Stroudsburg – For generations now, families have vacationed in the Pocono Mts and the summer of 2010 is no different.  Referred to in the past as “Pocono Mountains, the Near Country” the Poconos are only an hour & a half from New York, two hours from Philadelphia, two hours from upstate New York and three hours from the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metropolitan areas.

And it’s not hard to get to the Poconos, in fact….it’s easy.  Whether you are coming in off Interstate 81, Interstate 80, across I-84, the highway structure to get to the near country is very accessible.

And once you get here, rain or shine, summer-time offers the best for families of all ages and sizes.  Whether you want to do a lot or do nothing at all, the Poconos has it.

CamelBeach Water Park – Touted one of the largest outdoor water parks in the East, Camelbeach has the Flow-Rider, the ultimate surfing ride, Kahauna Wave Pool, the Blue Nile Adventure River, mini golf and bumper boats.  All the pools feature heated water.  Groups of 15 or more area always welcome.  CamelBeach is conveniently located in Tannersville.

  • Callie’s Candy Kitchen and Pretzel Factory – For the past 20 plus years Callie’s Candy Kitchen and Pretzel Factory has made every variety of candy known including chocolates, brittle, hard candy, lollipops, fudge and mints.  Open year round, candy and pretzels are made fresh on the premises every day.  Taste fresh treats at both locations; a definite stop when you come to the Poconos.  Callie’s Candy Kitchen is located in Mountainhome.


  • Claws & Paws – Known as “a zoo in the woods” you can get a close look at over 120 species of wild animals.  Feed the giraffe, the parrots and Claws and Paws touts one of the best petting zoos around.  Claws & Paws is located in the Lake Wallenpaupack region.


  • Country Junction – Known as the world’s largest general store, going there is a treat whether you buy anything or not.  At the Country Junction in Lehighton, you can get hardware, house wares, lawn and garden items, patio, pets, specialty foods, toys, whimsical treasures and a whole lot more.


  • Whitewater Rafting – Some of the best rafting around is located outside Jim Thorpe in the western part of the Pocono Mountains.  Plan on spending the day, and don’t be afraid of you are a novice, because trips of different calibers are designed for each of those type rafters.  You’ll work up an appetite which is good because having a box lunch along side the Lehigh River just can’t be beat.  Pocono whitewater rafting is for every level of adventurer; and you can choose your own pace, from mild to wild rafting and kayaking trips, it’s all designed for you.


    • In addition to whitewater rafting, why not enjoy a canoe or raft ride.  There’s absolutely no better way to view the spectacular scenery than quietly moving down the Delaware River.  See eagles, hawks, egrets, deer and a whole host of other animal life as you travel the spectacular Delaware River aboard your canoe, kayak or rafting tube.  Guided or unguided tours are available.  Get trip ideas, river maps and information on special events.  Group rates are always welcome.


  • Quiet Valley Living Historic Farms – Nestled in the hills of Northeast Pennsylvania, Quite Valley is a living museum and is just like stepping back in time.  Call ahead, because sometime there are special events with period dressed “family” members reenacting the life of the original Pennsylvania German family who lived on the farm from 1760 to 1913.  Quite Valley has got something for people of all ages.  Reminisce about the “good old days” and walk among the fully dressed theme family living on the farm. 


  • Beltzville State Park – Located in Carbon County, the 2,972 Beltzville State Park features 949 acre Beltzville Lake touting a shoreline of 19.8 miles.  Activities include picnicking in either of the open or wooded picnic areas featuring modern restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables, playing fields, playgrounds and pavilions for larger families.  Boating, including motorized watercraft or the boat rental concession for paddle boats, canoes, row boats, pontoons and small or large motorboats.  Swimming, a 525 foot sand beach is open from late May to mid-September.  Lifeguards are on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  A bathhouse with showers and a first aid building are near the beach.  For hunting and fishing, Beltzville Lake is stocked with warm and cold water game fish and pan fish.


  • Split Rock Lodge Resort – Split Rock Lodge Resort opened H2 0oh indoor water park which features 53,326 square foot of fun, featuring exciting water attractions for all ages.  The park includes 5 exciting body, tube and raft slides, flow-rider, wave-pool, activity pool, fun-play structure, snack and Tiki bar. 


  • Pocono Indian Museum – Pocono Indian Museum, located in Bushkill is Northeast Pennsylvania’s premier site and is an excellent way for children to learn about the history of the Delaware Indians.  It’ll show you the North American history of man in Northeast Pennsylvania from 1500 BC to the contact period with the European man prior to the American Revolution.  It also shows the Delaware Indians peaceful co-existence with other Indians.  The museum is packed full of displays of ancient artifacts, weapons and the tools that from a chronological commentary on life among the Indians for thousands of years.  It’s gift shop is filled with artifacts that children can take home with them as remembrances of their visit to the museum.


  • Shawnee Playhouse – Located in historic Shawnee-on-Delaware the Playhouse history began when C. C. Worthington built the playhouse in 1904 as the Worthington Hall.  In 1943, Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians began to broadcast their famous radio programs from the Hall.  Unfortunately, the Hall later fell into dis-use. 


    • The Kirkwood Family in 1978 began to restore Worthington Hall into what it is today, the Shawnee Playhouse.  With contributions from the Kirkwood family, and generous donations from many individuals and friends, the Shawnee Playhouse today is a must-see destination.  Matinee and evening shows are available; visit them online for a list of the summer play.

Well, that’s just a couple ideas of what you can do on your summer vacation in the Pocono Mountains.  As you can tell, whether it’s raining, the sun is shining or whatever Mother Nature may bring, there’s always something to do.

The first thing you want to do is call Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates or visit us online at to view the different privately owned vacation homes, condo or town-homes that you can rent for a weekend, a week or a seasonal stay.  Ask us about our “stimulus week”, a vacation planned with the economic downturn in mind.  It’s a 5 day, 4 night stay which will serve as a one week vacation at a very affordable price.

Hope to see you and your family in the River, at a play, at CamelBeach, Callie’s Candy Kitchen, Claws & Paws or any of the great sights here in the Poconos.  Enjoy yourself!

Thomas R. Wilkins is CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates, the one of the largest real estate broker companies in the Pocono Mountains.  Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate rents furnished vacation condos, town-homes, and individual cabins throughout the greater Pocono region.  Packages are available from 3 days, 2 nights to 8 days, 7nights. 

Patricia Blank-Toombs, Vice President Sales and Vacation Rental Manager contributed to this article and is head of the Vacation Rental Department 

Thinking about a summer family vacation in the Poconos, give us a call today or visit us online at



Pocono Family Reunions- How easy to do

Pocono Mts. – Why should you go through the headaches of planning a family reunion in the Poconos?  Well the answer to that is

  • It’s your family, someone has to do it!
  • If it’s done correctly, it can be a whole lot of fun and the Poconos is just the place to do it.
  • If you really haven’t seen your cousin in 12 years, isn’t the time now?
  • Summertime in the Poconos is the perfect time for family members of all ages to have a good time and this summer is the time to do it.

Family reunions are great events; they’re special because they give relatives, young and old, a chance to get reacquainted and in some cases with new babies or smaller children, you may be meeting them for the first time.  Who doesn’t like to share family stories and history and preserve memories; and to be truthful about the fact….family reunions are just a whole lot of fun!

The best way to plan your Pocono family reunion is to start by creating committees.  Someone should be the Reunion chairperson, someone designated to take charge while others can be members of different committees to help organize all the events.  The biggest challenge of all is when is it going to take place and of course, where.

At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates we have town-home communities where you can rent 3 to 15 units, and most likely, next to one another.  By being close to each other, it enables the kids to simply walk from unit to unit without the worry of crossing highways, being alone in an area that is not supervised and putting any of the children or older members in an unfamiliar spot.  Or, if you do want single family homes, we have them too!

The second thing you want to do is make a list of who will come.  Assuming family members are located in at least the tri-state area, the Pocono Mountains offers highway driving distances and is easy to get to from the New England states, Upstate New York, New York City, New Jersey, Washington D.C. or Maryland and of course, with Interstate 80 going east or west, it’s easy to get any of the family members to the Poconos with little confusion.  Once they are here, everything you want to do is just a short drive away.

The best time to plan a family reunion is when the children are out of school, which is typically the third week of June; so any time after that through Labor Day is what’s called “prime time” in the Pocono Mountains.  All of the Pocono attractions are open and in full swing and our weather is very cooperative.  Some times it may be cool at night for fire in one of the log burning fireplaces but during the day, it’s warm enough to swim in one of the many pools, lakes or water parks scattered throughout the Pocono Mountains.  “And what if it rains” you say….some of the best shopping around is in the towns of Jim Thorpe or Milford, at The Crossings outlet center, located in Tannersville and at Great Wolf Resort and Split Rock Lodge, the waterparks are indoors, which allows you to still keep the kids happy if it rains.  And the time to book that vacation is now!

To get the number of units that you need, don’t wait too long.  Vacations in the Poconos are typically booked in advance and you don’t want to choose a weekend that is the same as the Pocono 500 Race weekends (which take a lot of rooms in the Poconos).  Don’t count short that it may book up before you are able to get in your reservations.

Having a family reunion “theme” is another way to have fun.  Activities and games can be held at any of the parks in the Poconos including the Delaware National Recreation Area, Beltzville Dam, Big Pocono, and Sun Mountain Recreation Area if you choose to stay at Northslope II.  All short driving distances once you are here in the Mountains.

Why not plan a barbeque or a clam bake? All of the vacation units that Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates rent are fully furnished and able to accommodate you.  But, if you’re planning a meal or something that’s a little bit bigger, it may not be a bad idea to pack away and bring with you certain pots and pans that may not be available in your unit.  Always better to be safe than sorry.

Anything that can be cooked on a grill is fair game for an outdoor party and potluck works; we’re sure each of the family members has their favorite recipe that they want to share.  A lot of times, there are even traditional family favorites.

Don’t worry about things to do either as a group or if individual families may want to just get away on their own for an afternoon.  The Poconos includes such family attractions as Callie’s Candy Kitchen and Pretzel Factory, S & S Speedway, Bushkill Falls, Claws & Paws, Country Junction–the World’s Largest General Store, Quiet Valley Living Museum and many more.  You can go online to 800 Poconos and see a list of members on the Pocono Mts Visitors Bureau’s site.

But, if you prefer to plan an entire day and take the group somewhere, group rates are available and one of the committee members can take the time to get the best rate possible through group rates.  Some of those amenities in the Poconos to consider for a day trip would be CamelBeach, located in Tannersville where there’s a full day’s worth of fun and if it’s raining, Split Rock Lodge has H2 Ooh, an indoor waterpark so you don’t have to be discouraged if you get a rainy day.  A great day adventure is witewater rafting.  Whitewater rafting is not as scary as the name may suggest.  Proper ages for rafting is something you’ll have to check into, but, it may also be not a bad idea to send the Dads and the teenagers out for a day while the oms and the younger ones spend a quieter time at maybe Bushkill Falls where they can walk and see the water falls as opposed to rafting down them.

Photos are a must, and bringing you camera is one of the most important things to pack when you come away on a vacation. 

While old fashioned vacations used to be Friday to Friday, at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate we offer stimulus weeks to accommodate your pocketbook and still get in the most fun.  They are 5 day, 4 night stays attractively priced.

Once you’ve got your budget, and your location has been chosen, the rest is easy to do.

Well, that’s about it; the next thing to do is call up your cousin Cathy and Uncle Bob; get their okay, start your committees and then, most importantly, call Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates at 800-252-4601 and let us book that Pocono Family Reunion for you today!

Thomas R. Wilkins is CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Wilkins & Associates, the one of the largest real estate broker companies in the Pocono Mountains.  Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate rents furnished vacation condos, town-homes, and individual cabins throughout the greater Pocono region.  Packages are available from 3 days, 2 nights to 8 days, 7nights. 

Patricia Blank-Toombs, Vice President Sales and Vacation Rental Manager contributed to this article and is head of the Vacation Rental Department 

Thinking about a family reunion in the Poconos, give us a call today or visit us online at