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Pocono Mountains: The Perfect Vacation Destination

Region is known for its inviting amenities and tourist attractions.

By Cary Estes on May 26, 2017

Stroudsburg, PA
Stroudsburg borough / Courtesy of Christopher Elston

The Pocono Mountain region has long been a popular place to get away from it all, and visitors can certainly still enjoy the area’s scenic beauty and seclusion. But there are also an increasing number of things to do for those who want to get away, just not from it all.

“The Pocono Mountains tourism industry has slowly transformed from being just a bunch of sleepy towns with a couple of features or amenities, to now having places that are entertainment meccas,” says Kyle Kuczma, public relations coordinator for Cove Haven Entertainment Resorts. “You still have your traditional resorts and B&Bs, which have always been a mainstay in the Poconos. But there are a number of other things that have grown up around here, like waterparks, outlet malls, concert venues and casinos.

“People love the nature aspect of the Poconos, with the mountains and lakes and scenery, and that hasn’t changed. But some people also want to be nearby a place where there is a lot to see and do, with locally owned shops and restaurants. So we’re always evolving and growing and offering something new for people.”

All Sorts of Resorts

Vacation retreats began popping up in the Pocono Mountains region in the early 1800s, and by the 1900s, the region was one of the top travel destinations in the nation. Over the years, many of the resorts have catered specifically to newlyweds and couples, promoting their solitude and adding romantic touches such as heart-shaped Jacuzzi tubs.

These days, the Poconos have a combination of legacy resorts such as the Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort (which dates to 1911) and the Woodloch Resort (which has been run by the Kiesendahl family since 1958), along with newer attractions such as Great Wolf Lodge, a $92-million, 400-room resort that opened in 2005 and has a 78,000-square-foot indoor waterpark.

“Everybody offers something different, which gives people more reasons to want to come back,” Kuczma says. “A couple might bring their children and stay in a resort with a waterpark the first time, then come back alone the next time and stay at one of the couples-only resorts.”

The Poconos provide ample opportunities for both types of getaways. For example, the sprawling Split Rock Resort has an indoor waterpark, an arcade, an eight-lane bowling alley, a movie theater and a miniature golf course, to go along with all the outdoor recreational activities.

“Your family will never be bored when staying here,” Split Rock Resort marketing manager Ashley Lyon says.

Meanwhile, those seeking a more romantic retreat can find it at couples-only resorts such as Cove Haven, Paradise Stream or Pocono Palace. These resorts remain popular because, as Kuczma says, “Love and romance are constant things that never go away. Couples always want to have a place where they can go and just be themselves and not worry about the daily grind.”

Small Towns and Big Adventures

Outside the resorts, the Pocono Mountains region is dotted with historic small towns filled with picturesque Victorian homes and charming locally owned shops and eateries. Jim Thorpe, for example, has received numerous accolades over the years, including being named by Country Living as one of the “30 Small Towns You Should Visit,” as well as one of the “Most Beautiful Small Towns in America” by Expedia, USA Today, Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful.

“These small towns are busy with plenty of things to do, but it’s not overwhelming like in a big city,” Kuczma says. “That’s certainly one of the appeals of the Poconos.”

And of course, there is a wide range of outdoor recreation available, including snow skiing and snowmobiling, rafting, zip lining and nearly 200 hiking and cross-country skiing trails. The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area along the Delaware River offers swimming, boating, fishing and hiking opportunities. Water activities also abound at Lake Wallenpaupack, the third-largest lake in Pennsylvania with 52 miles of shoreline spread across 5,700 acres. And one of the region’s most popular spots for fishing and bird watching can be found at 949-acre Beltzville Lake, part of the 3,000-acre Beltzville State Park.

“The Pocono Mountain region is a popular destination because of its beautiful scenic nature,” Lyon says. “But it’s also great on stormy days, because there is a bunch to do indoors, too.”

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