The Pocono Mountains, or Poconos, is a gorgeous region in northeastern Pennsylvania filled with forested peaks, rushing rivers, impressive waterfalls and much more. Just a short drive from New York and New Jersey, it’s a perfect destination for vacationers seeking fun and relaxation.
This amazing area is not only known for its scenic beauty but is also surrounded by small towns that are rich in culture and history. Learn how the Poconos got its name from the Munsee word Pokawachne, which translates to “creek between two hills.”
From horseback riding to historic architecture, there’s truly something for everyone in the Poconos. Here’s a list of 10 ideas for a Poconos vacation you won’t forget.
1. Visit Hickory Run State Park
Hickory Run State Park is a terrific place to get away from the city and enjoy a peaceful day with nature. Here you’ll find many hiking trails that lead you through lush, green forests, alongside lakes, and through mountains with inspiring views. One great trail to check out while visiting Hickory Run is the Shades of Death trail (don’t be intimidated by the name). Named after the challenging terrain that settlers in this area endured long ago, this trail will lead you alongside a delightful creek and past the famous Stametz Dam waterfall.
Another noticeable attraction in this park is the huge 16-acre Hickory Run Boulder Field that is completely surrounded by evergreens. A National Natural Landmark, it will leave you in complete awe. You can also play a game of disc golf or just relax at the beach and take a dip in the lake on a hot day.
2. Visit Seven Tubs Nature Area
Seven Tubs Nature Area covers 500 acres near Wilkes-Barre. More than 12,000 years ago, glacial melt water gouged out potholes and filled them up to create the tubs. It’s the perfect place to bring the family to hike the many easy trails. Summer is a wonderful time to experience vibrant wildflowers in full bloom.
3. Go Whitewater Rafting
Whitewater rafting is a thrilling, unique, and refreshing way to enjoy your summer vacation in the Poconos. Enjoy unique views from the water, learn new things about the surrounding area, and have an exciting time. Famous for its steep-walled gorge carved by the river, Lehigh Gorge State Park is a great location for whitewater rafting. There are plenty of places in the surrounding area that offer whitewater rafting tours. The quaint town of Jim Thorpe, where you can also find some delicious food and a sweet little B&B for the night, offers a variety of rafting tours.
4. Ride A Horse
Horseback riding in the Poconos offers the chance to connect to nature and feel a sense of peace with these amazing animals. Daisy Field Farm, a wildlife preserve, offers many equestrian adventures. Apollo Farms in Palmerton is another great option for a family-friendly adventure.
5. Tour Asa Packer Mansion Museum
Located in the town of Jim Thorpe, the historic Packer mansion was built in 1861. Asa Packer was a coal and railroad magnate, as well as a philanthropist and founder of Lehigh University. Find authentic Victorian furniture and finishings in this astonishingly well-preserved 11,000-square-foot home. Learn all about the Packer family and the history behind this mansion.
6. Zipline At Pocono Treeventures
Pocono TreeVentures is an exciting sports adventure park located in East Stroudsburg featuring eight aerial courses and more than 90 different elements that vary in difficulty. Challenge your balance and coordination on a two-hour rope course that includes swinging log steps, trapezes, rope ladders, and more. Or travel through the canopy of trees and the mountains on nine different zip lines. Options for younger children are also available.
7. Visit the Town of Bushkill
Don’t miss Bushkill Falls, also known as the Niagara of Pennsylvania. The falls are an impressive site to see, consisting of eight different waterfalls with the tallest cascading at over 100 feet. Visit Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail, paddle the Delaware River, go camping, visit Pennsylvania’s tallest waterfall, and much more.
8. Enjoy Kalahari Waterpark
Cool off and relax at America’s largest indoor waterpark. The whole family will enjoy waterslides, lazy rivers, hot tubs, great food, and great company. Plan to stay in the resort, or purchase a day pass for a fun family outing.
9. Take a Ride on a Train
Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway offers rides aboard its 19th-century diesel train. Enjoy spectacular views of the mountains that you can’t find anywhere else while learning about the rich history of the surrounding area.
10. Watch the Birds
Bird watching is a simple, yet incredibly peaceful activity that you can enjoy in the Poconos this. This region of Pennsylvania has an abundance of various birds to observe. With a 50-mile scenic trail system and 3,000 acres of forest, Promised Land State Park is a great location for bird watching. Look for bald eagles, loons, mourning doves, and great-horned owls.
What to Know When You Go to the Poconos
Summertime is one of the best times to visit the Poconos as the weather is just right, the birds are in abundance and the wildflowers are dancing in the sun. While in the Pocono Mountains you’ll be sure to find many great adventures.
- Pack out whatever you pack in
- Be prepared for weather and terrain
- Stay on designated trails to minimize impact on natural habitats
- Enjoy your time exploring the Poconos
Featured Image – Little Falls Trail at Promised Land State Park, PA. Photo by Jim Lukach.
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