Nestled in the Pocono mountains in Pennsylvania sits a small town called Jim Thorpe. Often referred to as the Switzerland of America or the Gateway to the Poconos, the town is most historically known for burying the body of Native American sports legend Jim Thorpe. Before it was named after the famous Olympian, it was known as Mauch Chunk- which is Native American for sleeping bear. The town came to be due to the coal mining in the area- churches, homes, and other buildings were erected by the coal mining managers and attorneys. * The town is beautiful to visit during all seasons due to it’s famous Victorian architecture, and at one time was the second most visited tourist town in America, following Niagra Falls!
During December, the town celebrates the holidays with their annual Olde Time Christmas- a month long celebration complete with train rides with Santa, caroling, and lots of holiday happenings. We just returned from our first visit to this beautiful town and area already planning our next visit.
We got to Jim Thorpe around 2 pm on a Saturday. As soon as we rounded the corner and approached Broadway, the little kid in me began to squeal. “It’s like we’re in a snowglobe!” my husband exclaimed. It was late enough in the afternoon for the holiday lights to start to turn on around town, but still early enough to see what was before our eyes. We headed up W. Broadway to find the home rental we’d be staying in- owned by our host Jennifer.
We entered the doors of the 3 story home we’d be staying in and walked into a wonderful surprise awaiting us in the living room. A gift basket with goodies from several shops around town and information for our stay. Such a thoughtful gesture. The kids then ran off to explore the rest of the home. While there are some hotels and B&B’s in the area, we thought that a home rental was a great option for our family. Not only is it a great way for larger families to travel together, it’s often a more affordable option too. The home we stayed in starts at $175 a night- so you’re getting a lot of space for less than the amount of many hotel rooms.
If it wasn’t for us being in a town that we couldn’t wait to explore, we could have easily just stayed in Jennifer’s lovely home. It was the perfect place to unplug as a family and enjoy each other’s company, but with enough space to spread out if we wanted.
After the girls chose their rooms (although I knew they’d end up sleeping together) and Luis and I unloaded some of our bags, we bundled up and headed into town.
Our rental home on W. Broadway was close enough to walk down to the main part of town, so we didn’t have to worry about finding parking. We passed lots of homes decked out in holiday decor as we made our way closer to the shops.
We stopped in at the Mauch Chunk Museum where we read that there would be Christmas crafts and holiday films being played upstairs. We grabbed a cup of hot cocoa for the girls and stopped to pose in front of the fun Grinch cut-out in front.
I loved to see how all of the town’s shops decorated for Christmas in their own fun way. The architecture of the town is beautiful enough, but to see it lit up and decorated was truly amazing.
Big Creek Vineyard & Winery Shoppe
Big Creek Vineyard is located in Kresgeville, Pennsylvania. Their shoppe location is right in Jim Thorpe, situated inside the historic Hooven Mercantile Co. building. This location offers tastings, wine by the glass, small food platters, and bottles sales. Check out their monthly events, like their upcoming Christmas Cookies and Cocktails- which is great for couples who can escape and fit in a mini date while the kids hang with grandma.
One of the newer businesses in town, Somersault Letterpress offers everything from greeting cards, to stationery, to actual letterpress services. But this isn’t your average stationery shop, approach the front door and a shabby chic chalkboard reads Good Cards for Bad People. Warning: Strong Language. You’ll enjoy perusing the countless sayings and greeting cards offered at this shop, and the owners are absolutely wonderful.
House of Jerky
With a Jim Thorpe location, House of Jerky carries every jerky you can think of; Beef Jerky, Buffalo Jerky, Venison Jerky, Kangaroo Jerky, Pork Jerky and Turkey Jerky. House of Jerky is known for making jerky the old fashioned way: sliced from lean whole premium top round steak and it is not ground, chopped, processed or formed into strips. A fun treat to pick up for friends and family back at home, or just to try your hand at some new flavors.
Jim Thorpe Massage and Wellness Studio
As if being in this quaint town isn’t relaxing enough, schedule a massage with this massage and wellness studio with Licensed Massage Therapist Shelley Roberts. The studio offers several services, including massage and bodywork, stone massage, reflexology, spa foot treatment, and more. Appointments can be made right on their website. It’s also a great gift to give to someone who will be visiting the town.
The Gem Shop
For fashion lovers, stop into The Gem Shop to pick up something for someone for Christmas, or add a new scarf or handbag to your collection. A boutique atmosphere but affordable prices, be sure to stop in and see what they have to offer.
They also post deals on their website, so be sure to check it out before your visit.
For sure to be one of the kid’s favorite shops to visit, Rainbow’s End is a classic candy store. Step inside and you’ll find everything from rock candy to specialty treats. There are even tables in the back where visitors can order ice cream and milkshakes.
This shop is a Soap “Boo-tique” and “Art Corridor”. It is a combination of artisan soaps/skincare, handmade original art, pottery and more. The owner Marianne is also an artist, so her art is reflected in her products and she also showcases original art and handmade artisan home goods.
Stonekeep is Pennsylvania’s first dedicated Meadery. Their tasting room is located right on Broadway in Jim Thorpe. A meadery is a winery that produces honey wines or meads (which is a fermented beverage made of water and honey, malt, and yeast). Stop in for tastings at the Market Place in the Douglas House- their hours are listed on their Facebook page, but they are open more around the holidays.
Evening in Jim Thorpe
We decided to figure out dinner as the evening drew near. There were some great looking cafes and little eateries spread throughout town, but being that we were staying in Jennifer’s lovely home, we decided to find a local supermarket and pick up some food to make in the house. We did spy this lovely Cafe/Restaurant Through the Looking Glass where a sign read BYOB: Sponsored by Citizens Against Ridiculous Wine Prices (Eating out should not cost you an arm and a leg.) How awesome is that- love when local businesses really think about their patrons and want to make it possible for families to have a good time.
For those who know us, we are loyal Aldi customers. So we were happy to find that a location was only a few miles away. So we hopped in the car and grabbed some items for dinner, some beverages, and breakfast for the morning. We then popped open the Spiced Apple wine from Big Creek Vineyard while we made dinner.
After dinner we played several of the board games from the dining room cabinet. Monopoly, Candyland- our girls always love to unplug and play games together as a family. Around 8pm, we decided to go for a drive just to see the town lit up and what the atmosphere was like. It was even more beautiful at night, with all of the building’s lights twinkling. We parked down by The Inn hotel and saw some of the bar crowds going for drinks at the local tavern.
We returned back to the house and lounged in the living room. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York was on, which was the perfect movie to remind of us home and complete our first day in Jim Thorpe. We went upstairs and slept soundly, excited for day 2.
Santa Train Ride
In the morning, we awoke to the smell of bacon on the stove as Luis had awoke early to get breakfast going. We ate then quickly got dressed to catch the 10:30 train ride with Santa on the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. This scenic train ride through the mountains offers special events throughout the year- including Santa and Holiday trains. The train was only $13 per adult, and one child rides free with each paying adult. Children under 2 are free.
The train rides are 70 minutes long and leave downtown Jim Thorpe, where it parallels the Lehigh River north into the beautiful Lehigh Gorge State Park. The train ride is approximately 16 miles round trip, and returns back to downtown Jim Thorpe. For the train ride with Santa, he makes his appearance car by car with his elves- taking photos and passing out candy. We learned a lot of history of the area during our ride, and the kids had a blast.
After the train ride, Gia and Luis went back to the house to start lunch while Briana and I visited some more of the shops around town and I grabbed coffee. Before we knew it, it was time to start heading back to the Bronx.
Our stay in Jim Thorpe was truly magical. The beautiful town, the train ride, and the quality time spent together in Jennifer’s lovely rental home. We couldn’t wait to tell our family all about it and plan our next visit. While Olde Time Christmas is such a site to see, we learned that October is one of the busiest times for the town- with the beautiful fall foliage and events happening in Jim Thorpe.
With plenty of history and events in Jim Thorpe, it’s an awesome place to visit at any time of year- but we are so glad our first experience was during the holiday season. For more information about Jim Thorpe, visit www.jimthorpe.org.
For information on the Santa Train Ride, visit www.lgsry.com.
*Source: Trip Advisor
We received accommodations to facilitate this post. As always, all opinions are our own.