Fall in D.C. is beautiful, there’s no doubt about it. But sometimes you just need a weekend away from the Red Line. If you’re looking for a getaway that is full of relaxation, beautiful fall foliage and an unlimited number of low-key, fun things to do, hop in your car and head up to the Pocono Mountains this fall. It'll take you about four hours by car depending on your destination in the mountains (and the traffic getting out of D.C. on a Friday, of course), but it's well worth the trip.
The Poconos is probably most well-known for its skiing, as well as its abundance of things to do outdoors in general. Even though it’s not quite cold enough for winter sports, you can still embrace that fresh air and picturesque scenery. The mountains have great hiking trails for all skill levels, whether you are a novice looking for a peaceful stroll, such as some of the trails at Gouldsboro State Park, or a well-seasoned trekker looking to spend the day on the Appalachian Trail. See unbelievable waterfalls at "The Niagara of Pennsylvania," Bushkill Falls, Lehigh Gorge State Park, Raymondskill Falls or Shohola Falls. Tobyhanna State Park, Promised Land State Park and Mauch Chunk Lake Park have some can't-miss trails, too.
P.S. Many of these parks have campgrounds if you're looking to really spend some 24/7 quality time with Mother Nature!
Camping in the Poconos is a lot of fun, especially in the fall when you can snuggle up around a fire. If you're looking for a weekend to unplug, spend some quality time with your loved ones and rough it just a little bit, definitely go camping. Pitch a tent, have a fire and enjoy the sweet sounds of nature at Mount Pocono Campground, Mountain Vista Campground (which is having a wine-tasting event Sept. 21-23!) or Delaware Water Gap KOA campground.
I’ve been coming to the Poconos with family since I was a little kid, and it wasn’t until this summer that I found out about the numerous wineries in the area. Needless to say, it was a game-changer for my friends and I. The Pocono Wine Trail is a system of seven wineries in the Pocono Mountains, including Big Creek Vineyard, Tolino Vineyards and Mountain View Vineyard. All of the wineries offer something a little bit different in terms of ambiance and events, but you can count on delicious, locally-made wines at all of them. You can make a day out of visiting just one or bounce around to a couple.
My personal favorite winery on the Pocono Wine Trail is the Franklin Hill Vineyard. It's a small winery with a quaint outdoor tasting area perfect for bringing your own food and wasting away the afternoon. There's also a cozy inside tasting room, where you can test out their large selection of wines and ciders. The story behind Franklin Hill Vineyard is what made this my favorite on the trail (beyond their best-selling wine, Sir Walter's Red) -- a single mom started the winery in the 1970's and still owns and operates it today, with a team of mostly women helping her, which just goes to show that girls truly do run the world!
If wine isn't your thing, but you love a good spirit, check out Social Still in Bethlehem. It's the first distillery in Lehigh Valley since prohibition and is actually in a prohibition-era bank. The micro-distillery makes vodka, gin, bourbon and whiskey, and serves some delicious food, too. It's a one-stop shop of cool vibes, good food and great drinks.
The Poconos is the perfect place to head for the weekend if you have little ones with you. Spend the weekend at an indoor water park resort, such as Kalahari Resorts and Conventions or Great Wolf Lodge. You can really make a weekend out of both of these places alone - there are so many things to do beyond water slides! There are restaurants, shows, spas, activities and events going on frequently at both resorts. To be honest, I think these places could be just as fun without the kiddos!