Just Back From: Omni Bedford Springs Resort

A few names likely come to mind when you think of Pennsylvania golf resorts:

Hershey. Woodloch Springs. Nemacolin Woodlands.

All good choices to be sure.

But there's another that should be on your list, arguably at the top:

Omni Bedford Springs Resort.

In addition to being a full-service resort with meticulously maintained grounds, beautiful buildings, and a TON of activities beyond golf...

It has one major advantage others can't touch: history.

The resort dates from 1796 (that's 221 years ago!), when Dr. John Anderson purchased the property and began marketing the medicinal properties of its natural springs.

Since then it has attracted the likes of presidents and dignitaries, including 15th U.S. president, James Buchanan, who made the resort his "summer White House" while in office.

(Sound like anyone you know?)

Compared to the hotel, the golf course -- one of the oldest in the United States -- is a baby at "only" 122 years old.

Spencer Oldham completed the orginal 18 holes in 1895. Then, golf architecture all-stars A.W. Tillinghast (in 1912) and Donald Ross (in 1923) made their contributions to what is now an charming, challenging and architecturally unique course.

Whether you're into American history or not, golf architecture or not, simply being immersed in this storied and pedigreed property is just...cool.

And, it's just the beginning of what you'll find at Omni Bedford Springs Resort.

The Golf Course

Despite its age, the golf course no moldy oldy.

Classic design experts Ron Forse and Jim Nagle performed a full restoration prior to the resort's re-opening in 2007, and when we played it, it was in pristine condition. Low handicappers can stretch it to 6,785 yards (73.4/140 rating/slope) if they choose.

But what we really like are the nods to the simpler time of golf course architecture.

It's enjoyably walkable, there's a ton of variety (five par-3s and five par-5s); and you're treated to whimsical elements of classic course design including a "doughnut" bunker, a pushed-up par-3 aptly named, "Volcano," cross bunkers, gumdrop-shaped, grassy mounds called "alps," and "Tiny Tim," a small but vexing par-3 that Tillinghast repeated dozens of times in his later work.

Most of all, it's a course you'll want to play multiple times on your visit. We played a couple rounds and discovered a bunch of great features on the second loop.

Other Activities

There's a lot to do beyond golf, and many of the activities also harken back to simpler times. You can walk the trails leading to nearby natural springs, practice your archery or bean-bag toss on the stately front lawn, enjoy the Springs Eternal Spa (which utilizes natural spring water in its treatments) ...or simply take in the scene by the fire pit or in a rocking/lounge chair on the many verandas. If you want to pick up the pace a bit, there are also ATV and Segway tours that take you up into the hillsides.


"Farm to table" can be a buzzword at some resorts, but it's the real deal at Omni Bedford Springs. Behind the hotel there's a two-acre herb and vegetable garden that supplies the resorts four main restaurants (and Chef's Table experience). From the classic 1796 Room steakhouse to the casual Frontier Tavern to the elegant Crystal Room -- and newly added Tillie's clubhouse restaurant -- there is plenty of variety (and quality) to keep everyone happy.

Getting There:

Getting to the Omni Bedford Springs by car may be easier than you think.

Here are driving times from...

Pittsburgh: 1.5 hours
Washington, DC: 2.5 hours
Baltimore 2 hours
Philadelphia: 3 hours
Cleveland: 3 hours
New York: 4 hours

If you planning to visit, be sure to check out the resort's golf packages and special offers.

The Facts

Medal tees (6,785 yards; Men: 73.4 Rating/140 Slope)
Ross (6,446; M: 71.9/136)
Tillinghast (6,033; M: 69.3/130 W: 71.4/127)
Oldham (5,082; W: 69.8/122)

Ski Symbol Rating: Blue Square

Green fees: $99-$189


Craig Better is one of the founding editors of Golf Vacation Insider. In addition to traveling to 15 foreign countries, he has twice traveled across America to play golf courses in all 50 United States. Prior to joining Golf Vacation Insider, Craig was a freelance writer who contributed to GOLF Magazine, Travel + Leisure Golf, Maxim Magazine, USAToday.com, and co-authored Zagat Survey’s book, America’s Top Golf Courses.
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Website not working. Tried to book a golf package (for June) but it they "have no availabilities". Right. Additionally, even trying to get more info on the package the web page would only go to check more availability.

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I'm from Philly, and you're right -- everyone thinks "Hershey" or "the Poconos," but Bedford Springs is an absolute GEM. Well worth the slightly longer car ride to get away from the crowds and experience this fun and historic place.

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Just Back From: Omni Bedford Springs Resort