17 Fabulous One-Stop Weekend Escapes
French Lick, Indiana: French Lick Resort
Step into the Victorian-opulent lobby at West Baden Springs Hotel, and you'll know that you've arrived somewhere amazing. A 600-foot glass dome—hailed as the eighth wonder of the world when the hotel opened in 1902—arches six stories overhead.
Through the 1930s, this hotel and neighboring French Lick Springs Hotel (about 140 miles southwest of Indianapolis) reigned as the fanciest of 40-some resorts built around the area's mineral springs. Neglect then took its toll, but a recent $500 million renovation turned the hotels back into luxury destinations. Guests love the spacious rooms, plus spas, restaurants, golf and hiking. French Lick Springs' attractions include a casino. (888) 936-9360.
- Photo Courtesy of Steve Eliasen.
Wisconsin Dells: Sundara Inn and Spa
The real world can't get past the front gate of Sundara Inn and Spa. The resort, named for the Sanskrit word for "beautiful," hides among tall pines on a winding side road outside Wisconsin Dells. You'll be reminded how great a show sunlight, fire and grazing deer put on when you have nowhere else to be.
Float through a seamless series of hot tubs, steam rooms and heated towels. Flute music and earthy oil scents fill the halls. Privacy is as complete as you want to make it at this adults-only lodging. You can eat breakfast in the quiet atrium, but there's always room service in the 26 suites and 12 villas. And while Sundara provides free chauffeur service to area entertainment, you might not choose to leave (888) 735-8181.
Galena, Illinois: Inn at Irish Hollow
Let yourself be pampered at this secluded, romantic lodging. Stay either in the main inn, which was once the general store, post office and shopkeeper's home, or choose from five private guesthouses, all with luxurious and spacious accommodations.
Eating is one of the pleasures here; you can have a full country gourmet breakfast delivered to your room. The inn also serves a seven-course candlelight dinner. Activities include hiking on the 500-acre wooded, rolling estate or the 1,300-acre nature preserve next to it, while Galena (10 miles northwest) offers plenty of nearby shops and restaurants. (815) 777-6000
Ridgedale, Missouri: Big Cedar Lodge
Ozark cooking (blackberry cobbler!), attentive service and upscale pine cabins tucked in the woods along Table Rock Lake make this resort an ideal getaway.
You could just relax in your cabin, but a variety of activities beckon at the sprawling resort: swimming pools, hot tubs, trail rides, tennis, golf, hiking trails, spa services and a marina with a full range of water sports. And Branson's shopping and entertainment are just 10 miles away. (800) 225-6343
Traverse City, Michigan: Chateau Chantal
Chateau Chantal is a little taste of the Mediterranean right in northern Michigan. The 65-acre estate sits on a ridge overlooking Old Mission Peninsula, which means if you stand outside the inn, you're surrounded by a 360-degree panorama of rolling vineyards, tidy orchards and sparkling Lake Michigan. Not surprisingly, many of the rooms have lovely views.
Visitors can take cooking classes, attend wine seminars or tour the winery. (Don't miss the two-hour tapas tour, which explores wine and food pairings.) You could easily while away a weekend here, but if you feel like venturing off the property, other wineries offer tastings and Old Mission Lighthouse sits at the very tip of the peninsula. (800) 969-4009
Rocheport, Missouri: Yates House Bed and Breakfast
Cyclists and visitors to St. Louis, Kansas City and nearby Columbia (15 miles east) come here for the comfortable accommodations as well as the cooking classes.
Though it fits right in with the antebellum buildings along the same street, Yates House was built in 1991; the neighboring Garden House, part of the same B&B, was built in 1840. At both, guests enjoy modern comforts such as flat-screen TVs amid classic antique-style furnishings. The B&B is a popular stop for cyclists riding Missouri's Katy Trail, but it's also worth coming for the monthly Gourmet Weekends that include cooking classes and a vineyard tour (573) 698-2129.
Bayfield, Wisconsin: Old Rittenhouse Inn
This Queen Anne mansion has luxurious rooms and suites with up-to-date amenities (minus TVs). Gas fireplaces, steam showers, whirlpool tubs and leather-padded window seats make guests feel pampered, while antiques and built-in bookshelves preserve the turn-of-the-last-century home's feel.
When you want to venture beyond your lodging, tiny Bayfield (population: 611) offers stunning views of Lake Superior and activities that include walking tours, bike rentals, kayaking and sightseeing boats to the nearby Apostle Islands. Make sure to work up a hearty appetite for the Rittenhouse Restaurant. The two-course dinner satisfies, but the five-course feast is splurge-worthy (888) 611-4667.
The Langham Chicago (pictured) Impeccable service begins when a Chanel-suited staff member greets you in the Mies van der Rohe skyscraper in River North. Fine art graces the walls, and the 316 guest rooms (complete with marble baths and rain showers) are some of the most spacious in the city. Take your stay to the next level with the River North Romance package, which includes complimentary champagne, breakfast for two and discounts at luxe Chuan Spa. (312) 923-9988; chicago.langhamhotels.com
Waldorf-Astoria Chicago It’s a boutique hotel that, frankly, doesn't feel like a hotel. And it’s a thoughtful place to settle in with that special someone. Rooms boast plush king beds and amazing bathrooms that come standard with mosaic-tiled walk-in shower and a deep soaking tub; many rooms have gas fireplaces and balconies. Dine at Balsan, a classy European-style bistro highlighting the region's finest flavors. (312) 646-1300; waldorfastoria.com
Harrodsburg, Kentucky: Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill
Plenty peaceful during the day, Shaker Village becomes downright Zen in the late afternoon and evening. An overnight stay gives you time to tour this living-history site as well as enjoy a quiet night in the country.
Thirty-four brick and clapboard buildings house workshops, guest rooms, a restaurant and gift stores at Shaker Village (25 miles southwest of Lexington and 120 miles south of Cincinnati). Overnight guests stay in the same buildings where Shakers worked and slept, supping on Kentucky corn pudding and tart lemon pie. The bedrooms and suites, though comfortable, reflect the essence of Shaker simplicity. Hand-woven rugs cover oak floors, and sunlight pours through rippled glass behind muslin curtains. (800) 734-5611
West Union, Ohio: Murphin Ridge Inn
At this classy destination inn, set on 142 pastoral acres, guests stay in Shaker-style rooms or lovely new cabins, where porches provide a place to read during the day or watch starry skies at night. Amenities include an outdoor pool and a tennis court. Come dusk, everyone congregates in an 1828 brick farmhouse for dinner.
Sherry and Darryl McKenney gave up catering and sales careers to purchase the inn in 1997. They season the area's down-home character with urban sensibilities. In the restaurant, white truffle oil flavors the house bread and brandy-spiked sauerkraut accompanies pork chops. The owners limit each table to one seating -- they want guests to linger, like family. (877) 687-7446
- Photo courtesy of Canoe Bay.
Chetek, Wisconsin: Canoe Bay
What is most noticeable at Canoe Bay near Chetek, Wisconsin, is what's missing. Kids. Traffic. Cell phones ringing. Few sounds break the spell of this 280-acre retreat surrounded by North Woods.
Couples come to hide away on honeymoons or rekindle relationships in 23 rooms and cottages around Lake Wahdoon. Many couples choose to cocoon in rooms and cottages that glow with warm wood tones and reflect the architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright. Fresh flowers, baked goods and steaming coffee discreetly delivered each morning add to the atmosphere at this getaway (100 miles east of Minneapolis). (800) 568-1995
Minneapolis: Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis
Bring a healthy dose of curiosity about art—and time to take it all in—when you visit Le Meridien Chambers Minneapolis, a boutique lodging with 60 rooms and suites just off Nicollet Mall.
At the mall, spend the afternoon browsing art galleries, bookshops and Macy's (and return in the evening for live music at Dakota Jazz Club). Back at the hotel, stroll the lobby and halls to view dozens of pieces of contemporary artwork. Even if you haven't heard of the artists displaying work, you'll like reading the placards created by the hotel's full-time art director. Original art also appears in each of the stylish black-and-white-decked rooms. (877) 767-6990
Delafield, Wisconsin: Delafield Hotel
Cherry accents, Colonial-Era art and Kohler spa tubs give the 38-room Delafield a swanky, country-club vibe. The luxury lodging provides a great base for a weekend getaway; within easy driving distance are Madison (about 50 miles west), Milwaukee (30 miles east), the acclaimed Erin Hills Golf Course (20 miles north) and the Southern Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest (15 miles south).
For pure indulgence, book a Master Suite, one of the larger rooms. You'll find elegant furnishings, plus the kind of bed so luxuriously comfortable that you simply don't want to leave in the morning. The huge spa bathroom is a destination in itself, with thoughtful touches such as a sign next to the shower controls to help you use all the jets appropriately (800) 594-8772).
Rockbridge, Ohio: Glenlaurel Inn & Spa
Glenlaurel Inn caters to couples in Ohio's Hocking Hills area, 55 miles southeast of Columbus. Retreat to nicely appointed, Scottish-theme cottages and rooms, some with hot tubs and some with two-person whirlpools. Meals are an occasion: Six- and seven-course dinners are served in the Manor House (where a bagpiper in full kilt dress pipes on the weekends).
Explorers can head to nearby Hocking Hills State Park, where the attractions include 100-foot-high Ash Cave and fern-filled Conkles Hollow. But for a casual walk, there's no need to leave Glenlaurel's 140-acre, heavily wooded property; secluded trails wind past sandstone cliffs, caverns, waterfalls and mossy glens (800) 809-7378.
Allegan, Michigan: Castle in the Country
Luxurious accommodations, spa rooms, country views and attentive staff draw visitors to this lodging nestled on 65 wooded acres with a lake and small pond.
Guests stay in either the Castle, a magnificently restored, five-bedroom 1906 home, or Castle Keep, which features five more guest rooms, dining, spa rooms and a small shop. The Lake Michigan shore is about a half-hour drive west, but if you don't want to leave the property, you can paddle a boat on the lake or, in winter, strap on snowshoes for a walk in the woods. Just want to sit and soak it all in? Relax on an impressive three-level deck featuring bistro tables, a propane-fueled fire pit and a gazebo. (888) 673-8054
Lawrence, Kansas: Circle S Ranch and Country Inn
Circle S Ranch and Country Inn is anything but rustic. Built in 1998, the ranch house resembles a plank-sided barn but has a dozen beautifully appointed rooms on three floors. You'll find a hot tub in the "silo" and a towering fireplace and leather couches in the glass-walled great room. Guests settle into rockers on the long porch and hike trails that lead to pastures where cattle and buffalo graze. Relax in the country for an evening, or head to Lawrence (12 miles away) for restaurants and shopping. (785) 843-4124
More Midwest getaways