Whether we’re ready for it or not, winter is only a month and a half away. Want to know a great way to cure the winter blues? A trip! Start planning a winter getaway now, and instead of dreading the coming season, you’ll have something fun to look forward to!
Elevations of over 3,000 feet, 120 inches of yearly snowfall (doubling that of Fairbanks, Alaska), winter temperatures averaging 29 degrees Fahrenheit, 310,733 winter visitor yearly, 172 acres of ski-able terrain, ice fishing, horse drawn sleighs, and historical attractions make this winter destination a must for cold weather travels. Nope, I’m not writing from Colorado or Utah — I’m right in our backyard! Deep Creek offers visitors a vast array of exciting and affordable winter attractions. Why spend hours and hard earned cash traveling far and wide in search of an excellent winter adventure when you can stay right here in Maryland?
Just shy of a three hour drive from Washington and Baltimore and located in Garrett County, Deep Creek, Maryland is only a hop, skip and a ski away. Unlike other lake towns, Deep Creek does not close up shop for the winter. Local vendors, shops, resorts, spas and restaurants celebrate the winter months with creative indoor and outdoor events and activities.
Deep Creek is home to Wisp, Maryland’s only ski resort. Wisp offers skiers and snowboarders 34 slopes situated over 172 acres of terrain. You don’t have to be an expert to enjoy your time on the slopes at Wisp; over 73% of slopes are dedicated to beginner and intermediate riders. Having visited Wisp for my first skiing experience, I can vouch for their expert and patient ski instructors. Make sure you sign up for a lesson; you’ll have fun and learn a lot! Expert riders don’t despair, the remaining 27% of slopes are dedicated to you, a challenging 700-foot vertical drop awaits. Are you ready to conquer that baby a few times? Plus, slopes are groomed nightly and 90% are lit for night skiing. Night skiing or boarding at Wisp is an experience you don’t want to miss; it’s a beautiful, peaceful way to move down a mountain.
Not into skiing or snowboarding? Wisp Resort offers many activities for those who don’t want to strap foreign objects to their feet and glide down mountains. Snow tubing is an experience enjoyed by those young and old. Wisp’s mountain coaster zooms and twists over 3,500 feet and down 350 vertical feet on the eastern side of Wisp Mountain. Wave to your snowboarding family members are you roll past them laughing and grinning through the twists and turns. For a slower pace, enjoy the majestic winter-y surroundings and peaceful vistas with some snowshoes or cross country skiing. Meet up at the ice skating rink in the afternoon for some hot chocolate and a fun turn around the rink.
Don’t want to go outside? Wisp’s mountainside resort offers laser games, complimentary wi-fi, roaring fires in the lodge and various dining choices. Take a dip in the heated indoor pool and hot tub to soothe those sore muscles and relax or hit the fitness center to maintain that healthy New Year’s resolution. If you’re feeling competitive, visit the game room or check out the laser games available. Finish your day with a cocktail at DC’s Bar and restaurant.
Available lodgings throughout Deep Creek include hotels, fancy mountainside chalets, spacious lakeside rental homes, cozy bed and breakfasts, historic inns and pastoral cottages. New Germany & Herrington Manor State Parks and Savage River State Forest offer cross-country skiing trails, and snowshoeing tours are offered by local state parks including Swallow Falls State Park, Herrington Manor State Park & Potomac-Garrett State Forest. Ice fishing, snowmobiling, dog sledding and horse drawn sleigh rides are all offered in Deep Creek.
Deep Creek offers three main street shopping areas: Gainesville, McHenry and Oakland. These small towns offer charming glimpses into the history and personality of Garrett County itself. Hang with artisans at Spruce Forest Artisan Village housed within historical buildings and structures. Take home a one of a kind piece of pottery, stained glass or metal work. The Drane House in nearby Accident, MD was built in 1798 and is the county’s oldest residence. History abounds in Garrett County; the Garrett County Historical Society operates three area museums, including the new Garrett County Museum of Transportation.
Stroll the wintery small town streets and visit the FireFly Farms creamery and market. Watch as they craft award-winning cheese and take some to enjoy later in front of a roaring fire. Get lost among the shelves of Oakland’s Book Mark’et and Antique Mezzanine. For a nominal fee, visit the Mountain State Brewing Company, Fireside Deli & Wine Shop, or Black Bear Wine and Words for wine and beer tastings. If you have a party of 14 or more, Touch of Class Limousines offers a tasting tour for an additional $28 per person.
So, you’ve skied, tubed, shopped and enjoyed an active day in Deep Creek and now you’re ravenous! Local pubs offer hearty eats and drinks for a variety of palates. The Cornish Manor Restaurant offers fine dining and a taste of Garrett County. Head over to the MoonShadow Café for their monthly Bluegrass Pickin’ Porch, bring your instrument to join in on the pickin’ fun or sit and enjoy the sounds and tastes of craft beers, quality eats and live music. On Friday January 19th get chilly at the “Goosebumps and Grapes” wine tasting and bonfire, then take a deep breath and jump into the lake as part of the “Deep Creek Dunk- Freezin’ for a Reason” on Saturday all to benefit the Special Olympics.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of Sass.
Photo credit: Garret County Chamber of Commerce – Crede Calhoun – Vision Quest Studios