Where Do I, Where Do I Go?
January 22, 2017 1:59 PM   Subscribe

In a recent conversation, it has occurred to me that I have never had a real, actual vacation. So, I am planning a Spring solo getaway. Complications: anxiety, and I have no idea where I want to go. Melting snowflakes within.

I’d like to go someplace safe and quiet, somewhere I can enjoy the scenery, read and knit without a lot of bother. Some spa amenities would be nice (massages, etc.), and mountainous or beach surroundings. I’m not big into downtown areas but also detest camping. I’ve never been far enough from civilization to be able to see the Milky Way, so that would be neat; although I’d like to be close enough to have a cell signal/Wi-Fi.

I currently live in the DC Metro area and would like to be able to drive 5 or fewer hours to get there, maybe somewhere in the New England-ish area? I'm afraid of flying and would feel more secure not venturing too far from home on my first go due to anxiety issues. Travelers of Mefi, can you help? (Please also let me know if this place I’m thinking of doesn’t exist, but you can recommend something that might work).
posted by jet_pack_in_a_can to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Here is a dark sky map.

New England dark skies seem out of your driving range (but there is a train) but it seems like there other options closer to you.

I hope you have a wonderful vacation. Pick a place with an in house restaurant!
posted by ReluctantViking at 2:11 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

My aunt who has finally started treating her anxiety and related issues, who had never traveled anywhere because of them, has discovered that cruises are the perfect fit for her.

She can arrange her cabin as she likes and it's her stable retreat for decompressing, they often have spas onboard, there are multiple places to sit and relax either with a view or somewhere cozy, you can be around people without being with them, and the various places the cruises go usually have varying levels of hand-holding on tours and ideas for excursions, so you can do different stuff depending on your energy and comfort level at each spot without worrying about the typical travel fears.

You could do a river cruise or an East Coast cruise, which will likely have the additional bonus of functional wifi throughout. Depending on what you choose you can bus/train out to the starting point and end up somewhere close to home or vice versa, so no flying.
posted by Mizu at 2:12 PM on January 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Mizu has a great idea! I have used Vacationstogo many times and think it is the easiest to search for cruises. I wouldn't take one out of Baltimore (no great ships) but from NYC. (You'll want a cruise that shows up as 5.0 rating on that site. Below that the food is meh.)
posted by ReluctantViking at 2:21 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Short drive for you would be the hot springs at The Omni Homestead Resort.

Spas, hot springs, mountain setting, "winter activities such as horseback riding, snowboarding, paintballing, falconry and ice skating. "... pricey, but... everything else is onsite.
posted by slipthought at 2:49 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

You can't get to New England in five hours from DC. There are lodges at Shenandoah National Park (about an hour and a half from DC) that would give you mountains and some access to cell signal (depending on where you are in the park), but no spa treatments, and the Milky Way is iffy there. Staunton River State Park in Nearly North Carolina, VA (not its actual location) is probably four and a half to five hours by car and does have cabins, and it's a Dark Sky Park so your Milky Way chances would be better, but again, no spa services.

The gold standard for luxury retreats around DC is the Greenbrier but it's expensive so I don't know if it's in your budget. You might try looking at Harper's Ferry as a compromise location, though.
posted by fedward at 3:09 PM on January 22, 2017

Parts of West Virginia or far Southwest Virginia might work. Abingdon VA is a quaint little town about 5.5 hr from DC and the Martha has a spa.
posted by basalganglia at 3:19 PM on January 22, 2017

The Outer Banks of North Carolina! Particularly the Kill Devil Hills/Kitty Hawk area or Hatteras Island. Beautiful beaches, right at 5 hours from DC by car, quiet but not dead in the Spring, and enough in "civilization" now that you'll have cell signal and wifi. There are spas. Average temperatures from early April-late May range from mid-60s to mid-70s. You can rent a little cottage, or get a hotel as cheap as Motel 6 or as fancy as an all-inclusive resort or anything in between. I grew up there and it's one of my favorite places to get away when I want time to myself in a beautiful place.
posted by rhiannonstone at 3:48 PM on January 22, 2017

Head south, not north. Until you get pretty far up there into New England, everything in the northeast corridor feels like an extension of DC. Seconding slipthought's suggestion of the Homestead resort - outside my budget but people love it. If you want enough little city for good food & things to do but proximity to scenery, come to Roanoke, VA. Drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway to get here and hike on the Appalachian Trail while you're here. Beware though - some of us who visit from DC never go back.
posted by headnsouth at 3:59 PM on January 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Berkely Springs, West Virginia. We did it for a girlfriends getaway a while back, and it was perfect for what you are describing, and not particularly pricey. It's very, very mellow. There's a nice farmer's market. Lots of places for you to sit and look at the scenery. Nice places to eat. And there's a castle!
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 4:52 PM on January 22, 2017

You might contact the TriState Astronomers Organization which is Maryland, PA and West VA. A relative passed along their Web site to me because they knew I "someday" wanted to get more involved in Astronomy (that hasn't happened yet, but I still had the link).
posted by forthright at 6:59 PM on January 22, 2017

I learned that vacationstogo doesn't have the full prices listed on their site - you can use it to find good cruises then plug it in to cruisecompete to get the best deal!
posted by bbqturtle at 4:53 PM on January 30, 2017

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