People who don’t live in Virginia are often surprised to learn how mountainous the state actually is — or even that Virginia has mountains at all. In a state known for wine, historic presidential homes, and proximity to the nation’s capital, beautiful mountain views aren’t always the first image that comes to mind. But mountains and mountain towns stretch over 200 miles throughout the state.
So when the mountains call and you must go, you don’t need to book a flight to Colorado or Vermont; there are eight mountain ranges in Virginia to satisfy your hankering for crisp, clean air, including the Blue Ridge Mountains, Allegheny Mountains, and Appalachian Mountains. Try a winter hike, ice skating, skiing, and plenty of other cold-weather activities during a getaway to one of these spots. A retreat at a mountain resort can offer wintertime fun, as well as relaxation with spa services and leisurely dinners at the resort or in town.
No matter what a mountain getaway looks like to you — whether it involves skiing every day, getting a massage, swimming in an indoor pool, or just watching snow fall outside the windows — here are four top resorts for retreats among the mountaintops right within
This escape is very popular, and for good reason — it is an expansive, 72,000-square-foot mountain resort that includes a fitness center, spa, and enough activities to keep everyone happy, from couples to families. The Omni Homestead is located in Hot Springs, which may not sound like a wintry place, but it’s nestled in the Allegheny Mountains. The namesake hot springs make this resort a luxurious hidden gem. The indoor pool, built in 1904 and located right by the spa, is naturally fed by the warm spring waters.
Keep the kids busy with the Homestead Adventure Kids program, which includes activities like crafts, movies, playtime, and more for children ages 5 to 10. They’ll have a good time, and you and your partner can get a chance to go off on your own adventure or have a relaxing dinner for two.
This historic resort has 483 luxurious guest rooms and suites with private patios, fireplaces, and separate living areas in the larger suites. Enjoy the views, as well as the endless opportunities to ski, snowboard, ice skate, and snow tube. At the spa, guests can indulge in treatments like a hot stone or deep tissue massage, or pick from a variety of other options like hanakasumi, a Japanese body treatment tradition that includes applying cherry blossoms and rice powder followed by exfoliation. After your spa treatment, make sure to decompress in the adults-only Serenity Garden pool, open year-round and kept warm by the springs. 7696 Sam Snead Hwy., Hot Springs
Shadow Mountain Escape
If you prefer a rustic-yet-romantic mountain getaway, opt for one of four cabins with exposed wooden beams at Shadow Mountain in Luray, located on 15 acres at the edge of Shenandoah National Park. In addition to gazing at the mountain views, you can try skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing, among other popular winter activities. There is a half-mile nature trail on the property, as well as an observation tower and a stone courtyard.
February is Valentine’s Month at Shadow Mountain, and all guests receive a complimentary red velvet cake. There are several local wineries to explore on the nearby Blue Ridge Whisky Wine Loop, including DuCard Vineyards and Rappahannock Cellars, along with breweries and distilleries. Try stopping in for a tasting after a hike on a chilly day.
Visitors at this “Virginia Green” energy-efficient resort can get trip-planning assistance to squeeze in all the area has to offer, like a visit to Luray Caverns, a trip along Skyline Drive, or a day in Front Royal or Flint Hill. The resort offers a variety of packages for couples — but no kids or pets are allowed at this quiet retreat. 1132 Jewell Hollow Rd., Luray
Mountain Lake Lodge
You’ll have a cozy getaway at this lodge, set in a 2,600-acre nature preserve and tucked into the Appalachian Mountains, where the hit 1986 movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. This retreat truly encourages guests to unplug. Choose from rooms in the main lodge, cabins, and cottages that don’t include TVs so you can enjoy the mountain views and wintry scenes.
If you really can’t break from technology, the 16 Chestnut Lodge Rooms — which are larger than the rooms in the main lodge — each have a TV and Wi-Fi. They also include wood-burning fireplaces, so your iPad or phone scrolling will be a little cozier.
There are some great farm-to-table dining options at the lodge, too. Harvest’s seasonal menu features dishes with Appalachian character, made with local meat and produce. Stony Creek Tavern is the resort’s central gathering spot, a rustic bar with local craft brews to sip on, as well as stone fireplaces and several TVs for catching your favorite sports game.
If the great outdoors is calling and you can brave the temperatures, you’ll want to take part in this resort’s winter activities, including sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and a bonfire pit. 115 Hotel Cir., Pembroke
This beautiful resort sits southwest of Charlottesville, beyond Virginia’s wine country on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has 230 villa-style condos as well as rental homes that can sleep large groups. Both types of lodgings come with full kitchens and living room areas — plus, most include fireplaces to help you warm up after a long day spent on the slopes. Balconies and private decks offer guests a chance to relax outdoors with a warm cup of tea if it isn’t too chilly to enjoy the stunning winter views and scenery.
Wintergreen Resort is a four-season mountain retreat on 11,000 acres, with black diamond skiing; snowboarding; and snowtubing with jumps, a terrain park, and immaculately kept runs. Plus, you can get packages, lift tickets, and season passes for all your winter activities. But there’s also a full-service spa, as well as four restaurants with a variety of dining options on-site; if you’re tired and sore from skiing on your last day here, book a body wrap and indulge in a delicious meal. This resort also has its own indoor Aquatics & Fitness Center for any indoor-only workouts and swimming you’d like to do. 39 Mountain Inn Loop, Roseland
Feature image of Omni Homestead
This story originally ran in our February issue. For more stories like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.