A haven for hiking, camping, biking and rafting, Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains region is a perfect spot for a weekend getaway this summer or fall.
The Poconos, located along New York’s border, only take an estimated 90 minutes to reach from New York City. And the area, which is a slightly cheaper alternative to the Catskills, offers a wide variety of activities for visitors.
Below, we’ve listed 14 fun things to do in the Poconos. Our list includes spots for adults and children as well as indoor, outdoor and free activities.
Often referred to as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania,” this scenic locale includes a series of eight waterfalls that are nestled deep into the woods. Hiking Bushkill’s network of trails and bridges to the falls is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in the Poconos.
The Poconos boast a wide variety of museums, a number of which offer something a little different. The No. 9 Coal Mine and Museum allows visitors the chance to ride into the oldest operated anthracite mine as well as check out its museum, which is filled with equipment and artifacts. There’s also the Old Jail Museum, which was the site of execution for seven of the Molly Maguires, or the Pocono Indian Museum. Other spots of interest include the Dorflinger Glass Museum, The Columns Museum and the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum.
Among the many things to do in the Poconos, those in the mood for a wine or beer tasting will find they have plenty of options from which to choose. For oenophiles, some of the top spots include Lago Winery, Blue Ridge Estate Winery, Mountain View Vineyard and Distillery, Antler Ridge Winery and Big Creek Vineyard and Winery. The Poconos are also home to the Susquehanna Brewing Company, which offers tastings and tours.
Also known as the Tricky Triangle, this super speedway not only holds races throughout the summer, but also in-field block parties and activities for children. Its triangular oval has three separate infield sections of racetrack. Check Pocono Raceway’s website for track schedules.
There are a number of family-friendly things to do in the Poconos, including Claws N Paws, an animal park and petting zoo featuring animal shows, giraffe feedings and a turtle pool. Other great spots include Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm – a 19th century German farm dedicated to the preservation and education of rural life – and Pocono Snake and Animal Farm, which includes a pond, petting area and numerous reptiles and animals.
Pocono Tree Ventures
Climb, balance and zip through the trees at this Poconos ropes course. The outdoor aerial forest adventure course includes five varying levels of difficulty as well as a 1,000-foot dual racing zip line and tree platforms constructed of rope, cable and wood configurations.
Asa Packer Mansion
Once the home of philanthropist, Lehigh University founder and railroad magnate Asa Packer, the mansion – a national historic landmark – now offers tours. It consists of three stories and 18 rooms.
Grey Towers National Historical Site
This property was the childhood home of Gifford Pinchot, the first director of the United States Forest Service and twice-elected governor of Pennsylvania. Grey Towers, a national historic landmark, offers tours of the home, its gardens and hiking trails.
Horseback Riding Tours
For a unique tour of the Poconos, take a horseback ride through the meadows, streams and wooded areas of the region. While riding, you can also likely catch a glimpse of the area’s bird and animal life. Many of the Poconos’ horseback tours also offer pony rides for kids and hay wagon rides.
Promised Land State Park
This 3,000-acre park, mostly surrounded by the Delaware State Forest, is a popular spot for hiking, birding, fishing, swimming, camping, trail biking, horseback riding, boating and picnicking. The park also has a sandy beach, boat launch, volleyball court, charcoal grills, boat rentals, a refreshment stand and restrooms with pay showers.
The Crossings Premium Outlets
An open-air mall featuring 100 stores, The Crossings is the top stop for shopping in the Poconos. The shopping center’s directory includes everything from Banana Republic and Calvin Klein to Sunglass Hat, Coach, Kitchen Collection, Pepperidge Farm and a number of eateries. The Crossings is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to p.m. on Sunday.
For many children, an ideal vacation day is one spent at a water park. The Poconos offer several options, including Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, the largest of its type in Pennsylvania. The park has 12 thrill rides, four family rides and three “adventure zone” areas. Split Rock Resort also has its own indoor water park that includes five body, tube and raft slides, a wave pool and Tiki bar. And Costa’s Family Park not only offers water slides, but also laser tag, mini golf and batting cages.
River Rafting and Tubing
Visitors to the Poconos looking for an adventure can spend a day whitewater rafting, which includes views of the wilderness, waterfalls and swimming holes. Other great options include tubing, kayaking or canoeing the Delaware River – all three of which typically run two to three hours, depending on river conditions.
Mount Airy Casino
This casino is set on 1,056 wooded acres and includes four restaurants, 37-inch flat screen TVs, bars, a nightclub, a spa, whirlpool, private cabanas and an 18-hole golf course. Mount Airy also frequently hosts concerts, theater performances and comedy.
Did we miss any of the top activities in the Poconos? If so, let us know in the comment section.
Free Things To Do In The Poconos
Spend a day (or camp overnight) at one of the many state parks throughout the Poconos.
Hickory Run State Park stands out for its massive boulder field, which is the largest of its kind in the eastern Appalachian mountains. Explore the hiking trails by foot or bike or take on the water trails with a kayak or canoe. Other on-site activities include picnic areas, camping sites (reservation and fee required), excellent trout fishing, hunting areas, swimming beach, disc golf, three orienteering courses and a high-tech treasure hunting game called Geocaching.