Spring 2013 Travel: The Skylands, Sussex County, New Jersey
Five state parks, one national forest, the Delaware Water Gap Recreational Area, the Kittatinny Mountains and a sprinkling of sparkling lakes—this northwestern New Jersey county packs a whole lot of pristine into 536 square miles.
Spring Street in Newton
Entrée from Restaurant Latour
Drive time: 2 hours, 45 minutes.
Stay and eat here:
Crystal Springs Resort
This family-friendly resort has three distinctive luxury hotels; seven golf courses; two full-service spas; more than a dozen on-site eateries, from fine dining to pub casual; a water park; a mountain-bike park; and other recreational facilities too numerous to mention.
The centerpiece of the Grand Cascades Lodge is an indoor/outdoor tropical-island-like Biosphere Pool Complex, complete with exotic plants, waterfalls and a tiki bar. Suites have gas fireplaces, jetted tubs, fully equipped kitchens, washer/dryers and balconies.
The 135,000-bottle wine inventory alone makes the Grand Cascades Lodge’s Restaurant Latour a destination in itself. The rack of lamb is organic and raised in Colorado specifically for the restaurant. The three-course prix-fixe dinner is $70-$90, an eight-course degustation $125; add a wine pairing for $50. Rooms $254 weekdays,$294 weekends; one-bedroom suites $309, $349. 3 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg; (973) 827-5996, crystalgolfresort.com.
Ballyowen, a Celtic-links-style golf course, is highly rated by the nation’s most prestigious golfing publications. $80-$109 weekdays, $90-$129 Friday, $105-$139 weekends. 105-137 Wheatsworth Road, Hamburg. If you’re in the mood for a real challenge, choose Crystal Springs, with its multiple natural water hazards and diverse terrain. $55-$70 weekdays, $65-$85 Friday, $75-$100 weekends. 1 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg. Both courses: (973) 827-5996, crystalgolfresort.com.
The season begins in early May at Mountain Creek Bike Park, a destination facility featuring more than 40 miles of trails and a 1,040-foot vertical drop. Bike rentals begin at $49.99 for a half-day. Full-day lift tickets $37.99/adults, $29.99/kids. At the Mountain Creek waterpark, two-dozen aquatic attractions range from tot-friendly slides to a heart-stopping 99-foot plummet. $36.99/adults, $26.99/kids, seniors and twilight. Mountain Creek’s dual Zoom Ziplines take you soaring 200 feet above a lake. $79.99/adults, $59.99/juniors and seniors. 200 Route 94, Vernon; (973) 827-2000, mountaincreek.com.
The Sterling Hill Mine Tour & Museum is as fun as it is educational. The Rainbow Tunnel’s walls of exposed, brilliantly colored fluorescent zinc are a sight you won’t forget. $10/adults, $8/kids. 30 Plant St., Ogdensburg; (973) 209-6463, sterlinghillminingmuseum.org.
For thrifty types:
High Point State Park offers more than 50 miles of hiking trails, trout- and bass-stocked lakes and streams, and the 220-foot High Point Monument. If you can climb its 200 stairs, you’ll be rewarded with an amazing tri-state view. (973) 702-1222, state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests.
No Fonz, but lots of fun at the Chatterbox, a ’50s-themed family lunch-and-dinner spot. Great burgers and pulled pork sandwiches—and who can resist deep-fried pickles? Sandwiches are $6.99-$8.99. 1 State Highway 15, Augusta; (973) 300-2300, chatterboxdrivein.com.
Roseline’s Farm & Bakery specializes in divine pies and quiches made with ingredients grown on the Lin family farm. Breakfast platters begin at $6.99, lunch sandwiches $6.50. 553 County Road 565, Augusta; (973) 940-0011, roselinesbakery.com.
Newton’s up-and-coming Spring Street is home to some unique businesses, including Traillworks where Jennie Traill creates and sells whimsical works of kitchen- and food-inspired art. (973) 383-1307, traillworks.com. At Inner Designs, you’ll find functional, wearable fashions by Robin Lennon. (646) 645-1003, innerdesigns.com.