You're stuck in the mountains with nothing to do.
Maybe there's no snow.
Or maybe you don't ski, no matter how much snow there is.
Here are some alternatives to sitting by the fire at nearby ski resorts.
ALPINE LAKE -- Terra Alta, W. Va., 190 miles.
Offers the basics to hard-core skiers with lodging for 100. Live Saturday-night entertainment on occasion. Just a short drive from Maryland's Deep Creek Lake where there are theaters and antique shops. Nearby are hiking trails and plenty of nature but you have to find it yourself. Call 304/789-2481.
BIG BOULDER -- Lake Harmony, Pa., 225 miles.
Doesn't have accommodations for those who don't ski. The Pocono Hershey Resort is 10 miles away with pool, indoor miniature golf, ping pong, etc. Stroudsburg is a half-hour drive. Resort has shuttle bus service to ski areas and is a year-round resort. Snowmobile rentals in area. Call 717/722-0101 or 800/233-6000.
BLUE KNOS -- Claysburg, Pa., 150 miles.
A military base-turned-resort, Blue Knob calls itself a "ski and country club" and now boasts an indoor pool, sauna, hot tubs, steam room, tennis courts and golf. A state park nearby offers endless hiking trails. There's bunting for deer, bear and squirrels in season and fishing 18 miles away at Shawnee Lake. Altoona is with 25 minutes' drive. Call 814/239-5111.
BRYCE MOUNTAIN -- Basye, Va., 120 miles.
Tennis and golf when there's no snow but the place was built with skiing in mind. Luray Caverns, New Market Battlefield and the Shenandoah Valley are close by, all offering ample hiking areas. Antique and gift shops surround the area. Call 703/856-2121.
CAMELBACK -- Tannersville, Pa., 230 miles.
For skiers only, but there's a slew of assorted entertainment nearby. Just walk off the slopes to the Village of Camelback where you can rent a condo and swim, enjoy the sauna, whirlpool and indoor tennis courts. Call 717/629-3661.
Mount Airy Lodge, 15 minutes away, recently opened a new section where each room sports a small pool. Indoor ice-skating and swimming are also available both here and at the Penn Hills lodge. Nearby is Strickland's Mountain Inn, for couples only, a modern country lodge of English tudor cottages with woodburning stoves, hydoo spas, heart-shaped tubs, mirrored ceilings and nightly entertainment.
Enjoy a book and a glass of brandy by the fireplace in the Pocono Manor library. Indoor tennis, racketball, horseback riding and snowmobiling are also available. Stroudsburg is 15 minutes south on I-80 east or Route 611 south.
Pocono Adventures on Mules is a new twist on horseback riding but surefooted animals are safer along the Lehigh River. There are several state parks nearby for photography and hiking. Snowmobile rentals are available less than two miles away on Camelback Road or at the Pocono Snowmobile Center at Mt. Pocono (717/839-7800) just 12 miles north at the intersection of Routes 611 and 940. Camelback offers three-to-five-day mid-week learn-to-ski packages and a weekend package. Call 717/629-1661.
CANAAN VALLEY -- Davis, W. Va., 180 miles.
Offers an ice rink, tennis if warm enough, heated pool, several restaurants and game room. Tour the valley or see Black Water Falls on Black Water River, ideal for photographers, with lots of wilderness and wildlife, particularly deer. There's a glass factory in Weston, W. Va., 45 miles away, and another in Morgantown, 75 miles away.Horseback riding is available at nearby Timberline. Rent snowmobiles at Mt. View Camp Ground (call 304/866-4102) less than three miles north on Route 32. Canaan Valley information, 304/866-4121.
ELK MOUNTAIN -- Uniondale, Pa., 260 miles.
Nature and skiing only here. Out in the wilderness.Call 717/679-2611.
HIDDEN VALLEY -- Somerset, Pa., 191 miles.
Has four-court racqet club, indoor swimming, sauna, steam and exercise rooms. On weekends, live bands play in the lounges and the dining rooms are open to 10. Snowmobile trails nearby but bring your own ride. Also, hiking trails. Lennox Glass in Mt. Pleaseant, 15-20 miles away. Call 814/445-6014 or 800/458-0174.
THE HOMESTEAD -- Hot Springs, Va., 200 miles.
A year-round 16,000-acre resort given five stars by the Mobile Travel Guide for the 22nd straight year, The Homestead has an Olympicsize ice rink, swimming, horseback riding on 100 miles of trails, horse-drawn surries, European-style spa with exercise room, massages, hot tubs, steam room, salt rubs. Also, three 18-hole golf courses -- one used year-yound -- 19 tennis courts, eight lanes of electric bowling, hiking, walking trails along with ski lessons. Lots of shops in the hotel. The convention center holds 1,500 people with 28 meeting rooms and the hotel, 658 beds. The indoor pool is filled with real spring water, bubbling at 106.8 degrees, piped in directly from nearby springs. Weekend programs starting January 28 include home-furnishing and financial seminars and a big-band and classic movie weekend. Call 703/839-5079.
JACK FROST MOUNTAIN -- White Haven, Pa., 250 miles.
Nothing at ski area but most area hotels have indoor pools and saunas. Wilkes Barre is within 20 miles' drive for shopping malls, movie theaters and indoor ice rinks. Call 717/443-8425.
LAUREL MOUNTAIN -- Boswell, Pa., 190 miles.
Skiing only, no saunas, pools, tennis or golf but there is winter hiking in the area. Ski site has cafeteria, bar, restaurant. In Liggonier, 10 miles west, there's a Holiday Inn with lounge, restaurants, one movie theater, bowling alleys and antique shops. Thirty miles west in Greensburg, use the racqetball club, mall, shops and restaurants. Call 412/238-6688.
MASSANUTTEN -- Harrisonburg. Ve., 125 miles.
New area with lodge and entertainment, a golf course, tennis courts, hiking trails and a new recreation complex under construction for next year. Harrisonburg is a 15-minute drive. Call 703/289-9441.
SEVEN SPRINGS -- Champion, Pa., 190 miles.
Lodge at base of slopes with gourmet restaurant, two smaller restaurants, coffee shop, two cafeterias, indoor swimming pool, rollerskating, four racqetball and tennis courts, 18-hole golf course, hot tubs. six lounges, entertainment nightly, spa, bowling alleys, recent movies and gameroom. Activities staff on hand. Shopping arcade has 19 diffrent shops including an antique shop. Laurel Highlands hiking trail with shelters. Mobile camp grounds, also. The Lennox Glass factory and Smith Glass in Mt. Pleaseant are 20 miles west. Falling Waters, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous home designs, is 30 miles south. Plenty of trout fishing and hunting deer, grouse, turkey and small game near Seven Springs. Airport at Seven Springs. Call 814/352-7777.
SKI LIBERTY -- Fairfield, Pa., 65 miles.
Near Emmittsburg, Md., site of the shrine to America's only saint, Elizabeth Seton. Gettysburg is 12 miles away where one finds hotel facilities, restaurants, cannons, etc. Call 717-642-8282.
SKI ROUNDTOP -- Lewisberry, Pa., 121 miles.
Has no hot tube, pools or nightlife. Township is dry. York and Harrisburg are a 20-minute drive in either direction have 18-22 movie theaters and major shopping malls. Parts of York have been restored to their Colonial appearance and there's an abundance of factories here and in Lancaster, home of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Harrisburg, the state capital, has museums, planetarium and historic government buildings. Hershey touts a factory tour of Chocolate World. Call 717/432-9631.
SNOWSHOE -- Slatyfork, W. Va., 245 miles.
Has indoor heated pool, hot tub, exercise and gamerooms. State parks closed in winter. Call 304/799-6600.
TIMBERLINE -- Davis, W. Va., 180 miles. 304/866-4433.
Timberline offers horseback riding, and, if weather permits, horsedrawn sleigh riding. It borders Dolly Sods wilderness area, so hiking is a popular sport here. A few miles away is the Canaan Valley State Park, with an ice-skating rink and skate rentals. And at night in downtown Davis, there's usually live entertainment in the bars and restaurants.
Blackwater Falls State Park, about eight miles away, also offers many hiking trails. A trial of wooden steps leads to base of the falls. (Not maintained in winter, the steps may be snow-covered.) Blackwater even has a sled run with a tow rope for the sled. (Tow rope runs weekends only.) Blackwater rents sleds and toboggans, if you don't bring your own. The full cross-country ski program is also in effect now. To find out about naturalist-guided hikes and cross-country jaunts, check in at the main reception area at the lodge or the ski touring center.
Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia, is about 40 minutes away from Timberline. Smoke Hole Caverns, said to contain the world's longest ribbon stalactite, is also 40 minutes away. And it's about 1 1/2 hours to Greenbank's National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
The Blackwater River, a native trout stream, runs right through the resort. Says Dick Gray of Timberline, "These fishermen are crazy. They're almost like skiers. Give them some snow and cold temperatures, and they'll go and spend the whole day outside."
WINTERGREEN -- Wintergreen, Va. 168 miles. 804/325-2200. In the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with the Blue Ridge Parkway a few minutes away, you almost wish it would be too warm to ski. For those who would stay inside at Wintergreen, there are exercise classes, singalongs and entertainment nightly in the Copper Mine Lounge. On the 13,000 acres of Wintergreen outside, naturalists hold seminars on the mountain habitat in winter. A daily activities calendar can be picked up at the front desk.
For striking out on your own, there are 17 miles of hiking trails with great views any time of year. Horseback riding is available when the weather is unseasonably warm. Also in the area are trout streams antique shops and country stores. And, farther afield, you can conduct your own tour of the homes of famous Americans.Charlottesville is 43 miles away, with Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, a main attraction. A minute away is Michie Tavern Museum, a 1700s tavern that still serves lunch. Jefferson was founder and architect of the University of Virginia; the Rotunda displays copies of his drawings. When school's in session, students guide regularly scheduled tours of the campus. Ash Lawn, home of James Monroe, is in Charlottesville, and just east of town is another historic home to visit, Castle Hill, where lived explorer Dr. Thomas Walker, a friend of the Jefferson family. Or you can watch artists at work in the McGuffey Art Center downtown. For more on Charlottesville, call the Visitors' Bureau, 703/293-6789.
In Staunton, 29 miles from Wintergreen, is the birthplace of Woodrow Wilson. Lexington, 47 miles away, is a small town with historic sites all within walking distance of each other: At Washington & Lee University stands the Lee Chapel, where Robert E. Lee and his family are buried; another site is the only home ever owned by Confederate General Stonewall Jackson, who also is buried in Lexington. Lexington Visitors' Center: 703/463-3777.
Touted as one of the seven wonders of the natural world, Natural Bridge, 12 miles south of Lexington, may be a warm-weather attraction. At 215 feet, the 90-foot span joins two mountains. Two other points of interest are in the Waynesboro area. At Virginia Metalcrafters Inc. outlet, you can pick up factory seconds, and on weekdays, watch the brass foundry in operation. Store is closed Sundays, 1010 East Main, Waynesboro. And near Waynesboro at Afton is Swannanoa, a marble palace in Italian Renaissance style, which Major James Dooley of Richmond built in the early 1900s as a summer home for his wife. Of special note is the Tiffany stainedglass window that pictures her in the garden.Today Swannanoa houses the University of Science and Philosophy, a home-study university. Open daily.
WISP -- Oakland, Md. 185 miles. 301/387-5503.
Three waterfalls grace nearby Swallow Falls State Park. They'll be especially beautiful if a cold spell comes and freezes them over: Muddy Creek Falls (Maryland's highest), Swallow Falls and Tolliver Falls. The falls are accessible by trails, but cross-country skis may improve the hike. Cross-country skiing equipment is available at the Village Inn Motel at the base of the main Wisp slopes. Trails in Herrington Manor and New Germany State Park are highly recommended.
There are winter sports for everyone here. When Deep Creek Lake is frozen, ice fishing begins. Crystal Waters rents snowmobiles at the Garrett County Fairgrounds in McHenry off U.S. 219.301/387-5677. The Double G Ranch, nearby on Mosser Road, will fit you up with a horsedrawn sled, if you give them notice of an hour or so. 301/387-5481.
For some local flavor, on U.S. 40 just east of Grantsville, a Mennonite restaurant called Penn Alps offers Mennonite crafts and baked goods. And there are movies and a bowling alley in Oakland.
If you stay there as a guest, both the Village Inn and the Will O' the Wisp condominium offer pools and a racquetball-handball court. Will O' the Wisp also has a weight room, whirlpool and sauna. But who wants to come in from the cold?