By: Charlene Mixa
Sensational Summer Adventures Await Travelers to the Pocono Mountain!
Rolling mountain terrain, exciting waterfalls, lush woodlands and miles of winding rivers are found in the 2,400 square miles of the Pocono Mountains. The mountains of Pennsylvania cater to the active traveler with summer adventures of hiking, biking, golfing, whitewater rafting, boating, and fishing. The only resort on a 100-mile stretch of the Delaware River, the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort has been a treasured destination adjacent to the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area for the past 100-years. Secluded from the outside world this year round resort indulges its guests with countless outdoor activities or relaxation of peaceful serenity.
Our U. S. east coast mountain driving trip takes us to Shawnee on Delaware along the foothills of the Pocono Mountains. Driving into the historic Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort nestled on the shores of the Delaware River we are quickly captivated by its charm and graciousness. The pristine white structure is contrasted with a border of lush colorful flowerbeds, a huge welcoming veranda with comfy rocking chairs and great views of the gently flowing Delaware River and the Resort’s putting green.
On arrival we meet with Jeromy Wo for a tour of this dynamic 70,000-acre resort. Immediately Jeromy fascinates us on the Inn’s diverse and rich history. Opening in 1911 Shawnee was designed and constructed by C. C. Worthington, a wealthy New York engineer and businessman. Worthington built the Inn out of concrete, a new concept for the time.All walls and floors are 12 inches thick! Additionally, no two rooms are exactly alike, common for historic hotels. Hiring the famous A.W. Tillinghast to design an 18-hole golf course on Shawnee Island started a tradition of world renowned golfers playing at Shawnee and hosting numerous PGA and Championship events. In 1943 this exclusive retreat was sold to entertainer Fred Waring and became a favorite retreat of his celebrity friends. Waring broadcast his famous radio programs from Worthington Hall, now Shawnee Playhouse, further promoting Shawnee. Evidence of Waring’s impact is seen in the historical picture project that adorns walls throughout the guest rooms and public areas. As we tour the Inn we admire the photos of celebrity visitors of Bob Hope, Art Carney, Jackie Gleason, Arnold Palmer, Lucille Ball, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower as well as photos of the early years at Shawnee.
Jeromy explains the current owners, Charles and Virginia Kirkwood, purchased the resort properties in 1977 and began a long-term renovation and rejuvenation process that continues today. Their efforts and improvements maintain the Inn as the most upscale resort in the Pocono Mountains. Our property tour takes us past the Tillinghast Academy and its state-of-the-art golf practice facility. Guests can enjoy 27 holes of championship golf, a golf pro shop, an indoor Olympic-size pool, fitness center, a “sandy” beach along the Delaware River and find inner peace at Spa Shawnee. Deciding to create a luxurious set of accommodations, the Kirkwoods created the Legacy Accommodations Lodge comprised of suites and cottages that offer guests a one-of–a-kind experience. Absolutely unique, beautiful and opulent blending old world Arts & Crafts style with an emphasis on culture (Asian) the Legacy Collection is magnificent. Transforming some of the Inn’s rooms to Legacy accommodations is a slow and laborious process with the 12-inch thick walls.
Our room in the Inn is conveniently off the lobby. A one bedroom king suite with a parlor gives plenty of space to spread out. The hallway between the parlor and bedroom has his and her closets so we totally unpack. The bathroom is nice and big. Complimentary wireless Internet access and work area are always a welcome amenity. Extra touches are the “Pet Plant” that prefers darkness and “River Rocks” that bring the spirit of the river into the guest room. In addition to the crisp white plush linens on the king bed is the “The Luxury Pillow Menu.” I choose the Beautyrest Allergen Reduction Pillow for my restful night’s sleep. To add to our sleeping pleasure is the complimentary turn down service with the healthy and tasty oatmeal cookies.
Refreshed, we locate the walkway to Shawnee’s Gem & Keystone perched on a hillside next to the Tillinghast Golf Academy. Sporting an historic golf theme it is home of the Shawnee Craft Brewing Company. It’s a busy Friday evening as we are seated for dinner. We enjoy our delectable seafood choices and the relaxing setting with a view of the 9-hole approach course.
Back at the Inn, music greets us with a pianist playing the grand piano in the lobby. Inspired with the music, we go to the Inn’s River Room Piano Bar and Lounge. The Lounge is full of energy and excitement as golfers share a beverage and recall their great and not-so-great shots on Shawnee’s Golf Course. Sitting at the bar, we chat with other guests gaining insight and suggestions for our visit, while enjoying the wide variety of music. Sometimes we just sing-along with our favorite songs.
With an early tee time we are glad to have our room package include breakfast in the Inn’s River Room Restaurant. With a semi-formal atmosphere, we appreciate being seated for breakfast and the wide variety available on the breakfast buffet including an omelet station. Choices of scrambled, eggs, breakfast potatoes and meats are complimented with selections of cereals, fruits, yogurts, breads, muffins, sweet rolls, bagels, and waffles. In addition the service is excellent.
Golf today is close by at Glen Brook Golf Course,a municipally owned golf course located in the outskirts of Stroudsburg, PA. Encouraged to tee off early as the course has a major fundraising event that afternoon, we get to the No. 1 Hole. I chuckle as Richard hikes up to the Men’s tee boxes on the top of a steep hillside. A fun course and in good condition, the course offers a variety of terrains with hillsides, valleys and even roads and rivers to cross. Glen Brook Golf Course has plenty of challenge for all golfers. We pay careful attention to the score card with its hole descriptions and recommendations. No. 9 a Par-5 is a double dogleg on a major sloping hillside requiring shots to be aimed high to the left to avoid rolling into the road or across the road. The back nine has holes crossing Glen Brook and I especially enjoy No. 16 a Par-3 “The Airplane Hole”. Playing 125 yards from tee to green, the shot is from an elevated tee to an elevated green. Club selection is critical and I was thrilled to land on the green and make my par.
After golf we head to downtown Stroudsburg for a relaxing lunch. Numerous eateries offer Irish, Asian, Polish, Mexican and American cuisine. Walking the charming downtown streets we stroll through the shops reflecting the rich and diverse culture of the Pocono Mountains. We find unique shops and boutiques as well as art, music and fine art galleries catering to a variety of tastes. Floral baskets of colorful blooming flowers add extra warmth to this cute town.
A perfect afternoon with no planned activities, we kick back and relax. As evening approaches we walk to the Shawnee Playhouse for a fun evening of lighthearted entertainment. Initially, the Playhouse provided entertainment to residents and visitors, later Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians broadcast their famous radio programs from the hall. Following restorations in the 1970’s, the playhouse was burned down and subsequently rebuilt. Taking our seats we admire the décor of the brick structure and its cozy feel. “I DO! I DO!” is a musical covering fifty years of marriage beginning in 1898. Agnes and Michael take us through the trials and tribulations of their marriage with its love, humor and strife. Totally entertaining and sometimes close to heart for our own marriages, it is a wonderful show with a terrific cast.
After our morning breakfast we are off to see “The Niagara of Pennsylvania” – Bushkill Falls, one of the Keystone State’s most famous scenic attractions. A beautiful clear morning is perfect for viewing these unique series of eight waterfalls, nestled deep in the wooded Pocono Mountains. Bridges and trails lead to various stops offering views of the falls. With four trail options, we choose the Yellow Trail a 45 minute excursion. The roar of the water greets us as we approach the 100-foot Main Falls. In this pristine woodlands we follow the trail to the bottom and top of the Main Falls. Each view point provides a special scene. Taking a detour on the red trail we find a panoramic vista of the Pocono Mountains at the Delaware Valley Lookout. We stop for lots of photos and to appreciate the scenery, enjoy the cool air, the gorgeous views, and the roaring falls.
Returning along the River Road, we locate the Hialeah Picnic area and the Joseph P. McDade Recreational Trail of the Delaware Water Gap National River. The McDade Trail is a planned recreational trail providing 27 miles of hiking on the Pennsylvania side of the Park. Initially, the trail takes us around the edge of a huge lush corn field. Cool shade is welcome as the trail turns into the woods bordering the Delaware River. Along the water’s edge we spot kayakers and canoeist enjoy a sunny morning and natural surroundings on this crystal clear river. After our hike, we stop for lunch at the General Store in Shawnee on Delaware, delighting in our scrumptious made-to-order deli sandwiches.
Let’s get wet! Changing into swimsuits we check-in for our kayak trip with Shawnee River Trip outfitters, conveniently located on the Shawnee Inn property. Clear skies change to gray rainy skies as we load the van for our river adventure. Rains continue at Smithfield Beach where we launch our tandem kayak for our 3 mile river trip. Our instructions are to stay to the New Jersey side of the river, the left, then after passing three large islands to look for the take out point of the Shawnee Inn on the right. Once we get our rhythm, we paddle down the river in the rain. Getting wet and cold, the rain prevents us from having a leisurely river trip. The scenery is still beautiful with damp forests along the river’s edge. As we reach the take-out point, we are congratulated for setting a record for the “fastest” trip. Now for a hot shower!
Cooler temperatures are welcome as the rains finally pass late in the afternoon. After dinner at the Gem and Keystone, we stroll around the property watching guests playing the 9-hole approach course, canoeing down the river and practicing on the putting green. We relax in the rockers on the veranda taking in this calm scenic setting. The weekend is over and the Inn is quieter.
Our morning is set for golf at the Shawnee Golf Course, one of the most prized PA golf courses in the Northeast. During our stay we’ve gained insight into this legendary championship course. With 24 of its 27 holes on a private island in the Delaware River, this pure setting creates a sanctuary for golfers. One of golf’s most notable courses with its Tillinghast design and challenging undulating greens, Shawnee has been home to PGA Championships. Plus golf legends including Arnold Palmer, Hale Irwin, Sam Snead, Paul Runyun, Walter Hagan, and Gene Sarazan have played here.
Paired with another couple, we are playing the Red and White Course. The second hole on the Red Course is a par-3 over the Delaware River to the private island. Crossing the famous golf bridge, we recall that Shawnee has been dissembling and rebuilding the bridge each year since 1930 to start off the golf season. Hurrah, I par the hole! A terrific course! The natural island setting with holes winding through the landscape offers many views of the hills and Delaware River. Each nine brings a unique set of challenges. With some mild terrain changes, marshes, and waist high rough, the course requires constant awareness to its nuances. Plus undulating greens keep us alert in “attempting” to read our putts. I’m especially thrilled to birdie No. 2 a par-3 on the White Course, making a side hill sliding putt. An excellent day of golf in the Pocono Mountains!
The Bistro, located on the edge of the Shawnee Golf Course is the perfect ending for golf. As we watch players tee off, we enjoy our lunch of a delicious tuna wrap and turkey Panini in the shade of a huge tree. Now we relax before packing for the next leg of our east coast mountain trip.
Our expectations for an exciting and relaxing visit to the Pocono Mountains are exceeded. The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort was top-notch offering unique accommodations, excellent service, a beautiful setting and a variety of activities in the exciting foothills of the Poconos. While our visit was in the summer, the Inn is a year-round resort offering winter sports at Shawnee Mountain. We easily see how the resort has survived and thrived with its legacy and has a bright future with its enhanced new accommodations and amenities.
If you go:
Glen Brook Golf Course; Hickory Valley Rd., Stroudsburg, PA;570.421.3680; www.glenbrookgolf.com
Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, One River Road, Shawnee on Delaware, PA 18356; 1.800.SHAWNEE; www.shawneeinn.com
The Legacy Collection; Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, One River Road, Shawnee on Delaware, PA 18356; TLCshawnee.com
Shawnee Playhouse; River Road; Shawnee on Delaware, PA; 570.421.5093; www.theshawneeplayhouse.com
Shawnee River Trips , One River Road, Shawnee on Delaware, PA 18356; 570.424.4000; www.shawneeinn.com