A short drive away is Lancaster and the Pennsylvania Dutch country, with myriad family-oriented activities. Take a train ride in nearby Strasburg or explore the shops and sights of historic Lititz, complete with its own chocolate factory. Its Wilbur Buds predate the Hershey’s Kiss by 14 years. (But if you’d rather have the latter, Hershey, Pa., is not too far away.)
Housing? You will find older homes on Main Street and newer residences in the developments around the town center. The area did not experience as much of a drop in home prices as other areas did during the worst of the housing crisis, and now prices are not surging as much as they are in some other places, said Gil Ochs, an associate broker/agent with Coldwell Banker Select Professionals in Ephrata.
“We’re a conservative area,” he said. “We didn’t go crazy in the boom markets.”
Mr. Ochs noted that “very nice” properties can be had for about $250,000, with town-home communities coming in at the $150,000-to-$215,000 range.
“People come down here from New York and New Jersey, and once they are here they decide to stay,” Mr. Ochs said.
Think you would rather be a bit closer to the Chesapeake? Consider Berlin, Md., (accent on the first syllable). This small town once sported more hotels than Ocean City, but these days, a laid-back atmosphere holds sway. Berlin’s restored downtown historic district, complete with the 1895 Atlantic Hotel, offers one-of-a-kind shopping and a string of galleries that are perfect for a summer stroll.
Look familiar? The town is so picture-perfect that it has been used in several films, including “Tuck Everlasting” and “Runaway Bride.”
Nearby, Frontier Town offers family entertainment, including camping and a water park, that seems straight out of the 1950s, with Wild West Shows complete with street fights and showdowns.
Housing prices in Berlin are not as low as some others, but they’re not out of reach, either; the median home price is $267,000.
You also could find a place on the Western Shore. Chesapeake Beach, once a popular resort for Washington and Baltimore residents, offers a quieter take on the shore experience, with a range of cottages, bungalows and higher-end homes. It also boasts one of Maryland’s largest sport-fishing fleets and a museum filled with relics from the glory days.
You will find the second-largest swath of beach at Colonial Beach, once a popular destination on Virginia’s Northern Neck before the Bay Bridge helped the Eastern Shore entice Washingtonians away. Life is a good deal slower there than in, say, Ocean City, but there still is a bit of the summer resort left. Home prices are modest, with a median price of $178,824.
If the mountains are more to your liking, the Shenandoah Valley has it all, capped with breathtaking views from Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway. You can explore a wealth of Civil War sites, historic covered bridges and antiques shops galore while enjoying the area’s rich bounty, including apples.
In Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia, housing may be a bit more pricey, but it’s a perfect spot for a getaway and attracts a number of “getaway and stay” residents, people who turn their vacation homes into year-round residences after retirement.
“We’re at the top of the Sunbelt,” said Billie Magerfield of Billie Magerfield Real Estate III in Charlottesville. “We’ve got the four seasons, but we’ve got less snow and less heat than other places.”
Meanwhile, there are those breathtaking views and trendy shops and restaurants, while UVa. football draws crowds who want a place to stay for football weekends. (There are a number of town-house developments.)