Tom and Betty Taylor settle down to spend the night in a Pullman train car. They snuggle between crisp sheets covering a comfortable bed. When they awaken the next morning and peer out the window, the scene that greets them is exactly what they saw before turning off the light.
The train car in which the Taylors slept didn’t move. It’s among accommodations available at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel in Tennessee. The lodging also includes traditional hotel rooms and a long list of amenities at the renovated 112-year-old terminal from which the last train left in 1970. That building and stationary Pullman cars parked nearby combine comfortable accommodations with memories of yesteryear.
At this time of limited travel, people in the Southeast can enjoy this unusual place to overnight without having to journey far. Other resorts throughout the country offer equally imaginative—in some cases unique—things to see and do.
Electric carts are available to guests of Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, and unlike those stationary train cars, they move. The little vehicles, which resemble golf carts, provide transportation during 2.5-mile rides along Lost Canyon Nature Trail past stunning rock formations and scenic views. The highlight comes when passengers drive through Lost Canyon Cave, a four-story-high cavern that houses a cascading waterfall and bar where visitors can relax and enjoy their surroundings.
Another attraction is the country’s first and only Tiger Woods public golf course. It sports a 19th hole that plays to an island green. That green stays still, but the one at the Coeur d’Alene Resort golf course in Idaho floats around a small lake, so the distance between tee and hole can vary from 90 to 220 yards. A wooden boat transports players whose drive made the green to the little island so they can sink their putt.
A different kind of swing awaits at the Club Med Sandpiper Bay in St. Lucie, Florida. After a lesson, guests may try their skill on the flying trapeze. If their appeal for acrobatic activities remains unsatisfied, other alternatives include juggling and tightrope-walking.
The sky is the limit in another way at the Skamania Lodge, nestled in a national scenic area near Portland, Oregon. Along with many of the usual resort amenities, it has six lofty tree houses perched in branches up to 40 feet high. They feature an indoor fireplace and outdoor fire pit and offer spectacular views of the surrounding scenery.
Some resorts relate intriguing chapters of history. That’s true of the Omni Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, whose story dates back more than two and a half centuries and includes 23 U.S. presidents among its guests. A lodge was built on the site in 1766. Decades later, a European-style spa replaced it, taking advantage of the mineral-rich waters in the area that were touted for their healing powers. The modern resort traces its creation to the late 1800s. During World War II, it temporarily served as an internment camp for Japanese diplomats and their families.
Memories of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union linger at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. In the late 1950s, a bunker was dug beneath a hill on the property to serve as a secure relocation facility for Congress in case Washington, D.C., was attacked.
The 25-ton blast-proof door opens to dormitories, a medical facility, pharmacy, cafeteria, and meeting rooms for members of the Senate and House of Representatives. Guests may tour the shelter, which covers an area larger than two football fields.
Speaking of size, two resorts boast that their list of possible ways to spend time includes a total of 150 activities. Mohonk Mountain House is a self-described Victorian castle located in a valley 90 miles north of New York City. Surrounded by 40,000 acres of protected forest, it offers options ranging from the usual to the unexpected.
Its activity list was compiled as part of its 150th birthday celebration. Along with many that are to be expected, there are some—such as ice curling, snowshoeing, lawn bowling, and log-rolling—that may come as a surprise. So is the Barn Museum, which houses a 1923 Model A Ford along with more than 30 carriages.
Other pleasant surprises are among the 150 things to do promised by the website of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. From art to an onsite zoo, anyone who can’t find something of fascination isn’t trying.
For starters, there’s the multimillion-dollar art collection that has been assembled by the resort owner’s family. Add displays of antique automobiles and vintage airplanes. And how many resorts have a beautifully landscaped miniature golf course, an eight-lane bowling alley, or an ornate 20-horse working carousel dating back to 1920?
Then there’s the Wildlife Academy, where buffalo, lions, tigers, and other animals from around the world call Nemacolin their home. You might wish to do so for a while, or—if you live in another part of the country—to visit another resort that offers more than the word implies.
When You Go
Victor Block is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at Creators.com. Copyright 2021 Creators.com