The Poconos span 2,400 square miles throughout northeastern Pennsylvania near the Delaware River, bordering Lake Wallenpaupack and the Lehigh and Wyoming Valleys. As much of the range lies within the greater New York-Newark combined statistical area, the Poconos are one of the American East Coast's top outdoor recreational destinations for urban dwellers, easily accessible by millions of East Coast residents within less than a two-hour drive. The region is home to two national parks and nine state parks, with most directly bordering each other or located within 30 miles of one another. Outdoor activities abound, from hiking and fishing to cross-country skiing and overnight backcountry camping. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
2.Big Pocono State Park
3.Delaware State Forest
4.Beltzville State Park
5.Gouldsboro State Park
6.Hickory Run State Park
7.Lehigh Gorge State Park
8.Mountain View Park
9.Promised Land State Park
10.Prompton State Park
11.Thomas Darling Preserve
12.Tobyhanna State Park
13.Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River
12 Best Poconos Parks
- Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Photo: Courtesy of Alizada Studios - Fotolia.com
- Big Pocono State Park, Photo: Courtesy of pressmaster - Fotolia.com
- Delaware State Forest, Photo: Courtesy of jeremy - Fotolia.com
- Beltzville State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Thamyris - Fotolia.com
- Gouldsboro State Park, Photo: Courtesy of NADEZHDA - Fotolia.com
- Hickory Run State Park, Photo: Courtesy of oldmn - Fotolia.com
- Lehigh Gorge State Park, Photo: Courtesy of jonbilous - Fotolia.com
- Mountain View Park, Photo: Courtesy of Tim - Fotolia.com
- Promised Land State Park, Photo: Courtesy of sinitar - Fotolia.com
- Prompton State Park, Photo: Courtesy of kichigin19 - Fotolia.com
- Thomas Darling Preserve, Photo: Courtesy of dachux21 - Fotolia.com
- Tobyhanna State Park, Photo: Courtesy of renamarie - Fotolia.com
- Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, Photo: Courtesy of smiltena - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of oldmn - Fotolia.com
Spotlight: Ski Shawnee
The Shawnee Mountain Ski Area is located in the eastern Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. In the winter months, Shawnee Mountain offers 23 ski slopes and trails, 2 terrain parks, and a snow-tubing park. The longest trail on the mountain is just over 5,000 feet long and runs start from a peak of 1,350 feet. Half of the mountain’s trails are marked as intermediate, with 25% beginner friendly, and 25% suitable for expert skiers.
Although there are 50 inches of natural snowfall annually, 100% of the trails have snowmaking capabilities. The mountain offers a ski shop with rentals and a tune and repair center. Known as a family-friendly destination, the mountain offers both full-day or drop-in babysitting service for children over 18 months. There are five separate dining options on the mountain, all offering gluten-free menu items. In the summer months, Shawnee Mountain opens to a wide range of entertainment, festivals, and activities. Popular events include the Autumn Timber Festival, the July Poconos Wurst Festival, and Pocono Puppy Palooza. Most events span 2 days and single or 2-day passes are available. Festival guests may stay at the official Shawnee Festival Host Resort, the Villas at Treetops and Fairway, or choose from a variety of nearby lodging options.
History: The Shawnee Mountain Ski Area was founded in 1975 by husband and wife Karl and Hilda Hope. The resort was sold 4 years later to Shawnee Development Inc. Ms. Hope was active in the community and worked with Eunice Kennedy Shriver to bring the first Special Olympics to the Shawnee Ski area in 1988. Recent updates to the mountain have included new ski lifts, allowing guests to reach the top of the mountain in under 3 minutes.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Billed as a family-friendly ski resort, Shawnee offers extensive programming for young and beginner skiers during the winter, while the summer months offer family-friendly entertainment and festivals. During ski season, the mountain ski school has an extensive variety of options, including beginner lessons for groups or individuals, for both children and adults. Children’s programs include 3-hour group sessions for new skiers as well as specialized sessions such as Mommy and Me ski groups and SkiBaby lessons for 3 year-olds. Development programs for more advanced skiers include 5 and 10-week weekend programs for teens as well as adult programs. The Shawnee Mountain Race Team is for advanced skiers aged 9 to 18.
Past and Future Exhibits: Shawnee Mountain is home to a series of weekend events and festivals through the non-skiing months. The summer season kicks off on Memorial Day weekend with the Shawnee Celtic Festival. Celtic music plays all weekend on two stages, and food offerings include traditional Irish and Scottish fare. Irish step dancers and a working sheep dog show rounds out the entertainment.
The Poconos’ Wurst Festival takes place in July. This Polish and German-themed festival offers musical entertainment, traditional dance performances, and the “Bier Stein Olympics,” a new, fun game for those over the age of 21. Children’s activities include magic and juggling shows and face painting. Of course, the highlight of the Wurst Fest is the food and drink. Several vendors offer wursts, wieners, kielbasa, pierogies, and beer.
The Sweet Corn and BBQ Festival takes place in August. Guests to this 2-day festival enjoy live music, delicious food, and family fun. Over 25 vendors offer roasted and sweet corn and there is BBQ from award-winning pit masters from Texas, Memphis, Kansas City, and more. Western-themed music plays all weekend long. Children will enjoy the juggling and magic shows as well as the games in the kids’ picnic area. Guests are encouraged to bring bags to take home some fresh vegetables from the farmers market.
The fall season kicks off with the Autumn Timber Festival. At this event guests enjoy the fall foliage and a full weekend of family-friendly entertainment, food, and music. The Timber Team Ironjack Shows are the highlight of the weekend, as Alaskan lumberjacks dazzle the crowds with pole-climbing, chainsaw competitions, log-rolls, and more. One of the premier canine shows in the country, the Classic K9 Performance Team, offers a high-energy dog show with tricks and stunts set to music. Live music entertainment as well as food and beverage vendors are ongoing throughout the weekend.
Pocono Puppy Palooza takes place in September and entertains with several events for both guests and their dogs. All proceeds go to a local animal rescue.
401 Hollow Road, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania 18301, Phone: 570-421-7231
Back to: Poconos, PA
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Spotlight: FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts
The F. M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts theater in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The grand art deco theater originally opened in 1938 as a movie house and operated as such until 1977. It reopened in 1986, newly restored as the Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. The theater’s exterior is a unique trapezoidal shape and the art deco façade is made from marble and terracotta.
The original carpet has been restored according to old photographs and written descriptions from the 1930s. In addition, the colors and style of the hand-painted wallpaper and the ceilings in the lobby have been meticulously matched through research and skill, and re-painted with the same 1938 art deco technique. The seating has been updated to preserve the lines of sight while offering more leg room, more wheelchair accessible seating, and more comfortable red-velvet cushions for today’s patrons. The Kirby Center has hosted over 2.5 million guests since the 1986 re-opening and offers a wide variety of entertainment and shows. The Kirby Center has been host to everything from cattle auctions and grand opera to ballet, ice skaters, and comedians. In addition to entertainment, the center plays host to weddings, parties, and graduations as well as religious ceremonies, political speeches, and meetings. The F. M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts theater in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The grand art deco theater originally opened in 1938 as a movie house and operated as such until 1977. It reopened in 1986, newly restored as the Kirby Center for the Performing Arts. The theater’s exterior is a unique trapezoidal shape and the art deco façade is made from marble and terracotta.
The original carpet has been restored according to old photographs and written descriptions from the 1930s. In addition, the colors and style of the hand-painted wallpaper and the ceilings in the lobby have been meticulously matched through research and skill, and re-painted with the same 1938 art deco technique. The seating has been updated to preserve the lines of sight while offering more leg room, more wheelchair accessible seating, and more comfortable red-velvet cushions for today’s patrons. The Kirby Center has hosted over 2.5 million guests since the 1986 re-opening and offers a wide variety of entertainment and shows. The Kirby Center has been host to everything from cattle auctions and grand opera to ballet, ice skaters, and comedians. In addition to entertainment, the center plays host to weddings, parties, and graduations as well as religious ceremonies, political speeches, and meetings.
Each year, the Kirby Center offers over 80 cultural and educational shows for free to promote accessibility and education for all people of the community. The Young People’s Theater is just one of these programs and is host to approximately 10,000 grade school and high school students annually. Young People’s Theater events include Story Pirates, in which professional actors create a sketch comedy musical production of a local child’s original story. The Arts Education Program offers free master classes and teacher-in-service workshops to local schools and businesses. The Kirby Center partners with over 45 social service organizations annually to offer 2,000 free tickets to the members of the community.
Past & Future Exhibits: The F. M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts offers over 125 events annually. Past musical visitors have included Ringo Starr, Patti LaBelle, Foreigner, and Bryan Adams among others. The Kirby Center also hosts Broadway shows, and in 2016 offered Mamma Mia and Annie. The center’s ongoing Film Series features viewings of some of the most critically acclaimed recent releases as well as classic films.
71 Public Square Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701, Phone: 570-823-4599
Back to: Best Things to Do in the Poconos, PA
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Spotlight: Eckley Miners’ Village
Located in Wthe Poconos, Pennsylvania, Eckley Miners’ Village is a 73 acre historic coal mining town. Eckley Miners’ Village is the perfect location to explore the historic and cultural significance of coal mining and the people who were involved in it. Prior to the 1850s, Eckley was known as Shingletown. Shingletown was rural and was known as a forest community. Tench Coxe Estate, who were the owners of Shingletown, used Shingletown as a place to manufacture shingles.
In 1853, Richard Sharpe, Asa Lansford Foster, Francis Weiss, and John Leisenring traveled to Shingletown with the intent to explore the land in search for coal. The men found an abundance of coal in Shingletown and decided to create a company, which is known as Sharpe, Weiss, and Company. The primary owner of the Tench Coxe Estate, Judge Charles Coxe, decided to give the four men a lease on his establishment, so they could operate as coal miners. One year later, the men started working.
Within the first year of operations, the company made many advancements in the coal mining industry. Firstly, they created a saw mill to supply the town with their own lumber. Then, they began creating a small village where coal miners could rest and spend their free time. Initially, the town was named Fillmore. A few decades after, the town was renamed Eckley to honor Eckley B. Coxe, who was Judge Charles Coxe’s son.
Eckley’s first inhabitants primarily came from Great Britain. This community of English and Welsh immigrants were mostly made of coal miners. Throughout the 1850s and 1860s, Irish farmers began immigrating to Eckley. Then from the 1880s to 1890s, Eastern and Southern European immigrants moved to Eckley. Many immigrants who came to Eckley throughout the mid to late 1880s traveled with the intent of working long and hard hours in coal mines, which would allow them to make and save enough money to eventually purchase their own land and resume their old career and lifestyle as farmers. Unfortunately, few people were able to successfully carry out this dream since it was hard to rise from poverty and leave the company system.
Eckley Miners’ Village has a variety of historical attractions, which tell the history of the Village and the people who lived there.
Visitors’ Center was established in 1975. Every Eckley tour starts with an orientation and brief background of Eckley, which takes place at the Visitors’ Center. Some of the highlights of the Visitors’ Center includes a small exhibit hall, resemblance of the schoolhouse that used to sit at the site of the Visitors’ Center, and a movie presentation.
Immaculate Conception Church was established in 1861 and is a Catholic Church located on the poorer side of Eckley Miners’ Village. Irish immigrants primarily used this Church. The inside of the Church resembles what it looked like during the 1920s, as it was restored.
Eckley Sports and Social Club was established in 1946 and was used as a social hotspot for the residents of Eckley. Today, people still visit and use the club.
Slate Picker’s House was established in 1854 and is located on Back Street. The Slate Picker’s House is comprised of three rooms, which Irish immigrants occupied upon their arrival. The house is named after the position many men had who stayed here. Slate men were laborers who organized slate from the coal. This job paid the least among any other job in the village.
Laborer’s Dwelling was also built in 1854 and served as another residence for workers. Each structure was comprised of two half houses. Up to fifteen people would live in one half house. Each half house was comprised of 1.5 levels and four rooms, including a kitchen and a bedroom for a family.
Company Store was originally built in 1857, and then rebuilt during the 1960s by Paramount Studies for a movie. Although there were privately owned stores who had the cheapest prices in the area, miners were mostly required to purchase anything from the company store.
St. James Episcopal Church was built in 1859 and was the primary church for Welsh, German, and English residents who were Episcopalian.
Since visiting Eckley Miners’ Village is an educational opportunity within itself, there is a minimal amount of educational opportunities at the Village. While visitors are allowed to explore the Visitors’ Center by themselves, they are required to participate in a guided tour to explore the rest of the village. Eckley Miners’ Village offers a variety of general and specialized guided tours, which focus on different aspects of the Village.
2 Eckley Main St. Weatherly, Pennsylvania 18255, Phone: 570-636-2070
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