Primed to return as the Northeast’s top vacation destination, there has never been a better time to escape to the Poconos for the weekend. From fine dining to a luxe spa, this town can make for a pampering but affordable quick getaway. The mountainous area is especially great for escaping the heat in the summer, but there's lots to do at anytime. Here, just five of our favorite activities, no matter the time of year.Bistecca by Il Mulino and Get Wet Pool Party (Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mt Pocono, PA)
Mount Airy Casino Resort -- the eight-year-old rebirth of the legendary Mount Airy Lodge -- makes for the perfect night out in the region. Start at the newly opened steakhouse, Bistecca by Il Mulino , where the raw bar (starting at $13 for a dozen clams) sets the stage with an impressive menu of flatbreads ($12 -$16), pastas ($23 and up), and 28-day aged beef steaks ($35 and up). The night continues at either Gypsies Lounge nightclub , the casino’s trendy dance floor, or the sleek Get Wet ($15 cover with specials for women), a ground-shaking pool party that transforms the resort’s new 51,000-square-foot indoor pool into a Poconos hotspot.
Madagascar Black Light Mini-Golf (Kalahari Resort, Pocono Manor, PA)
It’s hard not to take on a competitive spirit at the soon-to-be-unveiled Kalahari Resort’s indoor mini golfing. Slated to open in July, Kalahari goes all out with its resorts, delivering immersive experiences throughout its African safari-themed resorts. With a similar concept at their Sandusky, Ohio resort, Kalahari will bring its popular Madagascar Black Light Mini-Golf course to the Poconos. Expect a vivid world of neon colors that pop alongside a challenging 9-hole course -- perfect for a low-key afternoon indoors.
Barley Creek Brewing Company (Tannersville, PA)
Just down the mountain from Camelback Mountain Resort, don’t miss the opportunity to stop into Barley Creek Brewing Company where daily free tours of the brewery occur at 12:30 p.m. followed by free tastings. With over a dozen homemade varieties of ale on tap, Barley Creek Brewing Company offers a homegrown atmosphere with gastro-pub fare. Make sure to sample the avocado eggrolls ($8.50) and the St. Louis BBQ Ribs ($24; $17 for a half-rack), marinated with a dry rub and finished with a house BBQ sauce.
Spa at Mount Airy (Mount Airy Casino Resort, Mt Pocono, PA)
If you’re looking for the perfect way to detox from the hubbub of the city, head for a relaxing day at the Spa at Mount Airy. Pro tip: Arrive early and plan on staying after your treatment to enjoy the spa’s spacious sauna and steam room, along with the incredible rain shower experience. The spa’s 55-minute Swedish massage ($105) strikes the perfect balance of relaxation and rejuvenation.
The Crossings Premium Outlets
With a hundred shops located within walking distance, it’s easy to spend the weekend seeking out deals and bargains of the The Crossings Premium Outlets. With in-demand brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Kate Spade, J.Crew, Under Armour, Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria, and Nike to name a few, the parking lots fill up with shoppers rummage through the racks of high-end fashion at affordable prices.