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Nearby Cold-Weather Getaways to Beat the Winter Blues

by Staff

PHOTO COURTESY SEVEN SPRINGS

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Let’s face it, winter in Pittsburgh can be downright depressing; the skies are overcast (even more so than usual), the roads are filled with potholes and — perhaps my least favorite — it gets dark before 5 p.m., making the commute home from work feel like it could be at midnight. 

But! If you enjoy skiing, outdoor sports or just curling up before a fire, there are plenty of ways to make the cold-weather feel magical, including embracing it with a short getaway. Here are our picks for winter day trips that range from the family friendly to the romantic.  

1

OMNI BEDFORD SPRINGS RESORT

Omni Bedford Springs Resort

Relax and get rejuvenated at the historic Omni Bedford Springs Resort. Located less than 2 hours from Pittsburgh in the Allegheny Mountains, the AAA Four Diamond award-winning resort boasts both an indoor and outdoor pool, as well as one of the country’s first golf courses. For those looking to indulge, the resort’s spa treatments are inspired by the natural healing of springs first used by Native Americans. 

There also are six indoor and outdoor dining venues (among them the 1796 Room and The Crystal Room) serving up local produce and signature drinks. Guests may easily explore downtown Bedford, including with a variety of historic tours.

Worth noting: the 30,000-square-foot Springs Eternal Spa will undergo maintenance Jan 2-18. At that time, the Relaxation Lounge, Bedford Baths and locker rooms will not be accessible. The spa’s front desk will still operate as usual, as will the salon and retail areas. 

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PHOTO: SEVEN SPRINGS INSTAGRAM

Slopeside Hotel by Seven Springs Resort

There’s a reason Pittsburghers flock to the Laurel Highlands when the weather turns cold. Located about an hour outside the city, the scenic area is home to several ski resorts, including Laurel Mountain, Hidden Valley and Seven Springs; all three properties are operated by Vail Resorts. 

The largest of the three, Seven Springs, consists of 285 skiable acres and 750 vertical feet. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, the slopeside Main Lodge — attached to a 418-room hotel and conference center — houses an indoor pool, a bowling alley, a miniature golf course, an arcade and even an ax-throwing venue. For those seeking relaxation, the full-service Trillium Spa offers a variety of massages, facial and body treatments and salon services. 

If strapping on skis isn’t your thing (but you still want to partake in outdoor activities), you can still get your thrills at the resort’s popular snow tubing park. 

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Chateau May 2020

THE CHATEAU AT NEMACOLIN WOODLANDS RESORT | PHOTOS COURTESY NEMACOLIN

Nemacolin

For the ultimate in luxury, there’s no place quite like Nemacolin in Farmington, Fayette County. Spread across the resort’s five distinct accommodations (among them The Chateau and The Grand Lodge) are fine dining, a number of spas and holistic service providers, clay shooting, horseback riding, painting classes, golf courses and a zoo  — and that’s just to start.  

Among the resort’s winter offerings are skiing and snowboarding at The Peak, which has six slopes ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert, snow tubing, outdoor ice skating, dogsledding and cross-country skiing. 

During the holidays, Nemacolin also offers bedtime elf visits for overnight guests and time with Santa at the Hardy Holiday House. 

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Great Wolf Lodge

Get outside of Pittsburgh with a trip to a wilderness lodge. OK, not really, but Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio (about 3 hours from Pittsburgh) is a woodlands-themed indoor/outdoor waterpark with fun for the whole family. 

The resort is best known for its number of waterslides, but there’s also a lazy river, family-friendly hot tubs and several water play areas. There’s no need to dine out as the resort houses several on-site restaurants, including pizza and pasta at Hungry as a Wolf and breakfast at Gitchigoomie. Other, non-water related activities include an arcade, bowling alley, MagiQuest interactive adventure, a sluicing mine for kids and a Build-A-Bear Workshop. 

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Gateway Lodge

For those looking to take a more romantic winter break, Gateway Lodge, a family-owned wilderness lodge in Cook Forest State Park, offers fireside suites, cabins and farm-to-table dining alongside the scenic Clarion River. 

Just the lodge’s location alone in a majestic old-growth forest makes for a winter wonderland. Cook Forest State Park has close to 30 miles of hiking trails, all of which are open to winter recreation. Three groomed trails are available for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Or, take a walk along the Clarion River, where otters are known to frolic in the snow and slide down ice-covered riverbanks. 

Thrill seekers can check out Henry’s Run Day Use Area, where there’s a dedicated sledding area, or lace up their skates (rentals are available at the Cooksburg Dry Goods store) for a spin around the picturesque Cook Forest State Park Ice Skating Rink, which is surrounded by snow-covered trees. 

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The Hotel Hershey

No matter the time of year, Hersey, less than 4 hours from Pittsburgh, is a delicious destination. Besides Hersheypark, the beloved chocolate-inspired amusement park, the region is home to The Hershey Story Museum, where visitors can learn about Hershey chocolate founder Milton Hershey, as well as create their own treat in the Chocolate Lab. There’s also the Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction, where visitors can experience how chocolate is made while savoring Hershey’s-inspired treats and drinks. 

There’s also no shortage of things to do in Hershey during the holidays. Chocolate World hosts events with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a holiday-themed trolley and the Hershey’s Holiday Chocolate House. Hersheypark also holds its annual Christmas Candylane, featuring more than 5 million twinkling lights, plus visits from Santa and his reindeer, through Jan. 1. 

Situated high atop the town of Hershey, the historical Hotel Hershey, built in the 1930s, offers several Hersheypark packages, including a Christmas Candycane Lane offer. Even if you don’t head to the amusement park, the luxury hotel’s amenities, among them an indoor waterpark and a chocolate-inspired spa, add up to a sweet getaway.

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