Aerial view of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

The Best Small Towns In The Poconos For A Weekend Retreat

Enveloped by enchanting mountain vistas, the Poconos is what everyone needs to rest, clear the mind, and be more in tune with nature. This year-round outdoor playground is close to both New York and Philadelphia — making it ideal for a weekend retreat. Natural wonders in the Poconos include the Bushkill Falls, regarded as Pennsylvania's Niagara. To explore this gorgeous expanse, consider visiting the following eight towns. They are the best small towns in the Poconos for a weekend retreat.

Jim Thorpe

Downtown Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
Downtown Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Vacationers will love spending a weekend retreat in Jim Thorpe, a cute little town of less than 5,000 residents famous nationwide for its eye-catching Victorian architecture. JT, as Jim Thorpe is called, hosts The Mauch Chunk Opera House, one of America’s most intimate concert venues. Originally built on "millionaires row” in 1881 (though later remodeled to capture modern touches), this imposing edifice is also a historical gem. Broadway Street, which mostly anchors the town, is straddled by swanky restaurants, including stand-outs such as Broadway Grille + Underground.

Sit down to some roasted corn soup here before venturing to lovely outdoor venues such as The Lehigh Gorge State Park, home to numerous hiking trails and sparkling cascades. While one will have a delightful range of cozy Airbnbs to choose from, The Inn At Jim Thorpe is conveniently located at the foot of Broadway and boasts a history that goes back more than 170 years.


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

The family home of Gifford Pinchot, celebrated as the nation's first practicing forester, is among Milford’s most famous landmarks. Known as Grey Towers, the arresting L-shaped mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places. A guided tour here is a cool, nature-themed adventure that also includes a short but incredibly scenic trail. Milford’s tree-lined streets feature a delicious coterie of fancy restaurants, including Waterwheel Café, a charming riverside gem known to offer a delightful blend of flavors.

For the history lover, The Columns Museum of the Pike County Historical Society houses unique displays, including a 36-star flag stained with the blood of President Lincoln. The flag was draped over the balustrade at Ford Theater’s Presidential Box the night John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln. This done, it will be time to explore the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania — the three-tiered Raymondskill Falls. Scottish Inns is comfortable and quiet — and is close to Village Diner — the go-to place for delicious and filling meals.


Vintage coaches of the Stourbridge Line train in Honesdale, PA.
Vintage coaches of the Stourbridge Line train in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Image credit: Alizada Studios -

Honesdale reclines at the confluence of the Lackawaxen and Dyberry rivers, about two hours from New York City. It is known as the “Birthplace of the American Railroad” because it was the site of the first locomotive in the United States to run on commercial tracks. First-time visitors can marvel at the full-size replica of the technological landmark at the Wayne County Historical Society Museum, housed in an 1860 building located on Main Street. Irving Cliff, Gibbons Park, besides featuring multiple hiking trails, provides a spectacular bird’s eye view of Honesdale and should be on the to-do list of every first-time vacationer.

Also, one will enjoy sampling the range of unique souvenirs at Maude and Main, a quaint and exquisite store on Main Street that can easily steal the whole morning. Still, it would be inconceivable to miss out on the Stourbridge Line Train Excursions, a charming train ride that goes through a beautiful stretch ideal for feasting the eyes on nature. Stay at Hotel Wayne, conveniently located in the historic district. Alternatively, the iconic Ledges Hotel is just 10 miles away in Hawley.


A black bear in the town of Hawley, Pennsylvania
A black bear in the town of Hawley, Pennsylvania.

Not many towns have a river running through them, imbuing them with a lovely, rustic appeal. Lackawaxen River flows through Hawley (and Honesdale) and paints it with a nice blend of nature’s finest colors. There is the Pennsylvania Rail Bike, which ostensibly provides the only recreational rail biking adventure in the Poconos. With a scenic river on one side, mountains on the other, and lots of trees — this ride will be difficult to get off the mind.

Plus, an adventurer here has access to Lake Wallenpaupack, the third-largest artificial lake in Pennsylvania. There is Masters of the Skies as well, where visitors can learn fascinating stuff about the esoteric world of raptors, including falcons and hawks. Stay at Ledges Hotel, whose comfortable rooms come with a view overlooking the heart-melting Paupack Falls.


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

Stroudsburg features a tasty downtown and is conveniently close to the Delaware Water Gap, a spellbinding expanse of bountiful forests, lush fields, and sparkling waterfalls. The Water Gap offers a world of water-based fun activities, including boating and swimming — besides boasting more than 100 miles of hiking trails, including a stretch of the Appalachian Trail.

Also, visitors often enjoy the calming flow of the stream at the well-maintained Hickory Valley Park, a round of golf at the Glen Brook Golf Club (Do not miss the Mullally's Clubhouse Cafe that overlooks the course) — and hiking the Levee Loop Trail at the picturesque Dansbury Park. Compton's Pancake House serves hearty breakfasts — while The Penn Stroud, a historic icon since 1833, provides old-fashioned warmth and hospitality.


View of the Aquatopia indoor waterpark at the Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville
View of the Aquatopia indoor waterpark at the Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Tannersville is mostly known as a jumping-off point to the Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, the go-to outdoor waterpark in the Poconos. The park features more than 37 thrilling rides and slides and must not be missed by first-time Pocono adventurers. Outdoor venues here include the Tannersville Woods Nature Preserve as well as the nearby Big Pocono State Park. New York Pizza & Family Restaurant serves classic Italian eats, while Smuggler's Cove serves prime ribs that are to die for. For a place to nest after a fun-packed day, look no further than the Camelback Resort.

Mount Pocono

Distant view of the Delaware Water Gap from Mount Pocono Overlook
Distant view of the Delaware Water Gap from Mount Pocono Overlook. Image credit: Nicholas_T via

Mount Pocono is a dainty town of about 3,000 residents tucked away in northeastern Pennsylvania. Alluringly laid-back (but incredibly picturesque), Mount Pocono hosts the Mount Pocono Festival, the oldest and largest carnival in the Pocono Mountains. Mount Pocono Campground is scenic and quiet — and will be worth spending a slow afternoon in.

Besides featuring a lovely nature trail, the campground offers 191 seasonal campsites, where one can pitch a tent for the night and enjoy the moon’s scintillating glow. There is also the aptly named Memorytown, a top-notch outdoor venue whose rustic cabins exude a unique and charming country feel. Moreover, The Knob is a famous lookout providing lovely views of Swiftwater, Mt. Airy casino, and the beautiful Pocono mountains.

Mount Pleasant

Downtown Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.
Downtown Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. Image credit: Joseph via

To kickstart your adventure, enjoy some melt-in-the-mouth Gnocchi at the Village, a deceivingly small spot that serves kick-ass food. Mount Pleasant is known for its glass-making heritage, a point highlighted at the Mount Pleasant Glass & Ethnic Festival, an annual three-day event held on the last weekend of September. Beautifully landscaped wineries dot the town's precincts, including the aptly named Greendance, whose delicious wines are lovingly created from locally grown berries. One can walk in the footsteps of famous industrialists such as Andrew Carnegie at the Coal and Coke Trail — or paddle away an afternoon at the Bridgeport Dam Park. For the night, The Carriage House On Slope Hill is peaceful and grandmotherly.

The Takeaway

Whether you want a weekend retreat close to the water, experience delicious mountain vistas, or enjoy snowboarding at venues such as the top-rated Camelback Mountain Ski Resort, the Poconos will be handy. The cities that dot the Poconos while lacking the glitz of big cities like Chicago — provide authentic and nature-themed experiences. The best small towns in the Poconos for a weekend retreat include Jim Thorpe (fondly called JT), Milford (the birthplace of the American Conservation Movement), and Honesdale, the site of the first locomotive in the United States to run on commercial tracks.

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