Escape Brooklyn's Guide to Milford, PA
Written & photographed (except where noted) by Erin Lindsey/Escape Brooklyn(https://escapebrooklyn.com/guide-to-milford-pa/)
70 miles from NYC in the Pocono Mountains, Milford, PA is the embodiment of small town, American charm. For many New Yorkers — including myself — its treelined Main Street will spark nostalgia. As a transplant from Ohio, it was hard to put my finger on why Milford seemed so familiar; then I realized that Milford is emblematic of the many small towns that so many of us left behind when they turned to the Big Apple. (And if the recent population influx is any indication, a lot of people are heading back, too.)
The familiarity and comfort of Milford’s thrift and antique shops, seasonal yard sales, greasy spoon diners and mom-and-pop shops won’t be lost on visitors. Neon signs hanging in shop windows date back to a time well before neon’s “hipster” renaissance. During the holidays, festive decorations abound, and trees are cheerily strung with Christmas lights as far as the eye can see. Just add some snow, and the whole town transforms into a set straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie.
Small-town charm aside, Milford is rich in history. It’s also home to the birthplace of the American Conservation Movement. Both of these legacies are evident both in the well-preserved historic buildings throughout town, as well its vast green conservation areas for the public to enjoy. One doesn’t need to travel far for hiking, biking, waterfall exploring, or other outdoor adventure. Tucked just minutes from the Delaware Water Gap, Promised Land State Park, and the Pocono Mountains, Milford is a perfect base to explore this outdoor wonderland that’s closer (and far more affordable) than the Catskills and Hudson Valley.
Where to Stay in Milford, PA: Luxury Boutique Hotel or Storybook Cottages
Keep cozy by the fire pit at Babbling Brook Cottages in Dingmans Ferry, PA.
Though there’s a swath of traditional inns and motels in the area, the best choices for lodging are the cozy accommodations at Babbling Brook Cottages, or the more chic and modern Hotel Fauchère.
On the traditional side, the very lovely Hotel Fauchère offers 16 luxury guest rooms in the heart of Milford, on Main Street. Each guest room features a luxurious bathroom designed with Carrera marble, locally-mined bluestone floors with radiant floor heat, heated towel bars, Frette bath linens, and beauty products by from Molton Brown. Rooms begin at $229/night; floor plans and features vary from room to room, but the suite notably includes a glassed-in sitting room. All guests (and non-guests) can enjoy two onsite-restaurants, comprised of the Delmonico Room for traditional fine dining (currently serving brunch only), and the intimate basement bar, Bar Louis for cocktails and casual dining.
Those looking for a more nature-immersive lodging experience will prefer Babbling Brook Cottages, located 15 minutes from Milford in Dingmans Ferry. Five private, unique and cozy cottages are the perfect escape everyday life, with fire pits in the yard at each to enjoy the tranquility of nature. Host and owner Lamar is a delight, happy to share his special knowledge and recommendations for outdoor endeavors in the area. Each cottage is a little different, from the compact studio-size Stargazer ($195/night) to the one bedroom, full kitchen and fireplace Fireside Pines ($240/night.) An onsite trail leads visitors to its namesake babbling brook.
Where to Eat & Drink in Milford, PA: Organic Coffee & Pastries, a Weeknight Speakeasy, or Dine in Milford’s Historic Inns
The Varsity Room Speakeasy will have you packing your bags to relocate to Milford, PA permanently.
Given the town’s size, there’s a wealth of dining options. For casual fare, dining stream-side outdoors in warm months (or in the cozy indoor space during winter) at Waterwheel Cafe is perfect. Back on Main Street, Spoonful’s scratch made food bowls, paninis, salads and soups are delicious. For tasty organic coffee and pastries, check out the newly opened Betterworld Store & Cafe – where you’ll want to shop its selection of cute gifts and wellness items, too.
Oddly enough, many of the most charming restaurants in Milford are inside some of the town’s historic inns. Dimmick Inn, Tom Quick Inn, and Hotel Fauchère are all hiding restaurants, so you can visit each without actually staying as a guest. First up, Dimmick Inn & Steakhouse is popular with locals, especially its bar area – although we preferred the cozier, quiet atmosphere in the back room with its large stone fireplace. Just down the road and tucked into the basement of Hotel Fauchère, Bar Louis offers an elevated but casual dining experience, in a beautiful space where a portrait of Andy Warhol kissing John Lennon hangs above the bar. Upstairs, a more formal dining experience can be had at Delmonico Room, the hotel’s main restaurant. Outdoor seating outside is available on the deck; or in colder/Covid months, you may also book one of the igloos in the hotel’s gardens.
The most unique dining experience was hands-down the Varsity Room Speakeasy, also tucked away inside a hotel. Enter through the alley behind Tom Quick Inn; you’ll know it’s open when the red light is on (but for all you planners, hours are 7-12 Wednesday and Thursday). Then, through some curtains and doors, diners and drinkers gather ‘round a horseshoe bar for unbelievable cocktails and modern fare. The vibe is effortlessly cool and totally unpretentious, a nice change from anything similar you’d find in the big city.
Last, to get a feel for some of Milford’s more “local” beverages, look no further than the Yeti-themed Log Tavern Brewing, or sample small-batch wines at Soaked Winery, who has a new location coming soon.
What to Do in Milford, PA: Hike the Region’s Abundant Waterfalls
The Delaware Water Gap region is home to no less than one dozen waterfalls. Shown here, Dingmans Falls.
The surrounding Delaware Water Gap region is great for hiking, especially for those who enjoy waterfalls, of which there are around a dozen. Most of them are super accessible for all ages and abilities to enjoy; Dingmans Falls stood out as a favorite. The trail begins with hikers crossing a bridge passing over a beautiful stream, then head towards the trail’s first waterfall, Silverthread Falls. From there, the trail continues through tall hemlock forest, and thick, evergreen rhododendron patches on both sides of the trail. (Note: visit in spring when the rhododendron are blooming for an extra-magical experience.) The walk takes just 15 minutes to PA’s second highest waterfalls, standing tall at 130 feet, for which the trail is named: Dingmans Falls. View the falls from the platform or trek the final tenth of a mile via staircase for a birds-eye view from the upper falls.
Raymondskill Falls is another beautiful waterfall, whose upper parking lot is also the trailhead for the Cliff Trail, with stunning views of the Delaware River. Do both for a one-two punch; Cliff Trail is 5.7 miles, while Raymondskill is more like a five minute walk. For something in-between, the Milford Knob is a lovely but steep trail that takes hikers to an overlook of town, right where the Delaware River makes a dramatic bend. It’s a perfect spot to watch sunset; just bring your flashlight (or use your phone’s) for the descent.
Rich in History: Explore Milford, PA’s Past
Grey Towers in Milford, PA is a must-see, for both history buffs and green thumbs. Photo: Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.
Milford and the surrounding area is rich in history. Across the river in New Jersey, Old Mine Road is one of America’s oldest roads. According to it’s NPS page, “At Fort Carmer and Van Campen Inn and at Hamilton Ridge Trail near Millbrook, you can still walk on the original unpaved road bed once traipsed by Dutch farmers, by colonial Americans, and by soldiers of the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars.” History buffs may want to check out Milford’s Columns Museum, too – home to the Lincoln Flag and also a cool Native American exhibit.
Milford’s crown jewel is Grey Towers: not only for its historical significance, but also to tour its lush gardens and opulent mansion. This was the home of Gifford Pinchot, completed in 1886 by Gifford’s father, James Pinchot. At Grey Towers, James, disturbed by destructive logging practices then prevalent in the country, encouraged his eldest son, Gifford Pinchot, to attend Yale and then pursue a career in the emerging field of forestry. Pinchot went on to become the founder and first chief of the U.S. Forest Service, preaching the importance of land conversation. Today, the grounds are meticulously kept, and free to roam; tours of the inside are available in warmer months.
For a most entertaining historical experience, check out the newly remodeled Milford Theater. Opened c. 1910 as a silent movie house, it’s been recently totally renovated with tons of original charm, and is the perfect spot for a date night or to catch a flick with the kids. The roster includes anything from classics like E.T. and Pulp Fiction, to Hitchcock classics, to Frozen. Check their FreshTix page for the schedule.