If craving some escape from the tinsel and glitter of America’s nerve-wracking cities, one option worth considering is a getaway to the Poconos. Spanning 2,500 square miles across the northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, a region famous for its gasp-inducing mountains and pristine landscape, the Poconos will be ideal for those who want to wander in the woods, slow down to nature’s rhythm, and just escape the rat race for a while.
Since the Poconos are just about two hours by car from New York, their convenient location makes it all the more tempting. There are several destinations in the Poconos that can detain a visitor for months. But if one only has a 3-day weekend, one has to narrow down options—and be deliberate. In this article, we shine the spotlight on 7 ideal destinations for a 3-day weekend in the Poconos.
The Lodge at Woodloch
If a hideout is a property, the Lodge at Woodloch comes remarkably close. Located in the quaint, small town of Hawley, an easy two-hour drive from New York, this Pennsylvania gem is easy to reach. The Lodge at Woodloch sits on 500 acres of amazingly pristine scenery, a pristine space that also includes a 15-acre private lake. A city escapee will be delighted to learn that this property is a spa resort that embraces a philosophy they call “personal awakening.” An all-inclusive spa package includes three meals. One can therefore plan with lunch on the day of arrival, dinner, and then a hearty breakfast on the day of departure. With a farm right on site, the restaurant at this property is a true farm-to-table. The spa amenities are many—and more than one can ask for. On the outside greenery, guests will enjoy taking a meditative walk through manicured gardens, swaying on the shaded hammocks that encircle the beautiful lake, and just enjoying the scenery. An alternative would be the Ledges Hotel.
Downtown Hawley, Pennsylvania
After checking in at the Lodge at Woodloch and enjoying lunch, one will naturally want to explore Downtown Hawley and see what it has to offer. Home to about 1,200 residents, Hawley is a charming, small town encircled by breathtaking natural scenery on all sides. The town is an easy six miles from the Lodge at Woodloch. Among the sites to peel the eyes for include the Hawley Silk Mill, located at 8 Silk Mill Drive. Built in 1880, this mill was the first large-scale silk factory in Northern Pennsylvania. Today, visitors enjoy catching a glimpse of what could just be the largest bluestone building in the world—and exploring the many shops in the refurbished castle-like building — including Art on the Edge and the Cocoon Coffee House. Besides this attraction, Church Street displays some beautiful churches.
No one goes to Hawley, even the Poconos, and comes without enjoying the innocent pleasures of the Wallenpaupack Lake. Set on 5,700 acres, Wallenpaupack Lake is the third largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania. A Poconos explorer will come up and close with 52 miles of uninterrupted shoreline in this shimmering blue jewel. If one has a few hours to spare, the many water-based activities on the menu will be rewarding. One can jump in a boat, for instance, and paddle the lake while soaking in the heart-ravishing serenity around. Aside from paddleboarding, visitors can enjoy other water adventures including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. For some soul-renewing walk, Wallenpaupack Lake Trail is a graded trail that also offers amazing views. One will want to catch a sunset around this place before heading back to the hotel.
Grey Towers National Historic Site
From Hawley, Pennsylvania, where the Lodge at Woodloch is secreted, the town of Milford should be the next port of call. Milford is about 22 miles from Hawley—and hence, an easy, half-hour drive. On arrival, an immediate trip to the Grey Towers National Historic Site, just about a mile from town, will be both refreshing and rewarding. Regarded as the birthplace of the Conservation Movement, Grey Towers was first the summer residence of a wealthy wallpaper merchant known as James Pinchot, and later the home of his oldest son Gifford Pinchot. While both father and son were concerned about trees and disturbed by logging, it is the son who would become the first American-born professional forester, proceed to found the USDA Forest Service, and coin the term “Conservation,” as applied in the preservation of natural resources. Visitors come to learn about trees, admire the architecture of the mansion, and wander through the vast and impossibly beautiful grounds.
After a productive visit to Grey Towers, Bushkill Fall should be the next on the adventure menu. But just before this, rev up the engine for about half an hour to Pocono Cafe Bakery & Restaurant in East Stroudsburg. Bathed in a delightfully quaint ambience, Pocono Cafe offers insanely delicious Columbian food that often leaves visitors scraping their plates clean. Once energized, head to Bushkill, a distance of just about 3 miles from Pocono Cafe. Known as "The Niagra of Pennsylvania," Bushkin Falls is a series of eight waterfalls on the edge of the Delaware Water Gap. An amazing network of bridges provides access to one of Pennsylvania’s most sought-after attractions. While there is a lot of visual stimuli here — and at almost every turn of the eye — the 100-foot Bushkill Falls is the star attraction.
Deer Head Inn
After enjoying an afternoon at Bushkill Falls, check in for the night at Deer Head Inn, located just about 22 miles south of Bushkill Falls. That means it is less than half an hour’s drive. First-time visitors will find this amazing property at 5 Main Street in Delaware Water Gap. Completed in 1865, coincidentally the year Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, Dear Head Inn is not only the oldest continuously running jazz club in the United States, but also the home of Jazz in the Poconos. The food at this historic property is first-class, the rooms are cozy and comfortable, and the vibe is incredibly fun and friendly. For Jazz enthusiasts, the entertainment provided by gifted Jazz virtuosos will be an experience of a lifetime.
Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway
After savoring a hearty breakfast at Deer Head Inn, it will be time to make the trip to Jim Thorpe — which many regard as the highlight of any Pocono adventure. One can spend time strolling through Jim Thorpe’s amazing downtown area while soaking in the elegant Victorian mansions that were once the abodes of industrialist millionaires. A particular must-do is the Historic Stone Row on Race Street. That said, Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway remains Jim Thorpe’s star attraction. Pocono adventurers will get the chance to ride vintage couches, some of which are more than a hundred years old, in a narrated round-trip that meanders along the majestic Lehigh River—right on to the Lehigh Gorge State Park. For the experience, one should opt for the Open Air Couches, not the standard couches. These rides often take 70 minutes. Hopefully, this will leave one with enough time to travel back and resume the rat race.
The Poconos, many will admit, is one of the most picturesque locations in the United States. Then again, the Poconos can make for a quick getaway considering its convenient location just two hours from New York. Unfortunately, for its abundance of attractions, it will be impossible to exhaust the Poconos in a weekend. There are carefully curated destinations, however, that can fit into a 3-day trip. From checking in at the Lodge at Woodloch — to checking out at Deer Head Inn, it is possible to squeeze a lot within a 3-day trip to the Poconos.