Looking for a great place for a mini-vacation? Why not try a local ski resort? Yes, I'm aware we are months away from snow, and no, I’m not crazy. Today’s ski resorts have gotten creative and turned the slopes into miles of summer fun. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or more of a chicken little (like me), you can find fun-filled activities in the mountains. I even took the leap and did the zip line. And if I haven't quite convinced you consider this: while temps in Washington inched up to 100, the mountains remained a delightful 80 degrees.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort, West Virginia
West Virginia’s tagline “Wild and Wonderful” perfectly describes summer in Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Riding the two chairlifts gives you a bird’s-eye view of the jaw-dropping West Virginia Mountains and lake below. And if you’re lucky, while riding the chairlift you might catch a glimpse of some extreme bikers careening down the mountain in head-to-toe gear. But don’t fear, there are trails for bikers of all levels. I did the RZR tour: think Mad Max complete with a four-wheel drive/off-road vehicle. The trip, with a guide in a lead vehicle, gave us a taste of the exciting terrain (rocks, creeks, overhanging trees) and a chance to climb the 100-foot Fire Tower for more remarkable views. I learned too late that if it’s dry, it’s dusty, and if it's rainy, it’s muddy, so dress accordingly. And down at Shavers Lake, where we enjoyed evening s’mores, you can swim, paddle board, canoe, sit on the sandy beach or relax in a hammock. The mountain-top Village has accommodations, unique shops, a selection of restaurants, a zip line down the mountain and free concerts. We particularly enjoyed the hot tub, pool and spa.
Wisp Resort, Maryland
Wisp, in Western Maryland, offers a lovely surprise -- the world’s only mountaintop re-circulating whitewater course. This 1/3-mile long manmade river features six variable wave shapers that produce up to Class lll rapids. Built to host Olympic caliber races, they can make adjustments for us mere mortals. We watched rafters maneuver down the rapids and around rocks, and yes, occasionally wipe out. Wisp also has a Mountain Coaster, the only one of its kind in the Mid-Atlantic region. Whooping and hollering echoed as adults and kids traveled the gravitational pull of this hybrid Alpine slide/roller coaster. The coaster starts with a 1,300-foot uphill motorized climb followed by 3,500 feet of downhill twists, turns and dips over 350 vertical feet on the eastern side of Wisp Mountain. Disc golf, hiking, biking, climbing, and zip lining add to the thrills on the mountain. There are also two golf courses, plus the many water activities to be found at Deep Creek Lake.
Wintergreen Resort, Virginia
Before we even got to our accommodations on the mountaintop, there were breathtaking overlooks. I took a deep breath and felt the city stress melt away. Wintergreen Resort is known for its tennis and 45 challenging holes of championship golf. The Devils Knob Golf course is the highest course in Virginia and features striking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Plunge, Virginia’s largest tubing park, is a wintertime favorite that transforms to a summer thrill. Imagine being on top of a ten story building and traveling over three football fields--without snow. And you don’t have to trudge up any hills -- there’s a conveyor lift to bring you and your tube back up. The Zip -- soaring down 900 feet with speeds approaching 40 mph in less than 30 seconds -- is definitely for the adrenaline seekers. Mountain biking trails, for intermediate and expert bikers only, traverse a forested landscape and lie between two ski slopes. If you’re a weekend warrior, as we were, book a massage at the luxury spa. And if you're feeling short on activities, hit the 20-acre lake at Monocan Park.
Canaan Valley Resort State Park, West Virginia
Canaan Valley Resort is situated in a scenic, tranquil setting and is nestled on a plateau overlooking the valley, offering sweeping views of the surrounding peaks. Stay in one of the new 160 guest rooms and suites. The outside porch is a popular gathering spot. For breakfast or lunch, stop at the little café. There is also a dining room for breakfast or dinner. With four biking trails ranging from easy to difficult you can easily find your comfort level. Hikers have 11 trails to choose from again offering easy to difficult. Ride the ski lift for a breathtaking scenic view of the valley and surrounding Allegheny Mountains. Of course, there's always golf, an outdoor and indoor pool and clay shooting if you run out of activities.