Jim Thorpe, PA: A Fairytale Escape in the Pocono Mountains
Have you ever stumbled upon a hidden gem of a travel destination that seemed too marvelous to share with others? I certainly have, and one such treasure is Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Lucky for you, my need to share just how fantastic this charming little town is outweighs my need to keep the crowds away. Once you discover the unique wonders of Jim Thorpe, you’ll be eager to plan your visit as soon as possible!
The Legend Behind Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
First, let’s delve into the intriguing backstory of why this town is named after Jim Thorpe. Jim Thorpe was an iconic Native American sports legend, renowned for his extraordinary athletic achievements. He achieved Olympic glory in the decathlon and pentathlon at the 1912 Stockholm Olympics, securing victories in both events. Beyond his Olympic prowess, he also graced the baseball field as a New York Giants player from 1913 to 1919 and later transitioned to professional football, playing for various NFL teams. The Associated Press hailed him as the greatest athlete of the first half of the 20th century, and he earned a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1963.
Following his passing in 1953, Jim Thorpe’s wife, Patricia, sought a fitting tribute to her husband. She chose to relocate his remains to Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania, a place where he had spent some of his happiest years. In honor of his legacy, the town was renamed Jim Thorpe.
A Fairytale Setting in the Pocono Mountains
Nestled in the picturesque Pocono Mountains, just a two-hour drive from New York City, Jim Thorpe appears as though it’s sprung from the pages of a fictional fairytale. My visit, which happened just before Halloween, was greeted by the town adorned in spooky decorations and autumnal splendor.
A Scenic Railway Journey
One of the highlights of my visit was the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. I had the pleasure of embarking on a vintage coach journey that treated me to breathtaking views along the Lehigh River and Lehigh Gorge State Park. If you time your visit properly you’ll enjoy the full Fall foliage display as you ride the Railway. The scenic railway area also provides opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Joggers, cyclists, and anglers can be seen along the nearby trails and river, making it an ideal spot for both train aficionados and nature lovers.
Fall Foliage Festival
During my stay, the Jim Thorpe Fall Foliage Festival was in full swing. During weekends throughout October the town comes alive with live music, charming local shops and boutiques showcasing the work of talented artisans, and a delectable array of food options. (I developed a particular fondness for the delectable treats at Carmella’s Italian Bakery booth, as you can see in my photos above.) There are also Ghost Walks in Old Mauch Chunk available to book from the end of September to early November as well as a number of museums you can visit year round.
Jim Thorpe’s Old Time Christmas
If you miss the Fall Foliage Festival, don’t worry. The first three weekends of December usher in Jim Thorpe’s Old Time Christmas. This enchanting celebration includes a tree lighting ceremony in Josiah White Park, train rides with Santa Claus, strolling carolers, holiday characters, and musicians, all amidst the backdrop of over 40 charming shops, galleries, and boutiques. With plenty of free family events and live entertainment, it’s the perfect place to soak in the holiday spirit. I’m already planning my return to experience the magic of this town during the festive season!
Why I’ll Be Returning to Jim Thorpe, PA
Jim Thorpe, PA, is a town filled with enchantment, from its whimsical architecture to the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds it. It’s a place that instantly feels like home, yet transports you back in time to an era of simplicity and serenity. Be sure to add a visit to this hidden gem in the Poconos to your travel list; I guarantee you’ll fall in love with it, just as I did. Jim Thorpe is a testament to the beauty of undiscovered destinations waiting to be explored.
** One of my visits to Jim Thorpe, PA was was hosted by the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau but all opinions are honest and my own. A version of this post was originally published on my other website Shesonthego.com