Driving down Route 209, I’m surrounded by blue mountains that beg for my attention. As I make the descent into the valley, I am not sure what to expect. Coming into focus is a giant clock tower surrounded by Victorian architecture and majestic mountains. I feel as if I landed in a movie set about a sleepy little town somewhere in Europe. I’m not surprised as Jim Thorpe is referred to as the, “Little Switzerland of America.” If you are looking for a mountain town with a Swiss/European feel and plenty to see and do, Jim Thorpe is your place. Here is everything you need when planning your trip to this quaint destination tucked away in Carbon County, Pennsylvania.
Philadelpia, 1 hour and 48 min, (81.7 miles), New York city, 2 hours,(106 miles), Pittsburgh, 4 hours and 46 min, (270 miles), New Jersey, 2 hours and 19 minutes, (127.3 miles).
Harry Packer Mansion-A historic luxury Inn built in 1874 that sits high on a hill with sweeping views of town. Did you know that the mansion served as the inspiration for Walt Disney’s, “Haunted Mansion?” On Fridays, the Libation’s Lounge is open on their front porch. Have a drink and take in the view. In addition, there are weekend murder mystery dinners, and wine tastings.
White water rafting-The Lehigh River is the place to cool down and have some fun. Your first time rafting? No worries, as the experienced guides have something for every skill level.
Cyclists-Ride the scenic Lehigh Gorge Bike Trail.
Mauch Chunk Museum– Located across from the Dolan Inn, the museum is filled with exhibits that chronicle the history of Jim Thorpe.
Old Jail Museum-Built in the 1800’s, the jail is open for tours. There are many ghost stories linked to Jim Thorpe’s past and you’ll find them here.
Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway– Take an 80 minute leisurely ride with your choice of a standard or open air vintage car. Perfect for families or big kids! There’s a little bit of history, gorgeous views of the Lehigh Gorge State Park, and the scenic river/mountains.
Shopping– Choose from artisan crafts, clothing, oils, books, handmade stationery, and more. The shops begin at Broadway and wind their way down the street. There are more shops on historic Race Street off of Broadway.
Asa Packer Mansion Museum– Come and learn about the history of Jim Thorpe as you tour the mansion/museum and its lush grounds. Built in 1874, you will be transported back to Victorian splendor.
Hoover Mercantile Company– Located near the train station. Wines of the Poconos/art gallery.
Kemmerer Park– One of my favorite hidden spots which was found by accident while walking to the mansions on the hill. It sits in a little wooded area directly below the Harry Packer Mansion. The park was once the estate of Mahlon Kemmerer. There are peaceful walking paths and Kemmerer Carriage House Library on the grounds. If you love hidden pathways and old buildings, you will not want to miss this.
Historic Stone Row- Probably one of the most photographed streets in Jim Thorpe. There are many different styles of architecture, however, the Italianate style is most prevalent. You definitely get the feeling that you’re walking down a street in England.
Carbon County Courthouse– If you are picking up London vibes when you look at the clock tower, you are correct. The clock tower was based on the design of Big Ben and opened in 1894. I sat outside for dinner on a Sunday night and listened to the tower bells play. A couple of times I had the feeling that I was in another country.
Muggles Mug Cafe– Loved this cafe for its creative coffee and artisanal drinks! A cozy place with Harry Potter playing on a big screen and plenty of places to sit and relax.
Times House– Tucked away on historic Race Street, a short walk to most restaurants and shops. Elegant rooms and suites. En suite continental breakfast with china and silver await each guest.
Inn at Jim Thorpe– Built in 1849, the historic Inn sits conveniently in town. You will know it by its ornate iron balconies. Choose from rooms in the main building or in their other two Victorian properties. In addition there is a restaurant with an outdoor balcony and indoor seating as well as a bar, live entertainment, and spa services on-site.
Stone Row Eatery– My favorite restaurant. They describe themselves as plant forward, however, they also have provisions on their menu. Everything is fresh and creative. If available, ask for seating on the terrace. There are steps involved, however, the atmosphere is heaven. You are seated high up amongst old stone walls, woods, and a view of St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church. I spotted three cardinals and a hummingbird in the adjacent woods while we dined. They also have a great craft drink menu. Many gluten free options.
Marion Hose Bar- Modern comfort style food served in an old firehouse with a great outdoor seating area. Innovative craft drinks and beer. Loved the food and the atmosphere. This is home of the best drink that I’ve had this summer which was a white sangria with homemade lavender simple syrup and blueberries!
I hope that you find Jim Thorpe to be as unique and quaint as I did. It definitely has a European feel that is hard to forget.
*During Covid, hours of operation may differ for the above businesses and establishments. Please check their website or call for the most updated information.