In western Maryland’s Allegany County, the scenery is spectacular, especially if you’re hiking or biking in Rocky Gap State Park, the C&O Canal Towpath or elsewhere.
drive time: 3 hours, 45 minutes.
stay here: Rocky Gap Casino Resort is a surprising find within the 3,000-acre Rocky Gap State Park. A major refurbishment and expansion last year included the addition of a full 24-hour casino with poker, slots and table games. The property, which is situated on the 243-acre Lake Habeeb, has an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, five restaurants, an indoor swimming pool, and more. Rooms range from $149 to $159, suites from $199 to $209. 16701 Lakeview Road, Flintstone, (301) 784-8400, www.rockygapresort.com.
eat here: At Rocky Gap Casino Resort’s Lakeside Restaurant, the water and park views alone are worth the price of your meal. The breakfast buffet is $12.50, Sunday brunch $15. Dinner buffets are $20 Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday; $22 Friday and Saturday. Ristorante Ottaviani serves Italian family recipes in a casual setting. $13.25-$19.75. 25 N. Centre St., Cumberland, (301) 722-0052.
to-do list: Hop aboard the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad for a 32-mile narrated fall-foliage tour through the Allegheny Mountains to the charming town of Frostburg. Choose from standard, premium, parlor and first-class seating. $35-$60/adults, $18-$45/kids. For another $5, bring your bike on the train and coast back to Cumberland along the Allegheny Highlands Trail (all downhill). Murder mystery rides are also available. $85 with dinner, $60 without. 13 Canal St., Cumberland, (301) 759-4400,
Downtown Cumberland boasts a vibrant shopping district, including the Fort Cumberland Emporium, a three-floor, multidealer antique shop. 55 Baltimore St., www.fortcumberlandemporium.com, (301) 722-4500. The brand-new Mountainside Creative features work by local artisans. 49 N. Liberty St., www.mountainsidecreative.com. And Social Studies sells wearable and decorative items from Third World countries. 33 N. Center St., (301) 777-7706.
On the weekends of Oct. 18-19 and 25-26, area artists open their studios to visitors for the Mountain Maryland Art Show and Sale. Maps are available at many town businesses and the visitors’ center. Western Maryland Railway Station, 13 Canal St., Cumberland, (301) 777-2787, www.artsaleandtour.com.
for thrifty types: Rent a mountain bike at the resort ($8 an hour for adults, $5 for kids), and take the close-to-11-mile loop in Rocky Gap State Park. On your journey, you’ll pass a farm that has America’s largest collection of Corvettes, and pass through a forest with dozens of birdfeeders made from dollhouses. www.mdmountainside.com.
Rocky Gap State Park offers numerous recreational programs, including naturalist-led hikes, crafts, bonfires, owl prowls, and classes on raptors and reptiles at the park’s aviary. Call in advance to make arrangements; most activities are free. 12500 Pleasant Valley Road, Flintstone, (301) 722-1480, www.dnr2.maryland.gov/publiclands.
If you wait until twilight (after 3 p.m.) to get out on the resort’s Jack Nicklaus golf course, you can play for $40 (instead of $59) Monday-Thursday and $45 (instead of $69) Friday-Sunday. Lake Habeeb has a large population of largemouth bass and is stocked with brown and rainbow trout. Get a pole and live bait at the resort for $15 for two hours. At $160, the massage and mani-pedi Stress Buster Package at the resort’s Garden Spa is a bargain. Join the locals in line at Curtis’ Coney Island Famous Weiners, known for its family-recipe, chili-sauce-topped dogs since 1918. 35 North Liberty St., Cumberland, (301) 759-9707.
If you’re taking the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, eat at Princess Restaurant, a family-run comfort-food hub since 1939. Omelets start at $4.75, cheeseburgers $2.30. And platters with two veggies are $7.50-$11.95. 12 W. Main St., Frostburg, (301) 689-1680, www.princessrestaurant.com.