Whenever I hear about “cool small towns”, Jim Thorpe always comes to mind, even though I’ve only ever driven through or been just outside town (for a rafting trip two years ago). Budget Traveler agrees as it named the town one of it’s “coolest small towns” in 2009. Jim Thorpe’s a small town in PA’s Lehigh Valley that’s been dubbed both “The Switzerland of America” due to it’s scenery and architecture and “gateway to the Pocono’s” because of it’s location and penchant for outdoor activity.
Despite its small size (it has a population of just under 5,000) it’s easy to spend an entire weekend in Jim Thorpe. The main draws are the outdoor activity. The Lehigh River provides some excellent white water rafting and nearby Mauch Chunk Lake offers kayak and paddleboard rentals. Jim Thorpe even has a kayak school if you want to really hone your skills. You can also sign up for a paintball match, bike, or take a Pingzaur Tour, an Austrian military all terrain vehicle that can climb mountains and ford streams (I will be doing this in the somewhat near future). Old Forge is definitely a summer/fall destination, however it is located within driving distance of several ski resorts and you could even book a night time snowshoeing outing.
If you need some respite from the great outdoors, make sure to go a weekend that Penn’s Peak is hosting a concert. They get pretty decent acts. Jim Thorpe is historically relevant as it’s the town in which PA’s storied Molly Maguire’s were tried and executed. On Saturday’s in October you could take a ghost tour of the Old Jail where they were held. Walk This Way Tours holds haunted walks through the town all year long.
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