The Mountains Are Calling

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort includes Mystic Rock golf course (a second course is set to open in July) and a new hot tub next to a fire pit. Photo courtesy of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, a popular 2,000-acre golf and spa destination in southwestern Pennsylvania, has invested $50 million in property enhancements since 2015. In addition to resortwide room and rental home renovations, new perks include an adults-only pool and bar, a 32-person hot tub next to a fire pit, a 50-foot free-fall ride in a harness on the QuickJump attraction, and a second Pete Dye-designed golf course—Shepherd’s Rock, opening in July—that offers spectacular views from atop the Allegheny Mountains.

The resort’s 320 accommodations are found in five distinct types of lodging: Falling Rock, a luxury boutique hotel inspired by legendary American architect Frank Lloyd Wright; the Parisian-themed Chateau Lafayette (with a new presidential suite that cost $1 million to create); The Lodge, an English Tudor-style hotel; plus townhomes and luxury vacation homes. Also on-site: a five-star restaurant, a luxury spa, fly-fishing, zip-lining, off-roading in a Jeep, a wildlife nursery (check out the two-toed sloth) and more. 

Rates begin at $259 per night. 

Nemacolin Woodlands Resort | 1001 Lafayette Drive, Farmington, Pennsylvania | 866-399-6957 |

Antiques Abound

Photo by Morgan Hockensmith

Set on the banks of the Rappahannock River, Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast—the birthplace of President James Madison—is a haven for history buffs and antiques aficionados. Michelle Darnell and her husband, Brett, opened the plantation home as a B&B in 2013, and it has garnered much recognition, including a spot on TripAdvisor’s 2017 list of the Top 25 B&Bs and Inns in the U.S. The couple has meticulously decorated the public rooms and four suites in period antiques that reflect the eras of the mansion’s former occupants, beginning with James Madison’s mother’s family, the Conways, who owned the property for most of the 1700s.

Interior gems are numerous, including a 1720 highboy with a secret drawer that former owners might have used to hide valuables from the redcoats, an 1854 Chickering piano, and four 1800s settees that were used in the movie Lincoln. The home’s second story balconies and outdoor garden areas look out over the river or the 694-acre property’s wheat, soy and corn fields.

Events at Belle Grove that are open to visitors who are not staying overnight include 45-minute mansion tours, antebellum afternoon teas and Civil War reenactments.

Room rates begin at $150 per night and include breakfast in the formal dining room or on the riverside balcony. Note: Another Belle Grove Plantation, the former home of James Madison’s sister, is located in Middletown, Virginia, and is not a B&B.

Belle Grove Plantation Bed & Breakfast | 9221 Belle Grove Drive, King George, Virginia | 540-621-7340 |

Fish Tales

Photo courtesy of Family Fishing Adventures

Set sail on the colorful 35-foot Sea Dragon for a fishing outing fashioned for families. Chris Hendershot and Samantha Polizzi launched Family Fishing Adventures last summer to take anglers along the Chesapeake Bay and Spa Creek. The 90-minute trip begins with a nickname for each passenger (think Big Tuna or Sea Dog Sophia). Capt. Chris—aka Capt. Reel—teaches kids how to use bait, lures and a fishing rod and reel, and where to drop (and later retrieve) crab traps. He also shares tidbits on Maryland’s fishing culture, tips on identifying marine life, and ideas for helping to preserve and protect the Chesapeake Bay. While the outings are kid-oriented, parents and teens can fish, too.

Daily sailings May 6 through Labor Day at 9:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 4 p.m. Weekend sailings continue through October. Reserve in advance. $20, $16 for kids age 5 and under.

Family Fishing Adventures | Annapolis City Marina, 410 Severn Ave., Annapolis |  410-279-8325 |