What the Philly Grocery Store Boom Is Really About

Photography by Jeff Fusco

Photography by Jeff Fusco

In early 2008, not long after I came out of a not-excellent relationship, landed a new job and moved to Philadelphia, I found my soul mate at the supermarket. Okay, my soul mate was the supermarket — specifically, the Trader Joe’s around the corner from my apartment.

Like most affairs, this one didn’t really start with love. I just felt lucky that I had such a decent place to shop so close by, even if the cramped store always felt like blizzard shopping, all bumper-carts and panicked grabs for the last box of Puffins. (I once watched a man in the middle of a line so long it wrapped around the store heave a sigh, abandon his basket on the floor — milk and all! — and stomp out the door. As one friend says: “The lines and the parking lot there are like you’re on Candid Camera.”)

But as time went on, I found that it wasn’t just about the convenience of geography: I adored the happy-go-lucky vibe and the friendly (stoned?) dudes in Hawaiian shirts, the punnily named products (“Hold the Cone” mini-ice creams! Adorable!), the famously well-edited selection of frozen meals, the planet’s most addictive chocolate-pistachio toffees. So what if Trader Joe’s didn’t carry fresh shrimp or Ben & Jerry’s or contact solution? The whole store felt like me, or the person I fancied myself to be. Organically inclined, but not overly crunchy. A little more special than Acme, but not as upmarket as Di Bruno’s. Good-humored, not terribly experimental, disinclined to excess and preciousness, with a tendency to overdo it on the snacks and the avocados.

When I moved across town to Fairmount a few years later, I bravely tried to transfer my loyalties to the Whole Foods, which was much closer to my new place and boasted a cult of followers (many of them my friends) so staunch, they made the Scientologists look like Brownies. Somehow, though, it just never took. Sure, the place was gorgeous, the bakery’s cakes were light as air, and the olive selection was basically the eighth wonder of the world. And I was happy enough to pop in for the pre-formed grass-fed burger patties (the best in the city). But I never really felt like I fully belonged amongst its gluten-aware, multi-tattooed denizens. I mean. These people actually remembered to bring their own bags.

“Whole Foods is bullshit,” offers a colleague of mine. “All that effort going into feeling authentic and romanticizing food shopping when the place is all about Ayn Rand-style capitalism.” He prefers Aldi, where “you’re shopping in a gray box with no music; they barely even have shelves. What they have is great stuff, cheap, for which you trade money. That, my friend, is a pure experience.” Read more »

Q&A: Pat Toomey

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Your dad was a union worker. Your mom was a secretary. Having grown up in the white working class, why do you think that community is experiencing such high rates of opioid addiction, imprisonment and suicide? There’s not a simple answer we can point to. The one thing I am sure of is that if we generate stronger economic growth, an environment where people have jobs, where people are getting raises—that may not solve all problems, but it makes all problems easier to solve.

The white working class is expected to go heavily for Donald Trump in November. We’re weeks away from the election, and you still haven’t said whether you’ll vote for him. I’m sure there’s some area where I’ve disagreed with every [Republican] presidential nominee since Ronald Reagan. But it never occurred to me that I had to think long and hard about supporting them. Donald Trump is different. He’s taken some steps that I consider to be very constructive. But I’m still in the mode where I hope to be sold. Read more »

The Philadelphian’s Guide to the Outdoors: 8 Great Fall Escapes

Firelight Camps in Ithaca, New York | Photo by Allison Usavage

Firelight Camps in Ithaca, New York | Photo by Allison Usavage

At some point or another, even the most die-hard urbanite craves peace, quiet, tranquility and, well, trees. But getting back to nature doesn’t have to mean buggy nights in a sleeping bag. There is a vast (and gorgeous) middle ground between survivalist-status roughing it and the Ritz — and that’s precisely where you’ll find the getaways below. From lakeside lodges to the fanciest yurt ever, these trips (all just a few hours from Philly) let you enjoy nature without getting your hands too dirty. Read more »

Fall Weekend Getaway: The Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford, PA

The Porch at John's Cabin at Glendorn | Photo by Sargent Photography

The Porch at John’s Cabin at Glendorn | Photo by Sargent Photography

A curious thing happened this summer. Travel + Leisure put out its annual list of the top resort hotels in the country, and Glendorn, a place in Bradford, Pennsylvania — a teensy rural town about ninety minutes south of Buffalo — crowned the list (and was ranked number six in the world). I was skeptical (the top resort hotel — in rural Pennsylvania? Really?) but also excited: My wife, kids and I were headed there a few days later.

Turns out they nailed it. The Relais & Château woodland retreat is located on 1,500 lush acres adjacent to Allegheny National Forest. We checked into one of the resort’s 12 stand-alone cabins, John’s Cabin, a four-bedroom haven named for oil baron John Dorn, who built Glendorn as his family getaway in the early 1900s. (There’s also a four-room lodge on the property.)

My kids, unimpressed by the accolades and amenities, were far more concerned with the simple things. They scurried outside to a small lake just steps away from our porch and set out to catch sunfish. When this proved unsuccessful, we asked Glendorn’s ruggedly handsome (or so my wife says) activity guide, Shane Appleby, for assistance. Glendorn was also recently named the top Orvis fly-fishing lodge in the country, and with Shane’s guidance, my 10-year-old son — a city kid with a pitiful amount of fishing experience — learned to fly-fish and caught a dozen rainbow and brown trout.

But what do you do with a big cooler of freshly caught fish? If you’re at Glendorn, you send your son to the kitchen in the main lodge — where they serve a $105-a-person prix-fixe dinner — and have him ask the chef to cook them. He obliged; that night, we had trout three ways.

As dinner wound down, my nine-year-old daughter reminded me that I’d vowed to make a fire outside our cabin for the requisite s’mores. I agreed, but wondered if I’d overpromised: I can make a fire about as well as I can rebuild a carburetor. So I was glad to see, as we walked back to our cabin, that the staff had already built us a roaring fire ringed with chairs, complete with a table holding all the ingredients for s’mores.

The next morning we pedaled tandem mountain bikes all over creation, taking breaks to kayak on a larger lake nearby, hang out with Shane at the shooting range, swim in the state’s first heated in-ground pool, and sip martinis (Shirley Temples for the kids) while we embarrassed ourselves in the billiards room. The day was much like Glendorn: a perfect balance of back-to-nature simplicity and over-the-top luxury. The good life indeed. ­

Field Guide: Weekend Getaway in Bradford, PA

Stay: The Lodge at Glendorn, 1000 Glendorn Drive, Bradford; rates start at $375 a night.
Play: The area around Bradford offers some of the best fishing and hunting in the country. For a sight you’ll never see anywhere else, take the 40-minute drive to Kinzua Bridge State Park, where you can stroll on a skywalk next to a partially collapsed railroad bridge above a gorge. If you’re afraid of heights, don’t look down at the glass floor.
Eat: The lodge has the best food for miles—this is very rural Pennsylvania—but a 15-minute drive gets you to Beefeaters, a solid old-school steakhouse in a converted public library. And kids will go crazy for Slice of the 80s (just down the street); think pizza, wings, a Madonna soundtrack and lots of Donkey Kong. Don’t worry: There’s beer.

Fall Weekend Getaway: Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia

Stonewall Resort | Photo by Cheryl Ferrebee

Stonewall Resort | Photo courtesy Stonewall Resort

How did we get here?

This is what I’m thinking as I sit in my tandem kayak, my husband behind me, in a cove off a lake in the heart of West Virginia. We’ve paddled into a submerged tree trunk, and we’re stuck.

“Don’t move,” my husband says. “We could die.” He’s half kidding, but our kayak is tilting rather precariously, and capsizing seems imminent. I start to groan: I really don’t want to get wet. Thankfully, he manages to steer us back on course, away from the stump and into clear waters, with a few deft paddle moves. He’s an Eagle Scout, so he knows how to do things like kayak and start a fire and tie a proper knot. But after years of forced outdoorsy fun, he’s over setting up camp and sleeping in tents. So this — a weekend trip to a resort on Stonewall Jackson Lake — was the closest thing to a camping weekend I could get him to agree to.

Situated on 1,900 rolling acres of parkland, Stonewall Resort is an ideal outdoor escape for those who want to be surrounded by nature but crave the safety net of a lodge (heated pool! Spa and salon! An activity center for kids!) a stone’s throw away. Instead of dinners cooked over a campfire, you get a trio of restaurants on the property. And in lieu of drafty cabins, there’s a rugged Adirondack-style timber lodge and a handful of rentable cottages, some with prime lake views.

But I’m not entirely against roughing it. In fact, our brush with death (I continue to claim this, though my husband now insists it’s not true) has made me even more determined to conquer this weird wild world, so we spend our days here outside. Plus, we’ve paid for the Outfitters Pass ($15 a person per day), which gives us access to Stonewall’s cache of kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, paddleboats and road bikes. I don’t want to waste it.

In the afternoon, we venture onto one of the nearby hiking trails. There are more than 16 miles of them, each ranked by its difficulty level, so you can take a leisurely walk or break a serious sweat. (Tired from kayaking, we stroll.) Eventually we find ourselves at the marina on the property, tossing food to the carp and scuttling out of the way of the splashing fish. This trip, I realize, is destined to ruin my non-
waterproof clothes.

Finally, evening falls. My husband and I are sunburned, weary from walking and, yes, a tiny bit wet. We’ve settled into a couple of Adirondack chairs on the lodge’s patio, overlooking a blazing fire pit. I feel adventurous, outdoorsy, at one with nature. I think to myself that I could be an Eagle Scout, too. But for now, there are more pressing matters: ordering snacks, dipping into the indoor pool, and—okay, fine—booking a spa treatment for the morning. Nature can wait, at least for a little while.

Field Guide: Roanoke, West Virginia Weekend Itinerary

Stay: Stonewall Resort, 940 Resort Drive, Roanoke, West Virginia; rates start at $159 a night.
Play: Entertain kids at Stonewall’s activity plaza, which features disc golf, a playground, and an indoor mini-golf course and climbing wall. Golfers should make time for a round on the 18-hole Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course or take a few swings at the driving range.
Eat: You don’t need to leave the property for meals. Grab breakfast at the lodge’s main restaurant, Stillwaters (nab a table by the window for gorgeous lake views), and head to Lightburn’s for lunch (get the salmon). For laid-back pub fare, visit TJ Muskies, and be sure to order a sampler of different moonshine flavors from local distilleries with your dinner.

See More Fall Weekend Getaways »

This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.

Fall Weekend Getaway: Glamping at Posh Primitive Campground in the Adirondacks

Posh Primitive Campground | Photo by Andrew Quijano

Posh Primitive Campground | Photo by Andrea Quijano

When I was growing up, my family wasn’t really the camping type. We lived in the woods in South Jersey, and its pestilent mosquito swarms, frequent snake sightings and dreaded gypsy moth caterpillars were quite enough of the outdoors for Mom and Dad. There was no way we were pitching a tent in the Pine Barrens.

And I’ve always felt like I kind of missed out. My 10-year-old son apparently felt similarly: Camping was on his summer to-do list, along with a note that read, “But absolutely NO GLAMPING.” I thought of this directive as my family and I headed to Posh Primitive, a luxury campground near Lake George dotted with custom-made safari-style canvas tents full of antiques and Pendleton blankets. Sorry, son.

When we arrived, I was a little worried about the temperature, which had inched up to 92 degrees. The four tents on this vast Adirondack property have neither fans nor air conditioners, which I guess would be a little over-the-top. But much to our surprise, the tents were perfectly comfortable even midday, and cooler evening temps made for great sleeping weather. My wife and I shared a queen bed, while each kid got a comfy cot. Bathrooms and outdoor showers are in the bathhouse, located just a few steps from the dining lodge and not far from your tent; for those who want to really get back to nature, there’s an outhouse with a compost toilet deeper in the woods.

Meals are served family-style in a communal lodge, where you’ll find no shortage of board games and books to enjoy by the wide wooden fireplace. John and Rachael Shafer, the husband-and-wife team behind Posh Primitive, both do the cooking; three meals a day are included. John tends to the giant outdoor grill and oven — he whipped up bison tenderloin one night — while Rachael harvests fresh vegetables, herbs and greens from her organic garden, located about halfway between the lodge and a trout-filled pond. After dinner, John builds a roaring bonfire outside your tent. This is camping? I thought. My parents didn’t know what they were missing.

The nearby town of Lake George is a bit touristy and commercialized, so instead we sunned, swam and fished at Million Dollar Beach, a 30-minute drive from camp. We caught a largemouth bass, which John grilled to perfection for dinner the same night. On the way back, we stopped at Nettle Meadow Farm, where you’ll want to stock up on the award-winning goat cheese. (If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a just-born baby goat, as we did.)

In the end, even my son — the resolute anti-glamper — came around. And I’m happy to say I’ve finally experienced “camping,” Pendleton blankets, organic herb garden and all.

Field Guide: Lake George Weekend Itinerary

Stay: Posh Primitive, 435 Stock Farm Road, Chestertown, New York; rates start at $356 a night.
Play: Prefer backcountry to beaches? Posh Primitive can arrange mountain or road biking trips for you, or set up a custom backcountry hike with the campsite’s in-house expert guide.
Eat: The tuna melts and Reubens at Main Street Ice Cream Parlor — just five minutes from camp — are local favorites. But the best meals are served at Posh Primitive, where they’ll pack you a lunch and send you on a long hike complete with 75-foot ladder ascents. Yikes.

See More Fall Weekend Getaways »

This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.

Fall Weekend Getaway: The Iris Inn in Shenandoah Valley, VA

A treehouse cabin at the Iris Inn | Photo by Jumping Rocks

A treehouse cabin at the Iris Inn | Photo by Jumping Rocks

I was a little worried that the Iris Inn was going to be one of those typical bed-and-breakfasts, heavy with toile and needlepoint kitsch. After all, it’s very much in the country, as evidenced by the wildlife I saw during my visit: two bears loping along the highway, prancing deer and circling hawks. But the inn’s website showcased treehouse cabins, and I haven’t been in a proper treehouse since I was a kid, so I shrugged off my doubts and headed there, winding through the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains, happy that I’d ignored instructions to travel through D.C. (You should do the same.)

Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed to discover upon arrival that the cabins aren’t treehouses in the technical, Swiss Family Robinson sense: They aren’t perched in actual trees, shingles mingling with leaves, but rather are modern glass-and-timber structures cantilevered off a hill. (Yes, I’m nitpicky.) But once inside, faced with panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out on a stunning vista of treetops, mountains and bright blue sky, I didn’t care how they were built. The stress of city rowhome living rolled away, and I felt instantly calmer.

The eminently private cabins are set up for couples: There’s a limit of two people in each, and they’re decorated the way I imagine my Rittenhouse pied-à-terre would be decorated (hey, a guy can dream), with a king-size bed, a shower built for two, and a large hot tub on the secluded deck. (The city boy inside me was worried about bugs until I saw the entire thing was screened in.)

If sitting back and enjoying a book or that outdoor hot tub suits you, you won’t have to leave the Iris Inn once, but know that there is plenty to do nearby, whether you want to go horseback riding, hike to a waterfall, or view the scenery from a hot-air balloon. I’m not a fan of heights, so I visited the nearby Luray Caverns, an enormous, stunning cave — stalactites and stalagmites abound — that’s been a tourist draw since the 1800s. For dinner, I ventured to nearby Staunton, an old Main Street kind of town that’s a surprising foodie destination thanks to some enlightened dining options, including New American spot Zynodoa, which has a farm-fresh menu reminiscent of Philly’s Fork.

As I poked my head into the cool small-town shops along Staunton’s main stretch, I found myself considering purchasing a five-foot-tall wind chime, forgetting that my view at home is of concrete and sidewalk — hardly the place for such things. Who knows? Maybe a needlepoint wall hanging is more appropriate.

Field Guide: Shenandoah Valley Weekend Itinerary

Stay: Iris Inn, 191 Chinquapin Drive, Waynesboro, Virginia; treehouse cabins start at $329 a night.
Play: The Iris Inn’s Sip & Saddle Up package includes a horseback ride along the nearby Rebel’s Run Trail, which conveniently leads to the Afton Mountain Vineyard. The best hike around is the one to Crabtree Falls, the tallest waterfall in Virginia.
Eat: Each treehouse has a full kitchen—the inn’s chef will leave prepared food with prior notice—but the main lodge’s dining room serves a great breakfast, plus complimentary wine in the evenings. Visit Wright’s Dairy-Rite in Staunton, a burger joint where you pick up a phone at your table and call in your order, the same way they’ve been doing it since the 1950s.

See More Fall Weekend Getaways »

This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.

Fall Weekend Getaway: Savage River Lodge in Frostburg, Maryland

Fall Weekend Getaways: Inside a yurt at Savage River Lodge

Inside a yurt at Savage River Lodge | Photo by Jennifer Dobson

This sounds ridiculous, but I’m serious: The 4.5-hour drive from Philadelphia to Savage River Lodge — particularly that last stretch on I-68 — is just the thing to get you in the mood for a weekend of camping. The road gently winds along the mountains of Maryland, giving you near-panoramic views of peaks and cliffs and the little villages nestled between them. Time starts to move as slow as molasses. Philly? What is Philly, again?

Despite its remoteness, this retreat — a combination of cabins and yurts — still manages to pack enough luxury to make you (almost) forget that you’re going to be camping. In a yurt. A yurt. The sturdy circular structure features all the trappings of a high-end hotel room: king bed with silky sheets, a bathroom that rivals those found in Main Line manses, pristine white robes, two comfy chairs, a leather couch, a mini fridge, coffee, tea, a French press, and a deck (a deck, for chrissakes!). Staffers will ferry wine to your yurt, and every morning they deliver a complimentary breakfast (carrot muffins and orange juice for me) in a picnic basket. I never knew something could be twee and rugged at the same time.

The only downside? No wi-fi. But maybe that’s an upside in disguise. My inability to follow every fever-dream update of the presidential campaign on social media meant that I actually hiked — several times — on some of the 14 miles of trails maintained by the lodge. While they’re manageable enough for newbies, they also overlap with the Mount Aetna Tract of the Savage River Forest, a fun fact that will satisfy hard-core hikers. As deer, frogs and other critters passed me on the trail amid high grasses and even higher trees, it was impossible not to bliss out. For an even more intimate experience with Mother Nature, bike on the Great Allegheny Passage (the lodge will hook you up with two bikes and a shuttle for $230), or go fly-fishing in sun-dappled streams.

And if you really need your Twitter fix, you can walk three minutes from your yurt down a sprawling driveway, where you’ll find a lodge. You can get wi-fi there, kind of. More importantly, there’s a bar, with good craft beer and solid nightcaps served by an avuncular bartender, where you can raise a glass to life disconnected.

Field Guide: Frostburg, Maryland Weekend Itinerary

Stay: Savage River Lodge, 1600 Mount Aetna Road, Frostburg, Maryland; yurts start at $255 a night.
Play: Book one of the lodge’s private or semi-private fly-fishing trips ($175 per person for a half day), or bring your bikes and the lodge will shuttle you to prime cycling points along the nearby Great Allegheny Passage. Relax post-journey with an in-yurt massage. Drive 20 minutes to Grantsville to shop, eat, and visit the Spruce Forest Artisan Village, where historic log cabins have been transformed into artists’ studios.
Eat: Get your dinner delivered to your yurt, or visit the nearby Cornucopia for drinks and small plates. Or feast at the lodge’s restaurant; get a seat outside (so you can see the hummingbirds flutter around the feeders), and order the meatloaf and chicken marsala.

See More Fall Weekend Getaways »

This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.

Fall Weekend Getaway: Glamping at Firelight Camps in Ithaca, New York

An outdoor lounge at Firelight Camps |Photo by Kaylyn Leighton/Seamless Photography

An outdoor lounge at Firelight Camps | Photo by Kaylyn Leighton/Seamless Photography

I approached the water with a bit of trepidation.

I don’t know why I was nervous. I love swimming. I’m relatively good at it. But there was something daunting about this small pond nestled among the waterfalls of Buttermilk Falls State Park in upstate New York. It was a mystery. What if it wasn’t that deep? What if was home to killer flesh-eating bacteria? What if I somehow slipped jumping in and made a fool of myself? Two fellow hikers looked on from the trail above, encouraging me with light mockery. I may have been called a baby. I gathered my wits.

Then my girlfriend jumped in ahead of me without a second thought. Crap.

I had to follow. I cautiously slid into the water, to the applause of the watching hikers. The pond was deep enough that we could tread water, but it was tiny, and the water was freezing. We quickly scrambled out and dried off. I was cold and wet, but also happy. I’m not much of an outdoorsy type, and the swim, however brief, pushed me out of my comfort zone. So did our lodgings: a tent at Firelight Camps, a two-year-old glamping site in Ithaca, New York, owned by a couple of Penn grads.

A glamping tent at Firelight Camps | Photo by Kaylyn Leighton/Seamless Photography

A glamping tent at Firelight Camps | Photo by Kaylyn Leighton/Seamless Photography

The pseudo-outdoor sleeping idea initially gave me pause, but despite its simple exterior, our tent was surprisingly spacious, with room for a queen-size bed, a desk, several lanterns and a back porch—just the right amount of amenities for an apprehensive camper.

Armed with a new sense of adventure post-pond-jump (maybe I was a new man, I thought, one who hikes and bikes and goes camping!), I dove further into our surroundings. Firelight is located on the 70-acre grounds of luxury hotel La Tourelle and links to Buttermilk Falls State Park via a gorgeously landscaped trail. We set out on a journey there as if we were embarking on an epic Lord of the Rings quest. Five lengthy trails wind through the park, dotted with cascading waterfalls. Just a short drive away is Robert H. Treman State Park, which features more waterfalls and part of the Finger Lakes Trail. But we chose to head back to camp for Firelight’s free nightly tasting of locally brewed beers, so perhaps I hadn’t changed all that much. Still, when the next adventure presents itself, I think I’ll be more likely to jump at it. Even into another freezing pond.

Field Guide: Ithaca, New York Weekend Itinerary

Stay: Firelight Camps, 1150 Danby Road, Ithaca, New York; rates start at $179 a night.
Play: Downtown Ithaca, a quaint cluster of shops and restaurants, is just a 10-minute drive from Firelight. Nearby kayak shop Puddle-dockers offers twice-weekly sunset kayaking tours on Cayuga Lake, and there are guided bird-watching hikes at Sapsucker Woods. Or hang at Firelight’s outdoor lounge area, where there are board games and bocce ball.
Eat: Don’t miss vegetarian hot spot Moosewood Restaurant — the soup specials are fantastic. And the Finger Lakes are considered the East Coast’s answer to Napa, with an abundance of wineries. Ask the Firelight staffers for their recommendations.

See More Fall Weekend Getaways »

This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.

Fall Weekend Getaway: Glamping at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort in the Poconos

A riverside tent at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort | Photo courtesy Shawnee Inn

A riverside tent at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort | Photo courtesy Shawnee Inn

Glamping, for the uninitiated, is the annoyingly buzzy term for glamorous camping, a concept that involves large teepee-like tents tricked out with comfortable beds and feather duvets, wi-fi and electricity. It’s painfully Portlandia-esque, and I was a bit embarrassed to admit to friends and family that I was trying it. I’m a semi-seasoned camper who owns a heavy-duty tent and well-worn hiking boots. Feather duvets aren’t usually on my packing list.

But I was also excited. After all, the only thing conceivably better than camping is camping when somebody else does all the heavy lifting. Never before have I embarked on a camping weekend with less than a car full of supplies, but here I was, pulling into the parking lot at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort near the Delaware Water Gap (just under two hours from Center City) with nothing but a half-empty duffle bag. I felt woefully unprepared.

The resort reminded me of the one in Dirty Dancing: rustic (the property is surrounded by thick woods and looks out on the Delaware River); historic (the sprawling 103-room lodge dates back to 1911 and, under famed bandleader Fred Waring’s ownership 30 years later, became a woodsy playground for the likes of Ed Sullivan, Bob Hope and Lucille Ball); and undeniably summer-camp-like (each night, guests gather at the bonfire on the front lawn for s’mores).

I was headed for the Riverside, one of the resort’s two glamping sites — a duo of large canvas tents pitched atop private decks. Each tent is equipped with a queen-size bed and daybed, area rugs, a coffee maker (with all the fixings), side tables, lamps and more, and they’re situated near communal bathrooms with showers. (Towels are included.) They’re perched right on the inn’s grounds in the midst of the resort’s action — handy if, say, you want room service, but not the best choice for peace and quiet. For something a bit more remote (read: no room service here), book one of the four new Island tents, which can only be accessed via canoe. But you’re not left to totally rough it on your own: The resort sends an attendant who tends to the fire and cooks you a hearty breakfast in the morning.

During the day, you can take advantage of Shawnee’s amenities (golf, tastings at the on-site craft brewery, spa treatments) or go off-site for a little adventure. I took a leisurely three-mile kayak trip ($42 a person) on the glassy river—bald eagles galore!—and hiked along the Appalachian Trail with two guides from the resort’s rec staff leading the way (free!).

When the sun went down, I was eager to make use of my glampsite. Once the fire got going (note: the resort even provides the firewood, so there’s no need to scavenge), I sat back, relaxed, and looked at the stars, far more visible from this Poconos perch than from my South Philly patio. What could make this better? I thought to myself. And then it hit me: a glass of champagne.

Luckily, all I had to do was ring the front desk.

Field Guide: Delaware Water Gap Weekend Itinerary

Stay: The Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, 100 Shawnee Inn Drive, Shawnee on Delaware; tents start at $154 a night.
Play: Rent a kayak or canoe via the resort, or, to experience nature without the sweat equity, sign up for Shawnee’s pontoon-boat tour of the Delaware (starting at $35 a person).
Eat: There’s a stellar weekend brunch at Deer Head Inn, and be sure to grab dinner at the Minisink Hotel, a no-frills biker bar that serves up terrific sandwiches (get the pulled pork) and burgers. Finish the night at the resort’s on-site craft brewery, which pours generous $2 tastings.

See More Fall Weekend Getaways »

This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s September 2016 issue.

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