Best of: Health & Recreation

OK, readers. We get it. You like to drink. A lot. When company comes to town, you don’t waste time driving around The Valley pretending to be interested in one or another historical landmarks or cultual events or natural resources – you take your guests straight to the source of your beloved lager and porter, the Yuengling Brewery. Founded in 1829 by David G. Yuengling and rebuilt in 1831 after a fire destoyed the first plant, America’s oldest brewery may not be right next door, but Pottsville is close enough for you to claim bragging rights. The family-owned business weathered prohibition on near beer and dairy sales and in 1996 when demand exceeded the brewery’s capacity, Yuengling withdrew from markets outside the local area until additional plants could be opened.

But just because you like to drink, doesn’t mean you don’t pride yourself on staying in shape. Odyssey Fitness on Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre is a repeat winner for Best Gym because with indoor swimming, personal trainers, the latest equipment, tennis and raquetball courts, comprehensive class selection, special programs for seniors and women, and mommy and me options, and even spray tanning – what else could you possibly want?!

Those in search of a more intimate atmosphere conducive to the meditation and spiritual side of yoga practice appreciate the vibes at Balance Yoga and Wellness, located at the gorgeous repurposed, multi-venue factory at 900 Rutter Avenue in Forty Fort since March 2010. In addition to its airy 900 square foot yoga practice space, the eco-friendly studio (bamboo floors, natural lighting, etc.) includes a mediation room, two patient therapy rooms for massage and reflexology, an art gallery, and retail space. It offers workshops and training sessions with widely known guest instructors as well as a daily class schedule.

Similarly, Serenity Wellness & Dance Center on Main Street in Luzerne offers training in tango, tap, ballroom dance, kick boxing, hula hoop, and Belly Dance, as well as four different kinds of Zumba classes. Devoted to helping clientele escape from the stresses of daily life, the center offers Reiki and massage, chakra balancing, crystal healing and color therapy, past life regression, accupressure, creative visualization therapy, vibrational sound therapy and more.

Some of the best exercise options are found out in the open air, however. Even though drinking isn’t allowed in our state parks, Ricketts Glen State Park is still your favorite place to take a day trip. Home to the Glens Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark flowing with “wild, free-flowing waterfalls … cascading through rock-strewn clefts in this ancient hillside,” the park stretches more than 13,000 acres into Sullivan and Columbia counties. The park is scenic not only for the falls and old grown timber, but also for the diverse wildlife that call it home. The long, paved dike path stretching out from Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre is a favorite bike ride for families with children as well as more hardcore bikers. For a more resolute wilderness experience, you prefer the 1,800 acres around the Frances E. Walter Dam out near White Haven. There’s no swimming, but picknicking, fishing and boating, and hunting on adjacent PA gamelands are permitted. the “glaciated” watershed above the dam makes for especially scenic hiking. When winter casts its icy net over the view, you head to Elk Mountain for the region’s best skiing or indoors to shoot a few games of pool at TommyBoys or bowl a few games at Chacko’s. I mean, sure the slopes are gorgeous, but you can’t drink a beer with ski poles in your hand. And after all that working out, you deserve a refreshment.

- alicia grega

  • Mmajikes

    Odyssey Fitness Rocks!!!

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