Top 3 things to do near Vernon, NJ (New Jersey)

 

View of Mountain Creek from inside the condo

When my wife and I lived in New York City, we had visited Mountain Creek in New Jersey, to ski there several times.  Mountain Creek is the closest ski resort near NYC at just over 50 miles or so.  We made good use of that relatively close distance on our yearly trips.  

We had skied for about 6 years.  The year 2002 was our last trip to any ski resort to enjoy this winter activity.  The following year (2003), we had moved to Hawaii.  No more skiing from that point on!

It was a wonderful feeling to revisit Mountain Creek after all these years.  I still remembered driving on I-80 West, then taking Route 23 to get to the mountain.  

For this trip in early March, we went with my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law.  We had stopped by at a supermarket near Fort Lee (NJ), to do some grocery shopping for this one week trip.  We purchased close to $200(!) in groceries.  Everyone has to eat, right?  Especially me!  I mean, look at the name of my blog!?!

We arrived at our condo and immediately noticed it was right next to one of the ski trails and lifts.  We were excited to see skiers and snowboarders gliding down the mountain and having a great time!

Our condo was on a second floor with expansive views of the mountains below.  On a scale of 1 to 5, the views were a perfect 5!

Condo was a two bedroom/two bath unit that occupies two separate living areas.  We took the downstairs bedroom and bathroom, while my in-laws took the second floor bedroom and bathroom.  Updated kitchen had all the requisite appliances, as well as all the pots, pans, dishes, etc.

We immediately brewed a fresh pot of coffee and enjoyed the views of skiers and snowboarders, as well as the beautiful views of the mountains nearby.  We felt like kings and queens!

That evening, we sat down to enjoy the setting sun over the mountains.  It was absolutely beautiful.  It makes you appreciate life in these little moments, when nothing else could make it any more perfect!

After dinner, we all retreated to our own little nook of the condo.  My mother-in-law took the second floor couch, while my sister-in-law took the second floor bedroom.  My wife and I went downstairs to each enjoy our own personal time.

We went to bed and awoke with the rising sun.  Due to our southerly orientation, the sun would come up from the right side of our condo to illuminate the mountains in front of us.  We marveled at how beautiful a simple thing like a sunrise, can enlighten our moods...

We went upstairs to see our family was already up.  My sister-in-law had already started a pot of coffee.  Yeeeeeessssssss!!!

We had breakfast with coffee overlooking the mountains.  It was kind of a morning where possibilities seem endless.  Everything felt perfect!  From the steaming cup of aromatic coffee in my right hand, to the views of rising sun over the mountains, it was just awesome.  I was so happy we still had 6 more nights at the condo to enjoy quality time with our family...

We took full advantage of the awesome location of Vernon to enjoy several destinations nearby.  Travels took us to New York (bit over 20 miles or so), as well as to northern New Jersey, bordering NY state.  Below, these are our top 3 recommendations when visiting the Vernon area.

     1.  Mountain Creek (Vernon, NJ)

This is a no brainer!  Mountain Creek has so much to offer.  The resort has gotten bigger compared to when we visited there years ago.  There are more accommodations, more restaurants, and more activities on site.  

Mountain Creek is a four season resort only about an hour to hour and a half drive from NYC.  There’s the skiing/snowboarding, as well as snow tubing in the winter months.  There’s golfing, Treescape Aerial Adventure Park, hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking during spring, summer, and fall.  During the summer months, the water park is in operation, featuring the world’s tallest and only double-looping water park slide.

For skiing/snowboarding aficionados, Mountain Creek features 167 skiable acres, 50+ trails, and 1,000+ vertical feet over 4 interconnected peaks.  On a clear day, New York City skyline is visible from the mountain peaks.

Getting to the resort is not too shabby as well!  The NJ Route 23 is a scenic road that takes you over mountainous terrain, passing by several lakes/reservoirs along the way.  It is a beautiful drive any season of the year, but unmatched during the fall (don’t miss the fall foliage) and winter (after a snowfall, with snow covering everything).  

Mountain Creek offers plenty of accommodations right on the resort, featuring ski in/ski out hotels, condos, and homes.  


View during sunset (top) and sunrise (bottom)

     2.  High Point State Park, Sussex, NJ

My friend, Charlie, once recommended visiting High Point State Park years ago, when we lived in NYC.  I’m glad I listened to his advice, as the park was beautiful!

High Point State Park is the highest point in the state of New Jersey at 1,800 feet.  The panoramic views from the top of the High Point Monument of the Kittatinny Mountains are awe-inspiring, and is not to be missed.  On a clear day, you can see neighboring states of New York and Pennsylvania from the High Point Monument.

Park features hiking trails that interconnect with the Appalachian trail, and is popular for avid hikers.  Plenty of options of other activities abound including picnicking, cross country skiing, bird watching, camping, fishing, swimming on Lake Marcia, etc.

To get to the High Point Monument, you can either drive all the way up to the Monument parking area via Scenic Drive/Monument Road, or you can park next to the Lake Marcia parking area, then walk up to the Monument for some refreshing exercise.  

NJ Route 23 is the most popular way to get there from most points south and north.  Enjoy the winding roads, scenic vistas, and cute stores along the way.  

View from the Monument

High Point Monument 

View from the Monument area

One hidden gem of a store on Route 23 we found along the way was ‘Holland American Bakery’, in the town of Sussex, NJ.  This bakery has been in business for over 60 years!

It sells goodies including cookies, baked goods, decorative goods imported from Holland.  You’ll not want to miss ‘Cafe Noir’ cookies, which are cookies covered with coffee glaze.  My family tells me the cookies aren’t overly sweet.

The bakery sells Apple turnovers, which has no added sugar, which was my go to treat!  We also tried their whole wheat bread which was nicely done as well.  They also sell coffee for 25 cents!

The manager of the bakery even offered us a free baked item, a ‘glazed cronut’.  My wife certainly enjoyed that one!

We liked it so much, we stopped by again few days later.  Here are some pictures below.



Look for the windmill outside the bakery!

     3.  Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, Sparrow Bush, NY

This byway has been called the ‘Big Sur’ of the east coast, and has been a popular location for commercials, films, and photographs.  We were glad we stopped by to fully appreciate this awe inspiring road with endless jaw dropping vistas of the Delaware River, surrounding mountains, and towns.  

We took this byway from Port Jervis, NY side.  The entire byway is about 70 miles.  If you have the time to explore the entire length of the byway, then I would recommend it!

For our trip, we explored about 5 miles of it.  The byway is quite high in elevation, and the parking spots (with the exception of Park Avenue Observatory) are very tiny.  If you can stomach the high elevation and limited parking spots, then you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views on the east coast!

Here are some points of interest if you’re starting out from Port Jervis, NY.

  • Park Avenue Observatory:  This is the first stopping point on the byway and it is a scenic spot to view the city of Port Jervis and surrounding areas.
  • Hawk’s Nest:  Possibly the most famous of all the overlooks.  Awe inspiring views of the Delaware River and surrounding mountains.  
  • Elks-Brox Memorial Park:  Look for a small signage near the beginning of the byway to this park.  It takes up an undulating road to the top of the mountain.  Views won’t disappoint!



Different views of the byway!


When visiting the Vernon, NJ area for few days, be sure to check out some or all of these attractions listed.  You’ll appreciate each and every one of them I’m sure! 

Thank you all for reading!


Jake

Wandering Money Pig 


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