Traveling during a still present pandemic: This summer we have been traveling to places that have low COVID numbers and offer opportunities for our family to explore the outdoors while keeping our distant from other groups. We went to the Poconos when our children were very little and loved the area (it’s also a super easy drive from our home). Skytop was near the top of my list to visit this summer because it offers so many activities included in our stay, so many areas to explore, and plenty of dining options right on site. We never left the resort and still had so many things we didn’t have an opportunity to do that we’ll “need” to return soon.
Skytop Lodge, located in the Poconos of Pennsylvania, will transport guests to a bygone area. The main lodge, open since 1928, has grown over the past almost-century to a 55,000 acre resort that includes an 18 hole golf course, 2 pools, lakeside beach, miles of hiking trails, 5 restaurants, and dozens of daily activities for families of all ages. The grounds are stunning: manicured grass, lush gardens, and so many places to sit and relax (rocking on the back porch is a must!). There are flowers arrangements on every table in every space and every single one is fresh! Garden lovers should visit the gorgeous Flower Shop on the lower level of the main lodge.
While we visited during summer months, Skytop transforms each season to offer new ways to explore nature and have fun in all kinds of the weather. Make sure to check out the daily bulletin Skylites which lists the hours and locations for swimming and dining, as well as a list of daily activities. Some activities require reservations and an additional fee (which are noted in Skylites), but Skytop has plenty of complimentary activities each day to keep guests busy. Don’t miss the cookies and lemonade that are served each afternoon in the Pine Room lobby.
Options for Staying at Skytop Lodge:
There are almost 200 rooms and suites available for accommodations, with many options:
- The Main Lodge: The main resort lodge includes traditional guest-rooms, which accommodate 2 guests, and suites, accommodating up to 4 guests.
- Cottages: Located 100 yards from the Main Lodge, each cottage includes four separate guests rooms that share a common hallway. Each guest-room has an outdoor space with Adirondack chairs. Two larger cottages (great for family reunions!) are located across the stream, with their own private parking.
- The Inn: Located at start of the golf course and redesigned in 2020, the Inn includes traditional rooms, each with a private balconies that overlook the golf course or lakeside beach area.
- The Streamside Cottages are larger rooms which offer views of the streams or golf course. The cottages also has an outdoor space with Adirondack chairs.
10 Family Friendly Activities at Skytop:
1. Take a guided hayride through the resort. This is a great activity to do first thing as the activities staff shares the history of the resort and points out recreational areas of the complex.
2. Hike some of the resort’s 12+ trails spread throughout the main resort area and near the Adventure Center. This is a wide variety of lengths and difficulty and the chance to see over 100 types of wildlife, flowers, and trees. Find the full list and trail map here. Our favorite trail was Trout Stream Fall, an easy 1.6 mile round trip hike. While guests can walk to many of the trails from the main lodge, some people may want to drive to the Adventure Center to park and start a hike. Another popular trail is the 1.6 mile Lake Trail around Skytop Lake, which affords great views of the resort from a variety of angles. Note: Be sure to wear sturdy sneakers; watch your footing- large portions of the trails are on uneven terrain; definitely check for ticks once your hike is over.
3. Feel the mist from a waterfall. There are two large waterfalls at the resort: Leavitt Falls and Indian Ladder Falls. Leavitt Falls has a one-mile trail and begins near the start of the 10th hole of the golf course. Walk over the wooden bridge (don’t forget to look down!) and then take a right at the blue sign. Follow the wooden staircase and the path to the calmer waters. There is a flat rock formation where you can dip you fingers into the water and a wooden bench near the top of the fall and feel the spray. Indian Ladder Falls is located near the Trout Stream Trail (near the Adventure Center) or can be accessed via the Upper Falls Trail. Both trails are clearly marked (see the trail map here).
4. Play lawn games. The south lawn includes a life-size chess board, several corn hole boards, a putting green, and a playground area with a play structure, swings, and a sand pit. There is also a large Lawn Bowling Green across the path from many of the lawn games. Guests can sign up for (almost) daily complimentary lessons for lawn bowling or watch leagues compete in tournaments. Archery is also available by lesson most days.
5. Check Skylites for some of the Activities Department’s daily games. BINGO (either in person or via Zoom) is offered each night and includes great Skytop swag as prizes. There are various scavenger hunts to complete and a daily grab-and-go crafts projects (tie dye t shirts, macrame key chains, pipe cleaner rings).
6. Get out ON and IN the water. There are three swimming options at the resort: an indoor pool, adjacent outdoor pool, and lakeside beach area. The indoor and outdoor pools have both shallow (3’-4’) and deeper ends (6’-9’), lounge chairs and table with upright chairs for sitting, umbrellas for shade, and nearby locker rooms with restrooms and changing facilities. The lakeside area has a sandy beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas, and two roped off areas. The shallower end of the two areas allows for free swimming. All guests who swim into the “Wibit” area must wear a life vest. The Wibit is a massive, inflatable obstacle course that includes a trampoline, climbing structures, and floating pads. Guests who don’t want to get too wet should head to Outfitters down by the main portion of Skytop Lake to rent kayaks and canoes by the hour. Guests can also fish on Skytop Lake and rent fishing supplies. Note: a Pennsylvania fishing license is required.
7. Play golf, tennis, or basketball or ride bikes throughout the resort. The resort offers a very reasonable “pay your age” kids rate for golf and offers discounts for teeing off before 10am and after 2pm. There is a large pro shop with a wide variety of apparel and clubs available for rental or purchase. More information on the course and golf rates here. There are four tennis courts and two pickleball courts located near the Pavilion and guests are welcome to play on their own or take lessons. There are also basketball courts located in the Pavilion area. Guests can rent bikes by the hour at the pavilion complex, which turns into an ice skating rink in the winter!
8. Get a birds eye view of the resort at the Adventure Center. The Center is located less than a mile from the main lodge and includes a rock climbing wall, zip lines and obstacles courses, archery tag, a paintball range, and axe throwing (ages 16+). The Adventure Center also has ski slopes, snow shoeing, and snow-tubing for cold weather fun during the winter. For another view from above, head to the very top of the Main Lodge. Take a (steep) staircase next to the Nest Spa entrance (on the 5th floor) and check out the 360 degree views of the resort. Note: All activities at the Adventure Center require reservations and additional fees.
9. Feed butterflies in the Butterfly House. Built in 2016 to help sustain the local butterfly population, the open air, wired house is filled with hundreds of monarch butterflies and thousands of flowers. Guided tours are offered each day and include explanation of the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Guests can also feed butterflies Gatorade on Q-Tips and watch as butterflies eat watermelon pieces. Each September the butterflies are set free to migrate down to Mexico. Leave time to check out the hummingbird haven located outside the Butterfly House. There are about a dozen feeders that almost 20 hummingbirds feed from each spring and summer, until they migrate to Central America in the fall.
10. Stay up late. The resort offers nightly campfires in the south lawn area. Complimentary roasting sticks and marshmallows are available from the front desk and guests can also purchase graham crackers and chocolate bundles from The Market. Most Thursdays through Sundays, the resort shows a movie on the south lawn and serves dinner to attendees. There are tons of picnic tables and two massive wooden carved tables on the south lawn for picnicking.
Dining at Skytop:
There are six options for dining at the resort:
- Windsor: Located in the main lodge, Windsor is the more formal dining restaurant at the resort. It is open daily for breakfast and dinner and reservations are highly encouraged.
- The Taproom: Located in the lower level of the main lodge, The Taproom featured pub fare, full entrees, pizzas, kids’ menu, and it is very family friendly. Guests can also order take out from the Taproom and eat on the south lawn.
- Callaway’s– Located at the bend of the 10th hole on the golf course, Callaway’s features make-your-own salads, paninis, snacks, drinks, and hot dogs and burgers on the grill. This was our favorite spot: the food was great and very reasonably priced.
- The Market: Located on the lower level of the main lodge, The Market offers delicious milkshakes, ice cream sundaes, cones, and more sweet treats. The Market also makes made-to-order sandwiches and grills hot dogs.
- Corner Roast: Located in the main lobby of the lodge, Roast serves hot drinks and delicious pastries early morning through mid-afternoon.
- The Lakeview Restaurant: Located at the Inn above the golf Pro Shop is traditionally open nightly for dinner. Note: It was closed during our visit.
- Bonus: The Library (located in the main lodge) and the Tiki Bar (located in between the indoor and outdoor pools) both serve adult drinks, soft drinks, and snacks.
For more fun in Pennsylvania, check out our top 10 list of places we love here.