The February Escape Plan

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City dwellers, desk-bound office workers and exhausted commuters devote a lot of fantasy thinking to a weekend in a secluded mountain cabin. But in the Shenandoah Valley, it doesn’t have to be a fantasy—it’s easier than ever to book the perfect cozy cabin or B&B and find that pure escape so many of us need. And February, with the added lure of Valentine’s Day romance, is an ideal time to make your break.

“Winter is such a cozy time of the year to travel to the mountains,” said Karen Riddle, owner of Shadow Mountain Escape.  “I think it’s the best time to travel to the valley as the woods and mountains relax with you! We find our guests love to stroll on a short hike and return to their cabin for some warm hot cocoa or mulled wine. And during what we call Valentine’s month, all of our guests receive a Red Velvet cake all month long!”

Shadow Mountain Escape is in Luray, Page County, which was designated the “Cabin Capital” of Virginia by the Virginia General Assembly in 2009. But cabins, B&Bs and cottages abound throughout the Valley. There are 18 owners listed here, many with multiple properties offering a wide range of prices and amenities. Some are located very near towns with all the diversion you want and some will take you to hidden hollows filled with nothing but silence and serenity. Many cabins and B&Bs offer Valentine’s Day specials, too, like the “Lover’s Tasting Menu” at L’Auberge Provencale.

Regardless of how remote you want to be, there are some basic things you may need to ask before booking your getaway. Most cabin owners will have information on their website spelling out everything you need to know and bring, but be certain you understand such questions as:

  • What are the roads like? Do I need four-wheel drive?
  • Is there cell phone/wi service?
  • Is there a minimum-night stay?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • What do I need to bring? Linens, etc.?
  • Is there a cancellation policy?
  • Is there a lodging tax? How much?
  • Is there a limint to the number of occupants?
  • If you want a fireplace, hot tub, etc., ask if they have it.
  • When do off-season rates apply?

Two other factors about February—the 20th is President’s Day—the perfect time to visit the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum in Staunton.  Tour his birthplace to get a feel for life in the 19th Century.

February is also a logical time to start scouting the escalating number of running and cycling events you might want to enter this year. The Luray Triathlon, now drawing about 1700 greyhounds, is August 19 to 20 this year.  The brand new Shenandoah Half Marathon, hosted by Vacation Races,  is scheduled for September 2, in Luray. The Staunton Fall Foliage Bike Festival  normally is held in October.

There is also a Cyclocross race at Luray Caverns (September last year). Keep an eye on this page for updates,  and numerous events in and around Harrisonburg (one of America’s Top Ten Mountain Bike Towns, according to National Geographic.) Finally, don’t overlook the new bike park at Massanutten Resort. 

There are many other cycling events and opportunities. As we get exact dates we’ll post them in our Events section. Another good source to see what’s coming in cycling is found here.

In other words, quit fantisizing. Start planning.

Banner image at top courtesy L’Auberge Provencale.

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