For a fabulous family vacation without a long drive or expensive airfare, Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg was perfection. This surprisingly affordable and simultaneously luxurious getaway was just what my family and I needed to relax and reconnect.
We arrived on a Friday evening after school and work, and upon pulling into the beautiful grounds we felt our stresses of the week melt away. The kids spotted a playground and Chris and I ooohhed and ahhhed over the gorgeous landscaping.
At check-in our luggage was whisked away to our room for us and the adults were handed glasses of champagne. The kids were given great goodie bags filled with kid swag, as well as a s’mores kit to be used at the on-site fire pit later!
Waiting for us in our room were three deluxe cookie decorating kits for the kids! They plowed into the sprinkles and frostings so quickly I could not even snap a picture. Lansdowne knows kids and goes above and beyond to let you know that this place is all about family love.
Of course, it is also very romantic and relaxing for a couple’s getaway. We even ran into one of my favorite and first love local bloggers, Karl of Silver Spring, Singular and his beautiful wife having a kids-free retreat. I had a fan girl moment.
The lobby is inviting and full of cozy nooks to play provided board games next to fires. Charlie and I snuggled down for chess and reading in comfy velvet chairs.
Friday night we sprang for dinner in the on-site restaurant Stonewall’s Tavern. At first glance it looked like a pub, but upon closer inspection we spotted lots of children. Kids are welcome to play billiards and other games. The kids’ menu was reasonable and full of healthy choices, but also provided the standard chicken strips and fries in addition to pastas, pizzas and veggies. Chris and I enjoyed our hearty sandwiches and drinks immensely. We had considered heading into the town of Leesburg to explore a new restaurant, but were happy we stayed on site in the warm embrace of our new home for the weekend.
We headed back to our room for an early turn-in. Our kids are always so stoked to sleep in new hotel room beds! A double bed standard room fit our family of five just fine. (When Alice turns four we know we will be heading into suite land for future getaways.) The television reception was a little fuzzy and the Lansdowne staff had a repair person there in less than five minutes to fix it! The kids were majorly impressed.
The next morning we rose early to take advantage of the morning light, the iconic Virginia fall foliage and our proximity to esteemed family photographer Marian Lozano of Marian Lozano Photography. She shot our family in our annual photo shoot for our holiday card, for those framers to hang in our and the grandparents’ homes, and she brought out and captured our kids’ smiles.
I will be sharing the fruits of Marian’s labors in an upcoming post. As always, she captured literally hundreds of great shots and made us all look better than we actually look, all in about a half hour. She is seriously the best photographer I have ever worked with. We are so lucky to have her in our area! Check out her website to see the amazing photos of families, children, couples, babies, expectant mothers and events. She is my dear friend from way back in the ’90s, so blog or no I am lucky enough to mooch her services for free, but her rates are reasonable, especially for such high quality work!
After our rough half hour of modeling, we ran for the brunch at Lansdowne’s Riverside Hearth. It had everything. Think the best hotel or cruise ship brunch buffet. Coffee and made-to-order omelets and smoked salmon for miles and a loaded granola bar and the best bacon on earth. The kids ate more than a hockey team and were full until dinner.
After all that bacon, this woman needed to sweat. I headed to the Lansdowne Health and Fitness Center and lifted some weights and messed around on the treadmill. It was a truly beautiful gym. It felt much more luxe than my neighborhood Gold’s. Then I took a fabulous yoga class that did not cost extra (I am used to paying a class fee at other resorts/spa hotels for yoga.) The instructor tailored the yoga to the attendees’ needs and ability levels. Before savasana she went around and massaged all our shoulders with tea tree oil for extra relaxation.
Chris took the kids to super-close-by Leesburg Animal Park, a family favorite. The kids went down slides and rode camels and had a marvelous time! Unfortunately, Chris’s phone was out so he didn’t get any pictures. I would complain, but see solo yoga shot above, so I’m keeping my trap shut. Just picture Alice on a camel!
During Halloween season Leesburg Animal Park morphs into the Pumpkin Village (formerly called Pumpkinville) — it is an ultimate area fall festival. Now it has reverted back to the animal park and the park it is open year-round! Fun note: Santa is coming to the Leesburg Animal Park Saturday December 6th! He will be there from 6-9pm and there will also be a bonfire for roasting marshmallows, hot chocolate, Christmas crafts for kids and the park will be open extra late.
After yoga, I walked around the gorgeous grounds of Lansdowne by myself! I KNOW! And then I checked in early for a spa appointment at Lansdowne’s Spa Minérale! I KNOW! Believe me, I did not take this alone time for granted. Today as the children are off for election day and crawling all over me, I am closing my eyes and thinking back on that blissful time.
Before my massage, I availed myself of all the tranquility centers at the spa. The therapy pool, steam room and dry hot sauna pulled all the toxins and negativity from my body and left me a clean-pored, positive ray of light. Or that is at least how I felt. I had an already relaxed groovy vibe going when I was greeted by Milos for my massage.
If you go to Lansdowne, get a massage from Milos. He was THE BEST. My back and shoulders have never felt so glorious. It felt divine during and felt fabulous after. It was an incredible Swedish massage. It was so good that I bought one for Marian (she had 47 families booked in October – that is a lot of camera lugging!) and if I win the lottery will buy one for mom reading this. I may even travel back to Virginia some weekend simply to experience that perfect kneading again. THAT GOOD.
After all that princessy “me time,” I decided to grace my husband and children with my presence. We went for a family swim in the Lansdowne Aquatic Complex heated indoor pool. The outdoor pool area looks amazing, with water slides and loads of fun for the kids, but alas it closes in the fall when the chill sets in. The indoor pool was great fun. There is a box stocked with toys and pool noodles. The jacuzzi allows kids so we all had a family soak. The kids played with the one other family there which made it perfect. (Kids to play with but not a packed people soup.) As hotel indoor pools go, this was one of the very best.
For dinner that Saturday evening, we happily divided into two teams. We signed the kids up for the Lansdowne Kids Night Out with Peter Pan incarnate Erick. In a huge specially designated room in the Health and Fitness Center, the kids watched movies on a large projector, ordered kids meals for dinner from Stonewall’s Tavern, made friendship bracelets, played games and had a blast. They received bubbles and small toys. Lansdowne Kids Night Out is available on select Saturday evenings from 6-9pm and is a win-win for parents and children alike! Get the scoop.
While the kids had their night out, the old folks had ours. We had a schmancy dinner in the restaurant at The Golf Club at Lansdowne, The Crooked Billet. Our traditional steak house meal was to die for. We started by sharing a charcuterie and cheeses, moved on to an enormous steak for Chris and delicate duck for me. It was incredible. We were way too stuffed for dessert. It was elegant and delicious and the prices were much more reasonable than many other restaurants in this vein. Check out the menu.
The next morning, after swearing we would never eat again, we again availed ourselves of a massive morning meal at Riverside Hearth. The choices were different the next day but equally awesome. Then we went for a long family walk and took some time to play on the on-site playground.
After sadly checking out, we continued our #VirginiaLove with a beautiful Mass at St. John the Apostle’s new church in Leesburg, tramping around Sky Meadows State Park and enjoying all of their family programs (search for Virginia State Parks events.) The Sunday we were there included colonists from 1755, a corn maze, hay maze, pumpkin patch and blacksmith demos, as well as the trails for family hikes.
After all that worship and exercise, we rounded out our family day by visiting the most family-friendly winery ever, Barrel Oak. There the kids played in a giant sand play area right next to the outdoor tasting tables. Dog rescue enthusiasts had a meet-up so the kids ran around making friends with other children and dogs while we tasted wines. Kids also get free juice boxes when parents purchase a tasting. Wood-fired pizza was available that Sunday for purchase, and Barrel Oak has lots of vendors and family-friendly events each weekend. Check out the calendar.
I spent three days with my family eating, drinking, exercising and laughing. I did not wash a dish or do a load of laundry. It was really the best family vacation ever. No time spent in security lines. Very little time in the car. Lots of family bonding and relaxation and playtime. All five us were happy!
Thank you to Lansdowne for hosting us! All opinions are my own.