There’s a symphony of chirps in the woodlands of northeastern Pennsylvania; storied naturalist John James Audubon visited the Pocono Mountains in 1829 to document the lush upper Lehigh River area, which is populated by bluebirds and woodpeckers. Today, trilling chirps also come from the slot machines that stand sentry at Mount Airy Casino Resort. Roughly two hours from the bustling streets of New York City and Philadelphia, the Poconos area is known for its quiet forests, cabins, and outdoor adventure. The resort posits itself in this verdant landscape with an approximately 65,000-square-foot gaming floor, where the sound of shuffling cards emits from 72 blackjack, poker, and other table games.This palatial hotel complex is also home to five different restaurants that satisfy a wide variety of appetites and budgets. Romance is in the air at Le Sorelle Cucina, a cozy Italian bistro that serves up classic dishes such as sicilian baked oysters and filet alla gorgonzola. Betty's Diner gives diners a taste of old-fashioned America, as its dining room comes decked out in 1950s memorabilia and all of its delicious malts are eligible for political office. Post-meal, crash land into the comfort of the deluxe king or double-queen rooms, which feature spacious bathrooms and pillow-top beds clad in goose-down comforters.Pocono—which translates to "stream between two mountains"—is speckled with hidden lakes and waterfalls throughout its terrain. Frazzled city-goers, everyday adventurers, and unemployed town criers flee from the urban centers to experience the peaceful wilderness, whether they’re skiing in winter or, in more temperate months, mountain biking, hiking, and kayaking at Delaware State Forest. Quiet, historical towns and hamlets pepper the deeply forested area.
The night after John Chacko, a hardworking man about to realize his dream, purchased the Jimmy's Central Lanes bowling alley, a roiling flood ripped over the banks of the Susquehanna River and destroyed the site. As a solitary man standing amid the wreckage, it would have been easy to walk away, but that wasn't his style. Instead, he rolled up his sleeves, ripped down the walls, and pulled up the floors. Not even a nail could be salvaged, but his love for the alley was still fully intact.
Today, it's hard to believe Chacko's was once under water. New lanes run as far as the eye can see, marked by fluorescent purples and blues, and a Memory Lane Lounge offers respite with draft beer and flat-screen TVs. But Dan Chacko still remembers the deluge. Bowling-alley patrons can stop into his pro shop and pick his brain about that breathtaking flood, or they can seek his advice on bowling-related matters such as how to pick up a split or how to match your wardrobe to your bowling shoes.
While peering through the glass-covered hole in the floor of Flow Bar and Restaurant, you may catch a glimpse of a featured item on next week's menu swimming through the underground Mauch Chunk Creek. Executive chef Zachary Pelliccio—whose farm-based upbringing informs his ultra-fresh fare—procures produce and earthy high-fives from the hands of Lehigh Valley and Pocono-area farmers as well as meat, poultry, and eggs from the likes of Spring Mountain Farms of Lehighton. Pelliccio crafts starters such as a duck rillette with cranberry and green-tea preserves and large plates including a grass-fed burger on house-baked brioche, realizing the edible portion of the renovation dream of co-owners Victor Stabin and Joan Morykin. The husband-and-wife team bought the circa-1850 stone building in 2004. Temporarily trading his paintbrushes and her journalist's laptop for a hammer and nails, Stabin and Morykin and a team of artisans conducted a overhaul lasting four years. The historic space has been a wire mill, silk mill, and toy factory, and now also houses art classes and galleries featuring the work of local artists, including Stabin himself. One gallery is devoted to encouraging children's creativity and has showcased the talents of the couple's two young daughters.
Every year, as the snow starts falling, the town of Jim Thorpe dusts off a charming sense of nostalgia and channels the holiday spirit for their Olde Time Christmas celebration. A parade at the end of November heralds the tree lighting, which in turn kicks off weekends of lights, stage plays, and Victorian touches that evoke A Christmas Carol without all of the blood-thirsty aliens Dickens was so fond of. Historic mansions combine with small-town elegance to create an ideal tableau for the festival, which hosts events that include a gingerbread house contest, historic ghost walks, and a live nativity. Kids hop on a train with Santa while others settle in for a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, sending the staccato of clipping and clopping through the streets. Dulcet notes from a choir glide through the air at local churches while patrons walk to and fro amongst local businesses and a stand of handmade wreaths.
Inside Cinema Center, moviegoers are enveloped in a state-of-the art film-viewing environment to enjoy the latest Hollywood flicks. Bring a friend or frenemy to catch a new release, such as The Dilemma, a comedy starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James, or The Green Hornet, a quirky take on the superhero genre starring Seth Rogen. Indulge eardrums with the mellifluous luxury of digital surround sound while Cinema Center theaters’ stadium seating ensures clear sightlines and good angles for not throwing popcorn.
Along the slopes of Blue Mountain in Little Gap Valley, Blue Mountain Resort treats visitors to a wealth of year-round activities for all ages, including some of the most thrilling skiing in Pennsylvania. Visitors can fasten on skis and snowboards to tackle dozens of snowy trails of any difficulty, including a 1,082 ft. vertical?the highest one in the state, in the winter or just go for a lift ride during the off season and take in the breathtaking views of the Poconos.
In warmer months, more than a dozen downhill biking trails and three disc golf courses await guests. The stunning mountain scenery also forms the perfect backdrop for frolicking in the woodsy wilderness during seasonal events such as Oktoberfest, the PA Blues Festival, or Blue's Brew Fest. Regardless of season, the Slopeside Pub and Grill can line up a burger and a cold beer for any peckish adventurer or yeti-in-disguise.