People around the Poconos know that the town of Jim Thorpe is a great place to wander the streets enjoying great food, quaint shops, and fascinating architecture. But there’s so much more to see in this beautiful Poconos borough. The town was originally established as Mauch Chunk in 1818 but was renamed after the Native American Olympic medalist Jim Thorpe in 1953. Click here to read a bit more about the fascinating history of this beautiful Poconos town.
It’s no surprise that the town is a favorite destination in the Poconos. In addition to its visual appeal, there are plenty of things to experience here. Here’s a quick look at just some of the fun and fascinating things you can explore while in town.
The Asa Packer Mansion Museum
The home of Asa Packer—philanthropist, railroad businessman and founder of Lehigh University is where you'll find the Asa Packer Mansion Museum. It’s an impressive three-story, 18-bedroom mansion that dates back to 1861. Care has been taken to preserve the inside of the mansion so that it appears almost exactly as it did when the Packer family lived there in the late 1800s. While the museum is closed during the winter months, it will re-open in April. Check the museum website for more information.
The Old Jail Museum
This two-story stone structure was built in the late 1800s and served as a jail for Jim Thorpe and surrounding communities through 1980. You can check out the 27 cells inside of the jail and explore the rooms in the basement that were used for solitary confinement. The jail’s history is best remembered for the dark days of the Molly Maguire trials, during which seven Irish coal miners were convicted and hanged from gallows.
The Harry Packer Mansion
If you’ve ever wondered about the inspiration for Disney World’s Haunted Mansion attraction, you’ll find your answer at the Harry Packer Mansion overlooking Jim Thorpe. is a bed and breakfast that sits on Packer Hill, an area overlooking Jim Thorpe. With its 15-foot ceilings, marble fireplaces, and luxurious furniture, the mansion is a popular destination for self-guided tours. Adults can enjoy a drink in the mansion’s Libations Lounge while enjoying views of the town below. You can even take part in a murder mystery dinner on the premises. Check their website for additional information.
The Mauch Chunk Opera House
If you’re in the mood for a bit of culture a tour of the Mauch Chunk Opera House (pictured above) will provide you with a taste of Jim Thorpe's unique culture—from today and from years gone by. Take advantage of performances and exhibits for people of all ages and interests—most of which feature local artists and musicians from nearby communities. You can also take a tour of the facility and learn about the hall’s history—including an exhibit and an art gallery that features works by local Jim Thorpe artists. Check their website for specific events.
The Mauch Chunk Museum
If you want to know about this town’s history before it became known as Jim Thorpe, you’ll want to check out the museum for the story of the coal-mining town that preceded Jim Thorpe. You’ll learn about the Lenape Indians, the discovery of coal in the area, the industrialization of Mauch Chunk, the Switchback Gravity Railroad, and Mauch Chunk's transformation into modern-day Jim Thorpe. You’ll find more information about the museum on their website.
Of course, you'll want to allow yourself some time to simply walk the streets and enjoy the many shops and restaurants.
You don’t have to limit yourself to what’s inside the town limits. Jim Thorpe sits right in the middle of some of the most gorgeous surroundings in the Poconos. Here are just a few outdoor delights you can check out.
Bushkill Falls is known as the “Niagara of Pennsylvania” and you can get “up close and personal” with the eight beautiful waterfalls you’ll find here. There are multiple trails and bridges that will take you through the forested areas that surround these fantastic falls. Click here for more information.
The McDade Recreational Trail in the Delaware Water Gap
This trail offers a great opportunity to explore the area by bike. This packed gravel path runs along the Delaware River on the Pennsylvania side of the park for 32 miles and is a fantastic bikes-only (not motorized vehicles) way to enjoy the outdoors. Click here for additional information about the trail.
Fernwood Resort’s Fun Center
The fun center puts you on horseback to enjoy the sights and sounds of the area. It’s a great experience—even if you’ve never been on horseback before. There are railroad rides, hiking or biking trails, waterways for boating, and more. You have your choice of a 30 or 45-minute ride. Rides are offered daily June through September and five days a week October through May. Click here for more information.
And of course, in the winter, you're never far from great skiing. Here’s a quick look at some of the great ski resorts in the area—and the amenities they have to offer.
So whether you want to stay around town to sample the shops, architecture, and cuisine—or explore the outdoors surrounding the town, Jim Thorpe puts it all within your reach!