Overlooking Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

8 Breathtaking Towns to Visit in The Poconos

If your idea of the perfect vacation involves sky-scraping mountains, cascading waterfalls, fantastic foliage, and tranquil lakes, the Pocono Mountains are your dream destination. Nudged into the very northeast corner of Pennsylvania and stretching from Wayne County in the north to Carbon County in the south, this 2,400 square mile area is home to jaw-dropping scenery, inviting small towns and historic sites of interest. Archaeologists have found evidence of human habitation as far back as 10,000 years ago, making the Poconos one of the oldest Native American sites in the Northeastern US. Its tourism industry began in the early 1800s and has thrived since then, attracting around 30 million visitors every year to enjoy the Poconos' breathtaking scenery and exciting attractions.

Delaware Water Gap

The spectacular Delaware River in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
The spectacular Delaware River in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

In 1829, the Poconos’ first hotel opened its doors in the town of Delaware Water Gap. This picturesque small town soon became a summer hotspot thanks to the arrival of the railway in 1856. In the warm months, visitors can often be found paddling, kayaking, or swimming in the Delaware River, which winds through the mountainous gap that gives the town its name.

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is worth a visit any time of year, with 70,000 protected areas of unspoiled wilderness to explore. There are plenty of scenic spots in town too. Check out the Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery and the Tour the Castle Inn, both prime examples of gorgeous turn-of-the-century architecture.


Trout Stream Trail in Skytop, Pennsylvania
Trout Stream Trail in Skytop, Pennsylvania.

For the best views in the Poconos, you have to go high. Skytop offers magnificent panoramas of the region’s dazzling scenery. Be sure to take your camera to the rooftop observation deck at the Skytop Lodge which offers breathtaking views in every direction. A few minutes from town, you will find the Promised Land State Park spanning 3,000 acres on the Pocono Plateau. It’s easy to spend a full day here with 50 miles of hiking trails, two lakes, and a free museum to explore.

If you are visiting in summer, you might be lucky enough to catch the Pocono Mountains Music Festival, which takes place in Skytop every year and features musicians from almost every genre as well as musical theater performers.

Jim Thorpe

Historic downtown streets of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
Historic downtown streets of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock.com

One of the oldest towns in the Poconos, Jim Thorpe is famous for its rich history, stunning streets, and unusual name. Originally known as Mauch Chunk, which means "bear place," the town was renamed in 1954 to honor the first Native American athlete to win an Olympic Gold medal for the US. Founded in 1818, Jim Thorpe is a quaint town with leafy old-world streets and distinctive red brick architecture. Nearby Lehigh Gorge State Park gives visitors a chance to experience the thrill and beauty of the great outdoors with whitewater rafting, winding hiking trails, and serene fishing spots.


Winding wooden boardwalk across a flowing river and small waterfalls, Bushkill Falls, Pennsylvania
Winding wooden boardwalk across a flowing river and small waterfalls, Bushkill Falls, Pennsylvania.

Bushkill’s most popular tourist stop isn’t man-made. Known as the Niagara Falls of Pennsylvania, the town’s famous Bushkill Falls first opened to the public in 1904 and are a big draw for hikers, birdwatchers, and anyone who wants to go home with stunning vacation photos. The park is a collection of eight waterfalls spread over 300 acres and includes two miles of hiking trails. The Main Falls cascades over a 100-foot cliff into a deep, rocky gorge.

Another must-see is the Bridalveil Falls which gets its name from the misty shroud that hangs over the tumbling water. Many walkways and bridges provide stunning views of the waterfalls from every angle; you may even get close enough to feel the spray.


The serene Lake Wallenpaupack area near Hawley, Pennsylvania.
The serene Lake Wallenpaupack area near Hawley, Pennsylvania.

A pretty main street packed with colorful storefronts, sandy lakeshore beaches, and wooded parks makes Hawley a gorgeous destination that is well worth a visit. Top attractions include the Stourbridge Line, a historic railway route that offers a variety of excursions and special themed events. Ride in a vintage carriage while enjoying spectacular views of the Lackawaxen River Valley and the northern Poconos. Hawley is also home to the dazzling Wallenpaupack Lake, also known as "the big lake." Enjoy a pink-tinged sunset from the shoreline or spend an hour fishing its tranquil waters, Wallenpaupack deserves its reputation as the jewel of the Poconos.


Beltzville State Park near Lehighton, Pennsylvania.
Beltzville State Park near Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Image credit Helen89 via Shutterstock.com.

Located on the beautiful Lehigh River, the town of Lehighton is a pretty mountain community along the iconic Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. Lehighton is a great starting point for a hike along this historic transportation route that stretches more than 165 miles and includes the National Canal Museum. The D&L Trail is perfect for hikers, bikers, or even just a leisurely stroll, winding past historic ruins, over suspended bridges, and in the shadow of lofty mountains.

Not feeling energetic? Enjoy a picnic or set up camp in the Beltzville State Park, a peaceful 3,002 acre recreation and conservation area on the shores of Beltzville Lake.


Aerial view of Milford, Pennsylvania.
Overlooking Milford, Pennsylvania.

Milford is one of the top places in the Poconos to sightsee, thanks to its gorgeous architecture and incredible natural attractions. Downtown, you will find the Historic Forest Hall, an architectural masterpiece from the 1880s Gothic Revival tradition. The Grey Towers National Historic Landmark is another architectural gem, a sprawling estate that was once the home of former Pennsylvania Governor Gifford Pinchot. The grounds and house are open to the public, giving visitors a chance to savor the lush lawns and turreted mansion. Outside of town, be sure to plan a visit to the Raymondskill Falls. This remarkable waterfall pours down over three tiers of rock and can be seen up close from two specially constructed viewing platforms.

For those visiting in the fall, the Milford Knob Trail climbs through dense forest opening out to spectacular views of the town amid the glorious ambers, yellows, and reds of the fall foliage.


Zenas H. Russell Home at 803 Church St in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.
Zenas H. Russell Home in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

In 1829, the first steam locomotive ever to run on commercial tracks in the US rolled into Honesdale. It was an auspicious start to the town’s booming tourist trade which still offers visitors scenic rail trips via the Stourbridge Line. Prompton State Park is also popular with guests thanks to its 26 miles of picturesque hiking trails and idyllic picnic spots. On a clear day it’s worth the hike up Irving Cliff, a one mile trail that steadily climbs to overlook the entire town and surrounding forests.

Stunning in fall, Honesdale is also a well-known winter destination, with lots of rural wilderness to explore by ski, snowshoe, or sled. Songwriter and Honesdale native Dick Smith took inspiration from his beautiful hometown when he penned the holiday hit Winter Wonderland in 1934.

Picturesque Poconos

An area of outstanding natural beauty, the Poconos mountain range is a paradise for nature-lovers, but there is lots to draw your eye in its charming small towns too. Historic buildings and inviting downtowns effortlessly blend with a stunning natural backdrop perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Visit the Poconos, and you are sure to come home with an album full of enviable vacation photos that will keep memories of your trip alive for years to come. Four counties, 150 lakes, 170 miles of rivers, and 261 miles of hiking and biking trails add up to one big adventure in the Poconos.

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