White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia

Photo: Bobak Ha'Eri (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Bobak Ha’Eri (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Happy Thanksgiving! Though it probably would be even happier if your mother didn’t burn the pies, your sister stopped complaining about the lack of vegetarian options, and everyone left their screaming children at home. Time for another glass of wine? It might also be time to make different plans next year. No, you’re not supposed to forget the holiday altogether, as tempting as it sounds. But you can avoid the lines at the grocery store and skip the cleanup. Let someone else do the cooking by booking a long-weekend escape at a resort.

This isn’t the time of year to book air travel; overbooked flights and unpredictable weather would only add to your headache. So look closer to home, like The Greenbrier in southeastern West Virginia. It’s an easy drive or a scenic train ride through the Allegheny Mountains to reach White Sulphur Springs. When you arrive at the 6,750-acre property–a National Historic Landmark–you’re surrounded by holiday decorations and handed a glass of sparkling wine. You already feel more welcomed than you did at your brother’s house two years ago.

The Greenbrier opened in 1778, and you don’t have to be a history buff to be impressed with its story. Presidents summered here before the Civil War, it became a hospital during World War II, and a secret underground bunker was built here for the U.S. Congress during the Cold War. Classically decorated rooms–floral prints, bathrooms with marble floors, and antiques–are comfortable, but not stuffy.

Photo: The Greenbrier
Photo: The Greenbrier

Spend the morning in the water. Do laps in the indoor pool and take a mineral bath at the spa. Have hot chocolate and cookies during afternoon tea. Layer up and hike among the white pines and the American sycamores on the Valley View Trail. Keep an eye out for Red-tailed Hawks and white-tailed deer. And get dressed up for dinner in the main dining room. Your mouth starts watering when you see Berkshire pork with Granny Smith apple terrine, butternut squash bisque, and roasted turkey. Don’t worry, the sides weren’t forgotten. Brussels sprouts, sweet potato casserole, and pan gravy. Plus pies–pumpkin and pecan–that weren’t burned. You don’t have to cook any of it.

On Black Friday, instead of elbowing your way through the crowded mall, lace up and go ice skating. A fire pit will warm you up when you start to get chilly. Watch the lighting of the huge Christmas tree. Bundle up in blankets and ride a Jeep-pulled trolley to tour the holiday lights. And show off your singing voice during karaoke at JJ’s.

Before your departure, buy a wreath at the old train station, which was turned into a year-round Christmas shop. It’ll help you transition from the Thanksgiving season to the busy weeks before Christmas with a smile on your face. You may never cook another turkey again.

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