Homestead resort offers mountain escape

Nestled in the mountains of Hot Springs, Va. is the quintessential southern getaway, the Homestead Resort.

The Homestead is one of the classic old American hotels that has been frequently visited by many United States presidents and other famous Americans, and is known for its bucolic setting, numerous activities and southern charm.

This spring break, I went to the Homestead because I wanted a trip that would be relaxing and luxurious, but also full of fun and unique experiences. Though it wasn’t the tropical escape most of us think of when we plan our spring breaks, spending a few days at a spa resort in the mountains was idyllic and rejuvenating.

A day at the Homestead begins with an enormous southern-style breakfast. There are a myriad of food options spanning the dining room, including fluffy biscuits, warm grits, fresh berries, fruit smoothies and the homemade sugarcoated doughnuts that are wildly popular among Homestead visitors. Many people, including me, take full advantage of the plethora of choices and eat enough to last throughout the day’s activities.

After breakfast, it’s time to go outside and savor the beautiful rolling hills of Virginia. The Homestead’s location in the mountains and extensive land area provide opportunities for various outdoor excursions like skiing, snowboarding, golfing, archery, ice skating, horseback riding and hiking.

First I tried horseback riding, which was a fun way to explore the property and see the area. We rode through the woods and over hills, spying snowy trees, white picket fences and hundreds of horses roaming in pastures. Though it was early March, the snow had not fully melted and the mountain air was crisp and refreshing.

The next day I went on a waterfall hike, venturing several miles into the woods in search of twelve waterfalls. The guide led me on trails throughout our trek and on top of all the waterfalls, looking out over the valley at the rushing river below.

One of the most distinct features of the Homestead experience is the hot springs pools, which is how the town received its name. Located in the outdoor relaxation area is a naturally heated pool that is hot all year round. Warming up in this spring is a perfect way to unwind after a long day of exploring or finish up your time at the spa that is just a few steps away.

Staying true to its historical roots, the resort holds teatime each afternoon. Every day at 3:00 p.m., complimentary hot and iced teas and cake are offered to those milling around the grand lobby. If breakfast wasn’t enough, this is a sweet afternoon snack that is both delicious and reminiscent of the past.

Just a two-minute walk from the resort is a quaint street with fun restaurants and pubs. One of the must-see restaurants is Sam Snead’s Tavern, named after professional golfer and Hot Springs local Sam Snead.

The Homestead is a combination of activity and leisure, of past and present, and of luxuries both natural and manmade. The variety of the resort’s activities makes the Homestead a desirable vacation destination for all four seasons.