What to do and see during a vacation to Deep Creek Lake

Deep Creek Lake, with its serene setting and convenience to entertainment, culture and family-friendly dining, is a four-season escape.

Deep Creek Lake State Park
Deep Creek Lake State Park / Photo courtesy of Garrett County Chamber of Commerce

Deep Creek Lake, with its serene setting and convenience to entertainment, culture and family-friendly dining, is a four-season escape that can be enjoyed by both thrill-seekers and loungers. And it is a vacation getaway that has a generational pull.

“It’s a place where you can make memories with your families, and we see that going on for generations,” says Betsy Spiker Holcomb, co-owner of Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations & Sales.

What to Do

Deep Creek Lake State Park

With miles of trails surrounded by flora and fauna, hiking and biking adventures turn from a simple walk in the park into a bounty of beautiful explorations. And the beach provides a spot to sit and relax, taking in the soothing sights of rippling water.

Adventure Sports Center International
Adventure Sports Center International / Photo courtesy of Garrett County Chamber of Commerce
Adventure Sports Center International

Though the lake is the epicenter of your vacation spot, if you’re looking for something for the adventure-seeker, this center is your go-to. It holds a man-made whitewater course on top of Wisp Mountain and hosts rock-climbing and rappelling excursions, too.

Swallow Falls State Park
Photo courtesy of Garrett County Chamber of Commerce
Swallow Falls State Park

Home to the state’s highest free-falling waterfall, Swallow Falls State Park is a must-do when in Deep Creek Lake. And there isn’t just one waterfall to take in. There are a series of smaller falls, meandering streams and soft banks that bring you right up to the Youghiogheny River.

Wisp Resort

No matter the time of year you trek to the western part of Maryland, Wisp Resort has something for you to keep your days occupied. Of course there is skiing, snow tubing and more winter sports, but the resort also hosts a bevy of activities for all seasons including aerial adventures, a mountain coaster, Segway tours, archery, disc golf, gem mining, rappelling, whitewater rafting, pontoon boat tours and more.

Wisp Resort
Photo courtesy of Wisp Resort
Splash Island

For the kids in tow, a trip to Splash Island will give them thrills and excitement with the inflatable water park that includes slides, jumping pads, obstacles and a climbing wall. You’ll leave refreshed and tired.

Discovery Center

The best way for kids to have a good time is to get involved. The Discovery Center at Deep Creek Lake State Park has interactive exhibits for kids featuring turtles, foxes, black bears and many other creatures, plus an aviary.

Culture & Entertainment

Deep Creek Lavender Farm

Make a picnic or order a lavender-themed boxed lunch ahead of time and head to fields strewn with lavender. With more than 1,500 lavender plants in 15 different varieties, the farm offers wafting scents that will immediately calm the system. You can pick your own or shop at the farm store, which carries products like eye masks and neck wraps, quilts, jams and jellies. You can also purchase culinary lavender.

Deep Creek Cellars

Celebrating 20 years, the family-run Deep Creek Cellars is focused on sustainable living. While you can indulge in the winery’s whites, reds and dessert wines, you can also learn about bird-watching and take a stroll through their gardens.

Horseback and Carriage Rides

In the winter months bundle up and load into a horse-drawn carriage to take in the countryside. In the warmer months get a little more active and jump on a horse yourself as you are guided on the trails with a private tour guide. You’ll meander along the hillside, through the woods and into the apple orchards on the family farm.

Funland

For a day of family fun on land, head to Funland, a place that is equipped with many attractions, like an 18-hole miniature golf course, go-karts, bumper cars, a carousel, climbing wall and a water war section where you can battle each other. There is also an indoor arcade and a pizza parlor right on-site.

Smiley’s Fun Zone

At Smiley’s Fun Zone those of all ages can get in on the action with miniature golf, laser tag, bowling, arcade games, batting cages and a free ride on the SS Smiley, a boat-themed playground. There are also kiddie carts, go-karts, bumper boats and indoor bumper cars. All-day passes are available, or you can partake in individual games and rides before or after you dine at the adjacent bar and grill.

Golfing

There are four options for hitting the links while at Deep Creek Lake. There is Wisp Resort’s Fantasy Valley Golf Course, which GolfStyles magazine rated as one of the 100 Must-Play Courses of the Mid-Atlantic, with a 6,446-yard, par 70 championship course. Wisp Resort also offers Lodestone, which was ranked as the No. 2 course in Maryland by Golfweek Magazine and was designed by Hale Irwin, three-time U.S. Open Champion. Other options include the nine-hole Thousand Acres Golf Club and the farther out Golf Club at Oakland.

Garrett County Historical Museum

For a touch of history, make some time for a stop at Garrett County Historical Museum, where you can learn about 200 years of backstory in just a day. To commemorate what used to be a train town—trains came through 12 times a day—you can see a replica of a B&O train and numerous artifacts along with exhibits that delve into the luxurious hotels of the past, the ole’ Opry houses, an industrial room with a focus on coal mining, moonshine and more.

Theatre On The Lake Theatre Company

During the summer months you can take in a professional performance from the TOTL Theatre Company, which offers full-length productions in all genres. Productions include comedies, dramas and musicals and can be seen at the Barn at Ridge View Valley.

Our Town Community Theatre

Throughout the entire year, performances reign at Our Town Theatre in nearby Oakland, where community productions have been held since 1997. The company offers opportunities for entertainment for all ages.

Cranesville Swamp

Not too far of a jaunt, Cranesville Swamp is where the boreal peat bogs hold plants from 15,000 years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch time. They are perfectly preserved due to a frost pocket effect, allowing for a peek back in time.

Dining

Black Bear Tavern

Offering a bit of a nightlife scene with live music, DJs and dance floor, Black Bear Tavern and Restaurant is a sports bar serving up American food with nightly specials and is open daily for lunch and dinner. For the nightclub, there is a VIP section outfitted with lounge couches and a complimentary round of drinks.

Honi-Honi Bar

Honi-Honi is a popular spot with a lakeside terrace and happy hour deals that keep the residents coming back for the casual grub accompanied by live music. Sunday Socials feature cocktails, margaritas and music. There are also Monday afternoon parties, karaoke nights and luau parties.

Mountain State Brewing Company

Born out of West Virginia, Mountain State Brewing Company has put down roots in Deep Creek Lake on the north side of the lake. The brewpub is a spot for families offering full lunch and dinner menus, 18 rotating craft beer taps and, for the little ones, housemade Mountain State Root Beer, all in a rustic venue with views of the surrounding mountains.

Ace’s Run Restaurant & Pub

Located in Will O’ the Wisp is Ace’s Run Restaurant & Pub, which just went through a renovation and offers simple, fresh entrees. As you dine, take a peek into the kitchen with the open window and indulge in the specials that include PastaNight, Stir-Friday and B for D, or breakfast for dinner.

Archie’s Barbeque

A favorite in Deep Creek Lake is the down-home cooking found at Archie’s Barbeque. Just as you’d expect, the joint serves up ribs, brisket and pulled pork with both dine-in and outdoor seating. And if you’ve got a bit of a competitive edge, you can partake in the Mountain Man Food Challenge (Man vs. BBQ): a full rack of ribs, a dozen wings, one Archie Deluxe Sandwich, four pieces of cornbread, two sides and one soft drink. If you eat it in one hour, the $75 meal is free.

Moonshadow

For trendier fare—small plates of cauliflower wings, Brussels sprout skewers, chili dusted salmon, grilled king oysters and rosemary chicken—head to Moonshadow. The cafe just moved to the Deep Creek area early this summer and has plans to rework the menu. They continue to host live music on weekends and offer an ongoing rotation of craft brews.

Brenda’s Pizzeria

If it’s pizza you are craving, Brenda’s is your spot. Though you are in Maryland, this pizzeria focuses on New York-style pies (Brenda hails from the Bronx) along with pasta, sandwiches and a gluten-free menu.

Telli’s Deli

For any meal of the day, Telli’s Deli is open. Stop in for bagels and spreads, Italian sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts, or stroll the aisles of the marketplace for gourmet pastries, pastas, cheeses, meats and more.

Pine Lodge Steakhouse

For rustic mountain lodge dining, Pine Lodge Steakhouse does not disappoint. Chow down on steaks and seafood in the log cabin-styled restaurant that was built in just 82 days. Or pull up a stool at the bar and indulge in a salted caramel White Russian, copper leaf margarita, a pine lodge punch or adult espresso drinks.

Dutch’s at Silver Tree

Looking for a place to celebrate in a more fine-dining setting? Dutch’s at Silver Tree Restaurant is Deep Creek Lake’s upscale spot. Dutch’s offers classic carnivorous entrees such as filet mignon, New York strip steak and filet Oscar, plus seafood dishes like lump crabcakes, Atlantic salmon, crab saute and lobster tail.

Lakeside Creamery

Ice cream is a staple almost any season, and Lakeside Creamery sits right on the water and serves scoops of 90 flavors in both ice cream and sherbets made with cream from local dairy farms.

Trader’s Coffee House

Java addicts and those who just need a place to sit and relax head to Trader’s Coffee House with its menu of espresso drinks, teas and ciders, pastries and light lunch fare.

Copper Kettle Popcorn Factory

As a special treat for those with a sweet tooth, Cooper Kettle Popcorn factory, right on the north side of the lake, is open for anyone to indulge in handcrafted chocolates, homemade fudge and, of course, fresh specialty popcorn in more than a dozen flavors.

(September 2017)

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