I’ve had the best intentions to write a post about a getaway to Jim Thorpe, PA, practically since I returned from a trip there with a friend back in October. But since it’s taken so long to get to it, and I really want to share info about this awesome destination, I’m doing a more abbreviated version than I’d originally planned. However, the gist is this: Jim Thorpe, PA, is a fantastic place for a weekend (or longer) escape. And even though I experienced it on a girls’ weekend away, it would be ideal for families, too. In fact, I’m making plans to return with mine this summer.
Jim Thorpe is located in northeastern Pennsylvania, about a four-hour drive from DC. It’s apparently often called the “Switzerland of America,” and one look at the pretty town with it’s colorful buildings and stone clocktower against the backdrop of the Poconos Mountains you understand why. Two main streets, Broadway and Race, are lined with a mix of shops, restaurants, and cafes. There’s a whimsical, almost magical vibe about the town — it seems like several stores have an Alice in Wonderland thing going on, and many of them sell lots of fun, clever, artistic items. My friend and I were there during the Fall Foliage Festival that runs almost every weekend in October, with all kinds of free live music both indoors and out, a big outdoor market, a scarecrow contest, and ghost tours.
Before our trip, I had heard of JT as a popular mountain biking destination, but didn’t know much about the town beyond that. Looking into it further, we discovered even more to enjoy all year round. One of the town’s main attractions is the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, which offers excursions along the Lehigh River north into Lehigh Gorge State Park. The small station — and train, if it’s there — is one of the first sights when you drive into town. We actually didn’t ride the train on our visit, since we opted to navigate the route on two wheels instead. We rented bikes and rode the 25-mile Lehigh Gorge Trail through the state park back into town. It’s slightly downhill, so not really strenuous, a ride that experienced young bikers could probably tackle, too.
There’s even more active recreation to enjoy in Jim Thorpe, depending on the season. During summer, whitewater rafting on the Lehigh River is a popular pursuit and lakes in the area are great for boating and swimming. Skiing is the big winter sport with resorts all around the Poconos. And there’s plenty of good hiking most of the year — trails meander through woods, lead to waterfalls, and offer scenic views of the pretty area. Even more, there are festivals that bring all kinds of fun and entertainment (the next one being the Jim Thorpe Hometown Festival on July 6, and the Fall Foliage Festival is a great one to plan ahead for).
We found an Airbnb just across the river within walking distance of town, which was great since we didn’t have to worry about driving and finding parking. There are rentals available in town, too, along with a few inns. Larger homes and cabins can be found a bit further out, where you can spread out more then make excursions into town for fun and food. There are plenty of good restaurants to enjoy a meal and lots of live entertainment — the Mauch Chunk Opera House and Broadway Grille are great places to hear good music. And for some KidFree fun, I highly recommend the totally awesome Back to the 80’s Bar, where it might be possible to convince a bar-ful of tipsy people to sing along to Borderline with you (not that I’d know from experience or anything 😉).
With summer right around the corner when families might be looking for fun weekend escapes, this seemed like a good time to finally post about Jim Thorpe. Learn more about the wonderful destination here and get more of a glimpse in the photos below.