Still need plans for Labor Day weekend? The Pocono Mountains has something for every visitor, whether you’re a family seeking kid-friendly fun, a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast or a foodie seeking an unforgettable gastronomic experience.
People have been flocking to this region since before the turn of the 20th century. Its proximity to New York, Philadelphia and other metro areas has made it a quintessential American vacation retreat.
Kids of all ages (and kids at heart) will have a blast climbing, balancing and zip lining through the 90-plus-element ropes course at Pocono TreeVentures, in East Stroudsburg. With eight courses of varying difficulty, including one specifically designed for kids aged 4 to 7, this aerial amusement center makes sure no one misses out on the adventure.
For another exciting adventure the whole family will love, Costa’s Family Fun Park has it all. Go head to head in the bumper boats or channel your inner NASCAR driver on the go-cart track. Slam one out of the park at the batting cages, and then test your putting skills on the 18-hole mini-golf course.
Breaking out of escape rooms has become a popular group activity, and the Poconos has several to choose from. If you’ve got the urge to escape from zombies, solve an Ancient Egyptian riddle or outwit a moonshiner, gather your family and friends and work together to solve your way to safety.
For a quiet outing, the 144-acre Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm offers a step back in time to the 19th-century Pennsylvania German agricultural world. You can tour several buildings, including an 1850’s barn, the original farmhouse, an icehouse and a smokehouse, to see how life was lived before modern conveniences. Actors dressed in period costumes reenact daily farm life for visitors, and the homestead houses farm animals typical of the time, including the impressive Clydesdale draft horses.
Coal mining has long been part of life in northeastern Pennsylvania. Learn the story of one mine in particular at the Number 9 Coal Mine and Museum. The facility opened in 1855 and became the world’s longest continuously running anthracite mine before it closed in 1972. After many years of restorative work on the abandoned mine itself, the museum opened in 2002.
Visitors enter much like the miners of yesteryear, riding a train 1,600 feet into the earth. A guided tour includes the original 900-foot-deep mine shaft and the “mule way,” where young workers would lead the pack animals with their loads of coal in and out of the mine, as well as a hospital carved into the rocky cavern. The museum building, which contains numerous artifacts from the mine’s operation, is housed in the mine’s wash shanty, where generations of workers cleaned their tools and clothing.
The Old Jail Museum, a two-story stone building in the heart of Jim Thorpe, was the town jail until around 1980. Perhaps its most infamous prisoners were the Molly Maguires, seven Irish coal miners who were hanged after being potentially wrongly convicted of murder in the late 1800s. Come explore the dungeon, the cellblock and even the gallows, but be warned – although the jail may not still hold live convicts, it’s reputedly filled with ghostly prisoners.
While you’re in Jim Thorpe, take advantage of a self-guided walking tour of the Victorian-style town. Numerous shops and restaurants line the downtown area. Formerly known as Mauch Chunk, before its name was changed to honor Olympic hero, Jim Thorpe, this town was once second only to Niagara Falls as an American vacation destination. Several mansions from former business magnets are open for tours, and the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway runs from the former Mauch Chunk train station.
Eat and Drink Your Way Through the Poconos
The Poconos is home to numerous microbreweries, vineyards, farmers markets and other popular agritourism sites, so take some time to enjoy northeastern Pennsylvania’s finest products.
Beer lovers will have a heyday tasting the brews at the region’s breweries . From Barley Creek Brewing Company in Tannersville to Mountain View Brewing Company in Stroudsburg to ShawneeCraft Brewing Company in Shawnee-on-Delaware, you’ll find a wide variety of beer styles, carefully crafted for high quality and flavor. Many microbreweries also serve food – usually pub grub – and feature live music throughout the week.
Wine drinkers, don’t despair – several vineyards can be found in the Poconos as well, with one that also features hard cider brewed onsite and another that shares a location with a brewery.
Northeastern Pennsylvania is filled with farms, orchards and all manner of artisan food producers, and visiting during Labor Day means you’re there at the right time of year to taste many of the region’s delicacies.
The Cooperage Project, located in Honesdale, hosts a weekly farmers market featuring locally grown and produced foods and crafts. The market is just part of the project’s mission to build a strong community. Other events, such as classes and performances, can also provide a fun afternoon or evening event. The Monroe Farmers Market in Stroudsburg has been going strong for forty years. From ripe fruits and vegetables to local meat and eggs or a tempting loaf of freshly baked bread, visitors to this market won’t leave empty-handed.
Spending Labor Day in the Poconos with family or friends, you’re guaranteed to make memories to last a lifetime.