With the unofficial start to summer 2013 just days away, I’ve seen so much traffic on local listservs about where to go this summer that doesn’t require airfare and doesn’t involve the inevitable traffic that comes with crossing the Bay Bridge. So no better time than right now to tip you off to my absolute favorite spot for a weekend away – Maryland’s Deep Creek Lake.
If you haven’t been, I urge you to put it on the top of your list. If you’ve been, then I am certain you are nodding your head in agreement. Here’s why:
1. It’s only three hours away
2. The drive is lovely – you probably had no idea Maryland is so mountainous
3. You don’t have to worry about the horrid Bay Bridge traffic
4. You don’t have to worry about fighting someone for a parking spot or waiting in line at a restaurant.
5. You just might have great hair for a weekend. Sure, we all love the tousled beach look but does it ever look in reality how you picture it in your head? Meanwhile up in Deep Creek, it could be 15 degrees cooler and no humidity. Your hair will thank you. To your hair, I say: You’re Welcome.
6. There’s a year-round Mountain Coaster – along with a totally cool newly done man-made white water rafting course, a chipmunk challenge course for kids and hiking on top of Wisp Mountain and obviously boating, jet skiing and general lake happiness – on the lake.
7. The Honi-Honi Bar. There is no better people watching and general lounging on the east coast. Trust moi. C’est vrai. You can dock your boat, let the kids play on the grassy area, and enjoy a beverage while you relax and soak in some live music.
Should I keep going or are you sold?
We go up every year over Labor Day weekend with three other families - 8 kids in total. It is a summer highlight. Many people have asked – how do we figure out where to stay???? What do you look for in a house? How do you decide?
Fret not kittens, I’m ready to reveal my trade secrets. There are two main realty companies up there for home rentals but I’d urge you to go with Railey Mountain Lake Vacations. They have the biggest inventory in the area and their staff are knowledgeable about each property, can give you specific information, can talk to you about how it might suit your group – for instance, I was zeroing in on one house and the staff were able to tell me that though it wasn’t obvious from the pictures online, there was a steep path down to the dock and the lake that might be hard for tired children to climb after a long day or toddlers. Read: are you prepared to carry the kids up the slope?
I would have never known it from the pictures so I was so glad I picked up the phone and actually called. Another reason to call – they have relationships with vendors in the area – like say boating companies that rent pontoon boats, they can schedule tee times, or reserve other activities and make great suggestions. If you are going, you’ll want to call ahead and reserve a boat in advance, at least that was our experience with the busy Labor Day weekend.
And though we literally almost sank our boat a few summers ago, it is absolutely a must-do when heading to Deep Creek in the summer. (To clarify: the rent a pontoon boat part, not the sinking it part. That, I wouldn’t advise).
When searching for a house, our group’s rules were as follows:
1. Hot tub
2. Fire pit for s’mores
3. Lake front or Lake Access (meaning there is a road between your house and the lake but you still have a dock – these homes are generally cheaper)
4. What happens in Deep Creek, stays in Deep Creek.
One year we looked for a house that had enough bedrooms for the adults and for the kids. Then the kids all ended up in our bedrooms and we had wasted space and wondered what we were paying for. Last summer, we settled on a house with multiplemaster suites and less bedrooms. When the kids are older, we’ll go for the bigger homes again. This summer, we’re again renting a property with a few master suites but now we also are going for an unobstructed view of the lake. In the past, we’ve had a road in between, then tons of trees, last year a bit of a slope down – which frankly is a good thing too because it limits the chances of a rogue kid going running into the lake without adult supervision – but now the kids are older and we are ready for the flatness and the unobstructed view.
Another thing to consider, on the off-chance the adult members of the group might
play Flip Cup and other age-inappropriate drinking games get a little rowdy at night, consider the outdoor living space. Is the only outdoor space the deck right off a bunch of rooms where the kids are sleeping? Maybe not the best house (though we’ve done it and the kids slept through it). Instead, is there a lower deck further away from the bedrooms, is there a house where a master suite isn’t right off the hot tub, is there outdoor living space that separates your juvenile adult antics from the sweet innocent sleeping children?
Speaking of friends, bring your sister wives. Part of the reason the annual Wired Momma get-away to Deep Creek Lake is such a summer treat is because of my rule of thumb: always bring your sisters wives and the manny’s. This way – you have plenty of time relaxing on the deck and gossiping, while the manny’s are on hand should the children need some adult supervision.
Finally, we’ve also really enjoyed some time at the Deep Creek State Park – where we docked our boat, had a great picnic lunch and let the kids play on the beach, in the water and on the playground. The other state park we’ve loved is Swallow Falls Park, where you can hike to the tallest waterfall in Maryland, something my kids really enjoyed as they hadn’t yet seen a waterfall.
Bottom line – if your budget doesn’t include a weekly rental at the beach this year or you’ve not yet explored western Maryland, then my advice is to head up to Deep Creek Lake and enjoy it!!
For more of my fav summer must-visits, must-haves and general summer survival tips, be sure to “Like” the Wired Momma FB page. The fun is only just beginning….