The Fall 2021 Go Outside and Play Guide

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No matter the season, there’s always somewhere to go outside and play in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. As you’re planning your next day or weekend getaway, use this guide to explore some of the top destinations across the region. We’ve got all the information you need, including adventure, restaurant, and lodging recommendations, so you can kick back and relax. Please check with locations prior to travel for local guidelines or use this guide for future trips!

high point marina
High Point Marina. Photo courtesy of Visit Spotsy

A Day in Spotsylvania County, Va.

Conveniently located between D.C. and Richmond, Spotsylvania County offers a harmonious blend of rural landscapes and outdoor adventures all in a setting as unique as its name. Spotsylvania is a one-of-a-kind destination, offering water sports and fishing on Lake Anna, award-winning wineries and breweries, a world-famous distillery, diverse dining options, and scenic walks along miles of trails nestled among historic Civil War battlefields.

Morning

Wake up waterfront at one of the many serene lake house rentals that Lake Anna has to offer! Start your lakefront adventure off overlooking the water from your private dock as you enjoy a delicious campfire breakfast. Next, head over to High Point Marina to try your hand at reeling in bass, crappie, or striper with McCotter’s Lake Anna Guide Service. Not interested in fishing? Don’t worry! Lake Anna Outfitters also offers kayak, canoe, and paddleboard rentals and tours, which creates an opportunity. for all interests and abilities to enjoy the views of the lake. Don’t forget to pick up your exclusive Lake Anna souvenirs and unique merchandise while you’re there. 

Afternoon

Take in a delicious lunch overlooking the lake at The Cove Restaurant before heading to Lake Anna State Park where you can enjoy the sandy beach, hike 15 miles of scenic trails, go on a gold-mining expedition, or enjoy one of the many programs put on by enthusiastic and knowledgeable park rangers!

Lake Anna Winery, photo courtesy of Visit Spotsy

Evening

After an action packed day, it’s time to sit back, relax, and revel in the decadent tastes at Lake Anna Winery or the sweeter tastes at Mattaponi Winery. Both wineries offer special events, tastings, pairings, and a beautiful ambience that perfectly closes out any weekend getaway.

VisitSpotsy.com

a family of cyclists
A family of cyclists pedal past the Frostburg Depot to take the switchback to the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. Photo courtesy of Allegany County Tourism

A Day in Allegany County, Md.

Get away to the Mountain Side of Maryland where you’ll find over 60,000 acres of public lands to explore. It’s the perfect destination to fully experience the outdoor adventure, history, and culinary delights that surround the meeting point of the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal, named two of the 10 Best Recreational Trails in North America by USA Today. 

Morning

Start your morning off in Frostburg with a breakfast sandwich and coffee from Clatter Café. From there, follow the switchback and sculpture garden to the Frostburg trailhead and hop on the Great Allegheny Passage as you cycle 16 miles from Frostburg to Cumberland. Looking to add more miles to your ride? Continue biking along the C&O Canal, celebrating its 50th Anniversary as part of the National Park System.

Afternoon

Stop into the Corner Tavern & Cafe in downtown Cumberland for a taste of their house-smoked pastrami before making your way out to Rocky Gap State Park. Take the short Canyon Overlook Trail for a scenic view or hike the five-mile Lakeside Loop Trail around Lake Habeeb. If you have time, rent a canoe or kayak to view the park from the water.

Friends enjoy a beer tasting at 1812 Brewery in Cumberland, MD.
Friends enjoy a beer tasting at 1812 Brewery in Cumberland, MD. Photo courtesy of Allegany County Tourism

Evening

Kick back and relax with a beer tasting and view of the mountains at 1812 Brewery, Allegany County’s first farm brewery located on 190 acres in a restored barn. Finish up the night at Rocky Gap Casino Resort with a casual meal at Signatures Bar and Grill or fine dining experience at Lakeside Grill, and then settle into your room after a long day on the trails. 

MDMountainSide.com | VisitMaryland.org  

Crosscountry Skier at White Grass at Bald Knob, photo by Brian Sarfino

A Day in Tucker County, W.V.

From the grandeur of Monongahela National Forest to the charming towns of Davis, Thomas, and Parsons, you’ll find a quiet getaway with adventure around every corner in Tucker County. Spend your day having fun in the snow, whether on skis, snowboard, snowshoes, tube, or sled, while you take in the gorgeous surroundings of winter in West Virginia. 

Morning

Start your day off right with a hearty country breakfast from Milo’s Cafe and Restaurant, conveniently located on the lower level of the Bright Morning Inn. From the town of Davis, it’s just a short drive to Blackwater Falls State Park where you can spend hours sledding a quarter mile of fresh powder, plus miles of trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. 

photo by Brian Sarfino

Afternoon

Refuel with lunch at White Grass Café before putting in some hours of peaceful cross country skiing on the carefully groomed trails. Traveling with your kids? Canaan Valley Resort offers family ski lessons and access to an expansive tubing park. Do you prefer to shred on a board? Check out the brand new lifts and two terrain parks at Timberline Mountain

Evening

After a day running around in the snow, head into Thomas for a delicious dining experience at Farm Up Table, known for its southern flair, plus live music and a drink from Purple Fiddle. Warm up in your lodging for the night, whether it’s at the inn or one of the many vacation mountain homes in the area with ski in and out options. You can’t go wrong with opportunities to stay in town or amongst the mountains.

SkiTheValley.com

Brasstown Bald
Enjoy the views from Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s tallest mountain. Photo courtesy of Visit Blairsville

A Day in Blairsville, Ga.

Enjoy all the Blue Ridge Mountains have to offer when you visit Blairsville and Union County, Ga. From the state’s highest peak to tumbling waterfalls, discover scenic vistas no matter what trail you choose. Spend some time exploring all of the shops and restaurants of Downtown Blairsville that will keep you coming back for more before cozying up at a mountain cabin.

Morning

There’s no better way to start your morning than breakfast at The Sawmill Place where you can fill up on staples, including homemade biscuits and eggs, or try something new, like their sweet potato pancakes. From there, set out for Vogel State Park where you’ll find 17 miles of hiking trails, boat and bike rentals, fishing, and several camping options. 

Afternoon

For lunch, grab a deli sandwich from G&G Bakery or a barbecue sandwich from Papaw’s Bac-Yard BBQ, voted Blairsville’s Best BBQ. Relax and spend some time browsing the shops of Blairsville. At Mountain Life Mercantile you’ll find a mix of specialty food items and hand-crafted local artwork while Mountain Crossings has all of the hiking gear you’ll need while in the area.

Photo courtesy of Visit Blairsville

Evening 

Finish your day off with a taste of Blairsville. Stop by Odom Springs Vineyard for a wine tasting on the deck or Grandaddy Mimm’s Distillery for some good old-fashioned moonshine and a tour of the distilling process. Then it’s time to hit up local favorites for dinner like fresh seafood from Mike’s Seafood or a towering plate of nachos from Lucky’s Taqueria & Cantina. Start winding down as you settle in for a restful night at Misty Mountain Inn & Cottages while surrounded by the mountains.

VisitBlairsvilleGA.com

The frosty fun at the Ober Gatlinburg Snow Tubing hill is available from November to late Spring. Photo courtesy of Ober Gatlinburg

A Day in Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Winter is a magical time of year to visit Gatlinburg, Tenn., as millions of twinkling lights displayed around town make for a spectacular sight. Whether you take a self-guided lights tour or visit for the Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade on December 3, featuring one-of-a-kind displays, bands, and floats, the whole family can discover wonder around every corner. 

Morning

Get your day going at one of seven pancake houses in Gatlinburg, like an order of Sticky Bun Pancakes from Flapjacks Pancake Cabin. You’ll need the energy as you hit the slopes of Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, take advantage of indoor ice skating and thrilling snow tubing. The season kicks off Friday, November 19 with the Back in Blue Rail Jam. 

Afternoon

Walk the Parkway looking for unique gifts from The Village Shops or The Marketplace, like handmade candies, local wines, home goods, and apparel. Visit the talented artists in the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, an eight-mile loop of artisans working in pottery, wood, paint, and more. Need gear while you’re in the area? The Day Hiker and Nantahala Outdoor Center Gatlinburg are excellent stops for restocking and advice on the best trails and views around.

Twinkling Magic Lights create a Winter Wonderland in Gatlinburg all season long. Photo courtesy of Ober Gatlinburg

Evening

Gatlinburg Brewing Company is the perfect spot to end the day as you load up on craft brews and pizza with friends both old and new. Catch some live music and southern comfort food at the Blake Shelton-inspired Ole Red. Then it’s time to make your way to a cabin, hotel, or campground for the night so you’re ready to explore more the next day. 

Gatlinburg.com

photo courtesy Kentucky Tourism

Endless Adventure Awaits in Kentucky Trail Towns

For the best of Kentucky’s great outdoors, visit one of the 24 Kentucky Trail Towns across the state featuring a variety of activities and landscapes second to none. From high adrenaline adventures to family-friendly activities, Kentucky’s certified Trail Towns are ready to welcome explorers of all stripes. Once the adventure ends, the experience continues in these active communities. Locally-owned restaurants, shops, and places to stay combined with world-class hospitality make Kentucky Trail Towns worth visiting again and again.

Dawson Springs

Kentucky’s first and most western Trail Town—Dawson Springs— is home to the Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park and a state forest of the same name. A scenic lake and the Tradewater River, a tributary of the Ohio River, make for a full complement of outdoor offerings.

Livingston

On the banks of the Rockcastle River, Livingston attracts a number of trail users to the Daniel Boone National Forest. A renovated school building makes an attractive visitor center where people will also find the home of the Sheltowee Trace Association.

Morehead

The northern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace and the shores of Cave Run Lake are the highlights for Morehead, Ky. Trails for mountain bikers and equestrians welcome trail users of all stripes. A local brewery and several local eateries make for a complete trip.

Olive Hill

This historical eastern Kentucky town sits on the banks of Tygart Creek and just down the road from Carter Caves State Resort Park. Several historical festivals and equestrian-focused events provide highlights throughout the year. Rock climbing and cave exploration at the state park make for a unique Trail Town experience.

London

The self-proclaimed Cycling Capital of Kentucky, London sits just off Interstate 75 between Lexington and Knoxville. Their cycling offerings are highlighted by the annual Redbud Ride each spring. Don’t overlook local options for bikes with knobby tires, or the portion of the Sheltowee Trace that runs just outside of town. 

Stearns

Stearns, Ky. serves as the northern gateway to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Surrounding the Big South Fork is the southern end of the Daniel Boone National Forest making for almost unlimited adventures to be had in and around Stearns. Thrilling whitewater runs and a growing community of trail runners are just some of the highlights.

Elkhorn City

The eastern most Trail Town sits on the border of Virginia, and is home to Breaks Interstate Park. Explore the largest gorge east of the Mississippi River cut by the Russell Fork River, Elkhorn City and the Breaks have been home to whitewater enthusiasts for decades. The Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail and US Bike Route 76 all headline this mountain Trail Town. 

Jamestown

Jamestown is home to Lake Cumberland, Wolf Creek Dam, the Cumberland River, and all the world-class fishing and water sports that go along with them. Lake Cumberland State Resort Park offers all the amenities for visitors as well as its own impressive network of trails.

Manchester

Gateway to the Redbird District of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Manchester is the most off-road friendly of Kentucky’s Trail Towns. Local and federal trails invite riders and a multitude of vehicles to this eastern Kentucky town. Don’t overlook the phenomenal creek fishing and paddling in and around Manchester.

Harlan Tri-Cities

Cumberland, Lynch, and Benham Ky., are historic coal towns nestled between the mountains of Harlan County, Ky. Home to the state’s tallest point at Black Mountain, the Tri-Cities feature to numerous trails and events.

Berea

Kentucky’s most artistic Trail Town, Berea is no stranger to attracting visitors. Recent efforts to develop and promote their outdoor offerings make Berea a uniquely situated Trail Town along US Bike Route 76 and the Boone Trace.

Columbia

This historic college town in southern Kentucky sits along the banks of Russell Creek, a major tributary to the Green River. A quaint downtown square and friendly people are just part of what makes Columbia a special place to visit. 

Royalton

Royalton’s claim to fame is the halfway point of Kentucky’s longest Rails to Trail, the Dawkins Line. This former rail line features impressive tunnels and numerous bridges. Hikers, cyclists, and equestrians will all find a place on the Dawkins Line.

Slade

The iconic Red River Gorge needs no introduction for rock climbers. Home to main stays like Natural Bridge State Resort Park and Miguel’s Pizza, Slade has a full menu of different adventures and local restaurants to explore.

McKee

This Jackson County Trail Town sits at the intersection of the Sheltowee Trace and US Bike Route 76. In addition to these major trail systems, there is camping and trails for both off-road vehicles and equestrians.

Munfordville

On the banks of the Green River in Hart County sits Munfordville. Outside paddling and well-kept local hiking trails, Munfordville has made a name for itself as a home for elite, competitive barbecue and as a place where you may find yourself on the set of a movie.  

Cave City + Horse Cave

These adjoining towns cross county lines but offer much in the way of outdoor adventure and local restaurants. Anchored by Mammoth Cave National Park, there are miles of trails, local cycling routes, caves, and even zip lines to experience.

Campbellsville

This southern Kentucky town is a jumping off point for visitors coming to Green River Lake State Park and its namesake reservoir. Mountain bike and equestrian trails can be found, as well as plenty of water sports and excellent fishing. Make sure to allot enough time to enjoy all downtown has to offer, including local barbecue, a coffee shop, and full-service bike shop.

Hazard

Hazard, Ky. is home to US Bike Route 76, an extensive trail network for ATVs and UTVs, and the North Fork of the Kentucky River. In recent years, local groups have developed a world-class trail system just outside of Hazard.  

Estill Twin Cities

Irvine and Ravenna are historic river and railroad towns in beautiful Estill County. The Kentucky River highlights current outdoor adventures, with plenty of railroad related history, attractions, and restaurants available in town.  

Brownsville

Another gateway to Mammoth Cave, Brownsville also provides access to Nolin Lake State Park. Mountain biking and paddling are two popular activities for visitors and locals in Brownsville. The local farmers market is one to be sure to visit if given the opportunity.  

Elizabethtown

Don’t be fooled by the moniker of Kentucky’s “first urban Trail Town,” Elizabethtown is full of great outdoor adventure. As the name implies, they have the community assets to fully compliment their long list of trails and parks. Local restaurants, museums, and bourbon bars are just some of what you’ll find in this central Kentucky Trail Town.  

Morgantown

Downstream from other Trail Towns on the Green River lies Morgantown. Several river-focused events highlight the calendar for Morgantown, and a scenic downtown offers an artist guild and local businesses worth a stop.  

Park City

Park City is a picturesque town at one end of the Mammoth Cave Railroad Hike Bike Trail, one of Kentucky’s oldest Rails to Trails. A grand old hotel now serves as a charming bed and breakfast. Local cyclists have found a welcoming rest stop in Park City. A soon to be certified Dark Sky city, Park City will offer a one-of-a-kind type of nightlife for star gazers.  

KentuckyTourism.com/ky-outdoors/trail-towns       

Cover photo: Paddling Rocky Gap State Park. Photo courtesy Allegany County Tourism

Places to Go, Things to See: