings (if it’s available, you must try the sweet-corn ice cream).

To-do list: Winvian Spa features treatments outdoors on a private patio and in an indoor private suite for two. The concierge can arrange additional activities. The list includes guided hiking or canoeing (both $75/person, $10/additional person); horseback riding ($55/hour); hot-air ballooning ($375/person for a 90-minute flight); guided daylong fly-fishing ($275/person, $375/two) or drift-boat spin-cast fishing ($450); 90 minutes of on-track time in a Formula car at the Skip Barber Racing School at Lime Rock Park (about $600); and more.

Or spend a day shopping for treasures in nearby Woodbury (the “Antiques Capital of Connecticut”), which boasts more than 30 professional dealers, most located in historic homes along Route 6.
 

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

You know it as the place where, in 1859, abolitionist John Brown and his 21-man “army of liberation” staged a raid to capture a weapon-filled arsenal and establish a guerrilla-warfare stronghold in the Blue Ridge Mountains. While the raid was a disaster, it did focus the nation’s attention on the issue of slavery and, to paraphrase Frederick Douglass, began the war that ended it. While the Civil War-era town has been recreated at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, the 2,300-acre Harpers Ferry National Historical Park actually stretches into Maryland and Virginia as well. The Appalachian Trail runs through Harpers Ferry, and whitewater thrills await on area rivers. For shopping and dining, save some time to visit German Street in the neighboring community of Shepherdstown.

DON'T MISS: An exhilarating guided raft ride on Class 1-3 whitewater with River & Trail Outfitters ($61.42-$68.09/adults, $55.71-$62.38/kids; 604 Valley Road, Knoxville, Md., just outside Harpers Ferry; 888-446-7529, rivertrail.com).Stay here: The Bavarian Inn (164 Shepherd Grade Road, Shepherdstown; 304-876-2551, bavarianinnwv.com) features river- and garden-view rooms and suites ($115-$355). It’s a surprising glimpse of Europe, with its Schwarzwald (Black Forest) Haus and collection of Alpine-style chalets. Rooms and suites have private balconies and antique furnishings, some with fireplaces, large sitting areas, canopied four-poster beds and double-size whirlpool tubs. There’s a pool with a deck, and guests have access to the private 18-hole, 72-par championship golf course at Cress Creek Country Club ($38 fee).

Eat here:
At Greystone Mansion at the Bavarian Inn, lunch ($6-$19.95), dinner ($18-$38) and Sunday brunch ($19.95/adults, $9.95/kids) highlight traditional German favorites—from Sauerbraten to Szegediner Goulash—with a contemporary twist. Chef Wolfgang Vorment also incorporates American wild game dishes, and the wine list offers more than 600 labels.
 
Other destinations featured in this article …
Lake Naomi Club, Pennsylvania
Niagara Falls, New York
St. Mary’s County, Maryland
 

Harpers Ferry continued on page 4 …
 

The tiny Stone Soup Bistro (112 W. German St., Shepherdstown; stonesoupbistro.com, 304-876-8477; $7-$13) serves up a homemade soup du jour in a bread bowl, sandwiches, salads and entrées, including vegetarian and vegan selections. Secret Six Tavern (186 High St., Harpers Ferry, 304-535-3044), named after six New England men who secretly funded John Brown’s Raid, is a casual spot set within two former private homes built in 1839. Burgers ($9.99) come Confederate (with local ham) and Union (with bacon) style.

Harpers Ferry from afarFancy, it’s not—but locals flock to the Turf Motel & Rib Room (741 E. Washington St., Charles Town; 800-422-TURF, turfmotel.com; lunch $5.95-$10.95, dinner $15.95-$24.95) for prime rib. Made-from-scratch pastas, mozzarella, breads and desserts ensure that the fare at Yellow Brick Bank (201 E. German St., Shepherdstown; 304-876-2208, yellowbrickbank.com; lunch $7.50-$10, dinner $21-$27) is always on the money. And the Jo Jo ice cream, made from homemade peanut butter and marshmallow, at Patterson’s Drug Store (134 S. Queen St., Martinsburg, 304-267-8903) is a town favorite.

To-do list: 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 (304-535-6029, nps.gov/hafe; $6/vehicle, $4/person on foot or bicycle). 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.

Check out the sweeping mountain and river views from Bolivar Heights Battlefield, described by Thomas Jefferson as “one of the most stupendous scenes of nature.” Keep your eye out for the more than 170 bird species (including bald eagles, peregrine falcons and red-tailed hawks). For more on the local history, stop in nearby Charles Town, home of the Jefferson County Museum and Courthouse (200 E. Washington St., 304-725-8628, jeffctywvmuseum.org; $3/adults), with its extensive collection of raid-related, Civil War and Native American artifacts, or the Belle Boyd House and Museum (126 E. Race St., Martinsburg; 304-267-4713, donations appreciated), childhood home of one of the most famous Civil War spies.

You’ll hear all kinds of music at the Shepherdstown Opera House (131 W. German St., 304-876-3704, operahouselive.com). Or relax in a rocking chair and enjoy an impromptu jam session every Thursday evening at O’Hurley’s General Store (205 E. Washington St., Shepherdstown; 304-876-6907, ohurley.com).
 

A river concert in St. Mary’s County, Md.

 

St. Mary’s County, Maryland

In 1634, 140 colonists seeking religious freedom and a better life traveled from England aboard two ships—the Ark and the Dove—establishing the fourth permanent settlement in British North America on a peninsula surrounded by the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, the Patuxent and Potomac rivers. They called their capital Terrae-Marie (Mary’s Land), after Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I.

Tobacco fueled the growth of the colony and its population boom, with St. Mary’s City serving as its political and economic center until 1695, when the capital was moved to Annapolis. After that, St. Mary’s virtually died, and the ground on which it stood—as well as the foundations of the city underneath—remained relatively undisturbed for hundreds of years. Today, Historic St. Mary’s City is one of the nation’s most renowned archaeological sites and outdoor living history museums, recognized by the National Park Service as “the best preserved founding site of a 17th-century English colony in North America.”

Stay here: It took 18 years to restore the once-abandoned 1798 manor house now called Woodlawn Farm (16040 Woodlawn Lane, Ridge; 301-872-0555, woodlawn-farm.com; $140-$190 weekdays, $170-$260 weekends). The effort paid off. Woodlawn was honored with the 1990 Grand Prize of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Great American Home Awards. Built on a tidal inlet at the mouth of the Potomac and surrounded by 180 acres of lawns, fields, woodlands and 300-year-old boxwoods, this home-turned-B&B offers accommodations in two bay- or garden-view suites in the main manor house or five more contemporary cottage suites. All cottages have Jacuzzi tubs, including the charming Magnolia, designed to replicate 17th-century architecture with its soaring cathedral ceiling. Swim, fish or crab off the dock, and walk or bike on five miles of trails.
 
Other destinations featured in this article …
Lake Naomi Club, Pennsylvania
Niagara Falls, New York
Winvian in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
 

St. Mary’s County continued on page 5 …
 

Eat here: Just about every St. Mary’s County family has its own recipe for stuffed ham—brined, pierced, and filled with a mixture of cabbage, kale and spices that include a variety of peppers. Look for it at local grocery stores and church dinners (some churches also offer all-you-can-eat crab feasts). A former 1840s Greek Revival gentleman’s plantation house on the St. Mary’s River, the Brome-Howard Inn (18281 Rosecroft Road, St. Mary’s City; 301-866-0656, bromehowardinn.com; $22-$27) offers an atmosphere of sophisticated intimacy. Seafood is a specialty of chef Michael Kelley, who is particularly proud of his jumbo lump crab cakes and saffron-scented fisherman’s stew.

Surrounded by wooden shacks and trailers at the end of a road, you might be tempted to skip the humble Courtney’s Restaurant (48290 Wynne Road, Ridge; 301-872-4403; dinners up to $25.95), but the locals love this spot, with its vegetable crab soup, oyster stew, battered selections and soft-shell crabs. If you’re really hungry, order the Colossal Steamer Platter at Evans Seafood Restaurant (16800 Piney Point Road, Piney Point; 301-994-9944, evansseafoodrestaurant.com; $15-$37). And if you’re looking for cheap, fresh food, the cafeteria at St. Mary’s College (18952 E. Fisher Road, St. Mary’s City) is open to the public.

DON'T MISS: Hopping the water taxi ($5; 301-769-2222) to St. Clement’s Island State Park’s Blackistone Lighthouse and Potomac River Museum ($3/adults, $1.50/kids; 38370 Point Breeze Road, Colton’s Point; 301-769-2222). The lighthouse was originally built in 1851 and reconstructed after fire destroyed it 100 years later.To-do list: Archaeologists began digging on the 835-acre site set on Calvert Creek in 1972 to unearth the foundations and artifacts from the buried Historic St. Mary’s City (Route 5, stmaryscity.org, 800-762-1634; $10/adults, $3.50-$6/kids). Efforts continue to salvage and rebuild the city with the utmost historic accuracy. St. John’s Archaeology Museum, built on the preserved foundation of a 1638 building, already has more than a million artifacts—many dating from the 17th century, others from prehistoric times. Other living museum highlights include a full-scale, hands-on replica of the aforementioned Dove; the Godiah Spray Tobacco Plantation, where the mistress of the house and her indentured servant will tell you about their 17th-century lives; and the Woodland Indian Hamlet, where costumed interpreters offer stories about the native Yaocomaco tribe. During July’s Tidewater Archaeology Weekend, you can actually work with the archaeologists to search for more treasures.

Close to St. Mary’s City is Leonardtown, where a major mural depicts various periods in the town’s history, and North End Gallery (41652 Fenwick St., 301-475-3130, northendgallery.org) displays the works of 35 Southern Maryland artists.

Paddle the Patuxent River on a guided trip ($45, $55 for lunch or brunch tours) with River Riders Kayaking (Greenwell State Park, 25420 Rosedale Manor Lane, Hollywood; greenwellfoundation.org, 301-373-9775), or head out on your own in a rental ($35/day, $25/half-day).

Destinations featured in this article …
Lake Naomi Club, Pennsylvania
Niagara Falls, New York
Winvian in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
St. Mary’s County, Maryland
 

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