By Jay Lloyd

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Get ready for a whip-saw week of getaway action. One day we’re skiing on new-fallen snow in crisp weather. Then as quick as you can say, “sun umbrella”, we’ll be lunching on an outdoor patio. The schuss of skis will compete with the crack of club on ball. Then take off on a Jersey shore town crawl to scope out summer digs or find  carnival antics on vanishing ski trail snow. But the most visible signal that winter is fading and spring looms on the horizon is a burst of flaura and fauna in Center City Philly.


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In less than 2 weeks, a quarter-million people will begin the trek to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Many suburbanites will help fill city hotels and eateries. They’ll make it a weekend or overniter to visit the annual Philadelphia Flower Show. This year the theme will revolve around the marriage between water and the colorful world of horticulture. Last year, visitors absorbed plant and floral life in America’s National Parks. The show runs from March 3 to 11. Prices vary  and adult tickets start at $29.95.



Let’s not leave the floral theme just yet. Take a drive in the country on a nice sunny day in the coming weeks to Longwood Gardens. The sound of top blues artists is the backdrop for an Orchid Extravaganza. The music takes root on Saturdays between March 3rd and 25. . The orchids are already on display.



Pond Skimming (Camelback photo)


It was about this time, but 40 years ago. I was having lunch with Gus Steppacher, the crusty founder of Elk Mountain Ski area. We looked at the thinning line of skiers. Gus was lamenting the coming end to the season, “When the Flower Show opens in Philly”, he growled, “I run out of skiers before I run out of snow. I hate flowers.” And so it was. But skiing still has weeks to run and then goes out with a roar in a succession of Pocono Mountain carnivals that include everything from “Cardboard Box Races” to “Pond Skimming”.  The Shawnee Mountain Winter Carnival kicks off this Saturday with outdoor barbecues and a party on the snow. On March 24th, the place to be is Camelback Mountain for tailgate party (reservations for spots required) and a mountain blast with the spectacle of Pond Skimming and a Cardboard Box Derby. Blue Mountain is holding off on the date, but the challenge of Pond skiing on skis or boards will take off on the closing day of the winter season. Anytime the sun shines, look for a barbecue on the snow at Jack Frost and Big Boulder. Check your favorite ski area web site for updates.




It couldn’t be a better time of year for skiers who also happen to be golfers. Take to the slopes in the morning and tee up in the afternoon.

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Liberty Skiing (Liberty Mountain photo)

As spring-like weather moves in to the Catoctin Mountains, skiing and golfing become neighbors. One on side , the Liberty Mountain hotel faces the ski trails. Ski from door to lifts. On the other side, just walk across the driveway to reach the first tee on the Carroll Valley Golf Course. “Stay and Play” packages yield off-season rates and a convenient one-stop path to skiing, golf, dining and a mix of bars and lounges – all on the property. But like all things related to nature, golf will depend on snow leaving the course while remaining on the mountain. Call Liberty for status updates at: 1-717-642-8282.




As the weather changes, the lure of the shore grows stronger. Along with the temptation to stroll boardwalks from Atlantic City to Cape May comes that urge to scout out a spot for that summertime week or month-long family vacation. Many make it an annual ritual and already have a favorite headquarters town and hotel for the March rental search. If you’re new to the game, here a few suggestions.


OCEAN CITY, New Jersey

Here’s a central point for a rental search. Ocean City provides easy access to all the seashore towns between A.C. and Cape May Point. Our hotel of choice is the classic early 19th century Flanders Hotel.

overlooking the boardwalk. For a rental agent that covers the shore, Long and Foster maintains an active office right in Ocean City and you can start your search online. Dining

options in OC are limited right now and family oriented Ocean City is still a “dry” town. But Cape May and Atlantic City are year-round restaurant hubs.



Cape May Point (Jay Lloyd)

My own choice for year-round shore getaways is Cape May. A locally connected vacation rental operation here is Coastline Realty. You can start your vacation home or condo search on their website. For a weekend or mid-week stay while house hunting, Congress Hall is a classic 19th century Cape May Hotel, right on the shore and in the heart of town. The hotel itself is alive with dining and entertainment options. Cape May boasts a full inventory of all-season restaurants including the fishing fleet pier favorite, Lobster House, the town center, Mad Batter, Fins, Hemingway’s and the ocean-front Peter Shields Inn.


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Enjoy the transition.