Honeymooning in the Poconos

Wish You Were Here reflects the value of postcards as tools for learning about the past, with images drawn from Manuscript Group 213, Postcard Collection, Pennsylvania State Archives.

The beautiful Pocono Mountains in northeast Pennsylvania have been attracting visitors since the mid-19th century, but in the post-World War II years the area became known as the perfect place for honeymooners. The tourist tradition of the Poconos began with the establishment of summer resort hotels offering city residents from Philadelphia and New York City the opportunity to cool off in style amid the splendor of scenic mountain, lake and river vistas.  Early hotels offered Victorian-era guests elegant lodgings, exemplary cuisine and outdoor activities. Many notable hotels were built in the region, especially in the early years of the 20th century, but things took a decidedly romantic turn in the 1940s. When the Farm on the Hill opened in 1945, near Swiftwater, Monroe County, it offered its rustic cabins and lodge as an ideal honeymoon getaway for newlyweds. Reportedly, the resort was such a success that a waiting list for cabins was needed, even though the new brides were expected to make their own beds and the grooms had to wait tables at the lodge. Soon, other honeymoon-themed resorts opened as the region was marketed to returning World War II soldiers and their brides as an ideal place to begin their married life.

This postcard, sent in 1962, shows the honeymoon cottages of the Penn Hills Lodge, which operated from 1944 to 2009 and advertised itself as a “Paradise of Pocono Pleasure” in the village of Anolomink, Monroe County. Founded as a tavern in 1944, it evolved into the Penn Hills Resort, which offered modern accommodations in its more than 100 rooms and outdoor sports such as swimming, skiing, golf and tennis on acres of stunning natural landscapes. Among its distinctive features were swimming pools in the shape of wedding bells and colorful futuristic streetlights from the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

The building of the first commercial ski resort in Pennsylvania in 1946 in nearby Blakeslee set the stage for expanded tourism in the region, and the construction of interstates 80 and 81 in the 1950s made the area more easily accessible. By the 1960s the Poconos’ reputation as the “Honeymoon Capital of the World” rivaled or exceeded that of Niagara Falls. The invention of the heart-shaped Sweetheart Tub in 1963 by the owner of the Cove Haven Resort in Lakeville, Wayne County, quickly became a resort staple, along with more luxurious and modern accommodations for honeymooners. A 1971 Life magazine pictorial article featuring the heart-shaped tubs, round beds and abundant mirrors of Poconos honeymoon guest suites attracted national attention to the region as a mecca for lovers.

The popularity of the area for honeymooners continued through the 1980s, but the changing tastes of recent decades have resulted in the closing of many classic hotels. Some have faced demolition, but others have found new life offering updated tourist attractions like water parks and white-water rafting adventures. One success story is the recent rehabilitation of the historic Hotel Fauchere, first established in 1852 by a Swiss master chef in the charming borough of Milford, Pike County, along the Delaware River. The current Italianate-style building dates from 1880 and continues the tradition of stylish innkeeping in the Poconos. Several of the mid-20th century honeymoon resorts remain in operation as well, including Cove Haven, where couples can still bathe in a Sweetheart Tub or a Champagne Glass Whirlpool Bath-for-Two.


Pamela W. Reilly is a historic preservation specialist in PHMC’s State Historic Preservation Office.