In the middle of October, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Jim Thorpe, Pa. Even though we only live about one-hour away from Jim Thorpe, neither of us have ever been there. We were looking to Take a day-trip to see the fall foliage on this sunny Sunday afternoon. We spoke about a few different local destinations in Pennsylvania and New York, but settled on Jim Thorpe. We were not disappointed.
Jim Thorpe, Pa is known as the gateway to the Pocono Mountains. It is in the Lehigh Gorge and is called the Switzerland of America. It is an easy location to get to from any of the major cities in the northeast. Jim Thorpe is only a 1.5-hour drive from Philadelphia and a 2-hour drive from New York City.
History of Jim Thorpe
Guess who Jim Thorpe is named after? You are correct. This picturesque little town is named after Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe was a Native American baseball player, football player, and Olympic athlete. Jim Thorpe was once known as the greatest athlete in the world after winning the gold medal in both the pentathlon and decathlon in the Stockholm Games in 1912. Following the Olympics, he played baseball for the New York Giants baseball team and an early American pro football team, the Canton Bulldogs.
Jim Thorpe was not from Pennsylvania. He was from Oklahoma. After the state of Oklahoma refused to erect a memorial in his honor, Jim’s wife Patricia looked for a different location that would honor him. At the same time the town of Mauch Chunk and East Mauch Chunk were looking for ways to attract new business and tourists to this area. Patricia made a deal with these two towns where they ended up merging into one town known as Jim Thorpe. The town purchased the remains of Jim Thorpe and put up a tomb in his honor.
Fall Foliage Festival
When we arrived in Jim Thorpe, it seemed very crowded. That was due to the Fall Foliage Festival that was underway. We were not aware of this event, since we decided to drive to Jim Thorpe on a whim. We were pleasantly surprised, however, to find out that this festival was going on. We now know that this event is held for 3 weekends every October.
We had a nice time walking around the festival. There was plenty of entertainment. There was live music on four different stages. We browsed at what the many different vendors had to offer. We also enjoyed going to the scarecrow contest and voting for our favorite named “Dilly The Fireman”.
There are over 40 different places to eat in Jim Thorpe. There is everything from fine dining to street vendors. For lunch, we went to the famous Molly Maguires Pub & Steakhouse. My wife had the Veggie Wrap and I had the Bacon Cheeseburger. It was a simple lunch, but it was very good. Lunch cost us $28 with a tip.
What to do in Jim Thorpe
Jim Thorpe has something for almost everyone.
There are plenty of activities for people who love adventure. The Lehigh River runs through Jim Thorpe and is known for exhilarating whitewater rafting tours. There are stables for horseback riding. There is a 700-acre paintball field. Visitors can even get a tour of Jim Thorpe and surrounding mountains while sitting in a side car that is connected to a vintage BMW motorcycle.
If culture is more your thing, Jim Thorpe also has options for the more cosmopolitan tourist. There is the Mauch Chunk Opera House as well as Penn’s Peak where top acts come to perform in front of 1,800 spectators. If you are into wine, there are three vineyards. Jim Thorpe also has vintage clothing stores, local artisan shops, and art galleries for browsing.
Do you like to take in the beauty of nature? Jim Thorpe has hiking trails at the Lehigh Valley Gorge State Park. Visitors can rent a mountain bike and explore the D&L Trail-head. If you are into kayaking, boating, or fishing, you can visit Mauch Chunk Lake Park.
Where to Stay
Jim Thorpe has many different options for lodging. The town has many historic bed & breakfasts including the Times House B&B. There is the historic Tim Thorpe Hotel that was built in 1849. There are also campgrounds that can accommodate RVs.
We truly enjoyed the day we spent in Jim Thorpe. It is unfortunate that we waited so long to visit Jim Thorpe. Now that we know it is such a nice place, we will be sure to return. It is easy to see why it is known as one of the most fun, most beautiful, most romantic, and best adventure towns to visit. If you live in the northeast or are passing through, I recommend visiting this quaint and extremely fun town.
The next time we visit, I might surprise my wife with a weekend getaway. We have never stayed in a B&B and the few that I checked out look charming. I am also interested in going for a ride on the BMW motorcycle.
Have you ever visited Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania?
If you have, please share your experience in the comments section below.