Nemacolin Woodlands Resort: Expect the Unexpected


Wildlife habitats, luxury accommodations, adventure activities, golf, dining, swimming and play: Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania is an ideal getaway for DC-area families. A Parent in Silver Spring writer Guiomar Barbi Ochoa experienced the resort with her family and has the scoop for us. 

Tucked away in the Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Nemacolin Woodlands was purchased by 84 Lumber founder Joseph Hardy III for his daughter, Maggie. The father/daughter duo transformed the property into a 2,000 acre world-class resort and now Maggie is President and Owner. During our stay, we saw her all over the property waving to folks and saying hello.

My family and I absolutely loved this place! Yes, my husband and two children came with me but I still relaxed! (And no, I didn’t go because JoJo Fletcher of The Bachelorette went there!)

We repeatedly commented how genuinely helpful and nice staff were and, when asked, we were told the Hardys are great to work for. The personal, family touches ooze out of every corner of the resort and it is truly one of the most family friendly places we’ve ever been to.


There are three hotel options available at the resort: Chateau Lafayette, inspired by the famed Ritz Paris in France and a tribute to the grand hotels and resorts of Europe; Falling Rock, a boutique hotel experience on the PGA golf course in the organic architectural style of Frank Lloyd Wright; and The Lodge, an English Tudor-style luxe lodge that also houses much of the Hardy Family Art Collection, valued at more than $45 million.There are townhomes and luxury vacation homes on-site, too. We stayed in the French themed Chateau Lafayette hotel where we convinced our kids we had taken them to Paris! It was froufrou and frilly but never once did we feel like it was stuffy.


My daughter Anna-Cecilia (age six) enjoyed a mani/pedi at Nemacolin’s The Grove Kidz Spa. I was hesitant, I must admit. Do I really want my first-grader to get used to spa treatments? But The Grove was totally unpretentious. After relaxing at the spa, we girls met up with the my husband and son at the Adventure Center. We had a great time playing video games and accumulating tickets for prizes. We even went bowling! I hadn’t bowled in decades and here I was, teaching my kids how to bowl!


After working up an appetite at the Adventure Center, we headed to The Caddyshack for lunch where we got some yummy bbq. Refueled and ready to go, our next adventures entailed riding the vintage carousel before tackling mini golf. Nemacolin’s beautiful 18-hole Fallingbrook Mini Golf Course is amazing and so much fun. Anna Cecilia turned out to be a pro with the clubs and we all enjoyed navigating the course’s caves, tunnels and waterfall.

Guess what happened after mini golf? I took a nap! My husband took the kids to the outdoor Paradise Pool…which has a slide…so it was pure awesomeness for them and I went to our room and took a long, nap. It was glorious and amazing!


After my nap and afternoon of swimming for the kids, guess what else we did we went to PJ’s, Nemacolin’s vintage ice cream parlor, and ordered pizzas, salads and then ice cream for dessert for the kids (wine for the parents).

As if the night couldn’t get any better, fireworks were scheduled to go off that evening. We were told where the best viewing point would be ten minutes before the pyrotechnics, so we jumped into one of the 24/7 complimentary shuttle buses the resort has and it took us straight to the carousel. The four of us sat on carousel animals as gorgeous fireworks went off. It was a definite “pinch me now” moment. And because Nemacolin thinks of everything, fire pits had been started at different parts of the resort so guests could warm up a bit and chat outside.


The next morning the boys explored the Woodlands Auto Toy Store which contains unique and historic cars as well as the Pride and Joy Vintage Airplane Hangar which houses a personal collection of vintage planes. As if cars and planes weren’t enough, our entire family visited the Wildlife Academy which include bears, bison, a white Bengal tiger named Ice, lions, and wolves. Across from the animal habitats are playgrounds, playhouses, comfy rocking chairs and even a tipi for kids to play in.

We had been told to expect the unexpected during our mini vacation at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. And the unexpected indeed happened: we had a fun, relaxing family vacation. We explored new things and truly enjoyed each other’s company. What more could you ask for?


Guiomar Barbi Ochoa is a freelance writer, arts aficionado, foodie and passionate traveler. She has worked with jaguars, pythons and even the Pope! She has called both Rome and Paris her home but is settled, for now, in her hometown of Washington, D.C. with her husband and two young children. Fluent in Spanish, Italian and French, she is adamant about passing down her love of languages and cultures to her kids.

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