Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 16, 2017
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Penn Stations

These retreats will make you think twice about just passing through the Keystone State

As a summer-vacationing kid, Pennsylvania was one of my family's drive-through states. We drove through it to get to other destinations, namely places where sun, sand and salt water reigned. Acquiring any kind of affinity with the road in between wasn't a priority -- avoiding the carsick bag was. In order to avoid nausea I would sleep. Back then getting there wasn't half the fun. It wasn't half of anything.

Now that I'm older and carsickness has been conquered, sun, sand and salt water aren't the holy grails they once were. Maturity has brought a newfound interest in the state we always drove past on the way to someplace else: the journey I always ignored has become more fun than the destination.

I don't have to stop the presses to tell you that October is prime-time foliage season. But maybe you didn't know that Pennsylvania has some of the most vibrant fall colours on the east coast. Although I noticed the state's unique flora recently on the quick, driving up I-81, I enjoyed it for five days last autumn during a spectacular west-to-east trek along Route 6. The trick behind getting the most colourful bang for your leaf-peeping buck is timing your arrival. Although I was told that I was late by about a week, dipping temperatures and decreasing daylight make early to mid October the best time to visit northern Pennsylvania.

In between all the foliage, nature and wildlife, Pennsylvania also boasts lovely and unique places to stay, rest and indulge. Here are three of PA's finest -- and diverse -- places worth stopping for.

Gateway to nature
The Gateway Lodge Country Inn is nestled at the edge of Cork Forest State Park, a 90-minute drive from Erie, PA. This is the place to go if you crave a true close-to-nature experience. The lodge, constructed of hemlock logs and hand-hewn pine in 1934, combines the unassuming coziness of a country inn with the modern-day amenities of a resort, like indoor heated swimming pool and sauna, fine dining -- meals that are served under kerosene lamplight and by staff dressed in full colonial attire -- extensive wine list, tap room, turn-down service, tea time and daily towels and robes. Fine points include thick quilts and the 'round-the-clock smell of homemade baking. This is a casual and homey atmosphere whether you're braving the outdoors or craving the indoors.

The lodge is made up of eight antique-furnished rooms, 18 log suites and seven private cottages. Area activities include extensive trail hiking, resident wildlife viewing and various kinds of fishing.

A place of pause and privilege
Glendorn's owners describe this resort as simply a lodge in the country. It sounds humble enough until you reach the property's gates and drive up to the main lodge. Sure, Glendorn is a lodge -- but a lodge like no other I have ever seen in my life. Situated in Bradford, a three-hour drive from Toronto, Glendorn is a 500-hectare estate that up until 1995 was the private getaway retreat of the Dorn family.

Stemming five generations, the Dorns acquired notoriety in the 1900s when Clayton Glenville Dorn and son Forest developed a new method of extracting oil from the rich fields of northern Pennsylvania. In 1916, Forest Oil Corporation was founded and the blueprints for Glendorn began to be drawn. Described as a place for the Dorn family to "strengthen bonds, learn and grow together," Glendorn is all that and whatever else you want it to be. In 1995, the estate was opened to the public as a lodge; guests have been dropping in ever since.

Glendorn's main lodge is an impressive, all-redwood structure that features a cathedral ceiling, a massive fireplace two stories high and the not-to-be-missed butler's pantry. Although the main lodge can accommodate up to four couples, a short walk of the grounds -- so perfectly natural -- leads you to one of several cabins originally built for the specific members of the Dorn family. The cabins alone are worth the price of admission.

A recent feather in Glendorn's hat is its acceptance as an official member of Relais & Ch"teaux, a testament that Glendorn's high standards in hospitality have been met and recognized.

Some of Glendorn's activities include catch-and-release or catch-and-cook fishing, canoeing, biking, hiking, picnicking, skeet shooting, tennis, swimming or the bliss of doing absolutely nothing.

Take my wife, please....
If you're looking for something a touch or two (or even three or four) more over the top, don't hesitate to step into the world of Caesars Pocono Resorts. The Caesars Resorts are four properties -- three couples-oriented, one family -- that offer the all-inclusive experience. Cove Haven, Paradise Stream, Pocono Palace and Brookdale are the names of the establishments that dot the northeast mountain area known as the Poconos. Unlike other establishments in rustic Pennsylvania, Caesars makes no attempt to emulate quiet Quaker or colonial living. It's a little like Vegas minus the gambling. In addition to the huge dining and bar rooms, Caesars has first-rate nightclubs including live entertainment -- Jay Leno, Joan Rivers and Jerry Seinfeld have all at one time performed here.

But perhaps what the Poconos Caesars resorts are most famous for are their unique accommodations. In case you didn't know, the first resort, founded in 1958 by Morris B. Wilkins -- who incidentally was the person behind the world's first heart-shaped tub -- was considered for many years the "Honeymoon Capital of the World."

There are 25 different styles of rooms and over 750 suites. Whatever preconceived notion you may have, nothing will prepare you for the Garden of Eden Apple suite. It includes a mirrored pool, sauna, round king-sized bed, heart-shaped tub, log-burning fireplace, a 45-inch TV and a refrigerator. If that doesn't get you in the mood for something, how about the Champagne Towers by Cleopatra suite. This four-level suite features a seven-foot-high champagne glass Jacuzzi, glass-enclosed heart-shaped pool, sauna, round king-sized bed, celestial ceiling, Bose Wave radio, two TVs, log-burning fireplace and a refrigerator.

If you tire of the frantic interiors, the Caesars resorts also offer all kinds of outdoor activities like boating, fishing, golfing, tennis, archery and hiking.

 

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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