Oakland named one of TripAdvisor’s ’15 Best Honeymoon Destinations’

The town of Oakland was among the destinations recently listed on TripAdvisor’s “15 Best Honeymoon Destinations in the U.S.”

When newlyweds wrote about their honeymoons on the site, the reviews were categorized to identify the highest-rated rentals.

“Our data science team has a proprietary algorithm that crawls every single rental review on our site, assigning certain themes to destinations based off how closely their reviews represent that theme,” explained Ashlee Centrella of TripAdvisor. “These 15 destinations have some of the strongest honeymoon/romance-related reviews across the whole USA.”

Travelers listed Oakland as a refreshing alternative to a tropical destination. Other top areas included in the article are locations in California, Florida, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.

“If you don’t picture yourself escaping to a tropical paradise dotted with palm trees, you’re not alone,” the article states. “Reviewers highlight Oakland, a small town near Deep Creek Lake, as a refreshing alternative. In this designated Main Street Community, you’ll find antique stores instead of beachy souvenir shops and an old-fashioned soda fountain in place of seafood joints. But that’s not to say the vibe is anything less than laid-back. You’ll spend your days relaxing on the beach at Deep Creek Lake, kayaking from cove to cove, and hiking the best trails in the region. Nearby attractions include Wisp Resort, home to the Mountain Coaster (an alpine slide/roller coaster hybrid), and Adventure Sports Center International, which offers boating and whitewater sports on an Olympic-standard course.”

Michelle Ross, Oakland’s Main Street manager, noted that while she sometimes gets emails about these types of designations, she was pleased to receive this one from TripAdvisor.

“I was a little more excited about this one, because from what I’ve read, it was based on TripAdvisor reviews,” she explained. “So that means there were a lot of people on their site saying, ‘Hey, Oakland’s a great place to have a honeymoon.’”

Ross noted that she wouldn’t have necessarily thought of Oakland as a honeymoon destination.

“But once you start thinking about some of the things that they mentioned in their article – about going to the old soda fountain and all the hiking trails and all of the canoeing and all of the things that are available here — it’s a romantic place,” she said. “Sometimes you get such tunnel vision, and when other people are looking in your little box, it looks much different.”

According to Ross, the town of Oakland tries to promote this type of information as much as possible for visitors and residents alike.

“For people who live here, it gives them pride in where they live,” she said. “We do a lot for visitors, but we try to do a lot for residents too, because we want people who are here to be happy and stay here.”

The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce also received notification of the designation.

“We are delighted to be included in this list by TripAdvisor,” said Nicole Christian, president and CEO of the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. “We know we are a hot spot for honeymoons and destination weddings, so it is great to see a major travel company like TripAdvisor recognizing this as well. We hope visitors are able to join us in person to see all that Oakland, Deep Creek Lake and Garrett County have to offer.”

Sarah Duck, director of tourism and marketing for the chamber, noted that in surveys conducted of county visitors, small-town charm, beauty and serenity are all listed as reasons Garrett County appeals to them. She feels that this, coupled with all of the activities in the area, makes Garrett County the perfect fit for a honeymoon.

“Through the work of our heritage area and group’s director, the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce has been advertising the area as a wedding and honeymoon destination in wedding-specific publications, which has helped increase our exposure to the wedding and honeymoon market,” she said.

Centrella noted that the list is being promoted on TripAdvisor’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as through FlipKey’s social media accounts.

The full article can be viewed at: www.tripadvisor.com/VacationRentalsBlog/2017/07/14/best-honeymoon-destinations-in-the-us/.

For more info, click here.

 

No, Deep Creek Lake is not going to be drained

Deep Creek Lake stewards are on guard for an invasion of non-native zebra mussels, but they aren’t about to drain the Western Maryland waterway because of it, as a widely shared article recently suggested.

The posting on breakingnews247.net — a website that suggests visitors “write an article and prank your friends for fun” — said boaters had unknowingly introduced the bivalves to the Garrett County lake. In response, state natural resources police planned to empty it this week, “the only recourse that we can take to potentially save the future of the lake,” the article said.

The truth is that introduction of zebra mussels to Deep Creek was recently thwarted, at least for now, and draining of the lake isn’t on the table.

“There is no truth to this story. fakenews,” Stephen Schatz, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, wrote to many Twitter users who were sharing the article Tuesday.

Schatz said the department was alerted to the parody article late last week and focused its public messaging “on the fact that the lake and state park were open and operational.”

Friends of Deep Creek Lake urged supporters to report the article to Facebook, if they saw it shared on that social media site.

“There are efforts at all levels to confront this crazy misinformation,”. the group wrote on its Facebook page. “We ask you to help challenge this sick joke and, of course, if asked, set the person straight.”

The article has since been taken down.

Meanwhile, lake stewards are indeed on alert for boats that may be unknowingly harboring the bivalves, which are native to eastern Europe and Asia and have caused both ecological and economic damage across U.S. waterways since being introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1980s.

On July 9, stewards inspecting a boat that had recently spent the Fourth of July holiday on the Finger Lakes in New York found what appeared to be a zebra mussel in the vessel’s intake system, according to state natural resources officials. The officials later confirmed it to be the invasive species.

The boat owner agreed to clean the vessel before launching it into Deep Creek. The boat was inspected voluntarily through the Deep Creek Lake Launch Steward program, established in 2014 to raise awareness about the risks of introducing invasive species to the lake.

For more info, click here.

Vacation-home market booms in Maryland and Virginia

The robust housing landscape in Washington exists for more than just primary residences. A number of second-home markets have seen an increase in popularity in the past few years across a wide variety of destinations — from waterfront communities to mountain retreats.

We’re take a closer look at three such markets that are showing clear signs of increased demand among Washingtonians seeking a getaway.

The Eastern Shore of Maryland
Maryland’s picturesque Eastern Shore has long been a second-home destination for Mid-Atlantic city dwellers, but its popularity has reached new heights within the past two years.

Homes on the Eastern Shore are selling in half the amount of time that they were when the country was coming out of the recession, with median days on the market dropping from more than 100 in most months of the year from 2007 to 2013. Now, the days on the market is more likely to be under 75, even hitting a record low of 45 in June 2016 and 46 in May.

The number of closed sales per month keeps climbing on the Eastern Shore, with even the winter months of the past two years seeing approximately the same number of sales as the peak spring selling months of just a few years prior. While there’s an active market, the area still provides value.

The median sales price for homes here has stayed steadily between $200,000 and $250,000 for the past nine years. However, with all other indicators showing a return to demand, we expect prices to increase over the next year or two.

Shenandoah County, Va.
For those looking for an escape near the mountains, the Shenandoah region’s real estate market is showing signs of renewed strength. The number of active listings has plummeted, even though the number of new listings coming on the market has stayed roughly the same for the past several years.

This trend suggests that although new listings are coming onto the market, they are selling quickly and therefore don’t remain active for long. Every month for the past two and a half years, the number of active listings has decreased compared with the same month for the year prior and, more notable, the size of the decrease has grown to percentages in the double digits over the past year.

Correspondingly, the number of days on the market has started to tick downward, moving from 100 in the past two years and staying under 80 for the majority of months. Median sales prices have also trended upward over the past year, settling in around $175,000 this past spring.

This is part of the slow but steady climb from the low point during 2010, when prices were closer to $125,000, after reaching peaks of more than $250,000 during the boom years around 2007.

Garrett County, Md.
One location Washingtonians should keep an eye on is Garrett County, Md. Approximately three hours from Washington, this county borders West Virginia and contains Deep Creek Lake — the largest man-made lake in Maryland. Fly-fishing, boating and white-water rafting are common summer activities, and during the winter Wisp Resort attracts skiers and snowboarders to the slopes.

This region has started to show all the signs of a market on the cusp of becoming highly competitive. Prices have made a noticeable rebound by crossing the $300,000 mark (after a few post-recession years when they dipped to $150,000), and the median days the on market has dropped by more than a half, from more than 200 just a few years ago to as low as 54 in July 2016.

The surest sign that this market is getting hot is that homes are just now getting back to the point of selling close to their asking prices. After a few years when sellers were getting only about 80 to 85 percent of their asking price, Garrett County has crossed into the 95 percent category. This shows that buyers are more motivated than ever to own a home in this community.

With median prices well below those of homes in the Washington region, all three of these markets are poised for growth, and properties in these areas could be a wise investment for the right buyer. Local real estate agents can help identify the best neighborhoods and specific properties, and talk more in detail about these recent trends.

They can help you find the right vacation home at the right price, especially when shopping for a home from out of town.

The fact that a number of second-home destinations continue to see a rise in popularity is yet another sign of renewed health for the housing market in and around Washington. Whether it is mountain trails or the water’s edge that appeals to a vacation-home buyer, our region has a tremendous variety for everyone across the price spectrum.

For more info, click here.

 

61st annual Garrett County Ag Fair scheduled for July 29–Aug. 5

McHENRY — Although there have been various fairs and carnivals held in Garrett County for at least a century, the contemporary Garrett County Agriculture Fair will observe its 61st anniversary this year, with the 2017 event scheduled for Saturday, July 29, through Saturday, Aug. 5.

The fair will once again consist of a myriad of competitions, ranging from the judging of farm animals and their caretakers to canned goods to photography to 4-H projects. There will be tractor pulls and a baby crawling contest, live entertainment on the Exhibit Hall stage every evening, and Reithoffer Shows will provide a wide variety of rides and amusements.

In addition, numerous service organizations, churches, and other nonprofit entities will have various food and beverage items for sale, and the fair will conclude with the annual Garrett County Livestock Sale.

Among the musical entertainers throughout the week will be Russel Dickerson, Tim Litvin, Sundance Head, the Joseph Sisters, and HeartStrings.

Much of opening day, Saturday, July 29, will be spent entering all indoor exhibits, and the Reithoffer Shows carnival rides will run from 5 to 11 p.m. that evening.

Judging of exhibits will be conducted all day on Sunday, July 30, with the barns closed to traffic, and the entering of horses and marketing animals will be conducted throughout the day, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The day will culminate with an interdenominational worship service at 6:30 p.m., followed by the crowning of the 2017 GC Farm Queen at 7:30 p.m.

All exhibit barns will be open to the public beginning at 10 a.m. Monday, the carnvial rides will be open until 11 p.m., and various contests/competitions will be held throughout the day.

Tuesday will be Senior Citizens Day, with free admission granted for those age 60 and older. Seniors may ride midway attractions free from 1 until 5 p.m. The day’s schedule will also include a pet show, a 4-H robotics challenge, a high school junior rodeo, and a performance by the Still Kickin’ Cloggers.

The Wednesday slate will include a baby crawl and judging in various animal categories.

A pedal tractor pull, 4-H/FFA beef showmanship judging, a market beef show, and a heavyweight tractor pull will be among Thursday’s events, with Friday’s schedule including the master showman competition, 4-H engineering events, the costume animal parade, cow patty bingo, mechanical bull riding, and peewee swine show.

The final day of the fair — Saturday, Aug. 5 — will include the Livestock Olympics, a dirty-pony contest, the annual livestock sale, the four- and eight-cylinder demolition derby on the fair track.

The cost of admission to the fair on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday (July 29) is $10, which covers unlimited carnival rides, entertainment, and track events. The admission price for Thursday and Saturday (Aug. 5) is $15, which covers the same items noted above. Non-ride tickets, which must be purchased in advance ($7), include entertainment and track events, but not carnival rides. The non-ride tickets can be purchased at First United Bank & Trust in McHenry, Grantsville, and Friendsville; Slopeside Market, Deep Creek Shop and Save; all First Peoples locations; Double G Ranch; Southern States in Mountain Lake Park; and Gregg’s Pharmacy in Oakland.

More information can be found on the fair website at garrettcountyfair.org.

The Garrett County Agriculture Fair is a non-profit organization that is led by a 24-member all-volunteer board of directors.

 For more info, click here.

NEW LISTING- 507 Southern Pines Drive

One level living! Affordable 3BR home in Southern Pines. High-end finishes include hardwood floors, granite counter-tops, stylish cabinets & vanity, stacked stone and a freshly paved driveway.

You will LOVE the HUGE fenced back yard and rear decking. Oversized garage offers even more storage options.

The basement is just waiting to be finished & plumbed for 2nd bath. AMAZING front porch!

Must see!

For more info, click here.

 

 

NEW LISTING- 508 Lake Forest Drive

Peaceful wooded waterfront with gentle slope to lake offers deep-water Type A private dock.

Enjoy four-season beauty of the lake, sun and moonrises by a wood-burning fireplace or from the expansive lakeside deck.

Architect/Owner incorporated natural cedar and dry-stacked stone into low-maintenance design; 3 master suites (4BR/4.5BA), ample parking and hot tub ~rental-ready~ if desired!

Must see!

For more info, click here.

 

NEW LISTING- 106 O’Brien Street

The price is right for this 3BR, 1BA home. Fixer-upper in Mountain Lake Park in need of some TLC – mostly time, not materials. In need of new flooring in most rooms.

The basement has been partially finished and framed. Metal roof. Heating & plumbing all appear to be in operating condition. Great lot with mature trees and backs to woods.

Walking distance to grocery store & schools. Sold AS-IS.

For more info, click here.

 

NEW LISTING- 3067 Shingle Camp Road

Check out my new listing on Shingle Camp Road!

Type A dock, deep water. Covered lakefront porch allows for plenty of time outdoors.

Must-see custom lakefront home with additional carriage house above detached garage. 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms.

Gourmet kitchen, picturesque fireplace and high efficiency heating and cooling systems.

For more info, click here.