Healthy Travel Guide: The Poconos
This Pennsylvania region has plenty of health- and fitness-focused attractions to offer, whether you’re into running or just love an outdoor adventure
The Poconos, nestled in northeastern corner of Pennsylvania, has come a long way from its reputation for hosting honeymooners in heart-shaped hot tubs (although those still exist). The region, famous for natural scenic beauty-including 150 lakes-and quaint, historic towns, is also an outdoor adventure mecca. We're talking hiking, boating, biking, and kayaking. Love a good run? The Pocono Lake Region 13.1 half marathon, happening on September 28, will take you through some of the area's most beautiful vistas, such as rolling farmlands, fresh water trout streams and Lake Wallenpaupack.
Whether you're looking for a peaceful retreat to rebalance your chakras or an exhilarating experience hiking in the hills, a three-day getaway in the Pocono Mountains-especially during the fall months, when you'll be able to take in the changing foliage-will be weekend well-spent. (Live on the west coast? Then you must check out our Healthy Travel Guide: Aspen, Colorado.)
Mount Airy Lodge, once known as a honeymooner's hideaway, has undergone a multi-million dollar redo that literally rebuilt the resort from the ground up. The resort now feels super modern and stylish, and sits on over a thousand acres, hosting it's own golf course and boutique-style casino. In addition to trying your hand at some blackjack, get some downtime lounging by the awesome indoor-outdoor heated pool. Dine at Bistecca, Il Mulio's five-star on-site outpost that's just as delish as the original in New York City. And with a brand new fitness center that's open 24/7, you'll also be able to squeeze in a workout anytime you want. Centrally located in the Pocono Valley, you'll easily be able to reach the rest of the region with this as your home base.
Looking for something a bit more serene? Head to the Hotel Fauchere, a Relais & Chateaux inn that outfits its rooms with Frette linens, Kiehl's bath amenities, and warming towel racks for a truly luxe experience. The on-site restaurant, The Delmonico Room, is one of the area's finest farm-to-table restaurants. Located in adorably country-chic Milford, the hotel also boasts a private garden and conservatory, perfect for reading and relaxing.
Stay in shape
Like biking? Add hiking and rafting to it with the Big Day Out, which is offered on select weekends throughout the fall. You'll begin the day with a 25-mile mountain bike ride through the Lehigh Gorge Rail-Trail. After a box lunch, you'll go on a scenic hike to an abandoned railroad tunnel with beautiful overlooks of the Lehigh River. Then you'll descend back to the Lehigh River, where you'll whitewater raft for eight miles. You'll end your adventure with a delicious dinner and roaring bonfire.
Wanna try your, er, feet, at stand-up paddleboarding? Mauka Nalu offers 90-minute fitness classes and 2- and 4-hour tours on the Delaware River. Are you a newbie? The company also offers intro classes for $30 an hour, where they'll teach you to get on and off the board, switch sides, and get up your feet. Get off the river and onto a lake with Pocono Paddle Board and Fitness, which takes you on a two-and-a-half-hour SUP tour around Lake Harmony. Or extend your tour a few hours to add a hike to the Beltzville Waterfall after 45 minutes on the board. For SUP yoga classes on Lake Wallenpaupack, check out Roots Yoga, which holds classes Friday and Sunday mornings. (Brush up on your SUP skills before heading over with The Beginners' Guide to Stand-Up Paddleboarding.)
The Poconos is also known for adventure runs, like mud runs, a Spartan Race, a Warrior Dash, and several triathlons. (Check out the Calendar of Events to find out more). And if you happen to find yourself in the Poconos during the winter months, make sure you get in some downhill or cross country skiing at one of the many area ski resorts.
Fuel your trip
The Gem and Keystone Brewpub (pictured above, left) beers are handcrafted and brewed on the premises, and the menu features local produce, all natural meats, Pennsylvania farm-stand cheeses and sustainable seafood. Yum! The relaxed-but-chic Settler's Inn offers innovative farm-to-table menus shaped by the seasons, farms, pastures, and producers of the region. Thirsty? Head over to Quench Cafe and Juice Bar (pictured above, right) in Stroudsburg for fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies along with healthy paninis, soups, and salads.
It wouldn't be a trip to the Poconos without a stop at one of the area's awesome indoor water parks. Get your thrill on with some attractions made just for grown-up kids, like slideboarding at Great Wolf Lodge, which combines bright lights, music, and fast water for a Guitar Hero-esque water slide. Our fave to get your heart pounding: The Hydro Plunge, a roller coaster on water that sends you plunging down a thrilling 52-foot vertical drop. The resort also offers an aerial obstacle course, where you can climb through nets and cross sky top bridges. Meanwhile, Camelback Mountain Resort, which also has an indoor/outdoor water park, boasts the longest zip line in North America, a treetop adventure course, and a speeding mountain coaster.
Left your sports bra at home? Need a new pair of sneaks? Head over to nearby Crossings Premium Outlet Mall, which has outlets for tons of athletic wear manufacturers like Adidas, Nike, Reebok, Columbia Sports, Converse, The North Face, and Under Armour. When you're done stocking up on sportswear, you can pop in outlets for luxe retailers like Coach, Cole Haan, Kate Spade New York, and Michael Kors. Prefer to shop for art and decor? Head over to downtown Milford, home to a ton of galleries and chic home boutiques.
Consistently voted one of the country's best destination spas, The Lodge at Woodloch will not disappoint. A sanctuary for the senses, the adult-only spa offers an array of body treatments, massages, and facials. Our pick: The Rosemary Awakening, which begins with a body polish of rosemary and citrus followed by a body massage with herbal heat packs to restore tired muscles. A warm seaweed wrap and a luxurious scalp massage complete your healing journey. While you're there, enjoy a hydro massage in the Aqua Garden's water walls, the outdoor infinity edge whirlpool, and the Whisper Lounge, which has a fireplace and an outdoor porch with rocking chairs. (And to make your trip even more relaxing, here are 5 Ways to Upgrade Your Vacation.)
Request a table on the terrace at the French Manor Restaurant for a wonderful view of the Pocono Mountains, or, if the night air is a bit chilly, a table for two by the fireplace. Either way, you're in for a superbly romantic dining experience that features nouvelle French cuisine. Think: Dining by candlelight, jackets required for guys, and no kids under the age of 12. On Saturdays, stop by for a garden tour with the chef to get a sneak-peek at what will be on the evening's menu.