Once upon a time, a summer vacation in the Poconos meant a trip on a train, two weeks at an all-inclusive resort where the principal forms of recreation were eating copious amounts of hotel food, a hike in the woods or rowing and swimming in a lake or pond. Today the Poconos are still studded with resorts, but vacations there are now cram packed with activities from white water rafting to paintball gun battles. Here are some of the most popular spots to stay and play.
FERNWOOD HOTEL & RESORT
Route 209 & River Rd.
Bushkill, PA 18324
Get in 18 holes of golf in the morning and saddle up for an afternoon ride on wooded bridal paths. Fernwood is a veteran Pocono Mountain resort that has kept up with the times. Meals are served in themed restaurant settings rather than formal dining rooms and there’s popular entertainment in a contemporary lounge setting. Children’s activities include zany bumper boats on Fernwood’s own lakefront, miniature golf and a robust video arcade. Choose accommodations here from traditional hotel rooms or family villas. The resort is centrally located to take advantage of nearby attractions.
It’s billed as, “The Niagara of Pennsylvania” and is a vivid reminder of the pristine past. Eight roaring falls cascade over time worn boulders and can be viewed from bridges and wooded hiking trails that provide either a stroll or a challenge. The waters then flow to the nearby Delaware River where you’ll find:
DELAWARE RIVER COUNTRY
Located right near Fernwood on the Delaware, it’s a prime spot to rent a canoe, kayak or raft for a lazy float on the river. Call them at 1-877-570-6700 for pricing and reservations.
The paintball craze is ideally suited to Pocono Mountain fields and woods. It’s a non-lethal way of testing combat skill while in protective gear and armed with paint glob hurling assault weapons. Play solo or in a team. It’s on the resort grounds at Fernwood.
Getting there: From Philadelphia (2 Hours) Take Interstate 476 North to Route 22 East exit in Allentown. Follow Route 22 East to Route 33 North to Route 209 North into I-80 East to PA Exit 309 into Route 209 North and follow Route 209 North 9.5 miles. Fernwood Hotel & Resort is on the left.
Pocono Manor, PA 18349
Opened at the turn of the twentieth century, the Pocono Manor is truly a classic Pocono Mountain resort in the sophisticated style of the period but constantly updated to blend traditional and modern accommodations, dining and activities. It is a total resort that combines 36 holes of first rate golf, equestrian stables and riding trails, a spa, fishing and clay shooting. The 250 room hotel is furnished in rich mahogany suitable for its period roots and infused with the modern trappings of wireless access and flat screen TV’s. The hotel is “pet friendly” Dining is upscale or pub fare in distinctly unique restaurants and there’s weekend entertainment in the lounge.
One Camelback Rd.
Tannersville, PA 18372
Come summer, Camelback Mountain in the Big Pocono State park morphs into “Camelbeach”, a dizzying assortment of waterborne thrills and dips. It features the huge Kahuna Lagoon wave pool, a network of slides, Olympic size swimming pool, raft ride and an array of wet and wild activities and a scenic chairlift ride to get a spectacular overview of the mountain. For prices, swim on over to: http://www.camelbeach.com/Tickets-and-Passes/Ticket-Rates.aspx
THE CROSSINGS PREMIUM OUTLETS
1000 Route 611
Tannersville, PA 18372
If shopping is your trip, you’ll find the Crossing Premium Outlets just down the road from Pocono Manor. Here, 100 top name outlet stores dispense clothes for fashion-label seekers, shoes, books, household treasures and kitchenware at price breaks that spell bargains for savvy shoppers – all in a mountain environment.
MOUNT AIRY CASINO RESORT
44 Woodland Rd.
Mt. Pocono, PA 18344
If you fancy stepping up to the table for a roll of the dice, the thrill of a hot poker hand or a spin of the wheel, the nearby Mount Airy Resort has been converted into a major Pocono casino. You’ll find slots and a full house of table games supported by entertainment, tempting restaurants and an 18 hole course.
To reach Pocono Manor: From Philadelphia take I-95 North to the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike (I-476).North on Turnpike to Pocono Exit 95 to I-80 East to I-380 North. At the first exit (Pocono Exit 3), East on Route 940 and follow signs to the Manor.
Skytop, PA 18357
Occupying one of the most majestically scenic locations in the Pocono Mountains, Skytop Lodge dates back to the 1920’s, the pre-depression era when no expense was spared to create luxury for tranquility seekers from New York and Philadelphia. With over 5,000 acres, a pristine lake and a mountain backdrop, Skytop is an all-inclusive resort that features, golf, hiking, kayaking, a spa, tennis, fishing and shooting sports – all on the premises. Guests are fueled by sophisticated dining in 4 venues that range from jacketed elegance to smart casual. Save the jeans and T-shirts for the sporting fields.
Lake Wallenpaupack is a manmade jewel in the Pocono crown. With over 50 miles of shoreline, the lake is home to a fleet of recreation boats, some for rent. Sail and power boats share this landlocked waterway that spans 13-1/2 miles from tip to tip. A great way to see it is take a Wallenpaupack Scenic Boat Tour. For information on prices and departure schedules, visit: http://www.wallenpaupackboattour.com/home/index.html
BUCK HILL – SKYTOP MUSIC FESTIVAL
The focus is on classical music at this second annual festival scheduled for the end of July at three separate venues in and around Skytop Lodge. From Carmen to Porgy and Bess, the festival is a rare departure from traditional Pocono Mountain fare. You’ll find information and schedules at: http://www.buckhillskytopfest.org/#/HOME-01-00/
Getting to Skytop Lodge: Northeast Extension (I-476) of Pennsylvania Turnpike to Pocono exit # 95. Follow I-80 East to I-380 North. Continue on I-380 north to Exit # 3 – PA 940. Turn right onto PA 940 east to traffic light at PA 611. At the light make a Right and a quick Left at the next Light back onto Route 940 East. Follow Route 940 East for 3 miles; turn Left onto Route 390 North. Follow Route 390 North for approximately 10 miles. Entrance to Skytop Lodge will be 3 miles from the traffic light in Canadensis .
731 Welcome Lake Rd.
Hawley, PA 18428
On a recent visit to Woodloch Resort in the lake studded northeast corner of the Poconos, It was winter and I was offered coffee. I asked for chicken soup. I couldn’t get enough. A large traditional dining room with a lakeside vista and American plan meals define this sprawling all-inclusive resort. Comfort food served family style, Broadway themed shows, a full range of outdoor activities including an impressive 18 hole golf course have distinguished Woodloch as a family destination. Accommodations are as varied as the activities from furnished guest homes to traditional rooms and lakeside suites in a lodge with restaurant, lounge and entertainment options. The Woodloch location opens opportunites for outdoor experiences in an unspoiled environment.
THE VILLAGE OF HAWLEY
Not far from Woodloch and just north of Lake Wallenpaupack is the quaint village of Hawley. Antique shops line the streets alongside boutique shopping. The town is a center for local gatherings focused on summer outdoor concerts and street fairs, even an old fashioned hoe-down.
POCONO ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER
Dingmans Ferry, PA 18328
To experience the natural beauty of the Pocono Mountains in a river setting along the Delaware, stop at the Pocono Environmental Education Center. Head out on one or more of the rustic hiking trails that vary in length, challenge and vistas. The center is located in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and offers a variety of programs for adults and children focusing on wildlife, nature and the scenic river.
PECKS POND BACKWATER FISHING
1270 route 402
Dingmans Ferry, PA 18328
Expert guides who know the creeks, streams and out-of-the-way backwaters will get you to some of the best fishing spots in the mountain region. Most guided trips are six hours and you can go in pairs or groups. You’ll need a Pennsylvania fishing license. For prices and information, reel in: http://www.peckspond.com/fishing.htm
Getting to Woodloch: Take the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike to Lehigh Valley Exit 56. Take Rt. 22E to Rt. 33N toward Stroudsburg to Rt. 80E. Take Rt. 80E to Exit 309 Marshalls Creek. Follow Rt. 209 to Rt. 402N. Take Rt. 402N to Rt. 6W to Rt. 590E through Hawley. Turn right at the Settler’s Inn and Bingham Park (traffic light) and continue on Rt. 590E. Woodloch Springs is approximately 5 miles off Rt. 590E on your right. To go to Woodloch Pines Resort, continue to stop sign, turn left, and continue 1.4 miles to the main entrance.
A few Pocono tips:
There are numerous hotels, motels, small inns, B&B’s and campgrounds. A comprehensive listing of accommodations, attractions and events can be found through the Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau at: http://www.800poconos.com/
Temperatures here can vary greatly, even in the heat of summer. It can be noticeably chilly alongside a waterfall and in heavily shaded nature areas. Evenings may also be on the cool side.
While grandparents may talk of just drinking from hillside springs and mountain streams, these days, it’s not a good idea.
Enjoy the visit.
By Jay Lloyd