Hands down, the best family getaway 90 minutes from NYC is Camelback Resort in the Pocono Manor, PA.
Last week my boyfriend, Monte and our four year old daughter, Brooklyn, did an overnight there and our takeaway was simply, WOW! This is a brand new hotel with a massive indoor waterpark, skiing, snowtubing, rock climbing wall, ropes course, mini golf, laser tag, arcade and the list just keeps going. The only negative thing I have to say is we did too much for an overnight trip, I wish we had stayed for two nights.
We arrived at the lodge around 2:00 on a Tuesday and left the following evening. When we checked in we walked into a beautiful open lobby with a restaurant, windows overlooking the waterpark, an indoor adventure area and gift shop. There was a buzz of excitement in the air with people milling about dressed in everything from swimsuits to snow gear while designing their own adventures.
We’re big fans of mid-week trips as we like avoiding crowds and are always on the hunt for a good deal. Camelback Resort met both of these requirements with our mid week getaway not only with a room at the fraction of the regular cost, but we also received a free skiing or snowtubing pass for everyone in our party! We reserved a Double Queen suite which was nice and comfortable, perfect for our family of three. After check-in we headed straight downstairs to the adventure desk where we got our snowtubing passes.
The snowtubing hill is just on the other side of the indoor waterpark and accessible by car or taking the free shuttle which leaves every 15 minutes. We ended up driving. In the tubing area they sell tickets, food and photo packages. They also have a cozy fire pit with seating around it to warm up. At the base of the hill we picked up our tubes then rode up a long ‘magic carpet’ lift to the top of the hill. The resort workers manage this process really well and keep it ‘race style’ so it’s not a free for all with people sliding down the hills. They group people in batches then let everyone go at the same time. Then they wait until the lanes are clear and everyone is safely off the course before letting the next batch go. It was lightly snowing when we went which added to the fun. It also wasn’t very crowded so we never had to wait very long for our turn. Our four year old wasn’t scared at all and we attached our tubes together so she was always next to me. We shrieked down the hills and raced for about 90 minutes until our fingers and toes were pretty frozen. Snowtubing was the perfect kick off for this action packed getaway and at this point we already started planning a return trip.
Tubing is a blast and requires no skill. We brought our own helmets and wore warm waterproof snow clothes. If you are under 48″ you’ll have to attach your tube to someone taller. Most everyone goes down attached to their friends anyway. This was a really fun activity and you don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to participate. A lot of people drive from NYC to spend the day on these hills. Prices fluctuate, we ended up paying $20/person and saved our free vouchers for the skiing.
Arcadia – Indoor Adventure Center
After tubing we went back to the hotel and got our extreme adventure on at Arcadia. This is an indoor adventure area where kids big and small can test their skills on a ropes course, mini-golf, rock climbing walls and laser tag. We were so excited about this area we purchased an ‘all stay’ pass for about $28/person (we used a coupon from a booklet they gave us at check-in for $5 off). This allowed us to putt, climb and balance on the ropes as much as we wanted during our stay and included one round of laser tag. It also included $5 of free games in the arcade area, which has amazing casino quality games for kids. You win tickets playing the games and can trade them in for prizes at the prize counter. We ended up scoring big and took home a load of random toys. Our daughter was so pleased. Laser tag was a surprising amount of fun. Too bad the pass only included one round. Putt putt and the rock climbing wall were pretty straight forward. But the ropes course was really impressive and not something you have access to every day. If you’ve never tried a ropes course before, you’re guaranteed a thrill as you teeter above the golf course and navigate the obstacles. You can also buy passes for each of the activities a la carte, so there are many different pricing options.
Aquatopia – Indoor Waterpark
After playing around in Arcadia we went to Aquatopia. This is pretty much my boyfriend’s dream indoor waterpark. It’s a huge 125,000 square foot oasis of fun with extreme slides! Plus it’s reserved for guests staying at the lodge so doesn’t get too overcrowded. It’s accessible via a wristband which is also your hotel room key. We’ve been to many waterparks in our constant quest for fun, but this one tops the list so far. It has 7 pools and 13 slides, including the Venus SlydeTrap, the first Aqua-Sphere-Manta slide of its kind in the World. It also has the Storm Chaser which is the longest indoor water coaster in the US. Our favorite family slide was the Venus SlydeTrap. This slide was an intense raft ride and like nothing I’ve ever experienced. The raft holds up to six people and you slide through dark tunnels, take steep drops then sail up and down walls of a giant basin until you drop down again into another dark tunnel and plunge into a pool. Our four year old squealed in delight, I shrieked in terror. But we raced back up the stairs again to do it several more times. We also took full advantage of their version of the lazy river, called Lost River. This ride snakes through an area of the waterpark only accessible by water. It’s relaxing but full of signs suggesting waterfalls and adventure ahead, although it never really takes those turns. We also really enjoyed Kartrite’s Quest. This is a giant aqua-play structure filled with slides and a 1,000 gallon dumping bucket at the top. Although it looks like a kid’s area, you actually have to be 48″ to do some of the slides. In another area of the park they have two super tall slides where a trap door drops from under you. I didn’t try these terrifying sides but my boyfriend couldn’t get enough. Plus there was no line for these as the resort was only at 50% occupancy during our stay.
My boyfriend’s favorite attraction was the #FlowRider, a wave simulator. He’s done this before at Kalahari but the people working this one were more trained and offered great tips which helped him actually master the surf.
Our daughter’s favorite attraction was the hot pool which has an area where you can swim outside. There are also cute areas for toddlers and little kids, but the park is best served for bigger kids so they can take advantage of the epic slides. The park is well staffed with lifeguards and is very clean. Free life jackets are also available so the park feels very safe. Rental cabanas are offered as are rental lockers to stash your belongings. We ended up leaving our stuff at a table and nothing was tampered with. There were a few lines for the FlowRider and Venus SlydeTrap and I image on a weekend it is pretty stacked. We’ll definitely be planning our next visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds. We also ate dinner in Aquatopia and it was reasonably priced and decent food. A lot of the slides at Aquatopia are for 48″ and taller. Our daughter isn’t this tall but there were enough thrilling slides for 42″ and up to occupy her. She is particularly brave and ambitious for a four year old and loved this park. We played in the waterpark until pretty late into the evening. We made a pit stop back in the Arcadia skill course for a quick game of putt putt then called it a night.
The next morning we stopped back in at the adventure desk and traded in our vouchers for free lift tickets as well as rented gear for $40/set. Camelback is actually the largest ski resort in the Poconos. They have a total of 34 trails and 16 lifts. There is a lift at the end of the hotel which takes you to the top of the mountain if you already have your ski gear. Or you can take a shuttle which leaves every 15 minutes and takes you to the bottom of the main ski center where they rent gear. We took the shuttle, got fitted for skis then hit the bunny slopes to get our four year old on the hills for the first time this season.
For our four year old, we brought an edgie wedgie and a ski trainer harness . The edgie wedgie helps keep ski tips together and the backpack has ropes to tote her along the snow as well as a handle which helps to pick her up when she falls. There are three great beginner slopes but some were only accessible by taking lessons. We ended up skiing on the biggest bunny hill which had a nice long magic carpet lift. Brooklyn hasn’t been on skis since last year, and even then only did it two days but she remembered what she learned and went down the bunny hill right away with just a few spills. By the end of the session we felt confident she could try without the edgie wedgie our next time skiing. My boyfriend did one run from the top of the mountain, which he enjoyed. Hopefully we’ll be able to take our little one to the top next trip.
After skiing we warmed up with hot chocolate in a restaurant at the bottom of the runs. It’s so cute seeing our daughter learn new skills and become confident in herself as she grows up. This ski area is open to the public, you don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to buy lift tickets.
Before leaving we hit Aquatopia one last time. Monte and Brooklyn passed out the minute we got in the car.
This resort really does have it all. If you suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) like my family, it can be a little overwhelming. Hopefully this blog post helps you understand all there is to do and plan an awesome family getaway. We’ll be checking out their summer offerings later in the year too!
- Aquatopia and Aracadia are reserved for guests of the hotel only.
- Bring a zip up hoodie for the waterpark, you’ll want something warmer than a normal beach cover-up.
- Don’t lose your towel cards, they’re pretty firm on this policy.
- Snowtubing and skiing are open to the public.
- If you do an overnight stay with the free ski/snowboard promotion, you only get to do one for free. We paid to tube and used the vouchers to buy lift tickets to get the maximum value from the vouchers. Ski and tube free is valid on Sunday – Thursdays through Mar 15, 2016, restrictions apply see site for details.
- Every stay receives a $250 savings book through Apr 30, 2016.
- The rooms come with a refrigerator. Visit a grocery store before coming. They don’t sell a lot of grocery items in their gift shop.
- Bring y0ur own helmet so you don’t have to rent one…and ski/snowboard gear if you have it!
- For our four year old we use an edgie wedgie and trainer backpack when skiing, both are very helpful in teaching little ones how to ski. These items are not available to rent so you’d have to bring your own. Both are available on amazon.com.
- This resort is huge with long walks between rooms and the lobby, bring a stroller if you have little ones.
- Trips like these are a lot of fun. But it’s a lot of work. Don’t kid yourself into thinking this is an easy day on the beach. We were actually sore from all the running and climbing and swimming and laughing. ..Now I’m ready for that beach vacation.
- Check out our video of our trip to Camelback Resort.
- #camelbackmountain #camelbacklodge