Having grown up in Long Valley, N.J., which is possible the most boring place in the entire world, I usually can’t appreciate towns that run a little bit slower and take a journey just to make it to the nearest supermarket. Instead, my Long Valley upbringing has simply made me into a bona fide city dweller who needs to constantly be within 15 minutes to the nearest mall, plethora of restaurants, gas stations, airport, bars and other attractions.
However, when my boyfriend, Mike, invited me to visit his parents with him in Lake Ariel, Penn., a small village in Wayne County about an hour and 45 minutes away from my home in Morristown (which is about my cap for time I can spend in the car) I was pretty psyched. It had been a stressful couple weeks and I figured it would be nice to spend a relaxing few weeks in the countryside.
I definitely was not incorrect. Since then, I have never slept better as I do on our visits there, nestled in their rustic home within the cool forest air. Without mounds of traffic, angry people and smoggy streets to clog residents’ minds, it’s a great place to get away for a few days if the grind has gotten to you.
Kundla’s Western Beef Company at 596 Hamlin Highway in Hamlin is a great place to stop for a quick, yet ungodly delicious barbecue dinner on your way into the region. A no-frills open pit barbecue ‘restaurant’ which basically only has pork and beef ribs, pork chops and chicken on their menu, which is retrieved by standing in a long line outside among the barbecue pits and paying with cash, it’s a homey stop filled with comfort food that will leave you both full and fully prepared to appreciate a lifestyle that doesn’t include white tablecloth restaurants.
The Crossings Premium Outlets at 1000 Premium Outlets Dr. in Tannersville are definitely not rustic by any means, but hey, for anyone who needs a bit of glamping on their vacation, this is a great respite. The outlets have stores such as Kate Spade, Forever 21, Old Navy, the Gap, Guess, Ann Taylor and much more with about 100 total stores. Don’t forget to stop by the food court for the current list of coupons for the outlet stores.
Alpine Wurst and Meat House at 1106 Texas Palmyra Hwy in Honesdale should definitely be one of your stops on your way home – equipped with a cooler – to pick up authentic German meats such as bauernwurst, krainerwurst, bratwurst, beef tongue, hot dogs, ham, steaks, bacon and lots of German condiments, candy and more. There’s also an attached restaurant as well as as a huge Oktoberfest held in an outdoor tent every year during August.
Mount Airy Casino Resort at 312 Woodland Rd. in Mt. Pocono may be another definitely-not-rustic destination, but what’s a vacation without a little irresponsible gambling? Stop by the resort to play on the slots or the tables or visit one of the restaurants, including Bistecca by Il Mulino, Guy Fieri’s, Lucky 8 or Nostalgia. Or, book one of their rooms for a night if you need to get away from the cabin for a bit.
Claws n’ Paws Wild Animal Park at 1475 Ledgedale Rd. in Lake Ariel is home to white tigers, timber wolves, warthogs, cobras and lots of other animals that you luckily won’t come across while staying in Pennsylvania. For $18.50 for adults, you can see animals from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until mid-October, when it likely will become so chilly you won’t want to spend any time outdoors anyway.
Backdraft Sports Bar and Grill at 1256 Rt. 590 in Lake Ariel is quite typically your typical dive-y, country bar, equipped with townies, live music and plenty of beer on tap. Stop by the local watering hole to chat with some friendly neighbors, get a cheap drink and check out the loads of goodies adorning the walls. Don’t forget to grab a helping of wings to share too.