Written by Karen Graham
Bundle up and hit the road. These local winter wonderlands are full of adventure—and are less than a tank of gas away.
1600 Mt Aetna Rd.
Frostburg, MD 21532
Why Go? This 35-acre rustic retreat is located in the middle of 750 acres of state forest, but with all the amenities of a five-star resort. Enjoy outdoor activities such as cross country skiing, hiking trails, snowshoeing, snow sleigh rides, and more. For relaxation, there are spa services.
Insider Tip: "You don't have to stay with us to have access to our trails and services. It is only $5 to come and use our trails and we can also provide rentals and lessons," said general manager Emily Newman-Edwards.
Must Do: After a day of outdoor activities, enjoy a glass of wine by the stone fireplace in the lodge.
The Fine Print: It's about a two hour drive from Washington, D.C. The Lodge is pet friendly.
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct.
Vienna, VA 22182
Why Go? Now open for its second year, it's a magical place to walk at night. On the half mile walk through the botanical garden, visitors will see displays with a total of half a million lights. There is a lakeside show set to music, a two- story animated fountain, gingerbread house display and much more.
Insider Tip: To save money, visit during the week and buy your tickets online. "Weeknights are a lot less busy and more laid back," said Elise Pittrizzi, recreation program specialist at Meadowlark.
Must Do: At the end of the trail, there are concessions for sale, such as hot chocolate and a s'mores kit for roasting marshmallows by the bonfire.
The Fine Print: Open until Jan. 5; hours are from 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets are $8 for kids and $13 for adults Thurs. to Sun. and $6 for kids and $12 for adults Mon. to Wed.
13805 Blairs Valley Rd.
Why Go? Just 90 minutes from the DC-area, Whitetail is a year-round destination for outdoor activities, but is particularly popular in the winter for skiing and snow tubing.
Insider Tip: If you have never skied before, start with snow tubing. "It is a nice trip for families and other youth groups," said Katrina Gayman, director of marketing and sales. "We also have fundraising opportunities where groups can get a percentage of the sales from their trip."
Must Do: Snow tubing is similar to sledding, so wear warm clothing that's water- repellant, along with gloves, hat and boots.
The Fine Print: Lifts operate daily are from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Why Go? Now in its second year of operation, it's DC's largest outdoor skating rink. Located in the middle of Georgetown, the rink has the Potomac River as a backdrop.
Insider Tip: "This is a great spot to book a unique birthday party or other family gathering. Rates start at $150 and provides skate rental and admission for 10 people, a party table, and host," general manager Dan Wuchenich said.
Must Do: Enjoy special skate sessions on Saturdays from 12 p.m. - 2 p.m. with cartoon characters out on the rink. College students can skate Thursday nights from 6 p.m. - 9 p.m. and save $2 on admission.
The Fine Print: Skating is open now through March. Adults $10, Children $8. Skate rental $5. Mon. - Thurs. 12 - 9 p.m., Fri. 12 - 10 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.