It's been too long since I gassed up the car and headed out. So recently, I threw a few things in a suitcase, started the car and hit the road. My first stop was the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford Springs Pennsylvania, a 4-Star and 4-Diamond property.
There are 216 rooms spread out over many buildings, most of which are quite historic. It was closed for nearly 20 years but re-opened in 2007. It's situated in the mountains but there is plenty to do regardless of the season.
A few of the activities include Segway rides, fly fishing, volleyball, tennis, golf, hiking, mountain biking, swimming and off road UTV rides. A favorite activity in the evening seemed to be roasting s'mores on an outdoor flame. One activity I strongly recommend is a guided hotel tour.
The area is called Bedford Springs for a good reason, there are springs located on property and nearby. They are said to have medicinal qualities. I can't comment on that, but I did try one. The hotel is listed on the Historic Hotels of America list.
Rates range from $269 to $329. Packages are available. For dining, there is a choice of the Crystal Room, Frontier Tavern or the 1796 Steakhouse. From Baltimore, the resort is about two and a half hours. For more information, visit om
Back in the car, I headed for the National Zoo in Washington, for my first visit. It's located at 3001 Connecticut Avenue in Rock Creek Park. You can get there via car or the Washington Metro Red Line, just get off the Woodley Park exit.
The zoo has about 2,000 individual animals with 400 species. Be prepared to do lots of walking. But you'll hardly notice it because of all the terrific animals you'll see along the way. To really see the zoo, you should allow about four hours, more if you like to linger at the cages. The big news during my visit was the arrival of a baby panda.
Activities include face painting for the kids, a carousel for everyone to ride, food, demos and caricatures. Your best bet is to pick up a map when entering and simply head to what you want to see. I suggest you see it all. But if you came by car and parked on Connecicut Avenue, which many people do, be advised you need to be back to the car by 4 pm. Oh yes, one other minor detail, the zoo is totally free, not counting food.
My next step was only a few miles away. One turn off Connecticut Avenue and I was almost at the front door of the Hillwood Museum, former home to Marjorie Merriweather Post. The actual address is 4155 Linnean Avenue. Miss Post bought the home in 1955 and moved in two years later. As you might know, she was the daughter of the founder of the Postum Cereal Company and happened to be the sole heir. She was married four times and one of her daughters is the actress Dina Merrill.
The mansion and grounds are located on 25 acres adjacent to Rock Creek Park. The mansion is of the Georgian style and was built in 1926. The name Hillwood comes from her Long Island estate. Some of those magnificent mansion rooms include the French Drawing Room, the Russian Porcelain Room, the Pavilion, the Library and the ornate Dining Room.
There is no charge, though they do ask for a donation. You can take a guided tour, highly recommended, or there's an audio tour available. If you get hungry there is a cafe on the grounds serving lunch only. By the way, definitely stroll the grounds. Miss Post is actually buried there. For more information, visit hillwoodmu