Top 10 Things to do in the Poconos

The Pocono Mountains are known for their peaks, waterfalls, forests & fauna. The list of activities you can take up here is endless! Hiking, skiing, white water rafting & camping are just some of the top 10 things to do in the Poconos. 

1. Hike to the Bushkill Falls

One of the biggest attractions of the Poconos is Bushkill Falls! Also known as the Niagara of Pennsylvania, it’s a collection of 8 smaller waterfalls. When you’re here, you can go see the Buskill Falls, Bridesmaid Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Laurel Glen Falls, Pennell and the other falls of the area.

These cascades that are falls of the Bushkill & Pond Run Creeks can be accessed by a series of hiking trails. To get close to the main waterfall, which drops down a good 100ft., take the Green Trail. 

A popular activity other than hiking and sighting the falls, is panning for gems, a big hit with the kids. Other things you can do here include paddle boating, fishing & miniature golf. 

2. Take advantage of the activities of the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area

The Delaware Water Gap is another feature that helps define this mountainous area. The recreation area that’s developed around this gap carved out by the Delaware River also comes with a slew of activities. You can fish, kayak and swim in the Delaware River or relax on the river beaches. Visiting it is one of the most popular things to do in the Poconos! You can hike the many trails around here and even do some camping in this park. 

There are around 150 miles of hiking trails in the area, several more waterfalls, some historic sites, and even a village in this Recreation Area that’s spread over 67,000 acres.

3. Try walking on the boulder field in Hickory Run State Park 

You can also enjoy more of the natural beauty of Poconos in Hickory Run State Park. This park takes up almost 16,000 acres of land in Carbon County. Here, you can see a waterfall and go hiking.

Hawk Falls is not the only water body in this park. There’s Stametz Dam & Sand Spring Lake, too. At the Lake you can swim and there’s even a beach. And in the winter you might be able to do some ice skating when the lake freezes. 

One of the biggest attractions in this state park is the Boulder Field. You’ll have to hike through some forested areas, over some hilly parts, and past some waterfalls & creeks to get to this National Natural Landmark. Like its name, Boulder Field is a vast piece of land with a large collection of boulders, all laid by nature herself.

Hickory Run State Park is a place for picnicking, fishing, camping & playing disc golf. With all the natural attractions and activities facilitated here, this park receives a lot of visitors in spring, summer & fall.

4. Enjoy the beauty of Promised Land State Park

Another state park that’s popular is Promised Land State Park, north of the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area. Covering around 3000 acres, this park too has benches & charcoal grills making it a good picnic area. You can even rent a pavilion if you’d like. And you can also rent boats & kayaks and take it out on the water.

You can fish in the lake here. You can sunbathe or play beach volleyball at the lake beach. And you even camp in the park. Visiting this park is one of the top things to do in the Poconos!

5. Take in the views of Big Pocono State Park 

Also popular is Big Pocono State Park. This park sits atop Camelback Mountain occupying over 1300 acres of land and has many different trails running through it. There should be a trail of any level of hiking expertise. What’s most special about these trails are the vistas they offer as you make your ascent. Hikers may even be rewarded with views of the neighboring states of New York & New Jersey. 

Those who are not into hiking can even drive up to the summit to take in the famous views of Big Pocono State Park. Other things to do here are picnicking, mountain biking and trying to site the wildlife of the area. 

Note: Big Pocono State Park is closed in the winter months. 

6. Ride the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway

To get a good look at the lay of the land and experience the many features of the Pocono Mountains, you’re going to want to get yourself some tickets for the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. And if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the area, then this is a top thing to do in the Poconos.

The 70-minute ride on this scenic railway shows you the peaks, the forests, some water bodies and even some wildlife of the Poconos. Look out for the Lehigh River, Glen Onoko and other geographical features. As the train loops through the area, you’ll have a guide pointing out the major POIs along the way and narrating the tales of the area. 

7. Make sure to hike to Seven Tubs

Also scenic is the Seven Tubs recreation area. This area has some much-loved trails that show you Wheelbarrow Run (a stream) and its photo-worthy wooden bridge. You’re likely to come across wildflowers as well as the wildlife of the area, which includes foxes, weasels, deer, bats & maybe even the black bear. 

However, the centerpiece of this park is a series of natural pools or depressions carved out by glacier melt. Not only are these sandstone tubs a delight to see, you might even want to get into one to cool yourself after hiking the area or to take a break on a hot summer day. 

8. Do some White Water Rafting 

For the adventurous, a top thing to do in the Poconos is white water rafting. White water rafting can be done both in the Delaware River & the Lehigh River. 

In the summer, there are many companies offering all kinds of white-water rafting packages. You’ll find everything from family-friendly ones to more challenging ones. 

For more white water rafting, you can trip to the Youghiogheny River, which also has rafting opportunities for all levels of expertise. The lower & middle ‘youghs’ of the river are good for beginners and those in the intermediate level. The rapids of the Upper Yough is what the experts might want for the perfect adrenaline rush!

9. Visit a Ski Resort or two  

If it’s in winter that you’re visiting the Poconos, you can do skiing, snow tubing & snowboarding, thanks to the many ski resorts on these mountains. You’ll also find ski schools and slopes suited for skiers of different expertise levels.

Camelback Mountain has the largest ski resort. Shawnee Mountain along with its trails for the experts, has some slopes that are family-friendly. There’s Blue Mountain Resort with Pennsylvania’s highest vertical drop, as well as a number of smaller ski trails & snow tubing lanes. And Big Boulder has some challenging slopes, too. There’s also Jack Frost Mountain, Elk Mountain, Bear Creek & Ski Big Bear if you’d like to check out more resorts.

And in the summer, some of these resorts have other activities to keep you occupied: rides on its ski lifts, disc golf & mountain biking, to name a few.  

10. Tour the Asa Packer Mansion 

And when you’re in the mood for something other than the outdoor activities that Poconos offers, you might want to take a look at the Asa Packer Mansion. It’s a very interesting thing to do in the Poconos!

Packer was a coal businessman and his palatial house, which dates back to the mid-1800s is now a National Historic Landmark. It’s an Italianate Villa with 3 levels and a porch that takes up 2 stories. When you do a tour of the mansion, you get to see 18 rooms of the building, and its original furnishings & decor that will take you back to another era.