The charming town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

8 Of The Most Charming Small Towns To Visit In The Poconos

The Pocono Mountains are located in northeastern Pennsylvania. With over 2,400 square miles of protected forests and parks, the Poconos are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, providing opportunities for hiking, skiing, fishing, and wildlife observation. The region also has numerous resorts, spas, and golf courses. Historically, the Poconos were inhabited by Native American tribes, and the area played a role in the colonial era, with many charming towns dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, the Pocono Mountains are home to scenic small towns where visitors can explore rugged natural wonders and stroll down historic Main Streets.

Jim Thorpe

The charming town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
The charming town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, is within the rugged terrains of the Pocono Mountains and alongside the Lehigh River. Originally known as Mauch Chunk, which means "Bear Mountain" in the native Munsee language, the town's early economy thrived on coal mining, railroading, and canal shipping. The town was renamed in 1954 in honor of Jim Thorpe, an Olympic athlete whose remains are buried there to preserve his legacy.

Glen Onoko Falls and Trail has a series of waterfalls and forested scenery. This trail leads to views of cascading waters set against a backdrop of dense foliage. Next, the Asa Packer Mansion is a well-preserved example of Victorian-era architecture built in 1861 for Asa Packer. She was a prominent figure in the railroad industry and the founder of Lehigh University. The mansion is now a museum. Last, aboard the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. This vintage train journey takes passengers along the winding Lehigh River, through cliffs, and past the forests of the Pocono Mountains.


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

Milford is located at the confluence of the Delaware River and Sawkill Creek and is enveloped by the Pocono Mountains and the Delaware Water Gap. It is a connection between Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. The town was founded in 1796 by Judge John Biddis, one of Milford's forefathers who named its streets after his children. Milford's architecture reflects its historical affluence, with well-preserved Federalist and Victorian buildings.

The Grey Towers National Historic Site is the ancestral home of Gifford Pinchot, the first chief of the US Forest Service and twice-elected governor of Pennsylvania. This French château-style mansion, set on sprawling grounds, is open for tours. For a natural attraction, Raymondskill Falls is located just a few miles from the town center. The falls cascade in a series of three tiers, with a total drop that is only a few feet shorter than Niagara Falls. Conclude your visit with a relaxing day at Milford Beach, a spot along the Delaware River with sandy shores, picnic areas, and boat access. It is great for water-based activities like kayaking and canoeing.


Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Main Street in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, is located along the banks of the McMichaels Creek and is near the Delaware River. Founded in 1799 by Jacob Stroud, the town's layout and growth were significantly influenced by its transportation, first through waterways and later through railroads and highways. Stroudsburg's architecture and urban planning include a blend of colonial, Victorian, and modern influences. Historic buildings, some of which date back to the town's early days, line the streets.

Near Stroudsburg, Big Pocono State Park is a natural reserve atop Camelback Mountain, one of the highest points in the Pocono Mountains. The park has panoramic views that stretch into three states, perfect for hiking, picnicking, and wildlife observation. Alternatively, step back in time at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, a 19th-century Pennsylvania German farm. This interactive museum has costumed interpreters demonstrating traditional farming techniques, crafts, and daily living activities of the era. Do not miss visiting Stroudsmoor Country Inn, a charming resort that epitomizes the hospitality and rustic elegance of the Pocono Mountains. This family-owned inn has fine dining with mountain views.

Delaware Water Gap

The spectacular landscape of the Delaware Water Gap
The spectacular landscape of the Delaware Water Gap region.

Delaware Water Gap is a small borough that derives its name from the natural feature where the Delaware River cuts through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains, creating the "Water Gap." It is on the eastern border of Pennsylvania, adjacent to New Jersey. Historically, this area was a critical passage for Native American tribes, European settlers, and, eventually, for those traveling westward during the expansion of the United States.

Bushkill Falls, often referred to as the "Niagara of Pennsylvania," has a collection of eight waterfalls nestled deep within the forests of the Pocono Mountains. It is accessible through a network of hiking trails that cater to all levels. Next, step onto a segment of the Appalachian Trail, the footpath that stretches over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine. The section near Delaware Water Gap has scenic vistas, with trails leading through forests, over mountain ridges, and along streams. End your visit with the Water Gap Trolley Tour, a guided excursion. Riding in the comfort of a trolley, visitors can learn about the area's history, geology, and natural beauty.


Saint Matthew's Church in KunkletownSaint Matthew's Church in Kunkletown. Image credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli from Pennsylvania via Wikimedia Commons.

Kunkletown is a small, unincorporated village in the rolling hills and landscapes of Monroe County within the larger Pocono Mountains region. Its geography of verdant valleys and streams, such as Aquashicola Creek, intertwines the community with the natural environment. Over the years, Kunkletown has retained much of its quiet way of life, with historical farmhouses and barns dotting the landscape.

The Blue Mountain Vineyards near Kunkeltown is known for its commitment to crafting fine wines that reflect the region's terroir. Visitors can tour the facilities, learn about the winemaking process from grape to glass, and taste award-winning wines. Another top attraction is the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary. This sanctuary lets visitors interact with and learn about butterflies, moths, and other insects in a hands-on environment. Guests should also stop at Beltzville State Park. It has a 949-acre lake, sandy beaches, and miles of hiking trails in the Pocanos.


Beltzville State Park near Lehighton, Pennsylvania
Beltzville State Park near Lehighton, Pennsylvania. Editorial credit: Helen89 /

Lehighton is set on the banks of the Lehigh River and cradled by the foothills of the Pocono Mountains. The Lenape Native Americans initially inhabited the area before European settlers arrived in the 18th century. Lehighton's establishment and growth were intimately tied to the coal mining industry and the transportation networks that supported it, including the Lehigh Canal and, later, the railroads. The town's name itself, adopted in 1866, reflects its roots, with "Lehighton" likely deriving from "Lehigh Town."

Country Junction in Lehighton is famously known as the "World’s Largest General Store." It goes beyond the concept of a traditional general store, selling a mix of goods, from home décor and gardening supplies to pet products. Meanwhile, Mauch Chunk Lake Park has a picturesque lake for swimming, fishing, hiking, and boating. The park also has educational opportunities that explore the local flora, fauna, and geological features. Lastly, Galen Glen Vineyard & Winery is in the rolling hills of the Lehigh Valley. This family-owned vineyard takes pride in producing high-quality wines that reflect the terroir of the region.

Lake Harmony

View of Lake Harmony from Lake Harmony Inn, Pennsylvania.
View of Lake Harmony from Lake Harmony Inn, Pennsylvania. Image credit: Tsund7901 via Wikimedia Commons.

Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania, is a locale in the Pocono Mountains of Carbon County. Formed by a glacier during the last Ice Age, the lake is the centerpiece of the area, surrounded by forests and hills that have made it a sought-after retreat from urban life. Historically, Lake Harmony was part of the vast hunting and fishing grounds of the Lenape Native Americans before European settlers arrived. In the early 20th century, the area began to develop into a vacation destination.

Lake Harmony Cruises has guided boat tours, a peaceful and informative way to explore the lake. The guests give visitors insights into the area's history, geology, and wildlife while witnessing the Pocono Mountains from a unique vantage point. For an adrenaline-pumping excursion, visit the Pocono Raceway, a premier motorsports facility known as the "Tricky Triangle" due to its unique triangular shape. The raceway hosts various high-speed racing events, including NASCAR and IndyCar races. Finally, Hickory Run State Park has over 40 miles of hiking trails, wildlife habitats, and the impressive Boulder Field, a National Natural Landmark. The park is ideal for hiking, fishing, and picnicking.


A wild black bear in Hawley, Pennsylvania
A wild black bear in Hawley, Pennsylvania.

Hawley is positioned near the northern edge of the Pocono Mountains and along the banks of the Lackawaxen River. The small town was established in 1827 and named after Irad Hawley, the first president of the Pennsylvania Coal Company. The town's growth was initially fueled by its location on the Delaware Canal and Hudson Canal. The surrounding landscape, with its forests and proximity to the river and Lake Wallenpaupack, contributed to lumber mills later on and other industries reliant on natural resources.

Lake Wallenpaupack near Hawley is a man-made lake built in 1926 that has since become one of the largest and most popular recreational destinations in the Poconos. It spans over 5,700 acres and has 52 miles of shoreline. Additionally, the Dorflinger-Suydam Wildlife Sanctuary has walking trails that meander through diverse habitats, home to plant and animal species native to the Poconos. The sanctuary also houses the Dorflinger Glass Museum, which shows the exquisite cut glass produced by the Dorflinger Factory in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Finally, Hawley Silk Mill was once the largest bluestone building in the world and a silk mill employing hundreds of workers. The building now hosts a collection of boutique shops, art galleries, a coffee shop, and a fitness center.

In Summary

The Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania harbor scenic small towns—havens for those seeking immersion in nature, history, and a slower pace of life. From Jim Thorpe's vintage railway to Milford's three-tiered falls, the array of experiences available in these towns is unmatched. Stroudsburg's blend of colonial, Victorian, and modern architecture, alongside its proximity to state parks, adds to the region's allure. Indeed, the small towns in the Poconos cater to nature lovers, history buffs, and those seeking a timeless escape.

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