Make Time for a Quick Girlfriends’ GetawayApr 30, 2018 04:58PM ● By Vanessa Orr
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all, and if you can do it with a friend, all the better! You don’t have to drive far to spend some quality time with those you love—and your options aren’t limited to shopping or having spa time, either. The best thing about this type of getaway is that you can design it to fit your interests, whether you want to wander a wine trail, peruse a world-class art collection, or snack food binge on a factory tour.
In less than an hour, for example, you can be in the Laurel Highlands, where options range from being seriously pampered at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort to taking house tours of two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous properties.
If you’re looking for outdoor fun, Nemacolin offers 36 holes of championship golf on its two Pete Dye-designed courses, as well as the chance to shoot sporting clays, learn to off-road drive or fly along Mystic Mountain on dueling zip lines.
Art lovers can’t help but be impressed by the multimillion-dollar Hardy Family Art Collection, which is on display throughout Chateau Lafayette—a work of art itself, whose design was based on the Ritz in Paris. The collection features the works of Fernando Botero, Clarice Smith, Frederic Remington, Tiffany Studios, and Frank Stella among others, and you can take a self-guided tour, or join one of the regularly scheduled tours on Wednesday, Friday or Sunday. To finish out your friends’ time, schedule a visit to the Woodlands Spa, which offers more than 100 treatments and services, including massages, body scrubs and wraps, hydrotherapies, facials, manicures and more.
Two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s works of genius are located in the Laurel Highlands, and both are open for tours. Built in 1936 for Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr. and his wife, Liliane, Fallingwater has been called the “greatest house of the 20th century,” and you can see why when you tour the cantilevered home atop Bear Run Creek that blurs the lines between indoors and outdoors. Kentuck Knob, located six miles away, is a little less well-known but just as impressive. The Grand Usonian-style home features all-natural materials and many of Wright’s trademark design features, including a red tile at the front door with his initials. An outdoor nature trail offers an easy hike as well as the chance to see numerous pieces of art that are placed alongside the path.
A two-hour drive will get you to Erie, PA, where you can kick off the beach season early! Presque Isle is open all year, and it’s kind of neat to experience it with no traffic and uncrowded trails. Starting in May, you can rent bikes on weekends (every day after Memorial Day) and enjoy pedaling around the 13.5-mile Karl Boyes Multipurpose Trail, which offers beautiful views of the lake.
You should also stop into the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, where you can learn more about the 3,200 acres of Pennsylvania’s only seashore, or shop at Presque Isle Gallery & Gifts, which features unique works by many local artists. Make sure to visit the new Erie Visitor Center inside—iPads are available to help you navigate all of Erie’s attractions using the Hello Erie mobile app.
Whether you’re biking or driving, you can also enjoy a ride through Lake Erie Wine Country, which traverses the nation’s largest grape-growing territory outside of California. The trail includes 22 wineries along a 50-mile stretch of road between New York and Ohio, and there are numerous stops in the Erie area, all of which are open year-round.
Foodies who are willing to travel a little farther will appreciate two very different kinds of experiences in York, PA and Gettysburg, PA, both of which are roughly 3-1/2 hours away. In York, which is known as the Factory Tour Capital of the World, you can take a tour of Martin’s Snacks, Revonah Pretzel, Snyder’s of Hanover Factory Store and Utz Quality Foods to get a behind-the-scenes look at where your favorite snack foods come from.
York’s new Good Libations Trails include something for everyone—the Mason-Dixon Wine Trail features 15 family-owned wineries in central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland; the Susquehanna Ale Trail highlights 13 breweries in and around York, and the Keystone Craft Spirits Trail provides access to 12 of the finest distilleries that make handcrafted libations worthy of a trip.
While Gettysburg is certainly known for its history, it is also the perfect place to go for fresh ciders and craft beers. About 70 percent of the apples that are grown in Pennsylvania are grown in Adams County, which is also the fourth largest apple producer in the country. Fresh fruits, vegetables and berries are used to make a myriad of authentic local specialties that are served at Thirsty Farmer Brew Works, Hauser Estate Winery, Three Springs Fruit Farm and Adams County Winery, to name a few.
If you prefer your fruit in its original form, make plans to visit in summer when you can head out into the fields and pick your own apples, or visit a local farm market, such as the Historic Round Barn, which is open from May to October.
Whether you want to spend a weekend eating and drinking, hiking and biking, or just flat-out relaxing, you don’t have to go far to find a fun place to go with friends.
To learn more:
The Laurel Highlands: www.laurelhighlands.org
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort: www.nemacolin.com
Erie, PA: www.visiterie.com
York, PA: www.yorkpa.org
Gettysburg, PA: www.destinationgettysburg.com