Our Top Five Winter Escapes From Philly
Does your ideal escape involve skis, soul food, or spa treatments? Then we've got the weekend plan for you.
There's no antidote to the post-holiday blues quite so potent as a weekend escape from the grid. Stay at a cozy bed and breakfast in Connecticut and take a tour through ultramodern, award-winning architecture, dig into some authentic soul food at rock legend Jon Bon Jovi's Jersey shore joint, or tuck yourself into a suite at a luxurious lodge deep in the Pennsylvania forest. Here are our picks (and some amazing deals) to help get you through the winter and well into spring just a short drive from Philadelphia.
New Canaan, Connecticut
Less than a three-hour drive from Philly, a one-weekend stay in this old-world charmer might have you looking twice at the town's real estate listings—some of which can top $5 million. Stay at the Roger Sherman Inn, which offers guests elegant digs in a historical landmark property near the center of town (from $145). Rates include a continental breakfast and free parking on the premises. Not to miss: owners and restaurateurs Joseph and Nes Jaffre run an acclaimed French restaurant at the Inn, open for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Downtown, duck into Chef Luis, the lively local favorite that features fusion cuisine from Italy, France, Greece, and Latin America, in a casual and family-friendly atmosphere.
After your meal, stroll down Main Street and browse chic boutique She La La for a new accessory or throw pillow, or ogle L'Armoire's extensive collection of estate jewelry. Although the Philip Glass House is closed for the season, design-lovers can gawk at the acclaimed modern architecture of the River building at Grace Farms, designed by prize-winning Japanese firm SANAA. Book a spot for a "River Walk & Tea" tour, which takes visitors on a tour of the serpentine structure along with five site-specific installations commissioned for the property by artists Thomas Demand, Olafur Eliasson, Teresita Fernández, Beatriz Milhazes, and Susan Philipsz. Complimentary tea is included.
If your idea of a perfect weekend has to include a ski run or two, head to Blue Mountain, a less-crowded alternative to the popular Jack Frost/Big Boulder resorts. Many local hotels, such as the elegant lodge at Woodstone Country Club or the Hampton Inn Lehighton-Jim Thorpe offer ski and stay packages that include a two-night stay, breakfast, and a few ski passes (head to Blue Mountain's website to learn more about deals in the area). Lunch at Blue Mountain's own Slopeside Pub and Grill for an après-ski meal and a brew or two. For a quintessential Poconos dining experience, drive to the Covered Bridge Inn, which offers hearty meals in a casual and cozy atmosphere.
With its namesake amusement park closed for the season, travelers to the "Sweetest Place on Earth" can find a bevy of irresistible deals at the Hershey Lodge or Hershey Hotel. Upstairs at The Lodge is the elegant Forebay, which offers fresh seafood and smokehouse specialties to guests in a cozy, low-lit setting. Got a game you can't miss? The boisterous Bear's Den downstairs has you covered. While at Hershey, you'd be remiss to forego a spa treatment at the decadent Hotel Hershey, whose chocolate-inspired treatments, like the Whipped Cocoa Bath or Chocolate Bean Polish, will leave you smelling almost as sweet as you feel. A free shuttle will whisk you to and from treatments from your room at the Lodge.
Tucked among the pine trees of Cook Forest, Gateway Lodge offers guests an elegant and intimate setting that has the feel of a bed and breakfast but the amenities of a luxury resort. Scoop up an off-season midweek pass, which you can use toward a five-night week day stay in a luxury suite from January through March. Leave room for the lodge's "Farm to Forest Dinner Experience," which features locally sourced seasonal fare in a cozy fireside atmosphere. Between meals, book a spa treatment, play a game of billiards, catch up on your reading list, or book a cross-country or snowshoeing lesson.
Asbury Park, New Jersey
This lively and diverse New Jersey shore town (and a top Travel + Leisure pick for "Best Places to Travel in 2016") is packed to the gills in the summer months, but in the winter, visitors can enjoy some fresh salt air and rub elbows with the locals who call Asbury Park home. Stay at the elegant Beaux Arts Berkeley Hotel or steps from the boardwalk at The Empress, where you can book a night on a non-holiday weekend and receive half off the second night. Reserve brunch at Toast, a local favorite that features healthy picks such as steel-cut oatmeal and fresh fruit with honey lime yogurt alongside belt-busting crowd favorites like their famous red velvet pancakes served with homemade sweet cream cheese.
Later, head to neighboring Red Bank and tuck into some feel-good fare at rocker Jon Bon Jovi's Soul Kitchen. It's a community restaurant that includes no prices on the menu; customers choose what they want to donate in exchange for their meal. If you're feeling extra generous, you can purchase "Pay it Forward" cards, which will feed a customer in need. Don't miss the late January Asbury Park Beerfest at Convention Hall, or a show at the famed music venue the Stone Pony. The pan-seasonal oceanside stage has welcomed the likes of Ziggy Marley, Bruce Springsteen, and the Black Crowes since opening its hallowed doors in February 1974.