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Something for Everyone

Explore Massanutten Resort

When you’re making a list of what you’d love to do with the family and those few days off that finally got approved, consider Massanutten Resort in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley. More than a hundred recreational options await you at this Virginia destination, about ten minutes from Harrisonburg, and not even three hours from Richmond.

You may have written off cold weather completely, but if you’re still considering winter sports this month, March is often cold enough for skiing in Virginia. Sarah Elson, from Massanutten, says as long as temps stay below thirty degrees for four to six hours, Massanutten will blow snow. The resort operates its ski slopes through midmonth and maintains 1,110 feet of vertical slopes. That’s more than any other resort in Virginia, Pennsylvania, or Maryland.

With 70 skiable areas, seven ski-lifts, three quad chair-lifts, a 12-lane tubing park, two terrain parks, and an ice rink, families can enjoy a full slate of frozen fun. Slope Sliders, a popular kids’ program, offers ski instruction for children ages 4 to 12, and snowboarding lessons for children starting at age 7. The lessons can range from beginner to advanced. The fee for this program includes lift ticket, rental equipment, lunch, and supervised lessons from nine-thirty to two o’clock. Reservations are required and lessons fill up fast, so book yours several weeks ahead of a trip. You can expect to pay $100 to $125 for this package. Adult lessons can be taken privately or in groups, and are designed for various levels of experience.

A few group lessons are more specialized, geared to women and to those preparing to ski out West. Notably, Massanutten also leads Virginia in adaptive ski lessons which the resort has offered for more than 25 years. Today, the resort partners with Therapeutic Adventures Inc., to introduce recreational ways to overcome physical and developmental challenges.

This year, the resort opened a seasonal, outdoor ice-skating rink that can accommodate 132 skaters at a time and will remain open until the middle of this month. Skates And helmets are available for rent. Lessons for the family are an option here, too.

Of course, dining is an important part of any getaway. When it’s time to refuel, you might want to grab a bite at Fairways, the family restaurant that serves everything from steak to pasta dishes, and good old American burgers. Woodstone Deli and Pizzeria, a very casual spot, is just right for pizza, pasta, and soup of the day, among other quick fare.Another dining option, Blue Ridge Buffet, is an ideal choice for families with its extensive dinner buffet and all-you-can-eat format.Guests can also order off the menu while dining in this venue that offers fabulous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as Massanutten WaterPark.

That’s right, Massanutten has an indoor water park, open year-round, with a thermostat that’s always set to a balmy 84 degrees.Think of it as a Virginia twist on paradise – a Caribbean meets the Shenandoah Valley theme – complete with attractions like Skyline Falls for slide lovers, Blue Ridge Rapids for floating fans, and Massanutten Meltdown for everyone else, with waterfalls, water cannons, and the force of a giant water-tipping bucket that’s nearly impossible to dodge. For many visitors, however, the top feature has to be Massanutten’s Pipeline, the first and largest FlowRider® in Virginia.Kids and adults love the challenge of the wave simulator that replicates big ocean surf action. The resort offers lessons in stand-up surfing on Saturdays, but everyone who wants to surf receives free instruction during their first attempt. Typically, younger children surf full-body on the boards, but older kids like the risk of standing on top of Pipeline’s giant waves. Surfers must be 52 inches tall to ride standing up and 42 inches tall to bodyboard. Check out the Massanutten website for information about a brand-new teen program starting up this spring that will teach safety tips and tricks on Pipeline, along with opportunity for some friendly competition. Surfing lessons are available and are discounted with a resort activity card, which also offers great savings On resort-wide fun.

Looking ahead to April, things start heating up outdoors at Massanutten.This Virginia resort has developed quite a reputation for mountain biking. Thanks to a partnership with the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, which helps maintain the off-road bike trails at Massanutten, the resort offers more than 15 miles of non-motorized multi-use trails for mountain cyclists and runners to enjoy. In order to use Massanutten’s private trails, guests must have a gold or blue pass that can only be obtained in conjunction with the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition or by participating in a competitive event. This requires an annual membership fee and encourages shared responsibility for maintaining the trails. Paved trails are available in the resort for families who pedal at an easier pace. A great bike shop at the resort rents bikes and develops itineraries.

While Virginia’s temperatures and snow-blowing technology make it possible to ski and golf on the same day, there’s hardly a better time for a family golfing trip than April when the mountains and valley are in springtime bloom. Beyond aesthetics, the PGA has named Massanutten’s Woodstone Meadows course a PGA Family Course because it uses tee markers to accommodate beginners and more skilled golfers within the same game. These tee markers allow novices to shorten the length of the fairways on the holes they play while more skilled golfers play the regular length alongside them – a fantastic perk to encourage parent/ child tournaments. Massanutten offers many lessons and clinics in addition to a practice driving range. A resort activity card gets you a discount for some programs.

Two highly popular resort activities are the new zip line and canopy tours, which take children and adults through the treetops of Massanutten’s forest. Other, more traditional family rec choices include tennis, horseback riding along the trail at the base of Massanutten Mountain, and swimming, as well as nature tours. Woodstone Recreation Center, next to Massanutten WaterPark, offers a heated indoor shallow pool and A 25-meter, outdoor, heated pool with a shallow children’s section. Woodstone Center is also home to a fitness facility featuring steppers, treadmills, ellipticals, and the like. Younger kids and teens pack the recreation center where there’s a game room with pool tables and video games, a hot tub, co-ed steam and sauna rooms, and the Kid Rec Department. Outside, a basketball court and a playground offer even more fun for kids and families.

Whether you stay for a weekend or a week, or make a long day of it, when it comes to family fun at Massanutten, you’ll be making a winning choice.And with the money and time you’ll save on travel expenses, that might be the ultimate beauty of vacationing at a Virginia resort.

Sue Bland lives in Hanover with her husband and two kids. She writes about travel in the mid-Atlantic.
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