The Poconos, Pennsylvania is a great weekend getaway for even the biggest New York advocates, native or recently settled. I have been going to the Poconos every year since I was six years old because this place has something for everyone. Go for a family outing, romantic escape, a friendly celebration or just a few days of fun, or even to get away alone if you own a home.
The majority of people looking for a weekend getaway in the Poconos rent homes in private communities. My brother owns a home in Arrowhead Lakes (with 3 pools, 4 beaches, and a vast community house), so I’ve spent my latter years here. Other highly recommended communities include: Towamensing, Indian Mountain Lakes, Big Bass Lake, Lake Naomi, Hemlock Farms, and Fernwood (or so I hear). Not all of these are directly in the Poconos, but are a relatively short drive away.
Depending on who you’re going with, what your goal is for the time there, and what season you’re going during, there are numerous endeavors in the Poconos and surrounding areas you can choose to pursue during your weekend getaway:
10 Summer Activities
- Camelbeach Water Park – mix of thrill and leisurely rides, with a mini golf course, an alpine ride and a zip-flyer ride) or Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom – an amusement park & waterpark two-for-one deal, usually accompanied by a nighttime fireworks show
- Kayaking in the Delaware Water Gap – I’ve typically gone to Kittattiny Canoes, which in addition to kayaking also offers other activities such as canoeing, rafting, zip-lining and camping
- Bushkill Falls – referred to as the Niagara of Pennsylvania with various trails and many smaller waterfalls, in addition to the one big majestic waterfall
- State Parks – just pick one and go, most are pretty fantastic, relaxing, and just the best places to appreciate the nature outside of a few trees in New York
- Sunset Hill Shooting Range – never shot a gun before but always wondered what it would be like? For the novice or experienced, here is the opportunity to try various guns and different ranges
- Mini Golf/Golf – there are countless mini-golf courses and full golf courses throughout the area that can be frequented by families, friends, or even a work event (if you do ever spend a weekend with coworkers)
- Claws ‘N’ Paws – if you need a place to entertain the kids or have your own desire to see wild animals, this zoo is a great place to spend an afternoon
- Paintballing – I haven’t personally done this, but according to many friends, the Poconos is the preferred spot to go paintballing because you’re actually in the woods (most have recommended Skirmish as the place to go)
- Pocono Raceway – if you’re a car or race enthusiast, several events such as the Pocono 400 or IndyCar 500 happen here
- Crossings Premium Outlet Mall – with 100+ stores ranging from BCBG Max Azria and Michael Kors, to Sunglass Hut, The Kitchen Collection, and Yankee Candle, you’re sure to find some great deals no matter what your retail craving is at that moment
5 Winter Activities
- Skiing, Snowboarding and/or Tubing at Blue Mountain, Camelback, Shawnee Place, Jack Frost & Big Boulder Mountains. My preference? Blue Mountain – it’s less crowded with wider slopes
- Great Wolf Lodge or Split Rock Indoor Water Parks – whether you want to stay at the hotel or just visit the indoor water park for the day, everyone likes to make believe it’s summer when it’s actually winter
- Mount Airy Casino – in addition to the casino itself, this is a good place to go for a relaxing spa experience, live entertainment (concerts, comedy shows), and special events (check ahead of time for seasonal activities such as a horse & carriage ride, or a holiday show)
- American Candle – far more than your average candle shop, this is a huge establishment with candles of all sizes, the added benefit of seeing how they’re shaped and made, as well as a candy store, holiday villages, seasonal merchandise, artwork, home décor, handcrafted jewelry, and even wedding accessories
- Spend New Years here – my best recommendation. True New Yorkers want to be as far away from the city as possible for New Years. Why not rent a home and spend this magical time with friends/family in the nature snow-tubing in your community, watching people blast off fireworks, and take a walk through a usual winter-wonderland? Must be done at least once
I haven’t done the below three, but they’re on my own personal list:
1. For a romantic weekend escape, go to one of three resorts – Cove Haven, Paradise Stream, or Pocono Palace – with heart- or martini-shaped baths and luxurious rooms. This is in addition to spas, dining, and outdoor activities. I’ve been told this is the perfect place for an anniversary or to show your significant other just a little extra love.
2. Skytop Lodge – summer or winter, this place has everything from white water rafting, to dog sledding, rock climbing, lawn bowling, laser tag, art classes and so much more. Combine all the above activities in this one place. And if that’s not enough, maybe you can plan a wedding here too.
3. While this isn’t in the Poconos, but rather in Lehigh, PA, if you’re a wine enthusiast like myself check out the Lehigh Valley Wine Trail. In March (coming up!), get the “Passport” for access to 8 wineries with food pairings, coasters, and stamps for your passport!
Throw in your two cents worth of a Poconos weekend getaway experience, New Yorker or not!