This friendly mountain region has welcomed outdoorsmen and honeymooners for generations, and is now setting its sights on the family market.
Visiting an active outdoor area with your family does not necessarily mean sleeping in a tent. Here are some suggestions for accommodations in Pennsylvania’s Poconos, and in keep in mind that at most resorts, all meals (not alcohol) and most activities are included in nightly rates.
Skytop, PA 18357
Amidst 5,500 acres of forest, the classic and classy Skytop has been hosting guests since the roaring ’20’s. Once an exclusive destination for New York elite, the sprawling, well-appointed resort now welcomes families with archery, mini-golf, indoor and outdoor pools, mountain biking, birding, fly-fishing lessons, boating; in winter, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice fishing and ice skating. A summertime kids camp for ages 4 to 10-years and babysitting are available. A great Spa helps guests to relax in the evening after a hard day of fun, but there are also meetings and business facilities. Accommodations include rooms in the lodge itself, suites in the newer Inn at Skytop, and private cottages. Three meals a day and most activities are included in accommodation prices, so there is a fee for each of the kids under 16 sharing adults’ room.
Woodloch Pines Resort
731 Welcome Lake Road
Hawley, PA 18428
(800/Woodloch or 800/966-3562)
Billed as a family resort, Woodloch claims to be famous for their emphasis on hospitality. According to the Baker family of Philly, that promise is backed up: “They really go all out to please! We were there over Memorial Day, and the kids went wild for the Carnival and activities that were set up.” Vicki Abelson, whose extended family have been loyal guests from New York City, adds: “As the kids get older they still love Woodloch, and we all feel like we are returning to our country house whenever we go back.” There’s no one to watch the kids for you, but horse-drawn hayrides, snowtube races, outdoor contests, games, boisterous nightly entertainment, an indoor pool with jacuzzis, saunas, fitness center and exercise equipment, ice skating (rental fee), and full array of winter activities keep kids and parents alike busy all season long at Woodloch. In the summer, golf, minigolf, tennis, and water sports take over at the animal-themed kids pool with waterslides and bumper boat pond. Accommodations range from fairly simple rooms with queen beds and a pullout sofa, to private guest homes overlooking the golf course, which offer two-five bedrooms, multiple baths, and full kitchens (great for family reunions). All meals and most activities are included; kids are charged a nightly fee (depending on age and season) to cover their meals and activities as rates are based on two adults.
Resort at Split Rock
One Lake Drive
Lake Harmony, PA 18624
Resting on 800 acres in the western region of the Poconos, Split Rock is a four-season resort with lakes and streams for fishing and ice skating, forests for exploring on foot, ski, or bike, a 27-hole championship golf course, an 18-hole mini-golf course, nine indoor and outdoor tennis courts, plus volleyball, racquetball, softball, etc. Additional activities include a video arcade, billiards tables, a bowling alley, first-run movie theater, and water or downhill skiing. While kids are occupied at the three supervised activity sessions each day, parents can relax at the extensive spa with indoor and outdoor pools and fitness center. (Plans to build an indoor water park are in the works.) Accommodations at Split Rock include 558 guest rooms in the renovated Austrian-style lodge overlooking Lake Harmony, and contemporary suites in the Galleria which have two queen-size beds and a pullout couch, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. The new Willowbrook will has one- and two-bedroom suites sold as timeshare or rental units. Rates here include only breakfast and dinner; children 5-15 years pay an extra per night. Traditional two-bed in a room lodge accommodations are cheaper, but not as unique.
Fernwood Resort in the Poconos
5785 Milford Road
East Stroudsburg, PA 18302
(888/337-6966 or 570/588-6661)
Fernwood’s Winter Fun Center has ‘kids’ written all over it. From totally redone downhill snowtubing to ice skating (skate rentals available), horseback riding to sleigh riding, at least a full day of fun is in store here. In the springtime, the 18-hole golf course is the star attraction, along wtih the renovated indoor pool and recreation facilities. New offerings include paintball and bumper boats. Overall, though, Fernwood lacks the expansive, all-inclusive services of other Poconos destinations. However, accommodations and restaurants on location are pleasant and it is substantially cheaper than other resorts. Also, Fernwood is just a quick drive from no less than nine ski resorts, making it a great jumping off place if you want to ski a different mountain each day.
The Sterling Inn
South Sterling, PA 18460
Elegence and charm are in abundance at the Sterling Inn, built in a classic Victorian style. Long known for its fine dining, beautiful landscape and acres of manicured gardens, The Sterling also offers customary snow and summer sporting activities, such as a pool and lake, as well as snow showing and cross country skiing, and even special weekend musical and comedy performances. Harry Saah, the owner/innkeeper, ensures personal attention to every guest, and although they don’t stress family vacations, they do welcome young people and offer children’s rates and activities. Among the 65 rooms at the quiet and relaxed Sterling are two-bedroom private cottages (some with private hottubs) and cozy Victorian fireplace suites. All rooms come equipped with full kitchens and VCRs for family movie night. The rate includes two meals daily and supervised kids’ activities two afternoons per week. As with many Poconos resorts, multi-day and weekly packages are available.
For more lodging options, visit the official Poconos Mountains Vacation Bureau (800/POCONOS; www.800poconos.com).
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