Duration: Two days and two nights
Places like this part of the state are loaded with photo opportunities. The kind of shots that you post in your office or your Facebook page, and your friends say things like "Whoa, where did you go?" Here, that's where. This is the dramatic end of the state with the unfettered valleys and imposing mountains that practically pose for a camera and say cheese. We'll show you the Poconos, their very photogenic neighbor, Kempton, and the mountaintops, rugged trails and historic towns along the way. So break out the tripod, do some index finger stretches, and get ready for some sky blue skies, furry critters and sprawling valleys for as far as the eye, or 10x zoom lens, can see.
The earlier you get to Greater Reading’s Blue Marsh Lake, the better – it's an outdoor haven for nature-oriented activities. Find the best subjects in the early morning, and try a few different base camps to vary your shots: a few from the trails by foot or on horseback, some along the lake shore, and others right out on the lake in a canoe or motorboat (there's a nice rental place nearby). The trail runs through forests and fields, offering many diverse views of the lake. From spring through the summer you'll catch endangered osprey, great blue heron and egrets as they call Blue Marsh home for the season. In late October, you’ll see some of the most brilliant fall foliage displays. Once you've filled up a few memory sticks, head back into Leesport for lunch at Ozzie's Cafe, just off Leesport Road. If you have extra time, make a quick stop at the Leesport Farmers Market for some fresh food, plants and antiques; you might get lucky and visit on a Craft Fair weekend! Then it's off you go to the pinnacle of Pennsylvania beauty, (literally).Read More >
Head 35 minutes north to the justly named Pinnacle, the highest point in Berks County. It's also the state's best-known vista loop hike. You can access the entrance on Hawk Mountain Road, part of the Appalachian Trail. Get your camera ready for dramatic bare rock and cliffs, incredible views from the north, east and south and if you're lucky, Turkey Vultures that soar in the thermals and rat snakes that bask on the sun-warmed rocks. This advanced hike is about three and a half hours roundtrip. Take a reprieve in the Native Plant Garden, where you can snap photos of more than 250 species of plants, hummingbirds, and more than 40 species of butterflies in the summer months. For another spectacular view, visit nearby Reading for a scenic drive up to the Pagoda, located atop Mt. Penn. This historical landmark has served as a shining beacon for Greater Reading for more than 100 years, and provides amazing views of the ridgeline for miles.Read More >
Deitsch Eck (Dutch Corner) is among the area’s finest family-operated restaurants, serving heaping portions of PA Dutch food. Get ready for staples like fritters, chowchow and chicken pot pie. And don't forget the pickled beets.Read More >
There are countless luxury hotels, inns and B&Bs in the area, and this is one of the most charming. Located in Pennsylvania's scenic Blue Mountain valley just 20 minutes from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Cabela’s retail, nearby Kutztown University and some of Pennsylvania’s award-winning wineries, this lodge combines the finest European bed and breakfast tradition with American comfort.Read More >
Now it's time to prop up that tripod and get your zoom lens in focus because this is birds-of-prey country. In fact, it's the world's first refuge for them, with hawks, vultures, falcons and eagles majestically swooping over the broad, unfettered vistas over the ridge. On arrival, check the Wings of Wonder exhibit in the Visitors Center to see life-sized carved replicas of the 16 raptor species, then grab a flight guide in the bookstore so you can figure out which bird is which. While each spring brings an annual bird migration, fall is the most popular time of year to visit the mountain when the reverse hawk migration begins. Between August and December, an average 18,000 raptors fly past the mountain ridgetops, often at eye-level for a spectacular photo opp. The migration peaks in mid-September, when you’ll capture the most broad-winged hawks in flight. Visit in October for the best raptor diversity as well as peak fall foliage colors. Your photos will have the envy of all of your friends from atop 1,500 feet. So pay your trail fee, and get that F-stop ready for some serious picture taking.Read More >
This is as good a place as any to get out and stretch your legs. The town of Nazareth is at the foot of the imposing Blue Mountain, which invites you to stay awhile and stroll along the tree-lined streets, get a lemonade or espresso and sit on one of the many shaded park benches. It's the stuff songs are made of – good thing the famous Martin Guitar Company is in town. It's also the home of the Mario Andretti racing family, but don't let the speeding go to your head. Nazareth is all about slowing down and enjoying the scenery. Be sure to take a detour through Nazareth’s community parks and nearby Jacobsburg State Park for some nature shots, and capture some action shots at international auto races at the Nazareth Speedway.
Later in the afternoon, enjoy the magnificent views and picturesque places along the 70-mile route to Tobyhanna in Pennsylvania's hill country. Here you'll find Big Pocono State Park and the summit at Camelback Mountain. The North and South Trails offer a 600-ft elevation change in under a mile and you'll be able to treat yourself to a gorgeous tri-state view: Eastern PA, New York and New Jersey. Up there you'll also find a unique scrub oak shrubland forest, where all trees have been wind-dwarfed down to 20 feet or shorter, and host all kinds of photo-worthy greenery like mountain laurel (our state flower!), blueberry and a nice cool rhododendron glen.Read More >
Be sure to leave time at the end of your journey for what’s known as the "Niagara of Pennsylvania," otherwise known as Bushkill Falls. One of the Keystone State's most famous scenic attractions, save room on your memory card for this scenic series of eight waterfalls nestled deep in the wooded Pocono Mountains. The various hiking trails and bridges leading to the falls afford fabulous views of the water and the surrounding forest that you won’t want to miss.Read More >
Barley Creek Brewing Company is the Pocono Mountain's original brewpub and is home to more than 600 personalized beer mugs and an official wiffle ball stadium. Plus, they have a brewery, where you can actually make your own beer. Not that you'll have time for brewing your own, with all the eating to be done. You can't go wrong with the burgers here. But go ahead and try the special shepherd's pie; it's as hearty and tasty as they come.Read More >
This inn is on the National Registry of Historic Places and has welcomed guests since 1902. This resort is located on more than 3,000 acres with indoor and outdoor pools, a state-of-the-art spa and the Manor Sports Lodge where you can fish, ski and clay shoot. Guests will enjoy the Manor’s Laurel Spa and sports including Orvis-endorsed fly-fishing and sporting clays, horseback riding, two championship golf courses, and 25,000 square feet of meeting and conference space. Relax at the end of a long day with some of PA’s finest malts and imported beers in the Manor’s two cozy lounges.Read More >
Lehigh Valley Covered Bridge Tour
Travel through the centuries, starting at 1839, with this bridge tour through the Lehigh Valley. Along the way, you’ll see seven picture-worthy covered bridges just begging for a place in your photo album. The tour spans 50 miles’ worth of Pennsylvania history, across which communities came together in the 1900s to construct each bridge for the greater good of travelers. The tour leaves plenty of time for stops to picnic, snap some photos and enjoy the scenery.
Lancaster Central Market
In the heart of Amish country sits America’s oldest farmer’s market. Housed in a 120-year old red brick building, you’ll find regional specialties like Dutch sausage and scrapple, dozens of homemade fruit preserves, bread and butter pickles and cool souvenirs. Central Market is a favorite gathering place for the community where locals have enjoyed socializing with neighbors and friends for decades.
Chickies Rock County Park
Chickies Rock Park is Lancaster County's second largest regional park. At a height of 100 feet above the Susquehanna River, you’ll enjoy impressive views of York County, the borough of Marietta, and farmlands of northwestern Lancaster County. The park also hosts collection of historical treasures; you might just see remnants of old furnaces, canal walls, and trolley-line grades for antique photography. Take a boat out onto the Susquehanna, try your hand at fly fishing, leisurely hike and enjoy access to a public pavilion to make a day of your detour.
Lehigh Gorge State Park
A visit to Lehigh Gorge State Park will provide beautiful scenery among a deep, steep-walled gorge carved by a river, nature trails, abandoned railroad grades and waterfalls. The park follows the Lehigh River from the outlet of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Francis E. Walter Dam at the northern end to the quaint, historic town of Jim Thorpe at the southern end. Whitewater boating, hiking, biking and sightseeing are favorite activities for visitors.
From the mounts to the sculpture, Cabela’s in Hamburg, PA is not only a shopper’s mecca but boasts an amazing collection of taxidermy that represents animals from across the globe. The incredible fish aquarium is a sight to see, in addition to the 250,000 square foot showroom which serves as an educational and entertainment attraction featuring decor of museum-quality animal displays and trophy animals interacting in realistic recreations of their natural habitats.