Unique Places in Eastern PA
Recently, my family and I had the opportunity to explore the Poconos region in Pennsylvania. After some research of places to go/see, and picking up some pamphlets out of the hotel lobby, we decided to explore the following places: Kalahari Water Park Resort, Number 9 Coal Mine & Museum, The Old Jail Museum, The Lost River Caverns, and Bushkill Falls. Additionally, we decided to endeavor in the quest of the Escape Poconos escape rooms. Below is a review of each location, with some friendly tips & average prices. Enjoy!
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions (and indoor waterpark)
Number 9 Coal Mine & Museum in Lansford, PA
The Old Jail Museum in Jim Thorpe, PA (formerly "Mauch Chunk," PA)
The Lost River Caverns in Hellertown, PA
Known as "The Niagra of Pennsylvania," here, you can find "Buskill Falls," where you can see a large, layered waterfall.
Escape Poconos (escape rooms)
Kalahari Indoor Water Park
Kalahari Waterpark in Pocono Manor, PA- This waterpark seems to be only half of the size that is heard about in other locations, but it is currently under construction. This location is currently building many more attractions. What is currently found within this indoor water park is about five waterslides, a water coaster, a lazy river, a 3 ft pool, a wave runner, a “basketball” pool, and a kiddy pool, as well as kiddy slides. As an adult who only wanted to relax in water while my husband and child were riding the slides, I found that to be difficult because the park did not seem to have a “normal” pool, or wave pool. As a matter of fact, I did not even see the three foot pool until much later in the evening. I did enjoy the lazy river, but it was awkward because I seemed to be the only adult in that attraction at the time (but later in the evening, I did see many more adults in the lazy rivier).
No (Number) 9 Coal Mine & Museum
The Number 9 Coal Mine & Museum, in Lansford, PA was a great find! We discovered this location through a pamphlet at our hotel. As my husband and I both have had relatives who were coal miners in the past, we were both interested in taking this tour. The prices of the tour were more than affordable, and the tour was well worth the money. When we first arrived, the "museum" did appear to look like it was held within a "garage-like" structure, but it still had a wealth of information, and preserved tools. The tour, however, was AMAZING. Our tour guide was Zack, and he was extremely enthusiastic and informative, as well as great with our daughter (who asks a lot of questions)! During this tour, you board a rail vehicle, that the guide then drives down INTO THE MINE, where he then stops the vehicle, helps you out of the vehicle, and leads you through the mine, with minimal light. One of the most important pieces of information that we learned from Zack was that this mine was used to mine Anthracite coal (which is a soft coal), and those mines are vertical, whereas in Western, PA, hard coal is mined, and mines are horizontal. After the tour, Zack even took time to answer questions, from both my husband and daughter, about the railway and rail vehicle history. Additionally, the man running the gift shop was very kind, and worked well with our daughter, who was spending her own money. Great guides, and great service! I definitely recommend touring this mine if you are in the area.
The Old Jail Museum
Don't miss this spot! This is the old "Carbon County Jail," in Lansford, PA (formerly "Mauch Chunk, PA). It is now known as "The Old Jail Museum." It is this jail building where four suspected "Molly Maguires" were hanged, with convictions of murders. The Molly Maguires were a supposed secret organization that was fighting for coal miners' rights, but without anything stopping them...including murder. It is unknown if this organization ever truly existed. Now, if you stop by The Old Jail Museum, you are able to purchase a tour of the jail. When we toured, we were surprised that the tour guides were so young, but do not be fooled! These guides were impressive! They were extremely informative, and definitely knew the history of the jail.
In addition to the wealth of history behind this jail, if you are into paranormal activity, this may be the place for you. After reading the book, "Ghosts of the Molly Maguires," by Betty Lou McBride (one of the owner's of the jail), we learned that at first, the owners did not want to associate the jail with the paranormal, but it was not long after that that many reports of activity came flowing into them, so many, in fact, that Betty decided to write a book about them (see the ad below, if you would like to purchase this book). After reading the book, and visiting the jail, I will just tell you to beware of Cell 6, Cell D6, and the library (the library was closed to us when we toured)...
Have you ever had a paranormal experience?
The Lost River Caverns
This location has a great tour, with a great little gift shop. Our tour guide was enthusiastic and informative, as he took us through the cave. He explained that this location is called "The Lost River Caverns" because a river flows through them, but nobody knows from where it flows, or to where it flows. Additionally, we learned that this cave used to be used for dances, complete with live music. There were also beautiful mineral composites that had developed over the years. Furthermore, they had pieces of other minerals that were donated from a university, so we were also educated about the florescence of those. This tour is unique, affordable, and worth the trip! I highly recommend this tour. Also, if you like to buy souvenirs, the lady and gentleman (same gentleman who ran the tour) were very kind, and showed us how to play a small type of instrument that was available in the store. If you are headed to this area don't miss The Lost River Caverns!
Here, lies Buskill Falls, also known as "The Niagra of Pennsylvania." Although the park costs $15 per person, it is well-kept, and has many activities to keep children occupied. It does, however, seem to be what some might call a "money-maker" location. Upon our arrival, I saw a maze that looked fun, so I encouraged my daughter and husband to do it, but when they got up there, we realized it costs $8/adult, and $5/child. Keep in-mind, we were already paying $15/person just to walk the trails, so I thought the rate for this maze was quite steep. There was also a "panning" station, which also had a separate cost. On the brochure, it stated that the park closed at 6:00, but the truth is that everything (the activities, the gift shop, and the water in the bathrooms) is shut down at 5:00, and everyone must be out of the park by 6:00 p.m. This was disappointing, as in the summer, it stays light out for much longer. There did seem to be a café connected to the gift shop, but it was closed by the time we made it to the gift shop. Would I say the park was worth $15/person? I'm not sure. There are various trails that can be taken (at varying difficulty levels), and the views were beautiful, but at $15/person, I feel the activities for kids should have been free. If you like to hike through the forest, you would probably enjoy hiking at Bushkill falls.
Escape Poconos in Stroudsburg, PA, consists of three different escape rooms: a log cabin, a bank, and a jail. We had an extremely difficult time finding this company, as the entrance was in the BACK of a building complex in the plaza, and we did not even see a sign for this company within this plaza (when we arrived, we expressed this, and we were told that the property manager would not let them put up a bigger sign, so we must have missed whatever sign was there). As this was our first time doing an "escape room," I had called earlier, attempting to ask if we were going to be put with strangers (as it had said "only 2 left" for tickets online, and there were three of us), but I guess I had not expressed my question clearly enough, and we were put with a large group of six other people. Our daughter was upset by this, but what actually upset me was the size of the first room. It was an extremely tight space for nine people, and we were in there for a long period of time (to be truthful, I am not sure this would even meet fire code capacity). The people who were running this operation were very kind, but I did kindly explain to them that this is what I had been trying to ask about earlier in the day, and had I understood clearly, I would have chosen my options differently (as the other group seemed a little perturbed that we had a pre-teen with us; it was their first time doing this too). My recommendation is that if you have interest in doing something like this, ask about the size of the rooms, and make sure your party is big enough to purchase all of the tickets for that room (so you don't end up with strangers). Rates were around $26.75 per person. Photos are not allowed, as they do not want their secrets spread through social media.
If you are headed to Eastern, PA, these are some great spots to visit! Whereas I would say the Number 9 Coal Mine & Museum was probably my favorite, my husband enjoyed Bushkill Falls the most, and our daughter liked Kalahari the best, so it all comes down to personal interest! There were many more attractions in the area, to which we did not make it, so there is plenty to do in Eastern PA. You just have to do your research.
Unique Places to Visit in Western PA
- Unique Places to Visit in Western PA
In this article, you will read about three great places that could easily be missed, but now, you will be "in the know!"