Jim Thorpe is a historic victorian town founded in 1818 located in eastern Pennsylvania. It’s about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia, 2 from NYC, and a bit shy of 3 hours from Baltimore. The town was initially named Mauch Chunk, meaning Bear Place, by the Lenape Delaware people and in its early days was home to many anthracite coal mines. The first railway in the United States was a switchback railway that brought coal from the Summit Hill mines about 11 miles to Mauch Chunk. Not only was the town known for its coal but later became known as the burial location for the Native American sports player Jim Thorpe. It was in the 1950s that the town of Mauch Chunk was renamed to Jim Thorpe after this athlete.
The first time I visited Jim Thorpe was back when I was in elementary school. My mom was working to get her master’s degree and part of her research was about about the Carlisle Indian School. It happens to be that that’s where in 1912, Jim Thorpe was captain of the school’s football team. So since the town was named after him and he was buried there, my parents created a weekend in the Poconos with intentions to have fun while also learning.
During that weekend, one of our stops was at Bushkill Falls, which is a park featuring 8 waterfalls with the most incredible views. While it’s a bit over an hour away from Jim Thorpe, it’s a must see while you’re in the area. Don’t believe me? Check out the pictures here.
During the last few years, I’ve been able to visit both Bushkill and Jim Thorpe a few times. My favorite spots in the downtown area are linked below. It’s a great spot for a weekend away, especially during October when the leaves in the mountains are changing.
- Old Jail Museum – You can do regular to or choose a ghost tour in October.
- Muggle’s Mug – Harry Potter Themed Coffee Shop. No more explanation necessary.
- Switchback Railroad Trail – Biking trail along the old railroad switchbacks
- Somersault Letterpress – Cute little card shop
- Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway – Train rides that are the most spectacular during fall foliage
- Delaware and Lehighton Trail – Great for biking!
- Shops Downtown – There’s so many fun shops. From antiques, to gifts, to beef jerky, toys, books, and records. So many options.
- Lehigh Gorge State Park – A beautiful park where you can bike, hike, whitewater raft, or explore by car!
I would recommend spending a weekend in the area, especially if you love the outdoors. Check out a few of the waterfalls in the area, go for a hike, and then relax and have enjoy an evening in Jim Thorpe. With a town this full of history and beauty, it’s sure to be a great time!