Where to Stay in the Poconos
While you’re hiking, skiing, golfing, or relaxing on your trip to the Poconos, staying in a homey cabin you’ve rented on Airbnb or borrowed from a very generous great-aunt might just be the answer. ideal. But that’s not the only way to vacation in the oasis of wooded peaks, lakes and valleys — rose-and-pink hotel suites that look like vintage Playboy spreads and opulent mansions of a another era have attracted many romantics.
For a long time, the Pocono Mountains have been known as the “honeymoon capital” of America. The craze began in 1971, when Life magazine published a risque photo of two lovers, posed red-handed in the Poconos’ Cove Haven Resort, smooching in a red-tiled heart-shaped hot tub, their parts the naughtiest ones masked by an abundance of bath bubbles. Couples from all over Pennsylvania and neighboring New York State have flocked to Cove Haven and similarly styled love hotels.
For decades, resorts upped the ante: the heart-shaped bathtub spawned the in-room pool, then, in the 1980s, the seven-foot acrylic glass whirlpool sculpted to look like a glass of champagne (one traveler compared the experience of lounging in the patented champagne tub to dancing like an olive in a martini). It was a resort destination defined by seemingly endless innovation and newness, which now seems trapped in amber, frozen in time.
Whether you’re looking for a honeymoon destination, a weekend getaway to rejuvenate, or a family getaway, here are some alternative cabin stays in the Poconos.
Stay for: Nostalgic honeymoon paraphernalia and wandering deer that will eat out of the palm of your hand.
No list of Poconos-only gems would be complete without the heart-shaped bathtub house. Where many Honeymoon Capital-era resorts closed, Cove Haven and its sister resorts, Poconos Palace and creek paradise, endure. Everything here refers to notions of sex and romance, from the bar and grill called “Spooner’s”, to the sign in the dining room flashing “LOVE”. Rooms come in a variety of price points, with some suites featuring built-in saunas, massage tables, and two-tier tubs shaped like champagne glasses. Whether it’s ‘vintage’ or desperately needs a facelift is probably a matter of personal taste. But if the circular beds, mirrored ceilings, and mood lighting aren’t enough to reignite that spark, chances are the honeymoon is well and truly over.
Stay for: some of the best family fun, forest bathing and a state-of-the-art virtual reality arcade.
Where some resorts rely on the area’s status as a “land of love”, Woodloch feels more geared towards family fun: pools, go-karts, daily route of scavenger hunts and more. Founded on Lake Teedyuskung in 1958, Woodloch is all about enjoying a stay with loved ones.
Stay for: Victorian charm, period antiques and the full murder mystery experience
The small town of Jim Thorpe is known as both “the gateway to the Poconos” and “the Switzerland of America”, with its awe-inspiring landscapes and romantic cottages. But the historic Harry Packer Mansion has quite a different European pedigree. Built in the late 19th century in the post-Renaissance Italianate style, the mansion was a gift from pioneering Pennsylvania businessman Asa Packer to his son. . The new owners have swept away the cobwebs, but they’re still banking on the property’s gothic bona fide. It currently hosts sumptuous stagings Murder Mystery Weekendsideal for couples with a sense of history and a passion for the macabre.
Stay for: Skytop Lake activities, rental bikes, and 30 miles of hiking trails
In 2019, a fire destroyed Pocono Manor, a nearly 120-year-old resort hotel in Monroe County. The tragic loss of Poconos history has had an unintended consequence: Skytop Lodge, which was established in 1928 as the region’s reigning historic resort property. “After the Civil War, migration really started to pick up speed,” Barrett said. When the resort first opened, it was renowned for its hotel management, decor, and layout. It was also one of the first resorts in the region to capitalize on the Poconos’ appeal as a golf destination.
Stay for: modern amenities in historic digs and easy walks to quaint restaurants and bars in Stroudsburg.
This downtown Stroudsburg hotel, which recently completed a major renovation following a fire in 2015, might not immediately strike you as particularly historic. But the hotel’s modern facade is built on old bones. The original hotel opened as Stroudsburg House in 1883, built by Jacob Hollinshead, grandson of Stroudsburg founder Jim Stroud. It has changed owners and names several times over the centuries. But the hotel has long been the hub of what a 1960s newspaper called “the East’s most famous playground.” The hotel is in the middle of Stroudsburg, so you can walk to restaurants and bars, while being only a few miles from the Delaware Water Gap. The Penn Stroud is a non-smoking property.
Stay for: spacious themed suites, wet and wild fun for all ages, glow-in-the-dark mini-putt and MagiQuest, miniature bowling.
An indoor water park might not exactly give you a sense of local history, but this international chain of beach resorts has played a big role in reshaping the area. By the 1990s and 2000s, much of the Poconos’ appeal as a resort getaway had been challenged by low-cost carriers offering all-inclusive flight deals to resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. The idea of the local party suddenly didn’t seem fanciful enough or particularly profitable. Enter the Great Wolf Lodge. In 2005, the family resort revamped the Poconos into a wet and wild fun destination for all ages. Its success has spawned a boom in water parks in the region, which now boasts the huge Kalahari Resort.As you speed down Great Wolf Lodge’s Hydro Plunge slide, remember that you are part of history.
In the 1930s, mining magnate Joseph Hirshhorn brought some 165 German and Italian craftsmen to 500 acres on Huckleberry Mountain to build a mansion for the holidays. It was built with natural wood and field stones from local quarries. Over time, the mansion changed owners who transformed it into a romantic full-service country inn. Stay in suites with fireplaces, whirlpool tubs, and private balconies offering views of the Northern Pocono Mountains while you enjoy spa treatments ranging from pedicures to couples massages.
John Semley’s writing has appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, The Baffler, The Guardian and elsewhere. His most recent book is Hateful: on the virtues of absolute disagreement (Viking).
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