I’d love to meet the ad guy who decided to link one of the most beautiful places in the US with a honeymooner’s bathtub. Almost every time I mention my recent vacation to the Poconos, someone inevitably asks, “Did you get a room with a heart-shaped bathtub?” No, and if I did, I would have had at least one kid in it with me. Since it seems that heart-shaped tubs are all anyone knows of this breathtakingly gorgeous vacation destination, I felt duty-bound to dispel this notion and give you some inside scoop on why you should go.
The idea of heading north for summer vacation had a lot of appeal for our family. We wanted to visit Washington, DC, with our girls, but we knew we would max on on museums and national history after a point, so we came up with an ambitious, Griswold-esque itinerary for an old-fashioned family vacation, which led the Foxes to find one of the last surviving historic hotels in America.
Skytop Lodge, nestled in The Poconos Mountains, offers you a marvelous glimpse of Mother Nature at its best. It was built in 1928, just before the big crash, but somehow managed to survive and thrive. Now, 84 years later, it has changed with the times enough to be a comfortable visitor experience, with incredible food and lots of amenities, especially for kids. But it has retained the great traditions that made the place so special way back when. For example, gentlemen are still required to wear jackets to dinner (supplied at the front desk if you don’t have one), and the tradition of an informal dance and ‘grand march’ in the spacious hotel lobby after dinner is still a Saturday night ritual. As everyone (young and old) jumps up, links arms and oom-pah-pahs around the room, you wonder what they are putting in the water. But truly, it is a rousing good time.
One thing Skytop completely gets is that if the kids are happy, so are Mom and Dad. On the lower level of the lodge is a huge game room with ping pong and pool tables, a putt-putt course, air hockey and a mini-arcade.
Stroll out into the grounds behind the lodge and you find archery, badminton, horseshoes, volleyball, a putting green, bonfire pit and a sizable vegetable garden that supplies the kitchen. And that doesn’t include the tennis courts, lawn bowling area, croquet course and golf course all nearby. Or the Adventure Center, which boasts a new high ropes course with several zip line runs that are not for the faint of heart.
They even figured out that when a kid goes to dinner they want to eat right now! A generous kid’s buffet is set up with – you got it – pasta, chicken fingers, burgers, fries and fresh fruit.
Skytop operates on the American Plan, yet another nod to days gone by. What I appreciated was that the hotel made it easy to cash in on the plan. If we were out swimming in the lake, then we could pop by the deli and grab a salad and sandwich. If we were planning a hike or bike ride, a boxed lunch could be ordered. Dining in the main dining hall was a formal affair, but I’ll put on a skirt any day for a sumptuous piece of sea bass or chocolate brownie with hot fudge sauce.
Skytop sits on a 5,500 acre estate smack dab in the middle of the Poconos. It is a gorgeous piece of land, with vistas of the valleys below which are stunning, to say the least. My husband particularly enjoyed the view from his golf cart while maneuvering around the very well-maintained 18-hole golf course. I should mention that we took our bicycles, which dramatically enhanced our Skytop experience. They have bikes for rent at the Lodge, and I would definitely recommend renting if you don’t take your own, as it’s a beautiful place for a bike ride, especially around the one-mile perimeter of the lovely Skytop Lake, the most picturesque natural feature of the property. There’s also a great ride up Trout Stream Trail to Indian Ladder Falls.
Here’s our youngest daughter just before she caught a 12-inch rainbow trout in Skytop Lake.
Don’t miss the opportunity to hike. There are numerous trails, all well-marked, with waterfalls, streams and gorgeous old growth trees.
If you are planning to visit Washington, DC, to give your family a dose of American history, I suggest you tack on Skytop Lodge to the back end of the trip. It’s about a 5 hour drive from Washington, DC, and truly is a slice of history. There are only a handful of hotels like the Skytop Lodge left in America–The Greenbriar, The Homestead and The Sagamore come to mind immediately. Each offers an experience so rich and beautiful, it’s hard to be homesick. For more information about Skytop Lodge, click here.
And by the way, if anyone knows where to find the heart-shaped bathtubs in the Poconos, will you let me know?