Road Trip to Pennsylvania
Our baby has morphed into a little tornado. He spends his waking hours spinning around the house, upending every object not tethered to a surface. We haven’t held him liable for damages yet because he reimburses us with smiles and laughs. With all of this energy bubbling through him, we thought he was ready for a short weekend trip to the countryside. After some googling, I came upon the idea of taking him to the Omni Bedford Springs Resort, a historic hotel in the Appalachian Mountains in southern Pennsylvania. The hotel, originally built in 1895, is nestled in a forested valley dotted with natural hot springs that follow the path of a lively creek.
On the way to Bedford, we stopped in Hagerstown, a seriously underrated city in the western part of Maryland. It’s entirely walkable and has a nice city grid. Unfortunately a lot of the century-old buildings and storefronts downtown are vacant, but entrepreneurs are opening up some cool cafes and restaurants, like Public Square Café, where we stopped in for a coffee. Our son ate an entire banana there–that’s like me eating 8 bananas in one sitting.
We then checked out the Hagerstown City Farmers Market, the city’s oldest market, but didn’t stay long because there weren’t many vendors for some reason. Our baby was a big hit with the Mennonite vendors. Next, we went to Discovery Station, a hands-on children’s museum with all sorts of good exhibits for our baby. We liked the Civil War one, where we dressed him as a Union soldier. They had Confederate hats too, but we didn’t think it was a good idea for him to be photographed wearing one and having his political career or something ended decades from now. (that was a joke)
We continued towards Pennsylvania, up and down the ridges and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains colored this time of year with the magenta/pink leaves of the Eastern Redbud tree. We arrived in the quaint town of Bedford early in the afternoon.
Using Yelp, we found an excellent farm-to-table restaurant called Horn O’Plenty. It has a a rustic interior almost like an English pub and a wood-fire oven lent a fireplace smell throughout. The place was relaxed enough that we felt comfortable walking our baby around the restaurant while we waited for our food. Ten minutes later we found an onion skin in his mouth that he must have picked up while rifling through the baskets of vegetables on the floor.
Omni Bedford Springs Resort
The Omni Bedford Springs is a tourist attraction in its own right. It’s a good place to get a feel for how people took vacations in the days before air travel. Seven presidents have stayed there over the decades. The refinements of leisure travel in those bygone days is evident in the red brick and white colonnaded facade, elegant lobby, and indoor pool fed by a natural spring. The hotel has had its share of difficulties over the years. The first was the Depression that deprived the once-thriving hotel of paying customers and consigned it to decades as a Navy training installation. The second was a 100-year flood in the late 1980s that wrecked the entire first floor.
There were a lot of kid-friendly activities at the hotel, including the two-level indoor pool. We took our baby for a few walks in the woods nearby. Sunday morning I took him down to the creek, like some pioneer father, and let him put his hand in the cold running water. He smiled in wonder. Before checkout we lounged in the hammocks on the front lawn and enjoyed the breeze and sunshine.
On the way back to DC we stopped in downtown Hagerstown again for lunch at a German-themed restaurant called Schmankerl Stube. (Unfortunately, there were not any restaurants open that had vegetarian meals). We sat out on the back patio but our son started to get fussy in the heat with his fair skin (he gets that from me) so we paid the bill and headed back.
This was our first overnight in a hotel on our own with our son and we think he did ok. He had some trouble in his crib but he mostly slept through the night.
Overall we had a lot of fun. I felt a little like Clark Griswold from Vacation bringing my family along to share in my love of road trips. There will be many more!