12 Top-Rated Things to Do in the Poconos
Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains are among the most popular weekend destinations for visitors from nearby New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Known locally as the Poconos, this natural wonderland is packed with fun things to do to occupy tourists of all ages in every season.
While winter is the best time to visit the Poconos for skiing, snow tubing, and skating, summer is just as enchanting for outdoor enthusiasts and couples looking for a weekend away in a romantic resort.
It's hard to beat the scenery and the laid-back vibe of this beautiful Northeastern locale. Hike though the area's dense forests, paddle or swim in the many lakes and rivers, or soar through the skies on a zipline—it's impossible to be bored with so much on offer.
Discover the best places to visit with our list of the top things to do in the Poconos.
1. Pan for Gems at Bushkill Falls
Visitors to Bushkill Falls, dubbed the "Niagara of Pennsylvania," are in for a treat. Instead of just one small cascade, you'll see eight.
The Main Falls tumble dramatically down a 100-foot drop and are easily reached by following the Green Trail for 15 minutes.
If you're hoping to see all eight falls, the Red Trail is the best bet. It will take about two hours to follow the two-mile path.
Families love the wide range of activities on offer at Bushkill Falls, but perhaps the most child-pleasing fun involves mining for gemstones in Nature Nook. Tourists purchase a "mining rough" bag, use the sluice to sift the bag's contents, and discover the hidden gems, which they can take home.
Other activities include fishing, picnicking, paddle boating, playing miniature golf, and trying your luck in the maze. There's also a snack bar and fudge kitchen on hand. No wonder this has been voted one of the best places to visit in the Poconos.
When it comes time to rest, book a stay at one of the many enchanting resorts in the area. There are plenty of great options to choose from.
Address: Bushkill Falls Road, P.O. Box 151, Bushkill, Pennsylvania
2. Go Whitewater Rafting at Lehigh Gorge State Park
If you're looking for active things to do while vacationing in the Poconos, a trip to Lehigh Gorge State Park will tick all the boxes. At over 6,000 acres, this stunning park is set in a rocky gorge, its heart the rushing river that created it over hundreds of years. Visitors flock here to enjoy the thrill of white water rafting.
Other slightly less adventurous activities include biking, hiking the 20 miles of trails, and fishing.
This park is also home to three impressive waterfalls. Cascade, Buttermilk Falls, and Luke's Falls are worthy of a visit, and at least a dozen photos, so be sure to charge your camera.
The park can be reached from White Haven, Glen Onoko, and Rockport, where you'll find ample parking.
Address: South Lehigh Gorge Drive, Weatherly, Pennsylvania
3. Hike through Ricketts Glen State Park
Ricketts Glen State Park is so large, it stretches across three counties: Sullivan, Luzerne, and Columbia.
Within the 13,193-acre park lie 22 waterfalls, a beach, the sparkling Lake Jean, and enough hiking trails that you could walk all day and well into the next. Be sure to wear proper shoes, though, as sandals are forbidden on the trails.
To find 21 of the falls, guests must follow the aptly named Falls Trail in the Glens Natural Area. The other waterfall, named Adams, can be easily reached from the Evergreen Parking Lot.
If you can't get enough of the beauty in this state park, don't worry—visitors are welcome to spend the night in the campground. During the summer, tourists can also enjoy food and refreshments by the beach.
Activities on offer include fishing, boating, hiking, and swimming. In the winter, ice fishing is one of the most popular things to do alongside cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Address: 695 State Route 487, Benton, Pennsylvania
4. Visit the Asa Packer Mansion
It's easy to see why the Asa Packer Mansion gets so much attention—its Italiante architecture and Victorian décor are enchanting.
Once home to railroad magnate and philanthropist, Asa Packer, this National Historic Landmark dates to 1861. It was designed by architect Samuel Sloan and has been operating as a museum since 1956. In the off-season, the museum is open on weekends.
Inside, visitors will find 18 rooms spread across three elegant stories. From Memorial Day through October, the mansion is open daily. All tours are about 45 minutes long and guided by friendly docents who have great knowledge about the Packer Family and the home's historic contents. Book in advance to ensure you have a spot.
Insider's tip: There's no parking at the mansion, so head to the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway Parking lot instead.
Address: Packer Hill Avenue, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
5. Explore the Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park
Hickory Run State Park covers a whopping 15,990 acres in Carbon County and boasts the captivating Hawk Falls, peaceful Stametz Dam, and more than 40 hiking trails for adventurous guests to explore. As one of the area's top attractions, you'll want to arrive early to ensure you find a parking spot, especially if you're visiting in spring, summer, or fall.
Ogling the park's otherworldly Boulder Field is one of the best free things to do in the Poconos. Instead of being covered in verdant grasses, this vast field is blanketed in boulders.
Some are as large as 26 feet long and although precarious, especially if you have weak ankles, walking on and around them is an exciting adventure. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes when trekking in this National Natural Landmark!
Other popular activities for families include swimming in Sand Spring Lake, fishing, playing disc golf, checking out the visitor center, and enjoying a picnic.
Address: 3 Family Camp Road, White Haven, Pennsylvania
6. Hit the Slopes at Blue Mountain Resort
Fans of winter thrills will love Blue Mountain Resort. Home to Pennsylvania's highest vertical drop (1,082 feet), this beloved attraction boasts 40 ski trails, 46 tubing lanes, five terrain parks, and 16 lifts. It's a haven for skiers of all ages.
When it's time to take a break from all that wintery fun, head to the resort's mountaintop restaurant.
Summer Activities: Not a fan of the cold? No worries, there are plenty of fun things to do at Blue Mountain Resort in the summer, like mountain biking, disc golf, and scenic lift rides.
The Summit Adventure Park is home to another slew of activities, including a zipline, ropes course, laser tag, archery tag, and rock climbing. If you don't want the summer fun to end, make use of the camping and glamping facilities.
Address: 1660 Blue Mountain Drive, Palmerton, Pennsylvania
Read More: Best Ski Resorts in Pennsylvania
7. Camp at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
If you're an outdoorsy family, you'll love visiting the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. One of the best places to visit in Pennsylvania, this gorgeous national park is primed for people who like to be active in nature. Whether you're a fan of hiking, fishing, kayaking, or swimming, you'll be able to do that, and so much more, in this spectacular wonderland.
The park's main attraction is the Delaware River, which stretches for over 40 miles through this elysian space, touching New Jersey on one side and Pennsylvania on the other.
Multiple waterfalls, the historic Millbrook Village, and a bevy of hiking trails covering 150 miles mean you won't lack for exciting things to do.
In fact, there are so many interesting places to visit here that you'll want to extend your stay. Luckily, that's easy to do thanks to the on-site camping opportunities.
Address: 1978 River Road, Bushkill, Pennsylvania
8. Zipline at Camelback Mountain Adventure
If you're looking for adventure, head to Camelback Mountain Adventures at Camelback Resort. At the largest adventure park in the state, you'll be faced with tough decisions, like whether to zip through the air on a 4,000-foot skyflyer, whiz across the rugged terrain on a UTV, or climb through the trees on the ropes course.
If those activities weren't exciting enough, you could hop on the Mountain Coaster, ride a Segway, or play in the indoor or outdoor water park. Better yet, visit during winter to ski or snow tube the day away.
Not surprisingly, spending the day here is one of the most entertaining things to do for couples and families alike, no matter the season. To get tickets, be sure to book early online, as this is a popular attraction. If you plan to return frequently, a Season's Pass is the best deal.
Address: 243 Resort Drive, Tannersville, Pennsylvania
9. Soak in a Pool at Seven Tubs Recreation Area
Seven Tubs Recreation Area is one of the most unique places to cool off on a hot summer day. Home to seven natural "tubs" carved into the rock by glacial water, this picture-perfect locale is so spectacular, you'll want to spend at least a few hours exploring its diverse landscape.
There are over 400 acres of land to explore, but the main attraction in this Pinchot State Forest is its ravine, dotted with natural pools filled with water from the sparkling Wheelbarrow Run stream.
When you aren't dipping your toes into the refreshing water or admiring the small cascades, take time to traverse the hiking trails. The Audubon Loop Trail is one of the most popular, and it covers 1.8 miles. If you're hoping to get straight to the tubs, follow the main loop, which is an easy, 0.3-mile trek.
Address: Bear Creek Blvd., Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
10. Fish in Promised Land State Park
Another large park graces our list of the top things to do in the Poconos. Promised Land State Park is a true beauty, packed with stunning examples of some of Mother Nature's best work. Towering hemlock, beech, maple, and oak trees make up the deep forest while two lakes entice visitors to try their luck at reeling in a big one while fishing.
Heading out for a paddle is one of the most relaxing things to do on Promised Land Lake, while hitting the beach is a popular activity for families who visit during summer.
With over 3,000 acres to explore, there's no chance of becoming bored during a visit to this pretty park, which is open daily from sunrise to sunset. If you'd like to stay longer, book a campsite in the Pickerel Point Campground, or a cabin at Bear Wallows.
Address: 100 Lower Lake Road, Greentown, Pennsylvania
11. Feel the Buzz at Pocono Raceway
There's a lot to get excited about at Pocono Raceway, especially if you're a fan of car racing. The first race on the "tricky triangle," so nicknamed for its tight turns, was held in 1968. Since then, this popular attraction has been hosting NASCAR races each summer and special experiences throughout the year.
Bring the kids along to the NASCAR Weekend in July. There will be plenty of fun activities for adults and children of all ages. Camping is on offer that weekend as well, but you'll have to book early to ensure a spot. Bring ear plugs, as these races get super loud.
Other events are held here as well, including the Pocono Airshow and Elements Music & Arts Festival.
Address: 1234 Long Pond Road, Long Pond, Pennsylvania
12. Soak Up the Views at Big Pocono State Park
While not as large as Ricketts Glen State Park, which lies about an hour and a half northwest, Big Pocono State Park offers tourists a chance to traverse more than 1,300 acres of varied terrain. The park is set atop Camelback Mountain, which means visitors can expect impressive vistas.
From up here, tourists can spy the area's two bordering states, New York and New Jersey, and of course, Pennsylvania. Not into hiking? No worries, a paved pathway leads cars to the summit. If you're hoping to explore, the 8.5 miles of trails are perfect for an average hiker.
Of note: Big Pocono State Park closes in early December and reopens in the spring (around the first week of April), so plan your visit to this popular point of interest accordingly.
Address: 980 Camelback Road, Tannersville, Pennsylvania
Mount Pocono, PA - Climate Chart
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