The Top 10 Things to Do in the Poconos

Rafting at the Lehigh River near by Jim Thorp (Mauch Chunk), Carbon County, Poconos region, Pennsylvania
Alex Potemkin / Getty Images

The Pocono Mountains are a family-friendly destination that are about a two-hour drive from Philadelphia and three hours from New York City. As a popular getaway from these nearby cities, the area is usually associated with winter activities of all kinds—particularly skiing. However, there's an abundance of fun indoor and outdoor experiences to enjoy all year long.

Here are some great things to do in the Pocono Mountains.

01 of 10

Ski at Shawnee Mountain Ski Area

A skiier in a red jacket skiing down a mountain

Getty Images / Thomas Barwick

401 Hollow Rd, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301, USA
Phone +1 570-421-7231

With an elevation of 3,500 feet and winter snowfall averaging about 50 inches, Shawnee Mountain Ski Area is a well-known destination for downhill ski enthusiasts. There are more than 20 great trails here (the longest is over 5,000 feet), so both newbies and well-seasoned skiers will find plenty of options. The mountain also features two terrain parks for snowboarders, and a special area of the park dedicated to snow tubing. The ski area offers rental equipment, several dining options at the lodges, and several chairlifts.

02 of 10

Visit Bushkill Falls

Bushkill Falls, PA

 Getty Images

138 Bushkill Falls Trail, Bushkill, PA 18324, USA
Phone +1 570-588-6682

Often referred to as the “Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania,” Bushkill Falls is a stunningly beautiful retreat for outdoor enthusiasts. The area features easy-to-moderate trails with a number of lovely lookout points along the way—as well as picturesque bridges to cross and eight waterfalls of various sizes. Be sure to check the recent rainfall in the area before going, as that will determine the strength of the waterfalls.

03 of 10

Mountain Bike at Blue Mountain Bike Park

View of Blue Mountain, PA

 Alex Potemkin / Getty Images

Unnamed Road, Kunkletown, PA 18058, USA
Phone +1 610-826-7700

Do you love riding your bike through nature and rugged terrain? The Blue Mountain Bike Park in Palmerton, Pennsylvania is the perfect destination for mountain bikers. It’s the largest downhill bike park in the state and attracts enthusiasts from across the region. This activity is fun for all ages and levels, so you don’t need to be an expert to enjoy mountain biking here. And you can do multiple runs, too, as there’s a quad lift to quickly bring you back up to the summit. Open May through October, we recommend purchasing tickets in advance.

04 of 10

Hike the McDade Recreational Trail

Woods and a hiking trail

 Douglas Sacha / Getty Images

McDade Recreational Trail, East Stroudsburg, PA 18302, USA

There are many hiking trails in the Pocono Mountains, but for a stress-free and fun day, choose the McDade Recreational Trail, located in Monroe County. It’s a 31-mile trail that’s considered easy-to-moderate, with clearly marked trails and a ton of beautiful scenery. With access points every few miles, it boasts stunning views of the Delaware River, farmlands, historic sites, and even a beach. It’s pet-friendly, so feel to bring your dog along for the hike.

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05 of 10

Paddle in the Poconos

Front tip of a yellow kayak

Salisa Engle / EyeEm / Getty Images

Home to plenty of rivers and lakes, the Poconos are hugely popular for kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts. If you're new to paddling, consider joining a group tour and renting all of your equipment from the canoe or kayak tour company. (It's best to schedule in advance!) Otherwise, it's easy to find a location that best suited to your skillset.

06 of 10

Go Birdwatching at Promised Land State Park

Hawk flying in front of blue sky


Klaus Haussmann / EyeEm / Getty Images

100 Lower Lake Rd, Greentown, PA 18426, USA
Phone +1 570-676-6010

Calling all birdwatchers! The Promised Land State Park in Greentown, Pennsylvania is considered one of the best destinations in the Poconos to gaze at the many avian species who live or migrate here. In fact, the National Audubon Society has designated it an “Important Bird Area.” With over 3,000 acres, this park is situated on the “Pocono plateau,” which is about 1,800 feet above sea level. You’ll see songbirds here—including American redstarts and Blackburnian warblers—and you can even view an eagle’s nest from the Wildlife Observation Center.

07 of 10

Tour a Historical Mansion

Packer Hill Ave, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229, USA
Phone +1 570-325-3229

Located in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, The Mansion is a Pocono landmark, built in the late 1800s by Asa Packer, philanthropist and founder of Lehigh University. Designed by architect Samuel Sloan, the home today features an abundance of awe-inspiring art and artifacts from the last century. Visitors are welcome to tour the mansion, as well as the surrounding picturesque grounds; for tickets and tour information, be sure to check out the official website as tour times may vary.

08 of 10

Ride the Rails Into Lehigh George State Park

Jim Thorpe, PA

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1 Susquehanna St, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229, USA
Phone +1 570-325-8485

Taking a ride on the Pocono’s Lehigh George Scenic Railway train is a relaxing and delightful experience. Operated by Reading and Northern Railroad, the train travels 16 miles round trip from Downtown Jim Thorpe into Lehigh George State Park. Along the way, the narrated excursion will provide you with interesting information about local history, wildlife, and nature. As the train curves along the Lehigh Valley and the gorge, you’ll be mesmerized by the incredible views. Be sure to purchase tickets in advance.

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09 of 10

Explore the Lost River Caverns

726 Durham St, Hellertown, PA 18055, USA
Phone +1 610-838-8767

The Lost River Caverns in Hellertown, Pennsylvania is a fascinating tourist attraction that’s been in existence since the 1930s. A former limestone quarry, the cavern is home to an array of stunning crystal and rock formations, mostly made of dolomite. Here, you can take an underground guided walking tour along 1,000 feet of paved walkways. (It’s best to schedule a tour in advance; you can purchase tickets on the website.) Afterwards, stick around to admire a reconstructed gem mill, walk along nature trails, visit the Gilman Museum, and purchase gems and jewelry from the gift shop.

10 of 10

Tour the Old Jail Museum

Old Jail Museum in Poconos

Alex Potemkin / Getty Images

128 W Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA 18229-1933, USA
Phone +1 570-325-5259

Located in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, this historic stone structure was built in the 1800s and has nearly 80 rooms, a warden’s quarters, and dungeons. Take a guided tour to hear some of the jail's most intriguing tales about notorious prisoners, and of course, creepy ghost stories. Visit the website for details about tour times and tickets.  

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The Top 10 Things to Do in the Poconos