Known as one of the most popular tourist destinations in PA, Jim Thorpe is a small town, with lots of different things to do. This quaint town is the BEST fall destination in the Pocono Mountains, PA.
I lived in Pennsylvania for most of my life, and I can assure you that it’s a perfect place to enjoy the fall foliage.
jim thorpe, Pennsylvania
The Best Time to Visit Jim Thorpe
While you’ll love visiting during any time of year, October is the busiest month with the Jim Thorpe Fall Foliage Festival taking place. You can expect to see many of the stores and streets full of people and fall/Halloween decorations in this fairytale tourist town.
The best time to visit is during the week because it is crazy busy on the weekends. On the weekend you can enjoy plenty of other outdoor activities outside of town.
Typically, the fall foliage forecast says the peak time to see the leaves is in mid to late October. Check the Pennsylvania fall foliage report for the distinct color zones so you know when to plan your trip to see the vibrant colors.
Location of Jim Thorpe
The Pocono Mountains are made up of several cities including: the Delaware Water Gap, Lake Wallenpaupack, Hawley, Honesdale, Milford, Stroudsburg, and of course…. Jim Thorpe.
The heavily wooded Pocono Mountains have the most scenic views for experiencing brilliant fall foliage. Jim Thorpe is located in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It is just about 2 hours from New York City and 2 1/2 hours from New Jersey.
The nearest airport, Lehigh Valley International Airport, is about 40 minutes away from Jim Thorpe.
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Interesting History of Jim Thorpe
The little town of Jim Thorpe is named after the Olympic athlete, James Francis Thorpe, who is buried there. In 1954 Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk merged and formed Jim Thorpe.
Recently, there was some drama related to this story. Although he did spend time in Pennsylvania, James Thorpe never even visited the Mauch Chunk area and was actually from Oklahoma.
In the midst of his funeral service in Oklahoma, his widow barged in with state troopers and a funeral hearse and demanded his body. She then offered his remains for burial in Pennsylvania if they named the two merged towns after him and built a memorial.
Recently his family began fighting to bring his remains back home. The town of Jim Thorpe appealed the decision and fought to keep him there. They won their appeal and so James Thorpe’s remains will stay in the town of Jim Thorpe.
Things to DO in Jim Thorpe
Fall Foliage Train Ride
It’s the best way to see so much of the beautiful fall foliage as you ride along on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. After you take the Poconos scenic fall foliage train ride during your visit, you will see why Jim Thorpe is the BEST Fall Destination in the Pocono Mountains, PA. You can purchase tickets at the train station on the day of departure, but be aware that there will be a long line.
The train typically runs at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and 3:00 pm daily; however, there are additional times that it may run depending on the day of the week and time of year. Make sure you check the train schedule for all the details.
Regular trips are approximately 70 minutes long, EXCEPT in October when they are in high demand and are reduced to 45-minute rides. The train leaves from the station located at 1 Susquehanna St. Jim Thorpe PA 18229.
There is a variety of pricing for tickets, depending on where you would like to be seated. In the Standard Coach adult tickets are $17.00, children 3-12 are $9.00, and children under 2 are free. For the Open Air Car adult tickets are $20.00, children 3-12 are $10.00, and children under 2 are free. You can also book a Caboose party of up to 6 people for $125.00.
If that’s not exciting enough, you will be happy to know that dogs are allowed on the fall foliage train ride as well!
* Note: Parking and Restrooms
Upon entering Jim Thorpe you will see parking on your right by the train station. You have to pay to park in this area; however, it is much easier than trying to find street parking. This is the most congested part of Jim Thorpe.
There are public restrooms in the train station’s visitor center.
Their website is full of information with resources like maps for the different trails, and a number of specialty packages like overnight bike trips. Bring your own bicycle to Jim Thorpe, or rent one, and then explore the miles of trails. Ride the D&L Trail at the skill level that works best for you.
SHOPPING in Jim Thorpe
One of my favorite things to do when I travel is to shop at locally owned stores. One of the reasons why so many people think Jim Thorpe is the BEST fall destination in the Pocono Mountains, PA is because of the shopping.
Broadway is the main street that runs through the heart of Jim Thorpe. There are SOOO many cute shops to visit along the way and everything is beautifully decorated for the fall season.
The Douglas House considers itself to be a mini-mall because it is the only two-story shopping in Jim Thorpe and it has 7 very different stores inside. You can access it from either Broadway or Race Street. Stop into Curiosities Coffee and Ice House, grab a drink, and then explore the unique shops of the Douglas House. Here are my two favorite stores to visit there….
When I visited I purchased a honey and apple wine called Cyser. It’s perfect for fall fun. If you’ve never done a meadery wine tasting, this is a great place to give it a try!
When I am in the Jim Thorpe area I try to stop in and buy some jewelry here because it is so unique and very reasonably priced. You will have a great time looking at all of the original hand-crafted pieces.
In addition to the oils and vinegars, they also have sea salts, handmade pastas, Italian herb blends, and more! You HAVE to try olive oil tasting at least once in your life, so stop into this store on Broadway.
This candy store is located on Broadway in the heart of Jim Thorpe. When you go inside, it is just like the candy stores were when you were a young kid. (Unless you are a kid and then, in that case, it is like the candy stores from when your parents or grandparents were kids.)
Old Jail Museum
Tickets for the Old Jail Museum must be purchased in person and they tend to sell out early in the day on weekends during the busy month of October. Check the ticket prices online because there are different prices on weekdays and weekends and there are various discounts for seniors, students, veterans, law enforcement, and active military.
The jail is closed from November through the end of May. Tours run about every half hour and they take approximately 30 minutes, which includes a brief presentation, dungeon tour, and self-guided tour.
The Old Jail Museum ranks #5 out of #18 things to do in Jim Thorpe on TripAdvisor. I enjoyed learning about the Old Jail Museum and I even liked the scary part at the end when they showed you what it was like with the lights out in the dungeon. *GASP*
*Note: The Old Jail Museum is located ALL the way towards the top of Broadway. If you parked down by the train station, be prepared to walk all the way up the steep hill.
Mauch Chunk Opera House
Although the Mauch Chunk Opera House is one of America’s oldest theaters, it has undergone many renovations to keep it fresh and updated. You can expect to experience a range of entertainment options year round, including: classic rock, bluegrass, jazz, folk, theater, and special events.
There’s no parking at the Opera House so you would need to make sure you get there early enough to park downtown and then walk up Broadway to the theater. You can purchase tickets in advance online or by phone.
Asa Packer Mansion
Tickets for the tour are $10.00 for adults, $9.00 for seniors, $6.00 for students, and $3.00 for children 5 and under. They do NOT accept credit cards or checks as payment.
RESTAURANTS in Jim Thorpe
The Broadway Grill & Underground pub is located at the Historic Inn. Not only do they have great happy hour and appetizer specials, but they also have live music 4 days a week. This original Victorian bar has indoor and outdoor seating. In the fall, I like to get a hot apple cider adult beverage there. Cheers!
This bar, also known as UPH, is located just outside downtown Jim Thorpe on the East Side. It boasts of being the “Only Dive Bar in Jim Thorpe” but I am telling you that the food is REALLY good here.
Union Publick House has over 80 kinds of beer, so if you are looking for a low-key bar with good food and drinks then this is the place!
I loved their spinach artichoke dip. The thing I liked most about this place is that they serve much more than just your typical bar food. They have a number of options including vegetarian choices.
Not only were the food and cocktails delicious, but the portions were great too. Myst is definitely a favorite restaurant for the locals.
If you are looking for fine dining then Trattoria 903 is an EXCELLENT option. Coming from an Italian background, I am very particular about my Italian food. This restaurant is not located in the heart of Jim Thorpe, but you will definitely want to make the short drive for this delicious food!
I don’t know of any other place in the area where you will get high-quality ingredients with food that is made from scratch. They offer indoor and outdoor dining options as well as a full bar. In my opinion, this restaurant has the best dining in the area.
Where to STAY in Jim Thorpe
A great way to see all that the Pocono Mountains has to offer in the fall is to stay for a few days. Then you can go at your own pace to enjoy all of the outdoor recreation options and also take part in several of the fall festivals in the area.
Short Trips to Other Cute Towns in the Poconos
Jim Thorpe has TONS of beautiful scenery and outdoor adventures for you, but if you have time and you’d like to see even more options for a day trip in the Pocono Mountains I have some suggestions.
Visit Waterfalls in the Pocono Mountains
Bushkill Falls is known as the Niagara of Pennsylvania and is a bucket list site to see. It is about an hour from Jim Thorpe, but definitely worth the visit! Bushkill Falls is one of the best places for hiking trails and of course, amazing waterfalls.
Check out the video below from my trip to Bushkill Falls.
If you want to tour some waterfalls in the Pocono Mountains, and get awesome pictures, but you feel unsure of where to go then you can get a private 4 Season Waterfall Photography Tour Guide for the day.
You drive, the tour guide tells you where to go, and gives you professional photography tips for taking pictures of the waterfalls. It’s definitely a memorable experience!
State Parks in the Pocono Mountains
Pennsylvania has a total of 121 State Parks! Take a scenic drive for a day trip to see the fall foliage at Lehigh Gorge State Park, Promised Land State Park, Ricketts Glen State Park, or my favorite… Hickory Run State Park. If you go to Hickory Run State Park then you will get to see Boulder Field. Below are some pictures from when I was there.
Pocono Mountains Fall Foliage Air Tours
When I was in Hawaii I took a helicopter ride around to see the island and it was amazing.
There are a few air tour options in the Pocono Mountains, which are a great way to get the BEST panoramic views.
The Private Mount Pocono Observation Air Tour is a very quick 10-12 minute flight. This is a good option if you want the experience but your budget is tight. It’s perfect if you aren’t sure that you want to spend a long time in the air, but you want to get some awesome pictures around the central region.
The Delaware Water Gap Air Tour is 30 minutes long and it is a great private tour if you want to create a memorable experience.
Here’s a recap video of some fun things to do in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
Although Jim Thorpe is the BEST fall destination in the Pocono Mountains, PA, it is also quite magical during the Christmas season. You can take a Horse & Carriage Ride, see the tree lighting, ice sculptures, and Christmas carolers during the Old Time Christmas winter fest. Make sure you take the time to visit this magical town at some point during the holiday season.
Planning on staying in Jim Thorpe? Read Top 5 Things you Need to Know When Finding a Hotel before you book!
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Jim Thorpe is the best fall destination in the Pocono Mountains, PA for locals to visit. Where do you like to go to enjoy the fall foliage?