It’s that time again – the time where you start looking around for your next reunion travel destination. Do you choose a centrally-located spot, even if the best thing it can offer is proximity to multiple big-box stores? Or do you hope your group is okay with a bit of a hike and book into a mountain resort? Hey, there’s a third option – heading out to the mountains of Western Maryland for something historical and year-round activities.
Maybe you could look for a place that combines all of the above: ease of access, beautiful scenery and historical significance. Someplace like Garrett County, Maryland.
As the westernmost county in Maryland, Garrett county shares borders with the Potomac River, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It contains the state’s highest peak, highest free-falling waterfall and largest freshwater lake.
Culturally, Garrett County is unique as well. It bears the title of Maryland’s Gateway to the West and is recognized as one of 13 Heritage Areas in the state. As a jumping-off point for travelers headed westward, Garrett County has amassed quite a collection of places on the National Register of Historic Places – 20, to be precise. So no matter if your group is into folk music, food, or hiking through forested paths. You’ll find something to enjoy here.
Getting Your Reunion Group to Garrett County
If a central location is a must for your reunion group travel destination, Garrett County is pretty handy. Pittsburgh is just two hours away; Baltimore and Washington DC are within three hours; Columbus and Cleveland are an easy four-hour drive.
If you want to fly in, West Virginia’s Morgantown Municipal Airport is the closest air travel hub, but its flight selection is limited to thrice-daily trips to DC’s Dulles Airport. Pittsburgh’s International Airport, two hours’ drive away, offers a large choice of flights.
What Can Travel Groups Do in Garrett County?
Garrett County is home to dozens of excellent places to get outside and do things as a group: the 7 State Parks, Wisp Ski Resort and Deep Creek Lake, just to name a few.
Since it’s the largest lake in Maryland, we’ll start with Deep Creek Lake. This man-made lake has 69 miles of shoreline, which makes it an extremely popular place for water sports. Your group can embark on a kayaking eco-tour, zip along in a boat, have a lazy day of fishing or propel a paddleboard for a high-energy experience. Or, if you happen to stop by in the winter, you can try your hand at ice fishing.
Wisp Ski Resort, located near Deep Creek Lake, has its own claim to fame: it’s Maryland’s only downhill ski resort. As such, your group can certainly stop by in the colder months to ski, snowboard, snowshoe or snowtube. But don’t neglect Wisp during the warmer months. There are two well-regarded golf courses, plus zipline tours, geocaching, a mountain roller coaster and rafting on the world’s only mountain top whitewater rafting course. If your group prefers a more laid-back experience, then pontoon boat tours, Segway rides and scenic chairlift rides are available. Wisp Resort is also home to the county’s annual 4th of July fireworks display.
Despite the presence of so much mountain, lake and stream, let’s not forget Garrett County’s other claim to fame: as a heritage area.
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Does Garrett County Have Any Historical Sites?
It sure does. You’re never very far away from history here, whether you’re looking at the initial push westward, the Civil War or the move towards city life in the early- to mid-1900s. Groups with a historical bent can examine some of these still-standing tributes themselves. There’s Casselman River Bridge, located in a state park of the same name. It was an important – and groundbreaking – part of the National Road, itself something of a forerunner of our modern interstates.
Smaller groups may be able to stay in a piece of history at General Kelly Guest House, located on a farm belonging to a Civil War general. The rooms are decorated with vintage items found onsite.
To see a lot of history in one place, groups will want to check out Oakland’s Historical District. It’s home to the Garrett County Courthouse, several schools and churches, and lots of residential, commercial buildings and three museums. More importantly, it serves as an example of varied architectural styles.
Where Can My Reunion Group Stay in Garrett County?
Where your group will stay ranks right up there with getting to your reunion group travel destination. Garrett County has you covered. Whether you’re looking for a rental on the shores of Deep Creek Lake , a bed and breakfast on a farm, or a place where “the entire family” includes the four-legged members, you’ll find a place for your group to recharge.
What’s on the Menu for a Hungry Travel Group?
When it’s time to eat, you won’t be stuck in the kitchen unless you want to be. Your group can visit local restaurants that represent a number of styles, from Victorian-inspired elegance to casually delicious pub food. For a taste of something truly unique, stop by FireFly Farms Creamery & Market for award-winning regional goat cheese. Or, if you’d rather stay at your home base, you can arrange for private chefs or catering companies to handle the food prep for you.
There’s much more to Garrett County than we have time to list here – a rich musical tradition influenced by the mountains; plenty of parks to explore; lots of crafts and antiques to peruse. As a reunion group travel destination, this bit of western Maryland is hard to beat.
Have you been to Garrett County? Tell us about it in the comment section below!