The Pocono Mountains, more commonly referred to as the Poconos, are a large area of 2400 square miles, with mountains, lakes (over 150!), and valleys. Needless to say, that makes it an attractive destination for outdoor activities all seasons.
It is only a couple of hours away from NYC and Philadelphia, and just under 4 hours from the DC area, which makes it an easy weekend getaway. I enjoyed a fabulous 48 hours in the Pocono Mountains with the DC Travel Blogger group, but it has so much to offer, whether for a weekend getaway or a longer time
Where to Stay
The Chateau resort, where we stayed, is conveniently located in the middle of the Pocono Mountains, and is surrounded by gorgeous mountain views. The suites are double level, with a spiral staircase leading up to the loft style bedroom. The rooms have the basic amenities and there is a restaurant in the main lobby floor which has a buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. The balcony offers fabulous views, and houses an herb garden. The Chateau is moderately priced, especially compared to the waterpark resorts in the area.
The Shawnee Inn and golf resort is an upscale resort perched on the edge of the Delaware River. They offer various accommodation options – rooms, cottages, a lodge, and even a house that can accommodate up to 24 people. No two rooms at the inn are the same, which adds to the authenticity of the experience. The Shawnee is a historic property that really focuses on outdoor adventure. They grow their own produce on the same island that houses their golf course, have a craft brewery on site, and are about to add camping and glamping options. A tent set up for you, with a fresh meal delivered right to your doorstep. What’s not to be excited about?
What to Do
Although I have been to the area before with friends (great spot to rent a weekend cabin!), this time, I had the opportunity to experience much more that the region has to offer. Whether you are an outdoorsy person or not, or you have other interests, there is something to do for everyone.
Love the outdoors
Book yourself a weekend with Whitewater Challengers and raft down the Lehigh River. It’s quite the experience, and White Water Challengers makes it a day of fun. Stay tuned for a play by play of our rafting experience. Whitewater Challengers offers overnight camping, and also biking, hiking, zip lining, and paintball in their campgrounds. FUN for all! For a play by play of our adventure, click here.
Love the outdoors but prefer to take it easy
The Lehigh Gorge scenic railway is for you. The narrated train ride, which runs May thru December takes you over bridges, along rivers, and into state parks. It’s a perfect way to enjoy the majestic scenery of the region. I’m already thinking about how great it would be to see the fall colors this way!
Protip: Try the Open Air coach where the sides are completely open, to experience more of the gorgeous scenery!
And of course, there are miles of hiking trails, great spots for canoeing, fishing, and biking, or you could play a round of golf at the Shawnee golf course.
I’m not really sure why they are so popular in the area, but the Pocono Mountains is host to some of the best indoor/outdoor waterparks in the country.
I checked out the newly renovated Camelback Resort, which offers skiing in the winter and a brand new indoor/outdoor waterpark, Aquatopia, for the summer. The aptly named Aquatopia would definitely be utopia for the kids –13 water slides, 7 pools, and the longest indoor water coaster in the US! They also have the “Flow rider” – a simulated surfing experience (which looked terrifying to me), but the kids seemed to be having a blast!
Adults need not worry – there is a swim up bar to lounge at, and private cabanas to rent, while over 100 lifeguards keep an eye on the kids.
A balmy 84 degrees water temperature is maintained year-round, so don’t let winter weather dampen your spirits.
ProTip: Grab a delicious mojito at the Neptune bar, and enjoy people watching from a table overlooking the waterpark.
Another brand spanking new waterpark is the Kalahari resort – an African themed waterpark and resort. This is not one of those kitschy themed resorts – a lot of thought and action went into developing this space. I did not get the impression that the resort is still family owned – given the sheer size of it! But as it turns out, the family actually spent 6 weeks traveling around Africa to pick up original pieces from local craftspeople, and a videographer documented their journey with video and photographs, which are now displayed throughout the property. When people put so much thought into keeping things authentic, it says a lot and definitely pays off. The property is gorgeous, with bold African prints and art pieces around, but also has subtle touches in the rooms and common areas.
The 100,000 foot waterpark itself has a number of water slides, the Flowrider surfing experience, lazy rivers, and the requisite (for me) swim up indoor/outdoor bar. The Family experience center has a TON of arcade games and even a mini bowling alley. Everyone will be entertained at the Kalahari.
Where to Eat
I mentioned earlier that the Shawnee Inn grows a lot of produce on site, and works with local farmers and vendors to source their ingredients. What this leads to is a delicious, seasonal menu that is quite literally farm to table. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner with local farmers and vendors, and paired with beers from their brewery, it was a highlight of the weekend.
If you want fresh food with a side of entertainment, try the hibachi house Desaki for sushi, plentiful hibachi, and a whole lot of fun. Their sushi specials are delicious and decadent (lobster and steak roll!), and the hibachi comes with multiple combinations so everyone gets what they want. You will NOT leave hungry. But seriously, who knew you could get fresh sushi in the middle of the mountains?!
Desaki is a huge space, which can handle everything from the smallest groups to a large family reunion or corporate gathering. Desaki offers pickups from local resorts, so you can leave the driving to them. Kids will also be entertained here with a rickshaw ride, Xbox game consoles, singalongs, and dancing.
One of my favorite indulgences is to shop at local markets when I travel. The Pocono Mountains has a number of farmers markets, so make sure to stock up on fresh produce, snacks and meats here. Click here for a list of area farmers markets.
For locally roasted coffee, try Mountain Ridge Coffee at the Monroe market on Saturdays from 8am -12pm. Look for the cutest ice cream cycle turned coffee cart, complete with pour overs, an espresso machine, and a small batch roaster. I walked away with a bag of their fresh roasted beans!
Note: We were guests of the Pocono Tourism Board, but all opinions are my own.