Four Drivable Summer Vacation Destinations

Within easy driving distance, these four getaways offer activities for everyone in the family: Bear Creek Mountain Resort, Eagle Rock Resort, Frederick County, Md., and Richmond, Va.




Bear Creek Mountain Resort: Macungie, Pa.



Frederick County, Md.



Richmond, Va.



Eagle Rock Resort: Hazleton, Pa.

 

 

Bear Creek Mountain Resort: Macungie, Pa.

Drive Time: One hour, 15 minutes.
 

Clowning around at Musikfest in Bethlehem. (See more photos below.)

“No frills” was the only way to describe Doe Mountain when it first opened two trails to local skiers more than 30 years ago. Located in the tiny community of Macungie in the Lehigh Valley, the spot remained a well-kept local secret until 1999, when it was transformed by new owners into Bear Creek Mountain Resort, a year-round, amenity-filled getaway set on 300 wooded acres.

You’ll find plenty to do on the resort grounds, including hiking and mountain biking on 6.5 miles of trails, and playing tennis or swimming laps in the outdoor or heated indoor pool. Golfers can hop on the resort’s shuttle to one of the area’s dozen championship courses (its free for nearby courses, or available for a fee to farther ones). Afterward, melt the tension from your muscles at the on-premise spa.

Take a self-guided tour along the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. At night, go for the glitz at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem (877-SANDS77, pasands.com), only a half-hour away.
 

Stay Here

Inn at Bear Creek. Only the décor is rustic; the amenities are contemporary and cozy. Queen or king standard rooms are $163 (per double occupancy, including tax); deluxe with fireplace, $174; suites, $190; and deluxe with fireplace and Jacuzzi, $237 (Internet-only rates). 101 Doe Mountain Lane, Macungie; (866) 754-2822, bcmountainresort.com.
 

Eat Here

The Grille at Bear Creek. Great views and all-American food seasoned with herbs from the on-site garden. Almost everything on the dinner menu is under $25; you could splurge on the $26 prime rib, but you should be perfectly happy with the flat-iron steak for $21.50. Sunday brunch features live music ($19.95).

Buckeye Tavern. Relax on the patio of this circa-1768 neighborhood favorite with a quesadilla, burger or wrap for under $10. 3741 Brookside Road, Macungie; (610) 966-4411, buckeyetavern.com.

Savory Grille. The fieldstone carriage house and garden are fairy-tale charming, and the food upscale without being pretentious. Entrées are in the $30 range. 2934 Seisholtzville Road, Macungie; (610) 845-2010, savorygrille.com.
 

To-Do List

Take an “Island Escape” at the intimate Spa at Bear Creek. This exotic package includes a Hawaiian lomi lomi massage, mango scrub, mani and pedi, lunch, and wine—all for $310.

Da Vinci Science Center. More than 200 hands-on exhibits allow children and their parents to buddy up with bugs, forecast weather, rearrange atoms, and ride in a gyroscope. $11.95/adults, $8.95/kids. 3145 Hamilton Blvd. Bypass, Allentown; (484) 664-1002, davinci-center.org.
 

For Thrifty Types

Trail’s End Café at Bear Creek. Have breakfast (omelets are $8.95), lunch (just about everything is under $10), or dinner (the menu’s the same as for lunch) poolside at this cute little eatery. Chambourcin is the signature grape grown in the vineyards along the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail (lehighvalleywinetrail.com).

At Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery (172 Arrowhead Lane, Breinigsville; 610-398-7525, vynecrest.com), you can have a free tour and tasting.

Musikfest. At Bethlehem’s 10-day August party, stroll the streets while enjoying the music and eclectic (sometimes eccentric) performers. (610) 332-1300, musikfest.org.
 
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Volt restaurant’s dining room in Frederick County, Md. (See more photos below.)Frederick County, Md.

Drive Time: Two hours, 45 minutes.
 

You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the famous clustered church spires that distinguish the skyline of Frederick, a more-than-250-year-old city that’s survived Civil War battles and devastating floods. Frederick has a small-town feel, particularly along its 50-block downtown historic district, featuring the popular 1.3-mile Carroll Creek Park.

My favorite spot is the park’s Community Bridge, an amazing trompe l’oeil (French for “fool the eye”) mural that looks like it’s made with real ivy-covered, carved stones with inset sculptures. In or near downtown are almost 200 antiques dealers, more than 100 independently owned specialty shops, 30-plus restaurants, 10 golf courses, and a variety of museums and arts venues.

For recreation in the great outdoors, you can’t beat nearby Catoctin Mountain, with its one national and two state parks. There are miles of trails for hiking, acres for plain and fancy camping, and plenty of sparkling water for swimming, fishing and boating.
 

Stay Here

Hollerstown Hill Bed & Breakfast. A few blocks from downtown, Betty and Phillip LeBlanc’s four-guestroom Victorian is lovingly furnished with period antiques, reproductions, and a mind-boggling collection of dolls and figurines. Rooms are $135-$145 (double occupancy); rates include a full breakfast. 4 Clarke Place, (301) 228-3630, hollerstownhill.com.
 

Eat Here

VOLT. Owner Bryan Voltaggio, a recent Bravo TV Top Chef finalist, coaxes deep, rich flavors from seasonal ingredients. Fixed-price lunch is $25 for three courses, $55 for five; express at the bar is $14 for three selections. Dinner is à la carte, with entrées are in the low- to mid-$30 range. A six-course tasting menu is $95. 228 N. Market St., (301) 696-VOLT, voltrestaurant.com.

Acacia Fusion Bistro. Kung pao chicken, Jägerschnitzel and spinach agnolotti—all on the same menu? Surprisingly, it works. Lunch selections are $11-$14, dinner $21-$31. 129 N. Market St., (301) 694-3015, acacia129.com.

Cozy Restaurant. For close to 80 years, members of the media have hung out here while covering the presidential doings at nearby Camp David. Nothing fancy, but the dinner buffets are surprisingly good ($10.99 weekdays, $12.99-$16.19 weekends). 103 Frederick Road, Thurmont, (301) 271-7373, cozyvillage.com.
 

To-Do List

National Museum of Civil War Medicine. Two floors of interactive exhibits explore the realities of camp, battlefield and home life, with a focus on the development of many medical innovations. $6.50. 48 E. Patrick St., (301) 695-1864, civilwarmed.org.

Weinberg Center for the Arts. National touring shows, classic films and a historic Wurlitzer organ are featured in this gorgeous, restored 1926 art deco movie palace. 20 W. Patrick St., (301) 600-2828, weinbergcenter.org.

DanceWorks. Saturday Night Dance Parties include a Latin or ballroom lesson. $15. 500 W. Patrick St., second floor; (301) 228-2591, danceworksballroom.com.

Clustered Spires Golf Course. The Monocacy River provides the view, the rolling landscape the challenge. $30 weekdays, $48 weekends. 8415 Gas House Pike, (301) 600-1295.

Shopping on Market, Patrick and East streets, including the 30 independent boutiques at Everedy Square & Shab Row (East and Church streets, 301-662-4140, everedysquare.com). Fill your own bottle from the exotic varieties at Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium, aka L.O.V.E. (214 N. Market St., 301-228-3996, loveoliveoilvinegar.com).
 

For Thrifty Types

Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center. Eight galleries feature the works of local artists. Donations welcome. 40 S. Carroll St., (301) 698-0656, delaplaine.org.

Free Sunday Night Summer Concert Series and Thursday-afternoon Summerfest Family Theatre in Baker Park. (301) 600-2844, celebratefrederick.com.

Berrywine Plantations/Linganore Winecellars offers sophisticated 100-percent-fruit wines, medieval mead and Ethiopian tej. 13601 Glissans Mill Road, Mount Airy; (410) 795-6432, (301) 831-5889; linganore-wine.com.

Isabella’s Taverna & Tapas Bar. A huge menu of delectable Spanish-inspired small plates and wines, plus a fun atmosphere. Most dishes are less than $10. 44 N. Market St., (301) 698-8922, isabellas-tavern.com.
 
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Richmond, Va.

Maymont House’s Italian garden in Richmond, Va. (See more photos below.)

Drive Time: Four hours, 30 minutes.
 

You don’t have to be a history buff to love Richmond. Much of its appeal is its rejuvenated downtown, rebuilt from the ashes of war, natural disasters and the Great Depression. For miles stretching along the James River from European-chic Shockoe Slip to bohemian-cool Shockoe Bottom, and from the wild-water-bounded Belle Isle to the cultural treasures on just about every block, you’ll find a compelling combination of low-key Southern comfort and contemporary urban vitality. And be sure to check out the unbelievable array of major attractions that won’t cost you a dime.
 

Stay Here

Linden Row Inn. Actually seven mid-18th-century rowhouses connected by balconies, this 70-room boutique hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Included in the room rate are complimentary continental breakfast and a shuttle to downtown. Rooms are $109-$159 (double occupancy), grand parlor suites $239-$269. 100 E. Franklin St., (804) 783-7000, lindenrowinn.com.
 

Eat Here

Comfort. Reliable locals say this place makes a mean mac ’n’ cheese and banana crème brûlée. Dinner runs $16-$22, lunch $9-$12. Portions are LARGE. 200 W. Broad St., (804) 780-0004, comfortrestaurant.com.

Julep’s. Excellent shrimp and grits with a kick of andouille. Entrées cost $18-$32. 1719 E. Franklin St., (804) 377-3968, juleps.net.

Bistro Bobette. Entrée prices range from the low to high $20s, or get a $20 three-course, prix-fixe meal between 3 and 5 p.m. The menu changes regularly, but the risotto with seafood and chorizo is outstanding. Imaginative bar food starts at $6. 1209 E. Cary St., (804) 225-9116, bistrobobette.com.

Can Can Brasserie. Lunch crêpes and sandwiches are 10.50-$13.50; a dinner-size midday meal is $15 prix fixe; specials at the bar cost $6-$8. Dinner entrées are in the mid-$20s. Evening absinthe. 3120 W. Cary St., cancanbrasserie.com, (804) 358-7274.
 

To-Do List

Henricus Historical Park. Celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of the second successful English settlement in the New World, this outdoor living history museum offers a nitty-gritty perspective on the lives of newcomers, natives, indentured servants and Africans between 1611 and 1622. $8/adults, $6/kids. 251 Henricus Park Road, Chester; (804) 748-1613, henricus.org.

Adventure Challenge. Kayak the Class IV rapids on the James River right through the city of Richmond. The two-day beginner course is $210. (804) 276-7600, adventurechallenge.com.

American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar & James River. Artifacts and multimedia displays explore varying perspectives on the causes and effects of the Civil War. $8/adults, $6/kids. 500 Tredegar St., (804) 780-1865, tredegar.org.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Each of the more than 50 gardens has a distinctive personality. Children even have one of their own. $10/adults, $6/kids. 1800 Lakeside Ave., (804) 262-9887, lewisginter.org.

Set aside an afternoon to check out the 50 upscale boutiques “On the Avenues” of Libbie & Grove (libbiegrove.com).
 

For Thrifty Types

Maymont House and Grounds. Take a guided tour of this magnificent 33-room Gilded Age mansion and see how the other half (and their domestic staff) lived. Donations welcome. 2201 Shields Lake Drive, (804) 358-7166, maymont.org.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Give yourself at least half a day to peruse this permanent collection of 22,000 works spanning centuries, genres and world cultures. Thursdays and Fridays after dark, the museum offers free music, dancing and other special programs—many free. 200 North Blvd., (804) 340-1400, vmfa.state.va.us.

Belle Isle. Walk or bike across the pedestrian bridge that connects the city to this 540-acre island in the middle of the James River. Free. visitrichmondva.com, (800) 370-9004.

Perly’s is famous for its buttery biscuits and cheap breakfast (two eggs, biscuit and coffee for $3.75). 111 E. Grace St., (804) 649-2779.

Browse the fun and funky shops in the nine-block district known as the Carytown “Mile of Style” (carytownrva.com).
 
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Eagle Rock Resort: Hazleton, Pa.

Drive Time: Two hours, 15 minutes.
 

Eagle Rock Lodge in Hazleton. (See more photos below.)

It’s unlikely that itty-bitty Hazleton—in the heart of the Blue Mountains—is on your radar. But it should be. For one, it’s the closest town to a little-known all-season resort located on 6,500 wooded acres about 5 miles away. A combination of residential and rental townhomes, plus a small luxury lodge, Eagle Rock Resort also features an 18-hole golf course; a lake for swimming, boating and fishing; and 3 miles of nature trails for strolling, hiking or jogging.
 

Stay Here

Eagle Rock Lodge. The European chalet exterior of this two-floor, 46-room lodge says “cozy mountain retreat” at first sight. Ask for an even-numbered room, and you’ll be mesmerized by the mountain views from your private balcony. Rates are $166-$178 weekdays, $195-$207 weekends. Two-bedroom, two-bath townhome units, with fully equipped kitchens and large living rooms, are $352-$381. 1 Country Club Drive, Hazle Township; (888) 384-6660, eaglerockresort.com.
 

Eat Here

The Clubhouse Restaurant at Eagle Rock Resort. Walls of windows inside and a spacious patio outside provide great golf-course views. Just about everything on the breakfast menu is less than $10. A soup and half-sandwich lunch is $10, a big burger $9. At dinner, you can do very well for under $20, or you can splurge on a strip steak for $34. The Saturday and Sunday breakfast buffet is $14.95 for adults; Sunday brunch is $16.95.
 

To-Do List

Beginners shouldn’t be intimidated by Eagle Rock’s Arnold Palmer co-designed golf course, but experienced players will find plenty of challenging features, including heavily wooded fairways, lakes and streams. Fees are $60 with cart on weekdays, $75 weekends; twilight fees are $44 and $55. Treat yourself to a signature “Hot Stone Escape” ($235) or a wide range of other services in the Spa at Eagle Rock Resort. At the Equestrian Center at Eagle Rock Resort (570-384-4899), trail rides cost $40 per person, $3 for kid-friendly, once-around-the-ring pony rides.
 

For Thrifty Types

The Brass Buckle Mexican Restaurant. Located about 15 minutes north of Eagle Rock, this family-owned restaurant is famous for its margaritas and homemade chips and salsa. Get an enchilada, quesadilla or burrito for $5 or under, anda combination plate for less than $10; most entrées are under $16. 334 Main St., Conyngham; brassbucklerestaurant.com, (570) 788-4145.
 
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