The Poconos is a mountainous region in the northeastern part of Pennsylvania. The area is home to abundant natural beauty and a host of outdoor activities that attract tourists in large numbers. Here’s a complete Poconos Travel Guide that you could use for your visit.
Long before it became a destination for resorts & outdoor activities, this region used to be inhabited by the Delaware Indians, the Iroquois, Shawnee, Minisink, Lenape & Paupack tribes of the Native Americans. Later the Dutch, English & Germans found their way here.
It’s said that it was in 1829 that the region saw its first boarding house. It was at the Delaware Water Gap, and it was set up by Anthony Dutot. By the early 1900s, resorts began to come up. Buck Hill Falls built in 1901 & Pocono Manor built the following year are said to be the first couple of resorts. Buck Hill Falls began as a religious retreat and later became a place of luxury. And Pocono stood out for its architecture, and the views it offered. In due course, there were resorts offering liquor, dancing, gambling & romantic stays.
There came to be resorts for different classes of people from the wealthy to the middle class, entertainers, factory workers & single Jews. Then there were the resorts for honeymooners, some with heart-shaped tubs and the area soon came to be known as the Honeymoon Capital of the World. For a while now there have been ski resorts & resorts with indoor waterparks as well.
The Poconos of today is a destination of a large number of resorts, ski slopes, lakes & rivers, and a whole lot of outdoor activities taking place around them.
What to see and do
People visit the Poconos to spend time in the mountains, hike through the forests, swim & go rafting in the rivers, go leaf peeping & skiing. There are several state parks & ski resorts in the area to facilitate these activities.
There are a few museums like the Art Museum & Jail Museum. You can also see a butterfly sanctuary and visit a historical farm, or a mansion while you’re in the area.
There should be no missing a scenic train ride through the area, hiking to the waterfalls, seeing for yourself the Boulder Field in Hickory Run State Park & the natural tubs created by glacial melt.
For more ideas that aren’t included in this Poconos travel guide, check out my post: Top 10 Things to Do in the Poconos.
The Poconos has a bit of everything when it comes to the food available here. You’ll find meat, poultry, farm-fresh vegetables & seafood in this mountainous region. As for the cuisines available here, you’ll find classic American, New American, Italian, Vietnamese, Caribbean & Peruvian, to name some.
And then there are the places that are known for their pizza, steak, ice cream, coffee & baked goods. There are family-run restaurants and even breweries that serve great food too.
For specific restaurants to visit that aren’t included in this Poconos travel guide, check out my post: Best Restaurants in the Poconos.
Being an area that receives a lot of visitors, shopping is big in the Poconos, especially because there’s no tax for clothes & shoes here in Pennsylvania. As such, the outlet shopping mall in Tannerville is a major tourist attraction.
You can also shop at the art galleries & antique store. You could also visit some of the specialty shops in the towns here and buy things like candies, candles, decorative items, jewelry & other handicrafts.
You might also want to visit Pocono Bazaar Flea Market, Monroe Farmers Market, Whitehaven General Store & Olde Village Trader in Mount Pocono for local goods like cheeses, collectibles, crafts, toys & souvenirs. You could also pick up a bottle or two from local breweries.
The Poconos lies west of the Delaware Water Gap and is surrounded by the Delaware River, Lake Wallenpaupack, Wyoming Valley, Lehigh Valley & Coal Region. And it’s part of the Allegheny Plateau.
The region is made up of the Pocono Mountains, forests, valleys, river beaches & around 150 lakes. Making the area richer are the birds & animals that are home here.
Broadly speaking, the Poconos comprises the Mountain Region, the Lake Region, the Delaware River Region, the Upper Delaware River Region, Wyoming Valley & the Lehigh River Gorge Region. The Poconos is also made up of many small towns scattered all over these micro-regions. Stroudsburg, East Stroudsburg, Jim Thorpe, Mount Pocono, Tannnersville, Hawley & Lehighton are just some of them.
There’s a wide range of options for the large number of tourists who visit the area. Guests just need to decide whether they’d like to stay in a luxury resort, a boutique hotel, motel, country inn, vacation rental, bed and breakfast or on a campground. The Poconos has them all.
Then there are the ski resorts and resorts with water parks. Glamping is another option!
If you’re taking a flight to this part of the US, the airports closest to the Poconos are the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport & the Lehigh Valley International Airport.
Considering where the region gets most of its tourists from, a lot of visitors prefer to take the road. I-80 passes through here. Other major highways that serve the area are US-209, US-6, PA-115, PA -715 & PA- 903.
Some people who do not want to drive into the area opt for ride-hailing services from Philadelphia, which is a little over 100 miles away. Then there are the buses from Philly to Mt. Pocono & Stroudsburg, which make a few stops in the region.
If you’re driving in or are renting a car, beware of the wildlife you might encounter on the roads, and if you’re traveling between October & April, you might need to have an SUV or an all-wheel vehicle to get around in the snow.
Other ways to get around include taxis, ride-sharing & taking the Pocono Pony, the public transpiration around here. These buses connect the towns in the Poconos, and make stops at several of the tourist attractions, resorts & malls of the area. If this is what you’re opting for, you might want to look into the transit cards/ day passes you could use for the bus rides.
Best time to visit
Summer is said to be the best time to visit the Poconos because this is when the region is at its warmest. The period from June to November sees a lot of tourists. It’s also the season for outdoor activities like white-water rafting, kayaking, swimming, and even basking on the river beaches. Around this time there are even some showers that come to cool down the area when it gets too hot.
Then there are the fairs that bring with them great food and lots of activities for people of all ages. It’s also in the summer that NASCAR takes place at the Pocono Raceway.
Fall is the best time to go to the Poconos if you’d like to go leaf peeping or take part in the fall festivals & other activities that come with the season.
If you’d like to go to ski, late fall & winter would be the best time. There are many ski resorts here. Other snow-related activities you can take part in include snow tubing, snowboarding, snowmobiling & ice skating.
If you’d like to avoid the crowds vacationing in summer, and the people who come to ski in the winter, December to March, and October & November might be the best times to be in the Poconos.
And if low room rates are what make you travel, the best time would be April & May, and even September when it’s off-season in the Poconos.
Despite being a Poconos travel guide, I wanted to include some nearby destinations you should check out! With the Poconos being a vacation area for the metropolitan areas of Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey & Connecticut, you can visit these parts of the US along with your trip to these mountains in Pennsylvania.