A Couple Days to Get Away – Where to Go, What to Do
You finally have that much-needed time off—a weekend or long weekend to de-stress, “recharge your batteries,” or spend some fun time with family and friends.
While hanging out around the house or having a “staycation” and enjoying local activities can be fun, you may want to venture a bit farther. For those seeking to get away from the local area, here are some destinations to consider.
If a resort is on your list, Mohonk Mountain House in the Catskills is the place for you. Founded in 1869 by the Smiley family and located in New Paltz, N.Y., this Victorian castle resort, which is in its fourth and fifth generation of family leadership, is set alongside a pristine mountain lake surrounded by imposing granite cliffs.
Nina Smiley, director of marketing, explains that a long, winding driveway leads you casually up the mountainside while sounds of singing birds and rustling leaves prepare you for a relaxing welcome; around the last bend, a Victorian castle rises above Lake Mohonk.Gorgeous wilderness surrounded by carefully landscaped gardens whisk you away to a magical place.
The resort’s interior is just as inviting as the beauty outside. Guests will find extensive woodwork, fireplaces constructed from Shawangunk stone, period accents, and expansive windows that frame the breathtaking scenery. Smile says that the truly spectacular setting invites guests who want to delight in nature while enjoying world-class amenities, including an award-winning spa, regional cuisine, and a remarkable variety of activities.
“Mohonk Mountain House and its setting are spectacular in any season. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a dip in the smooth, refreshing lake Mohonk or wander through trails on horseback and take in the breathtaking surroundings.
“As fall approaches, the trees begin to paint the hills with vivid colors; deep-red and bright-orange leaves round out the crisp fresh air, bringing a magnificent close to the summer season. The first snowfall blankets the landscape in white, transforming it into a mystical wonderland,” she says.
Smiley adds that the resort’s inclusive rates (overnight accommodations, meals, and most activities) are also an attraction for guests. In addition to relaxing and enjoying the beautiful setting, there’s a variety of activities for all ages and interests.
Outdoor enthusiasts may enjoy hiking, biking, or horseback riding. For those who enjoy water sports, Mohonk offers paddle boarding, canoeing, and row boating as well as fishing and swimming in the beautiful Lake Mohonk. If taking the kids along, there is a Mohonk’s Kids Club, which offers themed activities such as disc golf, rock scrambling, fossil hunts, and sports tournaments.
Couples can enjoy a romantic carriage ride or a visit to Mohonk’s spa, which opened in 2005 and was named “No. 1 Resort Spa in the U.S.” by Conde Nast Traveler last year. With more than 70 unique treatments, a heated mineral pool, and breathtaking views, it can also be a great girlfriend getaway spot.
Resorts are but one of many getaway options. Canton, Ohio, and the surrounding Stark County offer a variety of activities to appeal to nearly every taste.
“What’s great about our area is that there really is something for everybody. For a community our size, there’s a lot to do,” says Allyson Bussey, interim director of the Canton Stark County CVB.
Football fans know Canton as the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Bussey says that the Hall of Fame does have a wide appeal. In addition to exhibits about Hall of Famers and the history of the sport, there are also interactive displays. The enshrinement ceremony and Hall of Fame game are held annually in August and are often sell-outs.
The Hall of Fame’s location in Canton is by design; one of the reasons is that the American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, was founded in Canton in 1920. The Hall of Fame opened its doors in 1963.
Groundbreaking for a five-year, multi-phase project to create a “village” around the hall with amenities such as a hotel and conference center along with renovations to the existing Fawcett Stadium will be held in the fall.
The Canton area is also home to the William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum. Bussey says it’s also a science and history museum and houses a planetarium and an interactive science center that features an authentic mastodon skeleton that was found in the Canton area. The “Street of Shops” is a life-size replica of an early-1800s town.
Another unique museum is the First Ladies Library, which is part of the National Park Service. It is housed in two buildings—the restored family home of First Lady Ida Saxton McKinley and the restored and renovated 1895 City National Bank building that now serves as a library and research center and exhibit area.
The MAPS Museum (Military Aviation Preservation Society) may be of interest to those who enjoy aviation. Located in a hangar, Bussey says visitors can view military aircraft is all stages of restoration, and there’s also a tribute to the men and women who designed and flew them. She describes it as “a living preservation museum.”
The Ohio & Erie Canal ran through Stark County, and visitors can enjoy a bit of that history. The towpath of the canal has been transformed into a hiking and biking trail that also features a historic lock and millrace. You can also enjoy a narrated cruise on one of the only remaining authentic canal boats, and as in its heyday in the 1800s, the canal boat is drawn by two horses.
The area also boasts a number of picturesque wineries and craft breweries. Couples and ladies enjoying a “girls’ weekend” may want to check them out and perhaps enjoy some shopping time in Hartville, which Bussey says is a “boutique shopping mecca.”
If you’d prefer to take a getaway closer to home, try Philadelphia. Meryl Levitz, Visit Philadelphia CEO, says that whatever your interest—history, nature, sports, science, food, or culture—there’s bound to be something to entice you in Philly.
Levitz says that top stops on everyone’s agenda should be Independence Center, Independence National Historical Park, and the region’s welcome center.
There, visitors can find info about attractions such as Independence Hall (timed tickets are now required for entrance and can be ordered in advance online), the National Constitution Center, and the Liberty Bell. The nearby Benjamin Franklin Museum is dedicated to the life and legacy of this Colonial-era Renaissance man.
The Mummer’s Parade is a New Year’s Day tradition in Philly, and for those interested in learning more about the event and viewing the elaborate costumes, a visit to the Mummer’s Museum may be in order.
Unleash your inner “Rocky” and climb the iconic steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Always a great visit, the museum is hosting a special exhibit, “Discovering the Impressionists: Paul Durand-Ruel and the New Painting,” through Sept. 13.
It showcases approximately 95 impressionist works by Monet, Pisarro, Renoir, Sisley, Degas, Manet, and others. Levitz says that the exhibit is bigger and more comprehensive than its showings at the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris and the National Gallery in London.
It took a staggering 1 million-plus LEGO® bricks to create “The Art of the Brick,” on view nearby at The Franklin Institute, a limited-engagement exhibit through Sept. 6. Its more than 100 works of art are all made using the popular toy.
All ages will appreciate the LEGO recreations of acclaimed artworks such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, a 20-foot-long T-Rex, and a Liberty Bell created especially for the Philadelphia iteration of this exhibit.
The museum is also hosting a blockbuster interactive exhibit, “Genghis Khan: Bring the Legend to Life,” through Jan. 3, 2016.
The Philadelphia Zoo is legendary. If you haven’t been there for a while, you may want to check it out. A new art installation, “Second Nature,” is fashioned from recycled materials.
A dozen artists have reused and repurposed unexpected materials to draw attention to the plight of endangered animals. The display includes a 13-foot-tall blue gorilla sculpted entirely of recycled car parts; two giant, 9-foot-tall pink rabbits fashioned from recycled plastic; a menacing 5-foot-long alligator molded from chewing gum; and more.
Also new is the Gorilla Treeway, the newest addition to its first-in-the-world animal travel and exploration trail system called Zoo360. The treeway gives the zoo’s western lowland gorillas the ability to enjoy long-distance travel in a mesh passageway positioned overhead.
Levitz says that following a smashingly successful first season that earned “Best Urban Beach in the World” status from The Huffington Post, Spruce Street Harbor Park returned to Penn’s Landing to brighten up the summer.
“The hammocks, lounge chairs, oversized games, floating beer garden, and twinkling lights all return in greater numbers this year. [Spruce Street Harbor Park] also appeals to children and families with the BlueCross RiverRink Summerfest featuring an outdoor roller rink (in place of the ice-skating rink that’s there during the winter), a boathouse-styled lodge, a kids’ play area, and summer events throughout the season,” she explains.
Other attractions in the Penn’s Landing area include The Independence Seaport Museum and the two ships berthed right outside—the Becuna, a WWII submarine, and the Olympia, the nation’s oldest floating steel warship.
For an interesting dining experience, visit the nearby Moshulu, which is the oldest and tallest square-rigged sailing vessel still afloat and the only dining venue in the world on a tall ship.
A visit to Reading Terminal Market is also fun for the family.
“It helps people feel they’re part of Philly. It’s been the go-to place for professional and home cooks who want farm-fresh produce, meats, cheeses, herbs, and other treats since 1892,” Levitz says.
For hikers, bikers, or those who like a scenic stroll, the Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk is a “must do.” This 2,000-foot-long extension of the Schuylkill River Trail is a concrete pathway along the shoreline. It includes four scenic overlooks for those who want to relax and take in spectacular waterfront views of the Philadelphia skyline.
“This is a huge addition to the Schuylkill River Trail, which is easily one of the most-used parks in Center City Philadelphia, with more than 19,000 users every week,” Levitz says.
Getting around Philly is easy—the Philly Phlash, a tourist shuttle, connects 22 key destinations in Center City, and there’s also Indego, Philly’s bike-share program that launched in the spring. There are also duck tours, double-decker bus tours, and other modes of transportation.
One planning note, Philadelphia is hosting the eighth World Congress of Families Sept. 22 through 27. Pope Francis will make his first United States visit at the end of this event, and he will celebrate a Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Sept. 27.
With all these varied options in mind, plan a getaway that’s right for you!