The Poconos, Pa.—Most people I know visit the Poconos for two things: white water rafting (day trippers) and Great Wolf Lodge for winter break or a long extended weekend. The Poconos offer so much more than water trips. Spring, summer, winter or fall, the Poconos has it all. From trout fishing in Paradise Creek to biking, rafting, ride, shop, and zipline there’s truly something for everyone. Even the Appalachian Trail and lots of ski slopes. My son and I took the short drive up, stayed for a one night and took a look around.
The region home to winding rivers and scenic vistas is simply stunning. Rich in history and cultural exploration there are guided tours such as the Pocono Indian Museum, which recreates the life of the Delaware and Lene Lanape Indians; take an authentic historic ride back in time aboard the Water Gap Trolley, explore points of interest through the lens of early settlers and their Native American neighbors. But for the more adventurous type, there are plenty of ways to get your thrills!
Water Soaking Fun - Adventure Sports offers canoe, kayak or raft the Delaware River like the Indians. These daylong adventures are tailored for your level from beginner to the more experienced excursions. It is the perfect outdoor day trip you can stop along the way, for a refreshing swim, hike, fish, and picnic along the riverbanks. Canoes and rafts accommodate coolers for the perfect kosher lunch for the ravenous adventurer! The National Park Service provides primitive riverside campsites for overnight canoe camping trips. The campsites are free and not accessible by vehicle. There are many different multi-day canoe trips to choose from that vary in length from 14 miles to over 50 miles. There’s year round fun at Camelback Mountain Resort, a ski resort and Waterpark, with 37 wet and wild rides, slides, climb, bungee and Freefall and the Adventure Zone. In winter, Camelback is home to the biggest Snowtubing Park in the USA! With up to 42 lanes of insane slidy-slopes
Adrenaline Seekers - Swing from the trees at Camelback Mountain Adventures, conquer any one of six Treetop Adventure Courses while suspended 10-75 feet above ground; ride Pennsylvania’s only Mountain Coaster, charge through the air in either the 1000’ Zip Line Ride or a 4000’ Zip Flyer, or scale a rock wall or crows a swinging wooden bridge. For those who like to stay close to the ground, you can step aboard for a snappy Mountain Segway Tour. Group plans and team building events also available. Rev it up a bit, go full throttle, with ATV Adventures, guided ATV tours through the back country.
Land Lumber Adventures – My son loves to fish but has actually never even tasted fish so I took him to where the fish are always biting. Paradise Brook Trout Company, is family-owned and operated since 1902 and the first licensed hatchery in the state. Baited and ready he hooked two fish in 20 minutes! In a little over two hours he caught three trout and a large bass. Open Mid-march through October, the ponds are stocked weekly with their farm-raised Brown, Brook, Rainbow and Golden Trout, plus Largemouth Bass. No license required, there are fishing pole rentals anda bait and tackle shop on premises. Most important thing, they clean the fish! I baked it whole and yum! He got to fish and I got to eat!
For the athletic types and the wannabe’s, Buskill Falls, is a must see for brisk walks or a casual hike along the scenic trails of the pristine Delaware Valley. Color-coded hiking trails range time-wise from 15 minutes to 2 hours and 15 minutes with spectacular views of beautiful cascading smaller waterfalls—and then there is Bushkill Falls, the Niagara of Pennsylvania.
Animal Lovers - There are at least three stables to choose from for horseback riding. From beginner, to occasional to the more experienced equestrians, all can enjoy the winding trails of Mountain Creek Riding Stables. Pocono Horses and The Ranch both offer trail rides through quiet wooded areas and carriage rides, too. The Ranch is full steam ahead with wagon, pony and sleigh rides. And if you’re pining to see some wildlife during this rustic outdoor adventure, don’t worry, Pocono Snake and Animal Farm has you covered.
This family-owned business has a variety of exotic animals and reptiles to see in an easy to navigate compact area with safe up close viewing and an alligator pond to boot. Enjoy bottle-feeding goats or tossing fruit treats to the monkeys and lemurs.
Shopping – Enjoy a day of retail therapy with your choice of shops. Over 100 outlet stores at The Crossings Premium Outlets and The Pocono Bazaar, a 100,000 Sq. Ft. flea market, with hundreds of vendors and thousands of items. (There’s a great old-fashioned flea market on Rte 33 South at the Saylorsburg exit on weekends. You can’t miss it.) There are conventional malls too, with different department store names as well as Target, TJ Maxx and other discounts places. Then there is a unique one-of shop, Barbara B’s Boutique in the Stroud Mall as unexpected in its glitzy chicness as are the low prices.
You get your pick of candle shops. American Candle is more than just candles they have a country charm—items for your home, treasures galore—from Pandora to Swarovski, and even a cute boutique with handbags, jewelry and more. House of Candles a rustic candle shop with four floors of unique to basic candles, décor and gifts, plus candle carving demonstrations and then out back a candle shaped fish pond with barn animals roaming around. For your teen queen, get lost in Jewelry Direct, the world’s largest fashion jewelry outlet, and for a slower pace check out the charming antique shops such as Backroads Antiques or Olde Engine Works Market Place for Antiques and Collectibles. These shops have not been picked over and the prices are great.
If all that is not enough, there is the Mount Airy Lodge Casino and Resort. For a mature night out, there is live adult entertainment including a full lineup of special events, concerts, comedy shows, matinees, table games and slots, indoor/outdoor pool fun and one of several area golf courses. Of course you know about Great Wolf. But there’s also Pocono Manor, where the Inn is koshered for Pesach, Split Rock and a host of other resorts and recreations to check out. Next time you consider the Poconos think beyond the splashy 84-degree indoor water park that is Great Wolf Lodge, consider the diverse accommodations available; resorts, country inns, and quaint bed and breakfasts. Choose from the wet-n-wild, the bold and daring, to the low key and traditional, whatever you want the Poconos has it, thrilling family outdoor fun or mature adult entertainment. Experience the relaxing rolling hillsides, breathtaking waterfalls, quaint woodlands and peaceful, majestic mountains of Monroe county it’s all just a 75 minute drive from Bergen County, go ahead book your next trip.
By Elyse Hansford