Cara O'Donnell Winter 2016
It’s a rural, rustic region of Pennsylvania, known for its forestry, wildlife, and outdoor sports. But northern Pennsylvania is also an ideal region for a romantic getaway. Vast miles of rural woodlands and back country lanes create a perfect setting for a secluded romantic retreat. Think about it: a roaring fireplace, a cozy cottage or elegant bed-and-breakfast and absolutely nothing to do but relax and watch a peaceful snow fall outside the window.
Driving along a tiny country road in the northwestern end of the region known as the Pennsylvania Wilds, one might not imagine the rural surroundings would suddenly lead to a five-star Relais & Châteaux resort. The Lodge at Glendorn (1000 Glendorn Drive, Bradford) in Bradford is a luxury nature resort designed in the style of family camps of yesteryear. In fact, that’s what this resort was originally designed to be.
The Glendorn family owned the sprawling 1,500 acres of woodlands at the edge of the Allegheny Mountains as a family retreat, gradually adding additional cabins as the extended family grew. Today, there are 16 different accommodations, ranging from traditional luxury guest rooms in the Main Lodge to individual log cabins in the woods. For the utmost seclusion, choose the Forest Hideout, a 1931 stone and brick cabin at the top of the hill. Furnished with luxurious linens and antique pieces, the Hideout welcomes couples with a wood-burning fireplace, a king bed and a gorgeous outdoor patio. The only neighbors guests will see are inquisitive deer that occasionally wander up the drive. Similarly, The Overlook cottage features a king-size bed in a room filled with luxurious antiques and a jetted tub in the bath, as well as wood-burning fireplace and expansive outdoor deck with spectacular views. When not at the cottage, guests can relax at the resort’s spa, indulge in a couples’ cooking class, or enjoy an afternoon of ice skating, followed by some warm hot chocolate or s’mores at the lodge.
Eclectic is the word often used to describe the Mansion District Inn (905 W. Main St., Smethport), located right along scenic Route 6 in downtown Smethport. The inn’s four suites and the common areas of the inn are filled with souvenirs from the travels of owners Ross and Javonna Porter. Asian antiques, exotic animal trophies, Buddha statues and other collectibles fill the walls. The suites themselves are all outfitted with luxurious furnishings and amenities. Couples looking for a little more privacy should consider the McCoy Executive Penthouse Suite, which features a Jacuzzi soaking tub and an 1850s-era Chinese wedding queen-size bed. Spend the afternoon taking in the view from the Kinzua Sky Walk or the many overlooks along Route 6 in Allegheny National Forest, stroll Smethport’s quaint downtown or indulge in a little wine tasting at the nearby Flickerwood Wine Cellars. In the morning, enjoy a gourmet breakfast for two from innkeeper Javonna – also an accomplished chef.
Driving east on famed Route 6 through the Pennsylvania Wilds, guests come across plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation and natural beauty, from the stargazing at Cherry Springs State Park and quaint antiques shops to Tioga National Forest and the Pine Creek Gorge, commonly known as the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, where stunning vistas go on for as far as the eye can see. Travelers looking for a romantic retreat will find Wellsboro’s Bear Mountain Lodge (8010 Route 6, Wellsboro), where the Wilderness Suite is just like having your very own private log cabin. Add a touch of romance by having roses or chocolate-covered strawberries delivered to the room to enjoy while relaxing in the suite’s giant whirlpool tub. Warm up in front of the fireplace, or indulge with an afternoon at a nearby spa. In the morning, enjoy breakfast in bed with a brunch basket delivered right to the front door before heading out to discover the beauty of the gorge. Sister property Bear Meadows Lodge (744 Dean Hill Road, Wellsboro), located just outside the town of Wellsboro, is rustic and elegant at the same time. In the Headwaters room, couples looking for a quiet getaway will find just that in the cozy cherry sleigh bed, fireplace, and hot tub out on the large private balcony overlooking the valley.
Continuing east, visitors depart the woodlands of the Pennsylvania Wilds to discover the romance that abounds in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains region, where couples can share a toast at a local winery, watch the sun set over pristine valleys or steal a kiss inside a historic covered bridge. It’s in this area where they’ll discover the The Crestmont Inn (180 Crestmont Drive, Eagles Mere), perched right atop the quaint Victorian town of Eagles Mere’s highest peak. The Cresmont whispers romance from the moment you step onto the front porch. Hosts Tony and Melissa Faulkiner ensure a visit that is anything but ordinary. For a special getaway, book The Diamond Ring suite with its four-poster bed and whirlpool tub for two, or take it a step further and enjoy some of the inn’s special romantic travel package deals, which may include everything from chilled champagne in the room to a candlelight dinner or romantic picnic. Innkeeper Tony is also an accomplished chef who uses his own local ingredients in not just breakfast, but in the inn’s on-site restaurant. Guests can also take advantage of nearby private horse-drawn carriage rides for a special romantic evening.
At any time of year, there’s just something about a waterfall that says romance, and the six on the property of the Lodge at Singing Waters (Lodge at Singing Waters Creek Road, Mehoopany) just add something extra to the lodge’s already romantic vibe. All of the lodge’s suites offer antique furnishings and elegant charm, but for true privacy, book the Terrace Apartment, a private, cozy, ground-level apartment with its own kitchen, dining area and living room, plus a luxurious Forest Room bedroom and bath that is decorated to feel as though you’re in your very own woodland paradise. The Terrace Apartment opens to its own patio with amazing views of the ravine and two of the waterfalls. In the morning, take a stroll on the incredibly manicured grounds and enjoy your morning coffee in the gazebo, or wander to gaze at the waterfalls on-site. It really is a beautiful way to start the day.
A winter escape in northern Pennsylvania is ideal for couples looking for a quick getaway at a value price. It’s the region’s quiet season, so visitors won’t have to worry about large crowds or premium prices. The region’s rural nature, whether in the charming towns of the Endless Mountains or in the rustic elegance of the Pennsylvania Wilds, offers couples seclusion and serenity, whether celebrating a special anniversary or a “just because” weekend. And the region showcases stunning vistas, from the plateaus of the Allegheny National Forest and the Pine Creek Gorge to the landscapes viewed from a romantic covered bridge. What’s more, it’s the perfect area to remember just why you fell in love.