A Cabin of Our Own
December 1, 2020 1:12 PM   Subscribe

Where can I spend a week in the woods or on the beach in late January, with my boyfriend and dog? Must be a reasonably easy drive from the Washington, DC area.

Ordinarily, I would suggest a big trip! But it's Covid-times so the idea is to have a contactless vacation within reasonably easy driving distance. We will take my car, which is a thirteen-year-old subcompact (albeit pretty rugged). In my mind, "reasonable" means less than 8 hours.

What We Want:
-- A beautiful setting. I would especially like the woods or the beach, but something very natural and serene. A national park would be ideal!
-- Must allow pets (dog, specifically!). I like to let my dog off-leash within reason, so I would prefer if the cabin is fairly secluded and we won't get into trouble for that.
-- Near water is great, near the ocean or bay would be fantastic.
-- It's meant to be a romantic getaway, so a snug little cabin with a fireplace would be wonderful.
-- Self-catering is OK. I'm not super into cooking but I get that there aren't a lot of non-self-catering but safe options at the moment. May have further questions about this later.

The plans are the read, hike, enjoy each other. My boyfriend has a drone he will probably want to fly. I might want to bake or knit something. You know, normal vacation stuff.

Whenever I search, I just get a bunch of links for AirBnBs. I'm not totally opposed to an AirBnB if that's genuinely all there is, but I'd prefer a more professional operation if possible.

What I would REALLY like is some kind of cabin actually in Shenandoah National Park or something like that, but I don't know if that's feasible, especially given the constraints regarding my dog.
posted by rue72 to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
No specific advive, but drones are categorically prohibited (with very few allowances) on NPS land.
posted by cobaltnine at 1:19 PM on December 1, 2020 [6 favorites]

Try https://www.vrbo.com/ (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

It is a more professional precursor to AirBnB.

I always stay at places rated with five stars, and I've always had a pleasant experience. I've been using it for a few years.
posted by NotLost at 1:23 PM on December 1, 2020

You're not too far from the Outer Banks in NC, and some of the big houses on Hatteras or Ocracoke Islands may have very affordable rentals even in the winter, many with ocean or sound views. South Hatteras or Ocracoke may be warmer because of proximity to the gulf stream. Beach hiking can be tiring and some find it dull, but you will feel wild and rugged. Careful your dog doesn't drink sea water. Bring a bunch of food because options will be rather limited.
posted by Mngo at 1:42 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

I asked a quite similar question several years ago! I found a place on VRBO that was just perfect, and I liked it so much I went back again--paying the owners directly the next time instead of going through VRBO. Saved me a few bucks, saved them a few bucks, win-win. Definitely spend some time poking around on the site. Not sure how their UI has changed in the last few years but back when I was searching it had little filter options for fireplace, etc, that I found super useful.
posted by phunniemee at 1:43 PM on December 1, 2020

Best answer: Most Virginia State parks have cabins. Generally cheaper than private houses, most (if not all) have fireplaces, all are pet-friendly, all are in nature, most if not all have kitchens, and many are on rivers or lakes. Closest parks to DC are less than a 2 hour drive, and the farthest one is just under 8 hours. Take a look at Douthat, but there are many other good choices.

The one downside: Because of Covid, "Guests must bring all linens: sheets, pillow cases, blankets, towels, bath mat, kitchen towels and cloths. All beds feature sanitizeable mattress covers and pillows for the protection of our guests and staff." Bring your own pillows too, because the Covid-safe ones are awful, and it would be a good idea to bring your own regular mattress cover: the plastic ones are super slippery, so our sheet was constantly falling off.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:05 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

Blackwater State Park in WV? The cabins appear open.
posted by atomicstone at 2:09 PM on December 1, 2020

National Parks are closed right now, hard to predict, but I wouldn't expect them to be open in January. I just visited Acadia NP, roads are open, absolutely no amenities, not even porta-potties.
posted by theora55 at 2:40 PM on December 1, 2020

There are loads of cabins in the Canaan Valley of West Virginia that should fit the bill. The cabins in Blackwater State Park are nice and there are tons and tons of very professionally run cabin rentals outside the park as well. You might check out Canaan Realty just to see what some of the options are.
posted by fancypants at 6:14 PM on December 1, 2020

Getaway would be great for this. They're all about beautiful settings, allow dogs, and have fire pits. Their Shenandoah cabins/tiny houses appear to be open.
posted by saltypup at 9:21 PM on December 1, 2020 [1 favorite]

A lot of b&b type places in the Shenandoah.
Take skyline drive down, find something where skyline meets BRP.
posted by markbrendanawitzmissesus at 1:45 AM on December 2, 2020

There are definitely dog-friendly cabins within Shenandoah National Park, but unfortunately those are closed for the winter season:


I've been super curious about staying at Skyland or Big Meadows Lodge, though: that's right on skyline drive, as others have said.

I also live in DC! My wife and I just rented an airbnb cabin in Berkeley Springs, WV—it had a fireplace and everything you'd need for self-catering (and a good thing, too: the nearest grocery store was half an hour away, down a mountain, and maybe 70% of the folks in there were masked up). But I'd also be curious to rent a cabin at one of the state-run parks in WV. We stopped by Cacapon Lodge just to wander around the park, and the cabins looked absolutely lovely:


This place has "designated pet-friendly cabins" , and I think the next time we go to West Virginia, that's where we'll try to stay!
posted by IcarusFloats at 9:34 AM on December 2, 2020

This is that AirBnB we had booked, specifically because it was so out of the way and isolated, and dogs were welcome. Not necessarily in the woods, but hiking is close and plentiful, and the kitchen looks really good: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19384982?source_impression_id=p3_1601568006_IGBbbwrop%2FmObSbn It's in Fleischmanns, NY.

Also, what about St. Michaels over on the peninsula? There is a lot over there, some of it not so built up.
posted by Snowishberlin at 2:58 PM on December 3, 2020

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