Hawley PA: Big Lake, Small Town Charms

WHY GO: A tiny town, a big lake, an Ice-Carving Factory, and the largest hand-carved bluestone building in the world, Hawley PA is a magnet for families in the summer who recreate in one of the largest bodies of water in Pennsylvania- Lake Wallenpaupak.

Come offseason, though, for greater pleasures. Hawley harbors three upscale lodgings – one a Craftsman Style beauty, the second a contemporary wonder set inside a whitewater gorge, and a third right on the lakefront.  Great locally sourced dining, entertainment and shops, complete the perfect getaway.

Shelter, Hawley Silk Mill, PA
Shelter Interiors, owned by “staging pro” Ethel Schmitt at Hawley Silk Mill, Hawley PA

VISIT: Hawley Silk Mill

Built in 1880 of hand-carved bluestone, the building was the largest employer in the area when it was an operating Silk Mill. And it remains the largest bluestone building in the world. It was restored by the high-profile architectural firm, Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson (BCJ) – the group that designed Apple Stores worldwide, and specializes in notable “adaptive reuse” projects.

The newly streamlined building is a destination lifestyle center with plenty of shops and amenities.

artist Juan Espino at Looking Glass Gallery
Artist Juan Espino, Looking Glass Gallery, Hawley Silk Mill

Looking Glass Gallery features the work of gallery owner and artist Juan Espino, known locally as Hawley’s own Grandma Moses.

You’ll also find: Art on the Edge offering hip fashions and gifts, Shelter Interiors, owned by “staging pro” Ethel Schmitt, Lackawanna College and Lake Region Fitness with great Yoga and Spin Studios.

Cocoon Coffee House at Hawley Silk Mill
Cocoon Coffee House at Hawley Silk Mill

The small outbuilding where silk worms were once housed is now a funky coffee and local-organic sandwich shop called, appropriately enough, Cocoon Coffee House – one of the best gathering spots in town!

TOUR: Sculpted Ice Works Factory Tour and Ice Harvest Museum

  • For now, tours must be arranged in advanced. Only groups of 20 or more. Consult website for details.

Drive eight miles from Hawley to deep freeze, even in the summer. Why wait for Winter Festivals, weddings or Bar Mitzvahs to see the work of great ice-carvers? One of the quirkiest, most popular attractions near Lake Wallenpaupak, Sculpted Ice Works is actually an ongoing manufacturing facility.

Ice Works, Sculpting
Carving Ice at Sculpted Ice Works, Lakeville PA

Owner/President Mark Crouthamel, freezes about 20,000 three hundred pound blocks of triple-filtered crystal clear ice per year. He sculpts a portion of them mostly for weddings, holidays and corporate events.  More blocks of ice are “manufactured” here than any other ice factory in the country.

Crouthamel started sculpting  just as a side business. As you can imagine, Crouthamel, who earned a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Whales, does a lot of vodka luges. He was even asked to carve a Sherman tank for one peculiar wedding. His designs end up mostly in the New York area but have shown up as far away as Wisconsin.

Ice Carving
Ice-sculpting room kept at 20 degrees F. at Sculpted Ice Works

Poke around a modest museum where you’ll see old black and white movies about ice-harvesting in the early 20th century. Then, take a self-guided tour and watch three videos about this modern operation. Finally, you end up in a vast room, peering into a windowed freezer at carvers in full winter dress, chain-sawing away.

Lake Wallenpaupack in Mist
Lake Wallenpaupack in Mist, Hawley PA

TOUR: Wallenpaupack Scenic Boat Tours

Scenic Boat Tours leave from Gresham’s Landing on Lake Wallenpaupack. Also a great spot to sit on a bench and view the lake. Or walk the two mile trail that begins at that location. 50-minute tours $18 per person. Daily in season (mid-June to Labor Day) on the hour 11-6.

Wallenpaupack Lake Trail
Wallenpaupack Lake Trail, Hawley PA

WALK/HIKE: Lake Wallenpaupack Trail

So beautiful at any time of year, but particularly stunning in the fall.

Best Restaurants in Hawley PA

Settlers Inn Restaurant Hawley PA

EAT: Settlers Inn Restaurant

Produce and meat comes from organic farmers nearby. You can’t go wrong with the succulent signature applewood local trout —smoked right on site -along with Chicken Roulade and a nice glass of merlot. Settler’s is considered one of the best (if not THE best) restaurants in town. For good reason.

Cascading waterfall off the deck of Ledges Hotel Hawley PA

EAT: Glass At Ledges

Glass is an intimate, atmospheric, votive-lit cellar room where small-plate menu items and accompanying wines are more than reasonably priced. Order the signature French Onion Soup Bites, the essence of this piquant sweet/salty soup shrunk to spoon size, and better-than-beef Turkey Club Sliders.  

Best Places to Stay in Hawley PA

Settlers Inn, Hawley, PA
Settlers Inn, Hawley, PA

STAY: Settler’s Inn. If you are a fan of the English Arts and Crafts movement, this is your place. Common areas, rooms and the excellent in-house restaurant are all dressed in Stickney-like finery – an unusual design for a full-service boutique inn.

First built in the late 1920’s with funds from townspeople as a “Community Motel,” what is now Settler’s Inn went bankrupt in 1929, then through several owners before being purchased and lovingly restored by Jeannie and Grant Genzlinger in 1980. (Thirty very successful years later, they opened up a second Hawley property – Ledges.) Rooms and baths in tawny shades are up-to-date with flat-screen TV’s, handsome duvets and dreamy high-count linens. Some have gas fireplaces.

Settlers Inn Restaurant Breakfast
Settlers Inn Restaurant Breakfast

The Settler’s Inn Restaurant is the finest place to eat in Hawley – a destination in its own right and considered the best in town. Room rates include a hot, made-to-order breakfast. I am still dreaming about the Smoked Salmon on Potato Gallet – a colorful amalgam of orange lox, white cream cheese, crispy potatoes and red caviar. Rooms from $160-$300 per night include gourmet breakfast. 

Ledges, Hawley PA
Deck of Ledges Hotel, Hawley PA

STAY: Ledges

New guests gasp audibly when they first see the tumbling waterfall through the lobby’s picture windows. Many chose not to leave the premises, preferring to take a book and glass of wine to one of several tiered decks overlooking the flowing water to indulge, peacefully, in its splendor.

This glass-cutting factory was gutted and interior redesigned by Bohlin, Cywinski, Jackson (BCJ).On the National Register of Historic Places, it’s one of the most gorgeously set hotel I’ve ever seen.

Ledges Lobby
Ledges Lobby

At night, the whisper of water spilling over rocks lulls you to sleep. Rooms are comfy-contemporary; pale grey walls punched up by vibrantly colored local art, plump white duvets accented with soft-colored quilts, and sparking bathrooms with grey ceramic floor, subway tile, glass showers and molded green glass sinks.

Each room, from fingertip-to-fingertip-wide small to expansive double-decker, serves as a mini art gallery for local artists; all paintings are for sale. Rooms and suites from $110 – $375 per night, include 32” flat screen TV, free wi-fi, free parking, pastries and coffee in the morning.

Welcome Mat, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

STAY: Silver Birches 

The owners of the Arts and Crafts Settler’s Inn and trendy, modern Ledges Hotel in Hawley PA have done it again, with a complete overhaul of an archaic family cottage resort right on the banks of Lake Wallenpaupack.

Lakeside at Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

The Settlers Hospitality Group has successfully imbued the former 1929 Ehrhardt’s Waterfront Resort with new life as The Silver Birches Resort, a small but very appealing collection of cottages, houses, suites and rooms right on the water.

First Impressions of Silver Birches  

Reception, Main Building, Silver Birches, Hawley PA

This is no sprawling resort. You don’t need a bellboy in a golf cart to squire you around the grounds. Park near the main building, one of a few on the property that backs up to the lake, and check in. You can walk easily to all the rooms and cottages, which cluster closely around the Reception/Inn Building.

Front Desk, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

The welcome is friendly and very casual. You’ll get the lay of the land, a map of the property and an invitation to a “Sunset Champaign Toast,” that’s complimentary with your room.

Sunroom, Silver Birches, Hawley PA

Common areas are thoughtfully and pleasingly composed – with the lake, of course, getting top billing right outside the sunroom’s picture windows.

Common Area, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

If it’s chilly, a fireplace warms the common area stocked with books and games, a perfect place in season, too, to hang out when it’s raining.

Library, Common Room, Silver Birches, Hawley PA

But on fine days, you’ll want to be out on Lake Wallenpaupack or in the Silver Birches Pool.

Rooms at Silver Birches Resort

Bathtub, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

OMG – the bathtub! I want it. That was my first thought when I scouted out the King Deluxe Suite in the Inn building – Room #14. A curvaceous sea foam-green glass-ceramic silver claw foot tub; it’s momma-and daddy-don’t-wanna-bring-their-kids-here sexy.

Bathroom, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

But that’s not the half of it. Any fan of hotel bathrooms will love this one –  roomy with hardwood floor and a sundrenched glass shower as well.

Sitting Room in Suite, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

The Tartan carpeting in the otherwise country-fied sitting room is a nice touch.

View of Lake Wallenpaupak from room, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

But you won’t be sitting much on those couches with a view like that out of the windows.

Bedroom, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

Bedding in the bright nautical bedroom is as comfy as it gets. Each room category is furnished differently, but all are newly updated, eye-catching, and country-contemporary.

Dining and Amenities at Silver Birches

The Dock has the best view of the lake and is great for a drink. But for the most outstanding dining – best to go to the Settler’s Inn for farm to table cuisine, or Ledges (Glass Wine Bar and Kitchen) for small bites.

Champaign Sunset, Silver Birches Resort, Hawley PA

Daily Sunset Champaign Toast

Lakefront pool

Campfires with Adirondack Chairs for evening wine and conversation

The Recreation Center – for kayak, SUP, canoe, and power boat rentals.

King Deluxe Suite from $210-$360 depending on season.

Rooms from $135 off season. All include wifi, parking and drink at sunset.Hawley PA pin

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