10. Haven of History
History buffs will have a ball hopping from museum to museum throughout the northeast Pennsylvania area. You can start at the Packer mansions in Jim Thorpe, at the southernmost end of the Poconos, and not stop until you’ve experienced life on a 19th century Pennsylvania German farmstead at Quiet Valley Historical Farm, the coal region’s lifeblood at the No. 9 Mine, or discovered the area’s first residents at The Pocono Indian Museum. The Monroe County Historical Society houses all the local history you can handle, along with a genealogy research library. Whatever the era, the Poconos have lived to tell its story. It’s yours to discover!
9. Avenues of Art
The architecture alone in the entire area is eye catching to creative souls and appreciative onlookers alike. The Poconos have long since been a haven for and an inspiration to artists of all mediums. Stroll up Jim Thorpe’s historic Broadway and pop in at The Gandy Dancer to view art and photography drawn from the local scenery and history, or Anita Shapolsky Art Foundation to take in Abstract Expressionism, films, and poetry. There are many open gallery doors in between. Stroudsburg is home to Susan Bernadette Lebel. Susan is not only a professional florist that creates fairytale wedding arrangements for The Stroudsmoor Country Inn’s blushing brides, she is also a gifted painter. Her nature-inspired art decorates the Auradell Gallery at the Inn, as well as many other places throughout the Poconos and Lehigh Valley.
8. Music is Everywhere
Not a day goes by without music in the Poconos. If theaters are your thing, tickets are always on sale for great acts at the Sherman Theater and Mauch Chunk Opera House. An eclectic array of musicians are always stopping by the area, from classic rock and oldies, to folk, jazz, blues, Celtic music, and hits of today. If a more relaxed atmosphere, or dancing, is what you are looking for, most taverns and restaurants in the area have weekend musicians on tap regularly. There’s no shortage of live entertainment any night of the week.
7. Adventures for the Brave
Afraid of heights? Don’t like getting wet? Close your eyes and keep walking. Are you young, young at heart, or in charge of keeping some youngsters busy for the weekend? Then you’ll be in the right place here. Camelback has more adventure than you can imagine with their ziplines and water slides. Camelback isn’t just for skiers anymore! If you are adventurous (but not that adventurous) you may choose to go horseback riding at the Inn at Pocono Manor’s stables or scream around the track at a local go kart track. Jim Thorpe is home to some of the best whitewater rafting on the Lehigh. Take a kayak lesson at Northeast PA Kayak School, grab a paintball gun, or rent a boat from the Pocono Boat House. Are you the type of person to seek out the Poison Dart frogs at Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary, or the one to sit in the Flutterarium allowing several species of butterflies to noiselessly land in the palm of your hand? The Pocono area is waiting to take your breath away.
6. Time for Tee
If you haven’t experienced the beauty and serenity of the prime greens at the Inn at Pocono Manor or the sprawling fairways at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort, then you haven’t really golfed. The picturesque Mahoning Valley Country Club is now open to the public. A bad day on the golf course isn’t really such a bad day, is it? The Poconos are home to some of the most manicured and breathtaking courses in Pennsylvania…and they are waiting for you.
5. Let the Festivities Begin
All of this relaxing and beauty is enough to make someone want to celebrate. Luckily, the Poconos are always celebrating. The town of Jim Thorpe celebrates its namesake’s birthday every May, along with Earth Day, Fall Foliage, St. Patrick’s Day and an Olde Time Christmas. Halloween brings ghost walks and haunted mines, and horrifyingly haunted woods and mansions. Stroudsburg has notable parades, art festivals, car shows, and carnivals. Keep an eye on local newspapers and websites for full schedules. Most festivals are held in downtown common areas, resorts, and ski hills where they are hard to miss. The Poconos celebrate everything from the Blues, to wine, to garlic, to being Irish for a day!
4. Shop Til You Drop
Nothing compares to finding the perfect item in a unique shop in a quaint town. Stopping in at Josephine’s Fleur-de-lis on Main Street in Stroudsburg, you’ll find the most meaningful jewelry or home décor item to remember your visit. Dunkelberger’s offers women a chance to find the perfect ensemble to wear for a weekend outing while its adjoining outfitter shop will keep any significant other distracted by outdoor gear just long enough. Josephine’s, Dunkelberger’s, and many other boutiques offer specialty items you can’t find just anywhere. The shopping district on Stroudsburg’s bustling main street often offer shoppers special deals, unique treats, and rare deals just to thank you for shopping local. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Once you start, you won’t want to stop.
3. Nature Calls
People move to the Poconos to get away. Tourists visit the Poconos to get away. You need a getaway! There is a state park or environmental center everywhere you turn. Mountains loom on one side of you, a lake, river, or stream flows on the other, no matter where you go. You can’t help but breathe deeper, smile broader, and relax. Hike to the highest lookout or pull up a picnic bench and your favorite book. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot a deer, fox, raccoon, bird, or even a bear. What could be better? You can visit the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau or Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to find a place to hike or camp. If enjoying nature on a more permanent basis is what you are looking for, you can call Commonwealth Real Estate Your Way or Pocono Mountain Lakes Realty to point you in the right direction.
2. Most Comfortable Places to Hang Your Hat
All of that shopping and adventure will make you want to stay just one more day. There is no lack of hospitality when you need a place to stay for the night. Most resorts and hotels in the Poconos offer their guests so much, visitors don’t even need to leave the property. Stroudsmoor Country Inn is a popular wedding destination with a very romantic atmosphere offering special dinners and packages, while the Inn at Pocono Manor and the Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort offer many activities and amenities to keep you busy and boast sprawling grounds and beautiful architecture. Bed & Breakfasts adorn the Jim Thorpe area. Take a step in to a different era at the Inn at Jim Thorpe, or hop across the pond and feel like English royalty at Hillcrest. If you can handle a rustic accommodation, Jim Thorpe Camping and many state parks offer space to park your RV or pop up your tent. The Poconos just beg you to stay…
There’s just one thing left to do before you leave the Poconos…
1. Eat, Drink, & Be Merry!
I have yet to have a meal at a Pocono restaurant I did not enjoy. This area is rich in vineyards, bistros, taverns, pubs, fine restaurants, diners, and hole-in-the-wall local secrets. If you’ll be stopping in town, there are two things you do not want to miss; dinner at Andrew Moore’s Stone Bar Inn and a martini at Liquid. Each offers such a sophisticated and unique atmosphere with truly fantastic menus. Put them on your list, but also give the local specialties a try. Crave at 66 Broadway in Jim Thorpe offers the area a rare option: an authentic Absinthe bar. Give it a whirl and stay to munch, or wander down the street for an eclectic array of options from Irish, to Tex Mex, to local organic. Chances are, you’ll leave full and happy. (If you do actually decide to leave…)