Stay and Play

Vacation at home this summer and enjoy all the region has to offer

In the height of summer, just about everyone starts longing for a sunny getaway. But during this vacation season, you won’t need to travel far to find fun in the sun. There is plenty to do close to home without having to maneuver flight schedules or waste precious vacation days in the car.
The recent economic downturn has changed many things – including what some people are willing to spend on travel and recreation. Even through experts claim the economy is on the rebound, many are still trimming their expenses ¬—including travel. Flights, rental cars and tank upon tank of gasoline may not be in your immediate future, but sticking close to home doesn’t mean you can’t have just as much fun on your “staycation.”
Our region is brimming with sights and attractions both in town and within a tank’s worth of gas, perfect for planning a week’s worth of activities for the family or enjoying a spur-of-the-moment day off.
Aside from providing a great opportunity to discover all your town has to offer, there are many other advantages to planning a “staycation”—like not having to leave your creature comforts behind. Curl up in your own bed, sleep on your own pillow and, best of all, avoid long lines at the airport. Here are some ideas to help get you started on your path to local summer fun:
 

At Alpine Lake Resort (700 West Alpine Dr., Terra Alta, W.Va.  26764; 800/752-7170), enjoy an extraordinary place of natural beauty and serenity that is an ideal setting for a weekend getaway or a four-seasons vacation or retirement home. This secure, award-winning residential and recreational community of more than 490 homes on 2,300 heavily wooded acres features a pristine 148-acre lake and sits at an elevation of 2,800 feet. Alpine Lake’s 18-hole golf course was chosen by Golf Traveler magazine as being a top-50 "scenic & friendly" destination in the U.S. and the tenth hole has water surrounding the putting green on three sides. The resort offers hiking and biking trails, a boathouse, 35-room motel, lodge with conference facilities, bar and restaurant, beach, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, fishing, golf, tennis, miniature golf, exercise room, basketball and cross-country skiing. Alpine Lake is located approximately one hour from Morgantown, W.Va. (I-68), and 15 minutes from Oakland, Md. (Rt. 219S) and Deep Creek Lake (Garrett County). Affordable mountain home building sites and vacation rentals are available.
 

Gear up for a fabulous Pittsburgh staycation, because Carnegie Science Center (One Allegheny Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15212; 412/237-3400) is your destination. All you need is your imagination. Want to escape to a tropical paradise? The Ultimate Wave Tahiti immerses you in a surfing adventure on the biggest screen in Pittsburgh. See exotic fish at SeaScape. Blast off into Outer Space in the hi-def, digital planetarium. Tour western Pennsylvania with the Miniature Railroad & Village®. Go on a real Cold War-era submarine. Get lost in the moment with exciting science demonstrations and more. You even can go rock climbing or feel the thrill of a roller coaster simulator in Highmark SportsWorks®, and discover a binary world in roboworld™. It’ll be a sensation! For more information, visit the Web site at carnegiesciencecenter.org, or call 412/237-3400.

Escape this summer to the Gateway Lodge (Route 36, Cooksburg, Pa. 16217; 800/843-6862), tucked in the heart of Cook Forest. Whether it be indulging in the amenities such as the Woods Spa featuring Aveda products, or the fine dining offering locally sourced food, or adventuring into the great outdoors, the Gateway Lodge and surrounding area offer something for either the indulgent or the adventurous. Built in 1934, accommodations at the Gateway Lodge range from charming historic rooms to fireside Jacuzzi suites to rustic cabins—something sure to suit everyone. Call to reserve your summer getaway at 800/843-6862 or visit the Gateway Lodge online at gatewaylodge.com.

Step out of the ordinary and into a luxurious destination where streams run, mountains soar, fairways unfold and exploration beckons at the Omni Bedford Springs Resort (2138 Business Route 220, Bedford Springs, Pa.  15522; 814/623-8100). Nestled quietly for over two centuries in the foothills of the Alleghenies and fed by ancient mineral springs, Omni Bedford Springs Resort entices the senses with savory cuisine, a pampered spa experience, lavish amenities and endless activity—all in an atmosphere of relaxed, luxurious elegance. An enchanting history and captivating memories that span the course of over 200 years allow you to experience history reborn. With miles of winding hiking and biking trails, sumptuous cuisine and golf that harkens back to the game’s traditional roots in America, Omni Bedford Springs Resort is a getaway beyond compare. 

For his final overture in Pittsburgh, The Phantom of the Opera returns to the Benedum Center (719 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa.  15222; 412/456-4800) Aug. 25 through Sept. 19 to take your breath away. Presented by PNC Broadway Across America, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s international award-winning phenomenon directed by Harold Prince has woven its magical spell over standing room audiences in more than 100 cities worldwide and is now the longest running show in Broadway history. Don’t miss your last chance to experience this timeless story of seduction and despair and the one show The London Sunday Times called “God’s gift to the musical theatre." Tickets are on sale now at phantom.pgharts.org, 412/456-4800 and the Box Office at Theater Square.  Groups of 15+ receive special rates; call 412/471-6930 for details.

The names are revered. The plays forever etched in the collective memory of football fans everywhere. They are the giants of the game. And to pay homage, you must go to the one place sacred enough to immortalize such heroes—the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2121 George Halas Dr. Northwest, Canton, Ohio  44708; 330/456-8207). It is there that childhood memories are revisited and new ones made. There, your passion is rekindled and breathtaking moments brought to life. It is there…that legends live. From humble beginnings to the most recent Super Bowl, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame you’ll explore captivating, interactive exhibits, celebrated artifacts and larger-than-life legends in a setting unparalleled by any other sports museum. For more information, call or visit the Web site.

RiverQuest (dock near Carnegie Science Center, 1 Allegheny Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15212; 412/231-2712) offers one-hour ecology sails almost every Saturday. Come aboard EXPLORER for a family-friendly voyage to discover what lives in our rivers, and how people can help preserve the environment. Check out microscopic plankton and creepy macroinvertebrates, and find out what makes RiverQuest EXPLORER the world’s first “green” education boat. Tickets are sold in the Carnegie Science Center lobby for $6 a person this summer. RiverQuest’s dock is next to the USS Requin Submarine, between the Science Center and Rivers Casino. For the full schedule of RiverQuest sails, call or visit the Web site.
 

Centrally located on the East Coast and boasting over 35 miles of beachfront property, Virginia Beach (800/VA-BEACH) entices visitors to “live the life.” Enjoy outdoor adventure, exciting events, coastal cuisine and Virginia Beach’s 3-mile long boardwalk, perfect for strolling, biking or just watching the passersby. Paddle a kayak alongside frolicking dolphins, charter a fishing boat, explore a national wildlife refuge, and hang ten on a surfboard. Discover Virginia Beach’s fascinating marine life; the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center features more than 700,000 gallons of aquariums and more than 300 hands-on exhibits. Virginia Aquarium has unleashed Restless Planet, an interactive journey through four modern-day habitats that chronicle Virginia’s ecological history. For dining and nightlife, Town Center spans 17 city blocks of shopping, dining and entertainment.