By Jennifer Scott
When life is getting the best of you, nothing sounds better than getting away. But all too often, days off are spent catatonic on the couch, binging tv shows and dreading tomorrow. To really make the most of a mental health day, leave your worries behind and escape to somewhere relaxing and peaceful. Here are five places in Pennsylvania you can do just that.
Seven Tubs Nature Area
Water is more than refreshing on a hot summer’s day. Water may actually have the power to quell anxiety and improve psychological wellness, according to research on the restorative effects of water. And while everyone knows there are plenty of fun Pennsylvania lakes to visit for swimming, boating, and more, it’s the serene shorelines that offer the biggest boost to mental health. So next time you need a getaway, skip the busy lakes and head to Seven Tubs Nature Area, just outside of Wilkes-Barre. You’ll hike along a tranquil wooded trail before dipping your feet in natural pools carved out by glacial meltwater. To extend your trek, hike a little further to Meadow Run Lake where you can fish or just relax with a good book.
Are you constantly attached to your phone, even when you’re supposed to be taking a break from work emails and phone calls? Head to Lancaster County to get some unplugged inspiration from the Pennsylvania Amish, who live a lifestyle free of modern technologies like cell phones, computers, and even cars. You can tour Amish farmsteads and villages, see dozens of covered bridges, and explore the bucolic countryside. As you discover the Amish way of life, think about the role technology is playing in your stress and how you can limit its impact.
There’s plenty to do in the Pocono Mountains region’s 2,400 square miles. You can get your adrenaline pumping with whitewater rafting, try your luck at fishing on Lake Wallenpaupack, or take a winter getaway to snowshoe and ski. But if it’s a mental health boost you’re looking for, a cabin retreat is the Poconos experience for you. Rent a rustic cabin in Promised Land State Park or stay at Malibu Dude Ranch to enjoy horseback riding right outside your cabin door. Looking for an upscale experience? Swap the cabin for a spa resort to enjoy relaxing body treatments as you soak up the beauty and serenity of nature.
Eckley Miners’ Village
Sometimes, you just need a little perspective about everything that’s stressing you out. Travel back in time the nineteenth century coal patch town of Eckley Miners’ Village to learn about the challenges faced by the people who lived there. Take a guided tour of the village’s churches, community buildings, and communal houses to learn how laborers and their families made the most of back-breaking work and poverty to create a community. Head to the village during the shoulder season for a quiet, reflective visit, or time your visit so you can enjoy an event while you’re there.
Ricketts Glen State Park
With over 120 state parks in Pennsylvania, you’re never far from a retreat into the natural world. When you’re seeking a break from the pressures of life, Ricketts Glen State Park is the park calling your name. Located on over 13,000 acres across three counties, Ricketts Glen features 22 waterfalls including the impressive 94-foot Ganoga Falls. See them all and exercise your anxieties away when you hike the 7.2-mile Falls Trail. Still have energy to burn? Head up the 1.9-mile Grand View Trail for lush wildflowers, wild blueberries, and incredible views of the surrounding hillsides. After you rest up overnight at one of the park’s cabins or campsites, you’ll be ready to take on anything the world throws at you.
These are some of the most beautiful places in Pennsylvania, but they’re certainly not all the Keystone State has to offer. No matter where you go, the important thing is recognizing when you need a getaway and taking action to nurture your mental wellbeing.
Image via Unsplash