Resorts that Rock!: West Virginia’s One-Of-A-Kind Activities
February 25, 2016|
Compiled by Jennifer Jett Prezkop
Ready to take your next West Virginia resort visit to a whole new level? Ten resorts in the Mountain State are prepared to make your next stay your most unique.
The Caponchase Adventure will have you scrambling to crack the code in this “The Da Vinci Code” style, multi-player adventure treasure hunt while the Escape Room will have you racking your brain to decipher the clues that will grant you your freedom. Animal lovers will feel right at home at The Good Zoo and have the opportunity of a lifetime at the Falconry. Outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike will have a deep appreciation for Pioneer Farm, the Thomas D. Ambrose Nature Center and Stonewall Jackson Lake cruises. There’s something for the kids too: the radio-controlled car tracks will keep them spinning their wheels while the Big Top entertains with inflatables, a climbing wall and other indoor, family-friendly activities.
Whether your next stay is work or leisure, bring the family and explore West Virginia’s resorts that rock.
When you get away to Capon Springs & Farms, a 4,700-acre historic mountain resort in the Potomac Highlands, you have the unique opportunity to try the Caponchase Adventure, a code-cracking, immersive multi-player adventure game. A combination treasure hunt and
history puzzle with elements reminiscent of “The Da Vinci Code,” Caponchase was an instant hit when first introduced in 2007.
To begin the quest, teams of four to six members receive a worksheet and copies of the adventure’s rules and clues. Teams then disperse to seek, sleuth and solve while exploring some of the unusual, hidden and surprising gems around the resort grounds. Challenging but solvable, each clue leads you closer to completing the adventure and finishing the game. Designed for ages 13 and up, the Caponchase Adventure is especially popular with multigenerational family reunions and group teambuilding retreats.
Capon Springs & Farms’ idyllic woodland setting, centuries-old history and time-honored traditions make it the perfect site to stage this one-of-a-kind activity. While general resort knowledge is helpful, participants thrive when they work together using math, creative thinking and problem solving skills. The game itself is completely self-directed so it can be initiated and completed at any time. When several teams are involved in a competitive environment, an official start and stop time is designated for the quest.
To keep the game fresh and challenging, each year one of the third-generation resort owners develops a new edition of Caponchase Adventure. So come with your family, friends or coworkers and jump into the 2016 version of this unique search and decipher game.
For more information, visit www.caponsprings.net or call (304) 874-3695.
An exciting form of interactive entertainment, Escape Rooms have taken America by storm in the last couple of years. The Resort at Glade Springs is pleased to offer the first Escape Room in the Southern West Virginia/western Virginia region.
The premise of an Escape Room is very simple. You and a group of friends or colleagues are locked in a room containing clues that lead to your escape if you decipher them within a 45-minute time limit. Using all of your wits, everyone is challenged to put their heads together to decipher the available clues before time is up. As the clock ticks, the challenge builds up to becoming a uniquely intense, engaging and immersive experience.
Because it requires analytical skills, creativity, problem-solving and the ability to work well with others, the Escape Room is the perfect teambuilding exercise for companies and organizations. These qualities also make it a welcome departure from ordinary entertainment for an evening out with friends or a date night to remember, followed by dinner and drinks at one of the resort’s dining venues.
This activity is recommended for ages 16 and up. Time slots are available Tuesday-Thursday, 4-7 p.m., and Friday-Saturday, 2-9 p.m. To book a time slot, groups must have a minimum of two participants and can have a maximum of six. Tickets are available exclusively online at www.gladesprings.ticketleap.com/escape or via the ticketing app on the Escape Room’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GladeEscapeRoom.
Ice Skating Rink
When you think of winter fun at Canaan Valley Resort State Park in Tucker County, you’re likely to think of the terrific downhill skiing; the new snow tubing park, which is currently the longest tube run in the eastern United States, or maybe even cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. When you’re looking for an activity that’s a little more low-key but still allows you to enjoy the cold weather, head to Canaan’s new outdoor skating rink.
The covered rink, which overlooks both the valley and the Allegheny Mountains, gives skaters a fabulous view while they try to master their figure eights. The rink features an outdoor fireplace, the perfect spot for relaxing or drinking hot chocolate, and is located behind the new 160-room Canaan Valley Lodge. The rink is lit at night so the fun can extend even into the dark winter hours.
Two-hour sessions are scheduled throughout the day and evening, providing an opportunity for all levels of skaters. Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced skater or hockey player, you can have a lot of fun on Canaan’s skating rink.
Skating is dependent upon cold weather. Friday and Saturday hours are generally 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Monday-Thursday hours are noon to 8 p.m. Skating sessions are in two-hour increments, and the rink offers an indoor warming area complete with a fireplace, skate rentals, restrooms and concession machines. For more information, visit www.wvstateparks.com or call (304) 866-4121.
Have you ever wondered how our settler ancestors survived and thrived in the new land? Many of them were farmers, and you can get a glimpse of how they worked at the Pioneer Farm at Twin Falls Resort State Park in Wyoming County. It is a popular subject for photographers any time of year, especially in the warmer months when the crops and livestock are most visible.
The Pioneer Farm is the restored home of the Bowers family and appears much as it did when it was first built in the 1830s. In 1915, the Bowers expanded the building into a seven-room frame house, building it around the original cabin. Years later, when the land became part of the park, the decision was made to remove the structure. The original cabin was discovered during the demolition, and the park preserved it, making it available to the public. The cabin is believed to be one of the country’s oldest standing structures.
Pioneer Farm may be viewed year-round. Twin Falls Resort State Park stretches over 3,700 acres and is the ideal site for nature seekers with hiking and biking trails and watchable wildlife. Visitors to Twin Falls can enjoy overnight accommodations ranging from a 47-room lodge to secluded cabins or spacious camping sites at the campground.
Twin Falls provides a sprawling 18-hole, par-71 championship golf course. Other amenities include picnic shelters, an outdoor pool, meeting facilities and a full-service restaurant. For more information, visit www.twinfallsresort.com or call (304) 294-4000.
Radio-Controlled Car Tracks
Kids and adults alike enjoy radio-controlled cars (R/C), and that’s a new outdoor recreation option available at Pipestem Resort State Park in Summers County. Park staff recently converted an underused ice skating area into two R/C race tracks. As weather permits, the R/C tracks are open for use year-round at no charge.
Pipestem sports both a 450-foot dirt terrain track and a 277-foot concrete NASCAR-style oval. The tracks, located adjacent to Pipestem’s Recreation Center, were designed with the help of local R/C enthusiasts. The recreation area also includes an outdoor pool; the Short Course, a challenging par-3 golf course; driving range; disc golf, mini-golf, tennis courts and an amphitheater.
Pipestem boasts year-round nature and activities programs, fling golf, disc golf, horseback riding, a large indoor pool, several restaurants, two golf courses, a lake for fishing and boating and miles of hiking trails. An aerial tramway is open from Memorial Day Weekend through late October. With adequate snow, cross-country skiing and sledding are available. For more information, visit www.pipestemresort.com or call (304) 466-1800.
Stonewall Jackson Lake Cruise
During warmer months, Stonewall Resort, West Virginia’s only AAA Four Diamond lakeside resort, offers its guests a very unique and relaxing lakeside experience. Each evening and twice on Saturdays, overnight guests are treated to a complimentary 45-minute lake cruise aboard a 100-passenger excursion boat called Little Sorrel. Surrounded by the peaceful nature of West Virginia’s rolling mountains, these scenic cruises give guests a serene view of Stonewall Jackson Lake, the state’s second largest lake.
Cruises aboard Little Sorrel have proven to be a favorite activity among resort guests of all ages during the summer months. On major holiday weekends when the resort features a fantastic lakeside firework show, Little Sorrel is docked near the outdoor heated pool, giving guests an exclusive and fantastic view of the brilliant fireworks while enjoying music and their favorite craft beers and cocktails.
October is another favorite time of the year for lake cruises among guests. Once the tree-covered hillsides transform into vibrant displays of color, these cruises become one of the best and most unique ways to enjoy West Virginia’s stunning fall foliage as it glistens on the tranquil waters.
Additionally, meetings, weddings and conferences often rent Little Sorrel for special events such as cocktail receptions, private tours and even murder mystery team building experiences, for which Little Sorrel is playfully known as the Ghost Ship.
Little Sorrel is set to embark on its first cruise of 2016 on March 26 and will run through October. For more information, visit www.stonewallresort.com or call (304) 269-7400.
The Big Top
The Big Top at Snowshoe Mountain Resort is the best place to spend some time off the slopes. This 15,000-square-foot indoor playground is sure to entertain with all it has to offer, including many inflatable options, a Wii, a tots’ area, a climbing wall, Eurobungy and a snack bar with options for children and adults. Bring the whole family for live entertainment, craft sessions and movie nights. Throughout the year the Big Top offers varying entertainment from magic shows to Santa Clause.
The Big Top is open during the winter months from November-March. Check the weekly operating guide for hours and special events. Parents must sign a waiver for anyone under 18 years of age, and children 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Admission is free for Snowshoe Mountain lodging guests and children six years and under; for all others, admission is $20 a day. For more information, visit www.snowshoemtn.com or call (877) 441-4386.
In 1994, most high-end resorts were focused on putting heads in beds. The Greenbrier saw that lifestyle resorts—resorts focused on outdoor activities—were the next trend in the affluent travel market. Thanks to the unique combination of The Greenbrier’s clientele and the offerings of the Falconry & Raptor Education Foundation, a hotel tradition was born.
Falconry, the art of flying trained birds of prey after wild game, is a highly regulated pastime practiced by roughly 4,000 falconers in the United States. The regulations, which are enforced by both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, require special housing and training before acquiring and flying the captive-bred hawks and falcons.
Hotel guests and members of the community are invited to take part in both the beginner and intermediate falconry lessons. During the beginner lesson, guests have the opportunity to interact with the trained birds of prey in a small group setting. They learn the difference between hawks, falcons and owls; witness a flying demonstration and end with a chance to hold one of the trained raptors.
After a falconry guest has completed the beginner lesson, they are qualified to join an intermediate lesson. During this lesson, the guest has a chance to don a custom-made falconry glove and have a Harris’s Hawk return to their fist several times during an easy walk through the woods.
Over the last 23 seasons, the Falconry & Raptor Education Foundation has introduced more than 50,000 people to the ancient sport of falconry. In fact, when professional golfer Tom Watson was asked to name his favorite non-golf activity at The Greenbrier, he firmly declared falconry. The falconry program has become one of the cannot-miss experiences that makes The Greenbrier unique.
Lessons are scheduled four times a day and are available by reservation. Reservations can be made by calling (304) 661-3551 or by visiting www.falconryacademy.com.
The Good Zoo
If you’re looking for something a little more on the wild side during your visit to Oglebay Resort & Conference Center in Wheeling, the Good Zoo should be at the top of your list.
Dedicated in memory of 7-year-old Philip Mayer Good in 1977, the Good Zoo is West Virginia’s only AZA-accredited zoo with a mission to educate visitors regarding natural and physical sciences and promote conservation.
The zoo is home to 70 species, and more than 20 of those are rare or endangered. Guests can feed the colorful parrots at Lorikeet Landing and visit with kangaroos and wallabies at the Outback Exhibit. At the Wonders of the Wetlands, visitors can observe animals and plants that call these fragile areas home.
While at the zoo, the historic C.P. Huntington Train takes visitors on a one-and-a-half-mile journey through the zoo. The red barn on-site is filled with friendly, domestic animals such as llamas, goats and donkeys.
The popular Animal Encounters program allows zoo guests to go into animal exhibits with the keepers to help feed and train some of the zoo’s animals, including ring-tailed lemurs, mongoose lemurs, red pandas and river otters. Inside, visitors will find the hands-on Discovery Lab plus indoor exhibits with meerkats, poison dart frogs, cotton-top and golden lion tamarins, Komodo dragons, snakes and other small animals. The Benedum Theater at the zoo features a variety of programs about nature and the universe, as well as exciting holiday laser shows during the Winter Festival of Lights. The zoo also houses West Virginia’s largest zero-gauge model train display.
A variety of camps, workshops and volunteer programs for all ages are offered at the Good Zoo. For more information on hours, rates and programs, visit www.oglebay-resort.com/goodzoo or call (304) 243-4030.
Thomas D. Ambrose Nature Center
Outdoor enthusiasts have found they can have fun and learn something at the same time all year long at Cacapon Resort State Park, located near Berkeley Springs in Morgan County. The Cacapon Nature Center and trails make a great starting point for understanding what makes Cacapon—and West Virginia—so special.
The Thomas D. Ambrose Nature Center houses a collection of taxidermy mounts presented in displays representing their natural surroundings. The 19 bird, 15 mammal and 27 fish mounts show past and present inhabitants of the state. Additionally, there are displays about reptiles that include several live specimens, hands-on activities for animal tracks and signs, silhouettes of birds, animal skulls, geology and local Native American artifacts. One of the most popular hands-on activities features the snakes of West Virginia with live snakes for holding.
After exploring the nature center, it’s time to go outside, where park guests and visitors can participate in naturalist-led explorations of the park’s many trails, concentrating on animals, insects, plants and their environment. Hikes and nature walks cover things like wildlife identification, bird calls, identifying edible wild food and the history of the people who built the park nearly a century ago.
Every season provides new opportunities to learn about the outdoors and West Virginia’s natural heritage at no cost to those who want to join the fun.
Offering 6,000 acres of exciting outdoor getaways any time of year, Cacapon Resort State Park provides golfing, lake activities, hiking opportunities, vacation cabins, a restaurant and golf academy in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle. For more information, call (304) 258-1022 or visit www.cacaponresort.com.