Hooray! It’s summer! And time for that much anticipated family vacation filled with timed fast passes, long lines in the hot sun, and $4 bottles of water and …. Yikes!

Can we rewind please and start again?

Hooray! It’s summer! And time for that much anticipated family vacation filled with unscheduled downtime and quality family fun. Sounds better doesn’t it?

You know, for years I planned big ticket “this will wow them” summer adventures for my family, only to realize through 20/20 hindsight, that it didn’t matter to my children where we vacationed, only that we were together as a family sharing quality time. I recently discovered a special place for quality family time at a “little piece of heaven” in the rolling hills of West Virginia called Stonewall Resort. The resort sits on the banks of the 26-mile Stonewall Jackson Lake authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1966 and constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. It is easily accessible from Interstate 79 and is located on 1,900 acres of pristine West Virginia State Park in an area rich in history and Appalachian tradition. This “luxury” resort with a “down to earth” feel features beautiful views from its 186 rooms and 5 suites in a relaxing Adirondack style lodge. In addition to the lodge, there are 2-, 3-, and 4- bedroom lakeside cabins to rent and the onsite Briar Point Campground with electric hook up, full service bath house, boat launch, free WiFi, and picnic areas.

On the summer weekend that I visited, the resort was filled to capacity with guests enjoying the wholesome experience that the resort and surrounding park provides. The lake is the focal point for fun with some of the best bass and muskie fishing in the state and pontoon and fishing boat rentals at the 374-slip marina. The resort’s Outfitter Pass provides unlimited rental sessions of kayaks, paddle boats and boards, aqua cycles, and road bikes to explore the lake for just $15 per day. For the less adventurous sailors, from April to October, resort guests are treated to a free daily sightseeing cruise on “Little Sorrel,” the resort’s excursion boat. Land lovers in the family can hike, bike, and Segway 16+ miles of six beautifully developed trails that each feature a different adventure. For a more leisurely stroll, take a walk “over the lake” on a pedestrian boardwalk that spans 900 feet of water. The par 72, 18-hole award-winning Arnold Palmer Golf Course takes players from mountains to the water’s edge for a challenging and gorgeous round of golf.

The Stonewall Lodge features three restaurants and a lakeside patio with firepits to make s’mores under the stars. The resort even provides the cutest “s’more kits” for kids of all ages with all the yummy ingredients wrapped in a colorful bandana. There is an indoor and outdoor pool, jacuzzi, fitness center, family center activity room, arcade, climbing wall, 9-hole disc golf course, 2 playgrounds, horseshoe pits, and basketball courts. Phew… so much to do…. But do take time for relaxing, and visit the resort’s serene Mountain Laurel Spa that offers a full menu of pampering services, or just sit by the lake and enjoy the view.

During my summer vacation at Stonewall, the resort provided an activity guide that included live music performances, a welcome reception in the Grand Hall lobby, craft time, organized family lawn games, a family movie in the resort cinema, a make your own ice cream sundae event, a cooking demo in the restaurant, and fireworks on the lake.

Not that it’s necessary to leave the resort to find fun, but I did venture to nearby Weston, W.Va., and visited the cozy Lambert’s Winery for a tasting of locally made wine, the historic Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum for a super interesting tour, and The Museum of American Glass, featuring a colorful and extensive collection of American handmade glass from 1860 to the present. Wow, I didn’t need a fast pass. I never waited in a line. I felt relaxed and fulfilled, happily creating some wonderful memories. My summer adventure was truly almost heaven in West Virginia.


If you go:

Stonewall Resort www.stonewallresort.com

Lambert’s Winery www.lambertswinery.com

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum www.TALAWV.com

The Museum of American Glass www.magwv.com

Stonewall Country Info www.stonewallcountry.com

Kim Adley is the owner and custom tour designer of Passport to Pittsburgh, a custom tour design company for Pittsburgh and beyond (passporttopittsburgh.com). She is also the sole proprietor of Characters by Kim, a professional storytelling business (charactersbykim.com).