Choose Your Own Adventure
Do you remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books we read as kids? No? Just me, then? I loved being in control of the main character’s destiny! I loved feeling like a part of the adventure. Maybe that’s why I love travel and exploring so much. You, as the traveler, get to choose your way through an adventure you design. Start with a beautiful setting and then just keep choosing your way through!
Video Travel Guide
For this travel guide we’re following our whims and choosing our way through the picturesque town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.
Jim Thorpe, PA
Known to many as the “little Switzerland” of PA, Jim Thorpe has a storybook vibe with quaint small town streets reminiscent of a European Village, set against the towering Pocono Mountains. Originally known as Mauch Chunk, Jim Thorpe is not only the historic home to the greatest athlete of all time, but a destination rich with history, charm and maybe even a few ghosts.
How to Get There
Jim Thorpe is about a two hour drive from Lancaster, an hour and a half from Philly and two hours from New York City. Your first choice is how long you’re going to stay and your second choice is how you’re going to get there. Many day visitors come in by train or bus. For this trip, we chose to drive in from Lancaster and make a weekend of it.
Where to Stay in Jim Thorpe, PA
If you too, are choosing to stay overnight, and you’re not traveling with young children, we’ve got the choice of where to stay all settled for you.
Dolon House B&B
The Dolan House Bed and Breakfast gets our Wild Precious Now highest recommendation and then some! The Dolan House looks out invitingly over the town of Jim Thorpe from its perch on Opera House Square. We were smitten by the wrap around porch and tucked away green spaces. You can sit and chat with your travel companions, other guests, and your fascinating hosts in serene shared spaces all throughout the house. An old Mauch Chunk MIllionaires Mansion, this house maintains its original glory with historic details like jeweled stained glass windows, stunning hand carved woodwork, a grand staircase with a gas lighted newel post and the Italianesque mosaic entry floor.
Newer to the home are the fascinating artistic and cultural artifacts that have been collected by the hosts in their travels all over the world. There are several beautiful suites and rooms to reserve, countless stories to be told and of course the unmatched experience of the Dolan House breakfast.
Dolon House Breakfast
I have never in all my days looked forward to getting up and out of bed on vacation like I did when I knew that Jeffri and Michael were waiting downstairs with breakfast. Breakfast at the Dolan House is the main event of your stay, with absolutely delectable and beautiful courses presented by chef Jeffri and accompanied by history, charm and stories that Michael shares, The Dolan House breakfast was a daily experience that I will never forget and we think every traveler and adventurer to Jim Thorpe should get to experience too! We’ve had the good fortune to be invited to Michelin star restaurants in our adventuring, and to say that the Dolan House breakfast was on par with the offerings at critically acclaimed restaurants is not a stretch. Served course by delicious course, breakfast at the Dolan House is seriously in the top culinary experiences of my life.
One of the main reasons that people flock to Jim Thorpe is that it’s place nestled in the Pocono mountains makes it a beautiful area to get outdoors and explore. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure and can choose just one, you’ll probably find yourself deciding between tubing/rafting/or boating down the beautiful Lehigh river or biking on the rail trail or D & L.
Biking in Jim Thorpe
This trip, we brought our bikes, so our next choice was how and when to get to the trail! People love to ride the trail next to the train and wave to train riders on the way.
There’s a bike train option if you bring your bike to the train station, you and your bike can take the one hour scenic train ride up through the Lehigh Gorge, 25 miles later, you disembark and then ride down at your own pace. Pack your camera and maybe some swimwear. On your ride back to Jim Thorpe, you’ll pass canal remnants, swim spots, scenic overlooks, waterfalls and railroad trestles.
Advance tickets/reservations are required for the Bike Train and can be made by calling the Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad (aka Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway) directly at 570-325-8485
If you are looking to rent a bike or join an organized ride, Pocono Biking offers resources to help you plan. Bike rentals are about $12/hour or $30 for the full day and include helmets. You can add on a shuttle service at an additional cost. The shuttle takes you to the White Haven Trailhead and then you can bike the 25 miles back to your car parked in Jim Thorpe.
One cool spot to explore is the abandoned train tunnel near the biking trail in Lehigh Gorge State Park. To get there, you can walk across the bridge over the Lehigh River and turn left into the first parking lot. Climb a very small hill, and you’ll be at the entrance to the tunnel known as the Turn Hole Tunnel. Reminiscent of the batcave or the plot of scary movie, this tunnel was used by the Lehigh and Susquehanna Railroad from 1866 until 1912. It was then used as a passing lane for trains until it was officially closed in 1956. The tunnel is nearly 500 feet long, and you’re able to walk through it to see the view of the river on the farthest side. It’s a breathtaking view and pretty cool spot off the trail to explore…or play with light and steel wool for some fun photography adventures.
If you’re hiking or biking in this area, it’s worth checking out Glen Onoko falls as well.
Where to Eat & Drink
Once you’ve worked up a thirst, you’ll find a plethora of storefronts, cafes, tasting rooms and watering holes to help you quench it.
Muggles Mug Cafe
If you’re looking for a caffeine jolt with a shot of magic and wonder, we think you’ll choose to head into the Muggles Mug Cafe. With delicious coffee drinks, treat options and magical ambience this Harry Potter themed cafe offers visitors a dimly lit and quiet escape from the summer heat and bustle outside. You can grab a java to go or stay a while to take in the wizardly wonder that is usually hard to find for muggles like us! The Mandrake Maple was a win for me. With white chocolate, maple and cinnamon notes, I like mine with oat milk and an extra shot of espresso patronum.
The Wild Elder
If you’re in the mood for a different kind of magical experience, The Wild Elder offers a charming tasting room with european style charcuterie and a delicious variety of traditional ciders and native wines to explore while people-watching at a table by the windows or people escaping in the courtyard out back. We find some choices are hard to make, so a flight feels like the chance to have it all and choose your favorites! The charcuterie board is the perfect shared lunch if you’re still a little full and a lot satisfied from breakfast.
When you’re ready to really eat, the diversity and quality of options in Jim Thorpe may surprise you. A few of our other favorites are:
Donerds : a donut shop that feels like a sweets-eater’s wonderland! We found they sell out quick but they’re worth waiting in line for! They serve La Columbe coffee and offer hot drip as well as cold brew nitro. The donuts really are the star of this show though. With so many fun and unique flavors (Cookie Monster, Blueberry Cheesecake, Strawberry Rose, The Snicker and The Unicorn to name a few), we had to bring home a dozen to try and share!
Moya for fine dining, Chef Heriberto Yunda is cooking up flavor with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients and a menu built for mixing and matching your favorite proteins with complimentary vegetables and sides.
Marion Hose: Locals recommended the Marion House to us for the mac and cheese burger and the french onion soup dumplings! We were smitten by the beautiful (dog-friendly) patio and the impressive whiskey selection!
Broadway Grille and Pub
Broadway Grille and Pub: A great spot for cocktails, steak and pub fare.
Big Creek Winery
Big Creek Winery: Waiting for your train and have some time to kill? Big Creek Winery has a tasting room adjacent to the train station that offers wine by the glass or bottle as well as cheese trays and local insight.
Macalusos Restaurant & Cocktail Bar
Macalusos Restaurant & Cocktail Bar: is a quick drive from Historic Jim Thorpe, Macaluso’s offers a mix of innovative and classic Italian cuisine. Generous portions, fresh market ingredients, high quality imports like DiBruno brother’s cheese from Philly and breads from Padora’s Italian bakery in Tamaqua, make Macaluso’s a standout.
Things To Do in Jim Thorpe: History and Hauntings
If hauntings and history get you excited, Jim Thorpe has you covered.
Old Jail Museum
The Old Jail Museum is a fascinating place to hunt for the ghosts of the Molly Maguires or just get swept up in the history and mystery that surrounds this historic landmark. We found the tour here to be spine tingling and absolutely fascinating. The lore around cell 17 might just keep you up at night scratching your head.
For history of another sort, you can choose to head up to Packer Hill to visit the historic mansions of Asa and Harry Packer. The Harry Packer Mansion turned Inn, provided Walt Disney with the inspiration to create the Haunted Mansion in Disney World, and the Asa Packer Mansion is filled with art and artifacts that take you back in time and tell the story of philanthropist, railroad pioneer and founder of Lehigh University.
We also enjoyed shopping and browsing up and down the main Broadway strip. You can see more of our favorite Jim Thorpe shops, stops and spots on our Instagram reels and stories!
Finally after adventuring exploring, dining and shopping your way through town, your last decision is how soon until you’ll come back to see even more! Hope you’re making the most of your one Wild and Precious Now.
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