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by Ed Wetschler

Finding resorts near New York City where you can enjoy swimming, golf, and other summertime pleasures is easy. But finding full-service resorts near New York that are affordable and offer great activities in fall, winter, and spring is not so easy. The good news for folks in and around the tri-state (New York, Connecticut, New Jersey) area -- and for visitors to Manhattan who want to see something else on the weekends -- is that there are now resorts nearby that offer both taste and value, a combo that used to be scarcer than white rhinos.

All three of the getaways described here offer stunning scenery and a sense that you’ve left the city far behind, even if you haven’t. Golf is big at all three of the getaways described here, but it's not monolithic. These resorts also offer spa updated cuisine, spectacular fall foliage, and outdoor activities for all four seasons. Rates mentioned here are for fall weekends, but the deals even better after foliage season, and weekday rates are a steal.

Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort

You can pay beaucoup bucks for a “Legacy Suite” at the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort (above) in Shawnee, Pennsylvania, but I’d book a $184* double. Why? Ed’s Rule #1: The guests who stay in the least costly room get the same smiles and scenery as the spenders.

P.S. That $184 is for weekend nights in October -- high foliage season -- but weekday rooms go for as little as $109 that month. See what I mean about weekday deals?

Built in 1911, the 99-room Shawnee Inn is big on golf history, entertainment history, and the Delaware River. Grandfathered into the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (which it predates), Shawnee the only real resort on the Delaware River. In addition to the beach, which is of little use after September, it boating and fishing, as well as hiking and biking in the national There are also organized activities, tennis courts, skiing packages with the Shawnee Mountain Ski Resort, an indoor — and a unique, 27-hole golf course.

Most of that course, designed by golf deity A.W. Tillinghast, is on an island in the river. It has hosted the PGA, and its pro used to be Sam Snead. Jackie Gleason and Mickey Mantle used to swat dimpled balls here with Arnold Palmer, big-band leader Fred Waring once owned the place, and the walls are festooned with photos featuring yesteryear’s stars. I’d like to see a little less yesteryear and a little more today, but I’ll admit that Waring’s old Shawnee Theater is a great venue for plays and musicals. And thank heaven (OK, the Feds) that the river remains pristine.

Cliff Park Inn

Although Milford, Pennsylvania’s Cliff Park Inn also lies within the park and boasts a historic inn and golf course, you will not confuse it with Shawnee. With just 14 individually decorated rooms (from $162 weekends during foliage season; $141 weekdays), a cliff-top setting high above the river, and a culinary emphasis on local ingredients, this place is geared mostly toward couples.

The vistas from the trail along the ridge are breathtaking, guests can go fishing in a pond on the property or cross-country skiing in winter, and the front desk arranges canoeing on the Delaware, a pretty glorious thing to do during foliage season or in spring, when the trees are leafing out. Nearby Milford has lovely galleries, antiques shops, and historic buildings.

And did somebody say historic? President James Buchanan’s uncle acquired the place around 1820, and you can still admire the building’s 19th-century features. In the early 1900s one of the Buchanan women lost her husband, went to Scotland to grieve, took up golf, and upon returning home was outraged that ladies weren’t allowed on links. So she built her own course in 1912 — the first ever built and owned by a female. Another reason why today it’s gratifying to see women, as well as men, playing it. You'll also see hawks, bald eagles, deer, and maybe even bears. Equal opportunity golf.

Crystal Springs Resort & Golf Club

Less than 60 miles from Manhattan, this resort in the forested hills of northwestern New Jersey includes two hotels separated by a mile or two of golf courses. Crystal Springs' Minerals Hotel is family-oriented; the adults-only Cascades Lodge is très romantic. But romance depends most on the romancers, so consider staying at Minerals (from $169 after foliage season) and spending the difference on an unforgettable meal at Restaurant LaTour, which serves exquisite contemporary cuisine and boasts one of the world's greatest wine cellars.

Besides, Minerals does still have it all: a huge spa, an even bigger fitness center and gymnasium, indoor tennis and racquetball, indoor and outdoor pools, guided hikes, kids’ activities, live music, horseback riding, and access to seven top-rated golf courses designed by the likes of Tom Fazio and Robert Trent Jones. In winter there's skiing down the road at Mountain Creek, whose 1,000-foot vertical is a happy surprise so close to New York City.

Photos 1 and 3 by Ed Wetschler.

*To convert prices to other currencies, see Tripatini's Currency Desk.

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