I’ve stepped back in time. Last year, when I arrived at Capon Springs and Farms in West Virginia with my family and friends for one last blast of summer, I felt like I was back at my childhood summer camp. Scattered across its 4,700 acres were tidy, white clapboard cottages trimmed in green shutters, a bath house and spa, and a large main house with rockers lined along the porch. There were manicured gardens and a fountain on the sprawling green space where a few hammocks invited lounging. Cole Porter tunes played over a loudspeaker, followed by the ringing of a bell to usher us in to our arranged seating in the dining room.
Meals were served family-style, and during our weekend stay we had our share of made-from-scratch bread, crispy fried chicken, and strawberry shortcake. Kids were indulged with hot chocolate and plates of homemade cookies.
Several extended families–many whom have been coming here year after year–shared tables, celebrated wedding anniversaries (that’s when “True Love” is played and a cake is wheeled out), and chatted with longtime staff. During dinner, the resort’s manager announced the evening’s events, which include a screening of Night At the Museum and a campfire complete with grilled hot dogs, guitar music, and a family sing-along.
Capon offers an array of activities, but what I liked best is that my children could safely go on their own and play Ping-Pong, croquet, shuffleboard, tennis, and golf (the pitch and putt, par 3 course is great for beginners). Quieter offerings include a library stocked with books for all ages, a game room with decks of cards and puzzles, and large fireplaces to sit around on crisp evenings. During the week, there are scheduled activities like bingo, sports tournaments, and outdoor barbecues.
Saturday morning we rose to more music, headed over to the flag raising ceremony, and pondered the choice of buckwheat pancakes or baked sticky buns for breakfast. We took a short nature hike along the rim of the golf course, and visited the source of Capon Springs to hear a brief history of the water (always about 65 degrees) that’s available for drinking at stone fountains scattered on the property. We ambled to Capon’s “Hog Heaven” farm to feed pigs our leftover toast and drop a line from bamboo rods provided by the resort in one of two fish-stocked ponds (if you catch anything sizeable, the kitchen will prepare it for you to eat).
The kids searched for fossils in a nearby rocky outcrop. By late Saturday afternoon we were ready for a dip in the refreshing, if not chilly, spring-fed pool. On our final day, after a hearty lunch of roast beef, mashed potatoes, and apple pie, we drove back down the mountain to make the short, two-hour trip back to Washington, D.C. In the car, we all agreed that we’ll return again next year, and maybe the year after that.
From $120 per person per day ($45 for children 5-12 years old), includes three meals per day, snacks and beverages, and most activities (golf is extra); wwwcaponsprings.net.
To read about ten more classic American family resorts with all-inclusive lodging, dining, and activities, check out the May/June issue of National Geographic Traveler.
Photo: Capon Springs