The Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford Springs, PA.
It’s been too long since I gassed up the car and headed out. So recently I threw a few things in a suitcase, started the car and hit the road. It wasn’t that adlib, I did know where I was going. So it’s time again to share my travels as we depart on part three of my adventures.
First stop, the Omni Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford Springs Pennsylvania, a 4-Star and 4-Diamond property. The hotel is listed on the Historic Hotels of America list.
There are 216 rooms spread out over many buildings, most of which are quite historic. Space doesn’t allow me to re-trace all the history, but it does go more than two centuries.
For nearly 20 years it was closed, but after a $120 million renovation it re-opened in 2007.
Situated in the mountains of the Cumberland Valley area, there is plenty to do regardless of the season. A few of the activities include segway rides, fly fishing, volleyball, tennis, golf, hiking, mountain biking, swimming (two pools) and off road UTV rides. A favorite activity in the evening seemed to be roasting s’mores on an outdoor flame. One strongly recommended activity: a guided tour of the hotel.
It’s named Bedford Springs for a good reason, there are mineral springs located on the resort and nearby. Said to have medicinal qualities. no proof exists either way but I did try one.
For dining you have your choice of the Crystal Room, Frontier Tavern or the 1796 Steakhouse. From Baltimore the resort is about two and a half hours. Rates range from $269 to $329 per night and packages are available. (omnihotels.com/bedford)
Back in the car, I pointed it south and headed for the National Zoo in Washington, DC, for my first visit. It’s located at 3001 Connecticut Avenue in Rock Creek National Park. You can get there via car or the Washington Metro Red Line. Just get off the Woodley Park exit.
The zoo has about 2,000 individual animals with 400 species. Be prepared to do lots of walking, but you’ll hardly notice it because of all the terrific animals you’ll see along the way. To really see the zoo, you should allow about four hours, more if you like to linger at the cages. The big news during my visit was the arrival of a baby panda.
Activities will include face painting for the kids, a carousel for everyone to ride, food, demos and caricatures. Your best bet is to pick up a map when entering and simply head to what you want to see, but I suggest you see it all.
If you came by car and parked on Connecticut Avenue, which many people do, be advised you need to be back to the car by 4 pm. Oh yes, one other minor detail, the zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institute and therefore totally free, not counting food.
- Due to the federal government shutdown the Smithsonian National Zoo is closed. Visitors should consult the zoo’s website to find out when it will next be opened. (http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Visit/)
My next step was only a few miles away.
One turn off Connecticut Avenue and I was almost at the front door of the Hillwood Museum, former home to Marjorie Merriweather Post. The actual address is 4155 Linnean Avenue. Miss Post bought the home in 1955 and moved in two years later. As you might know, she was the daughter of the founder of the Postum Cereal Company and happened to be the sole heir. She was married four times and one of her daughters is the actress Dina Merrill.
The estate is located on 25 acres adjacent to Rock Creek National Park. The mansion is of the Georgian style and was built in 1926 and the name Hillwood comes from her Long Island estate. Some of those magnificent rooms include the French Drawing Room, the Russian Porcelain Room, the Pavilion, the Library and the ornate Dining Room.
There is no charge though they do ask for a donation. You can take a guided tour (highly recommended) or there’s an audio tour available. A café is located on the grounds if f you get hungry, serving lunch only.
By the way, definitely stroll the grounds. Miss Post is actually buried there. (hillwoodmuseum.org)
Now let’s head back north and a bit to the west and stop in Frederick. If you haven’t been there in a while you’ll be amazed by what’s happened. Your first stop should be the Visitor Center on South East Street. Ask questions and pick up brochures. Then head to the Community bridge, a creative collaboration of the Frederick community and check out the wonderful mural. It is 3,000 square feet with more than 3,000 stones. While there take a leisurely walk along the canal.
There was much more to see in Frederick than I thought when driving in. In no particular order here are a few suggestions: the Museum of Frederick County History, Trinity Chapel (where Francis Scott Key was baptized), Harry Grove Stadium, home of the Frederick Keys baseball team and a walk along Market Street would be a good idea to check out the stores and restaurants.
But any trip would not be complete without a visit to Mt. Olivet Cemetery, the final resting place of Francis Scott Key. He has a lovely monument with a statue.
- Francis Scott Key is the man who penned the lyrics to the National Anthem.
The Key monument was erected in 1898 after a massive fundraising effort. He was originally buried in a vault beside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Baltimore, but in 1866 the family moved him to Mt. Olivet. He loved the Catoctin Mountains so his plot faces them.
Key died in 1843 at age 63 in the Baltimore home of one of his eleven children. It’s worth noting Key is buried in the company of hundreds of War of 1812 veterans. All four verses of the National Anthem can be seen cast in bronze on the rear of the monument and by order of Congress (in 1949), the American flag flies continuous. If you didn’t know, Key’s handwritten manuscript is on display at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore.
If you get hungry while sightseeing, have a meal at Brewer’s Alley, 124 North Market. Open seven days for lunch and dinner, this is very much an American pub. Situated in an historic building, it’s a casual establishment that features live music three nights a week (at least during the summer) and a parking garage behind the restaurant. They love to pour beer brewed by the company in a building just two miles away. (brewers-alley.com)
For information on the Frederick area, which by the way, would make a great destination for a weekend getaway, many B & B’s, call 800-999-3613 or go to visitfrederick.org.
And finally, before I totally collapse, one last stop. We go to Atlantic City to check out some of the upcoming entertainment and attractions. Places you may not have known that exist might be the Absecon Lighthouse (Rhode Island Ave), New Jersey’s tallest, the African-American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey (Kentucky Ave & Adriatic), the only museum of its kind in the state. The Atlantic City Historical Museum (Garden Pier), talks about the history and heritage of the resort town and Historic Gardner’s Basin, includes an aquarium and fishing charters.
Some of the performers headed this way include Engelbert Humperdink, Travis Tritt, Greg Allman, Frankie Avalon and Neil Sedaka at the Taj Mahal; Cheap Trick (Harrah’s), Bonnie Raitt (Caesar’s), Joan Rivers, Wanda Sykes, The Rascals and Frankie Valli (all Borgata), Larry the Cable Guy (Revel), Lynyrd Skynyrd (Showboat) and championship boxing in Boardwalk Hall.
Of course while here take advantage of the Boardwalk, the wide beaches and yes the shopping. There’s lots of outlet stores just two blocks from the boardwalk. And may I also suggest a ride to Ventnor and Margate, two close-by towns worth a look. (doatlanticcity.com)
To satisfy that feeling of hunger while patrolling the boards stop in Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood in Bally’s Casino. They offer many kinds of oysters that are brought in fresh daily. Of course the menu has many other items, but people seem to really like those oysters. It’s owned by two locals so you know they keep a close eye on the daily operation and that’s a good thing.
I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. I have to go back to my travel books and plan my next multiple city adventure. Hope you can come along.
Eddie Applefeld is a Baltimore native and a graduate of Towson University. He has been in the broadcasting profession for over 30 years. Currently he is the Promotions Director of WCBM radio. Before that, he was part of the Rouse & Company show on WQSR, host of a cable TV show called Dining Out and adjunct instructor at Towson.
His past accomplishments include being named a finalist in Baltimore Tourism’s Employee of the Year Program and winner of Toastmaster’s Speaker of the Year contest. He was also twice a heartthrob for the American Heart Association’s gala fund raiser.