Historic town of Jim Thorpe (formerly Mauch Chunk) in the Lehigh Valley, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, USA. Editorial credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

The Poconos's Best Small Towns for a Weekend Escape

The Pocono Mountains, called the Poconos by most, run north from Northampton County through Carbon, Monroe, Lackawanna, and Pike counties, all the way up to Wayne County. Consisting of several locales, including the Delaware Water Gap, Dingmans Ferry, and Mount Pocono, this pastoral mountain range, running along the northeastern edge of Pennsylvania, provides several excellent spots to escape for a weekend retreat. From Honesdale and Tanner Falls in the north to Jim Thorpe and the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary in the south, these nine small boroughs and villages provide just the right blend of nature, history, culture, and pure adventure.


Hawley, PA, USA: Lake Wallenpaupack sign on a bright fall day.
Hawley, PA, US: Lake Wallenpaupack sign on a bright fall day. Editorial credit: Rabbitti / Shutterstock.com

Perhaps most famous for being in close proximity to Lake Wallenpaupack, the small, quaint borough of Hawley is a welcome haven for enjoying nature at its best. With over fifty miles of shoreline, Lake Wallenpaupack offers anything an outdoor enthusiast could want. Wilsonville Recreation Area, which lies on the northeastern edge of the lake, offers hiking, fishing, boating, and camping options. Downtown Hawley is home to several attributes that cater to the whole family as well, including Harmony in the Woods, Costa’s Family Fun Park, and Vanderbeek Equestrian Center. There are also several lodging options within town, like the Lodge at Woodloch, which offers bike rentals, archery, and free wifi.

Dingmans Ferry

Dingmans Ferry Access, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania.
Dingmans Ferry Access, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Pennsylvania.

The small community of Dingmans Ferry, located in Pike County, is possibly best known for Dingmans Falls, the second tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania at a hundred and thirty feet. Along with Dingmans Falls, Dingmans Ferry is also home to the Pocono Environmental Education Center and Dingmans Campground, which offers over a hundred camping sites along the Delaware River. South of downtown, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is also a great place to experience nature, offering biking, fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities. Closer to the center of town, avid hikers can check out the McDade Recreational Trail, which runs from Milford Beach, past Dingmans Campground, to the Hialeah trailhead.


Honesdale in the Poconos, Virginia.
Honesdale in the Poconos, Virginia.

In the northern Pocono Mountain Range, the borough of Honesdale, also known as the birthplace of the American Railroad, is a welcome haven for train and railroad enthusiasts. The Stourbridge Lion provides guests with an exhilarating scenic trip, twenty-five miles in length, through the Poconos between Honesdale and Lackawaxen. Honesdale, situated thirty miles northeast of Scranton, is also home to Roots & Rhythm music festival, which takes place every June.

There are also several dining and lodging choices in town, including Dyberry Forks, which serves a great risotto, and Wayne on Main, a traditional bed & breakfast with free wi-fi, offering guests a wrap-around porch to view the sunset each night and a tasty breakfast the following morning.


Serene setting on a Pennsylvania lake.
Serene setting on a Pennsylvania lake.

Not to be confused with Bangor, Maine, the quaint borough of Bangor, Pennsylvania, is perhaps best known for its historic district. This town of just over five thousand residents is home to several buildings from the eighteen hundreds. In conjunction with this, Bangor has been producing some of the finest slate in the world since being settled by Robert Jones in 1760.

Along with a great history, Bangor is also well known as having some panoramic scenic spots in and outside of town, including Columcille Megalith Park and Slateford Creek Falls. Plus, if you are looking for that perfect weekend escape, Bangor also offers several places to stay, including individual houses, apartments, and even single rooms.


Tannersville, PA: Camelback Mountain Resort, a large ski resort in the Poconos mountains.
Tannersville, PA: Camelback Mountain Resort. Editorial credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

The village of Tannersville, located in Monroe County, just down the road from Big Pocono State Park, is a great place to escape for a three-day weekend. Whether you are alone, with friends, or taking the family on a vacation for all three days, there is something for everyone in and around this quiet town.

Tannersville offers several shopping options, including the Pocono Antique Mall and Pocono Premium Outlets, a variety of outdoor amenities, like Mountain View Park and Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark, and a plethora of attractions centered on having fun with the kids, like the Paintball Asylum, Camelback Mountain Adventures, and the Pocono Farmstand & Nursery. Plus, in relation to lodging, Tannersville provides several excellent choices, including the Chateau Resort and Camelback Lodge.


East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: Historic Dansbury Depot.
East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: Historic Dansbury Depot. Editorial credit: Alizada Studios / Shutterstock.com

Just down the road from Tannersville, the town of Stroudsburg is an oasis for the historical. First founded at the end of the 18th century by Colonel Jacob Stroud, this town of almost six thousand residents lives and breathes culture and heritage. It is not only home to the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm, which gives visitors the chance to experience living rurally back in the 19th century, but Stroudsburg also offers a more modern outtake to life through the Kettle Creek Environmental Education Center and the Monroe Farmers Market. Plus, in relation to dining and lodging, Stroudsburg is home to a variety of excellent restaurant and inn options, including Willowtree Inn Restaurant and Cherry Valley Manor.

Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe, PA: Historic town (formerly Mauch Chunk) in the Lehigh Valley, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.
Jim Thorpe, in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Editorial credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

The quaint borough of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, named after famed gold medalist Jim Thorpe, even though he never personally visited there until after his passing in 1953, is home to several options that make it great for a weekend escape. Downtown Jim Thorpe has several fine lodging choices, like the Trails End Bed & Breakfast, offering guests bedrooms within an 1899 Victorian-style house.

Plus, visiting the Old Jail Museum, which is most famous for the trial and execution of the Molly Maguires, a group of Irish-American coal miners, in the late 19th century, and taking a Trolley tour of downtown Historic Jim Thorpe, there are many other great activities geared toward families, including the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary, where children (and parents) can learn the intricacies of raising butterflies to maturity.


Milford, PA: Overlooking the small town from a scenic overlook on a sunny fall day.
Milford, PA: Overlooking the small town from a scenic overlook on a sunny fall day.

Quite close to Dingmans Falls and to the northwest corner of High Point State Park, the borough of Milford, in Pike County, has a plethora of exhilarating activities and attractions. Grey Towers provides historical background on Gifford Pinchot, founder and first chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Raymondskill Falls, the tallest waterfall in Pennsylvania at 150 feet, provides incredible vistas of the majestic power of the wild.

The Cornelia & Florence Bridge Nature Preserve allows for a more intimate connection with nature. Plus, in relation to an easily distracted kid, both Milford Beach and Miami Meadows Park are always filled with fun and excitement. Downtown Milford also has several excellent choices in overnight lodging, including Scottish Inns and Myer Country Motel, which offer free wifi and parking.


Palmerton, Pennsylvania, USA: The Palmerton Park Gazebo, a well-known landmark in this small northeastern town.

Palmerton, Pennsylvania, US: The Palmerton Park Gazebo. Editorial credit: Biz Pic Baby / Shutterstock.com

The borough of Palmerton, just down the road from Lehighton in Carbon County, is perhaps best known for the Blue Mountain Resort and some of the best skiing in eastern Pennsylvania. Along with amenities and activities that can be enjoyed in the winter months, Blue Mountain Resort offers a variety of fun-filled adventures in the middle of the summer as well. Slopeside Pub & Grill offers mountaintop dining all year long, serving everything from delicious Steak Nachos to a 42-oz New York Strip Steak. Also, Blue Mountain Resort offers chances to sign up for a summer adventure camp and a summer day camp. Plus, in Palmerton, both adults and children can enjoy nature at its best at Apollo Farms, which offers horseback riding tours to the entire family.

Discover the Charm and Adventure of the Poconos

Whether it is Lake Wallenpaupack, just outside of Hawley, the Old Jail Museum in the borough of Jim Thorpe, or the Blue Mountain Resort and Slopeside Pub & Grill in Palmerton, the majestic beauty of the Pocono Mountains, located mainly on the northeastern side of Pennsylvania, offers something for everyone. Though there are several other towns within this scenic mountain range that encompass their own version of excellence, these nine towns are some of the best available to spend that fun weekend escape, whether you are alone, with friends, or with the entire family.

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