14 Top-Rated Things to Do in Scranton, PA
Revived as a tourist destination in the mid-2000s by NBC's hit comedy The Office, Scranton is a historic city with tons of things to do.
Its top attraction, Steamtown National Historic Site, gives tourists the chance to step inside antique steam locomotives and learn about the culture of the railroad. You can ride vintage trolleys at the Electric City Trolley Museum, which celebrates Scranton's success as the first place in the country to have streetcars powered solely by electricity.
You can also learn about the history of coal mining at the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum, and 300 feet underground on the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour.
There are also plenty of attractions for outdoor enthusiasts and culture hounds to enjoy. You can see a concert at the Scranton Cultural Center, visit a beloved tree house in Nay Aug Park, walk a portion of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, and gaze at American folk art on display at the Everhart Museum–just to name a few highlights.
Make the most of your trip to the "Electric City" with our list of the top things to do in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
1. Ring a Locomotive Bell at Steamtown National Historic Site
Steamtown displays the history and culture of steam railroading in America. Easily accessible from a pedestrian bridge at The Marketplace at Steamtown, this National Historic Site is a mecca for train lovers of all ages.
You can get up close to a collection of steam locomotives amassed by millionaire F. Nelson Blount in the mid-20th century, some of which offer seasonal excursions for tourists.
The 62-acre complex also houses a theater, historic roundhouse, turntable, repair shop, and outbuildings that date back to 1899-1902.
The on-site technology museum is also worth a visit. It has dozens of interactive exhibits, including a fun guessing game on what various train horns are trying to communicate that will turn just about anyone into a train enthusiast.
Hot tip: You can climb inside the shiny black steam locomotive near the turntable and ring its bell. It's a thrill!
Address: 350 Cliff Street, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.nps.gov/stea/index.htm
2. Step inside a Tree House at Nay Aug Park
Established in 1893, Nay Aug Park is the largest park in Scranton, stretching across both banks of Roaring Brook.
Between its scenery and its attractions, including the beloved Everhart Museum, two Olympic-size swimming pools, a rose garden, picnic areas, and playgrounds, tourists could easily spend an entire day in this green oasis.
If you just have an hour to spare, there are a couple of must-see places to visit. Start at the David Wenzel Tree House. The wooden structure, which rises 150 feet from the ground, was the first of its kind in the state when it opened in 2007. It offers a fantastic view of the area, especially the foliage in the fall.
Then, take a short, easy hike down the path to Rie Rie Overlook, where you can see a view of the Nay Aug Gorge and Waterfall (a National Natural Landmark). Keep your eyes peeled for the majestic red-tailed hawks that live in the area.
Address: 500 Arthur Avenue, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.nayaugpark.org
3. Ride a Vintage Trolley at the Electric City Trolley Museum
Trains aren't the only mode of transportation celebrated in Scranton. Next to Steamtown National Historic Site, a 19th-century mill building now houses the Electric City Trolly Museum.
It traces the history of eastern Pennsylvania's electric railway through displays of restored vintage trolleys that once ran through the city streets, collections of signal equipment and mine railway artifacts, antique street lights, and kid-friendly exhibits.
The museum also invites tourists to take rides on authentic vintage trolleys from 1926 and 1932. The scenic 5.5-mile rides run parallel to Roaring Brook, past the Historic Iron Furnaces, and through the Crown Avenue Tunnel. Running more than 4,700 feet, it's one of the world's longest interurban tunnels.
Address: 300 Cliff St., Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.ectma.org
4. Visit the Electric City Aquarium & Reptile Den
The Electric City Aquarium & Reptile Den shines a spotlight on fascinating creatures from around the world in its 20,000-square-foot facility on the first floor of the Marketplace at Steamtown. Visits kick off on an immediate high note in the amphibian and reptile den, where you can see brightly colored poison dart frogs, yellow-bellied slider turtles, a comically massive African bullfrog, and a blue Komodo Island pit viper.
Your journey continues through the rainforest section. Here, you can see a mix of mammals (including a sloth, porcupine, and adorable kinkajous) and rainbow-feathered birds. Then, you'll reach the mesmerizing aquarium, which has tank after tank of rare fish swimming through crystal-blue waters.
Don't miss the National Geographic-worthy shark nursery. It lights up four transparent eggs at different stages of development, each containing a wriggling baby bamboo shark.
Address: 300 Lackawanna Ave., Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.electriccityaquarium.com
5. Learn about Deep Coal Mining at the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum
Hard coal mining in Pennsylvania comes with a fascinating history, and there's nowhere better to see it presented than the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum.
Just up the hill from the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, this robust museum teaches visitors about the harsh working conditions endured by coal miners, including child laborers, through a mix of rare photographs and artifacts (such as documents that recorded injuries and deaths by ethnicity).
It also traces the rise of workers' rights movements and unionization, as well as the communities and cultures that developed among coal miners.
The museum boasts several life-size recreations of important spaces for mine workers, including an authentic family home and a church that contains the original altar of the Immaculate Conception Church in Berwick, PA, which was founded by Irish immigrants in 1902.
Address: 22 Bald Mountain Road, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.anthracitemuseum.org
6. Take a Stroll around Lake Scranton
A five-minute drive from downtown brings you to Lake Scranton Trail, a 3.5-mile asphalt trail that loops around the city's reservoir.
The pretty path is the perfect way to stretch your legs after a long drive. The mostly flat terrain makes for easy walking or jogging. And in the fall, the views of the spectacular foliage reflecting on the serene water can't be beat.
Free parking is available on a lot next to Route 307 on the eastern edge of Lake Scranton.
Address: Route 307, Scranton, Pennsylvania
7. Go Snow Tubing at Montage Mountain
Snow sports are one of the top things to do in Scranton in the winter, and you have your choice of chilly adventures on Montage Mountain. Located just eight miles from downtown Scranton, the ski area boasts one of the longest and fastest snow tubing attractions in Pennsylvania.
There are also 27 ski and snowboard trails, more than half of which are ranked beginner or intermediate. After hitting the slopes, warm up with a hot cocoa around the fire pits.
In the summer, Montage Mountain opens its popular water park. Take a float on the lazy river, zip down one of the thrilling waterslides, and bob around the wave pool. You can also hit speeds of up to 50 miles per hour on the resort's ZipRider, a zipline-style attraction that offers a panoramic view of Scranton and Wilkes Barre.
Address: 1000 Montage Mountain Road, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.montagemountainresorts.com
8. Check Out American Folk Art at the Everhart Museum
Standing on the west side of Nay Aug Park is the Everhart Museum. Founded by a Civil War veteran in 1908, this revered institution is one of the region's oldest museums. It focuses on art, natural history, and science in more than a dozen galleries.
The museum's early mission to document regional bird species still comes through today in its collection of more than 2,300 specimens in the Bird Gallery.
The museum's natural science collection also includes thousands of other specimens, like rare shells, beetles, butterflies, primates, reptiles, fossils, and fluorescent rocks and minerals that glow in their case.
Art fills the second-floor Main Gallery. Here, you'll find a substantial collection of American folk art. You can also see a mix of 19th-century paintings from local and national artists and a decorative arts collection that includes prestigious Dorflinger Glass.
Address: 1901 Mulberry Street, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.everhart-museum.org
9. Walk a Portion of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail
Opportunities to enjoy the outdoors abound in Scranton. In addition to Nay Aug Park and the Lake Scranton Trail, there's also the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.
Walkers, runners, and cyclists can travel up to 70 miles on this scenic rail trail, which stretches from the border of New York State to Pittston, PA. Scranton is home to a 6.1-mile portion of the trail.
Tourists can access it at several trailheads, including one block north of the South Side Shopping Center and just southeast of the intersection of Depot Street and Pond Avenue.
Official site: www.lhva.org/HeritageTrail.php
10. Shop at The Marketplace at Steamtown
Like many malls in the country, the Marketplace at Steamtown can feel a little sleepy. But given the mall's convenient location next to Steamtown Historic Site and its abundance of parking, tourists are likely to find themselves there at some point during their trip to Scranton.
Inside, you'll find tourist attractions, including the Electric City Aquarium & Reptile Den, on the first floor, along with restaurants and stores. A large book shop can be found on the second level.
The Marketplace at Steamtown also hosts events throughout the year, including holiday markets and free concerts.
Address: 300 Lackawanna Avenue, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.themarketplaceatsteamtown.com
11. Tour the Scranton Cultural Center
Performing arts, entertainment, and cultural happenings fill the events calendar at the Scranton Cultural Center. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Masonic Temple that houses the venue is as much of an attraction as the big-name acts that perform here.
The glorious Neo-Gothic structure was designed by esteemed architect Raymond Hood, who counted New York's Rockefeller Center among his best works. Masonic symbols, including shield motifs and two-headed eagles, can be found throughout the structure.
You can visit the building by attending one of its many events throughout the year, or on free public tours on Saturdays at 10am. Private tours can be arranged by appointment.
Address: 420 N. Washington Avenue, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.scrantonculturalcenter.org
12. Visit the Lackawanna County Courthouse Square
The majestic Lackawanna County Courthouse Square is a must-see attraction in Scranton. The 4.7-acre lot is dominated by the historic Romanesque Revival-style courthouse, which was built in 1884 and added to the National Register of Historic Places 113 years later.
This courthouse is where the Anthracite Coal Strike Commission held hearings in 1902-1903, as mineworkers fought for six months to demand better working conditions, higher wages, and union recognition.
A monument to John Mitchell, then president of the United Mine Workers of America labor union, can be seen on the Adams Street side of the courthouse square today.
As you make your way around the square, you can also see monuments dedicated to a range of other historical figures, including General Philip H. Sheridan, Christopher Columbus, and George Washington.
13. Peek inside the Abandoned Scranton Iron Furnaces
You can see the remains of four massive stone blast furnaces in a historic park setting near Steamtown National Historic Site. The Scranton Iron Furnaces are all that remain of a once extensive iron plant that made the iron rails for the Erie Railroad and produced a whopping 125,000 tons of pig iron in the year 1880. The plant was shut down in 1902.
The Scranton Iron Furnaces are now part of the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum and help preserve the country's iron-making heritage for future generations. It's fascinating to wander around the giant stone structure and peer inside the abandoned spaces.
Address: 159 Cedar Ave., Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.anthracitemuseum.org/explore/iron-furnaces
14. Take the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour
The Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour invites tourists to hop inside a mine car and descend 300 feet underground to explore the winding tunnels of a coal mine that opened in 1860. The award-winning tour, which is led by miners, highlights what life was like for workers who powered the Industrial Revolution.
The tour involves half a mile of walking in a chilly 53-degree Fahrenheit environment, so bring comfortable shoes and a light jacket.
Above ground, the property also displays some interesting artifacts, including a solid chunk of pure anthracite coal that weighs 13,000 pounds.
For more information on coal mining and the culture of the workers, make your way to the Pennsylvania Anthracite Heritage Museum just up the hill.
Address: Bald Mountain Road, Scranton, Pennsylvania
Official site: www.coalminetournepa.com