If you grew up in the NYC region, your impression of Pennsylvania's Poconos may come primarily from the commercials for "Beautiful Mount Airy Lodge" with its heart-shaped hot tubs and, therefore, may think of the area as a cheesy vacation spot with strip malls and go-kart tracks. If so, it's time to update your view.
Just two hours from NYC or Philadelphia, the Poconos offer pristine natural beauty mixed with enough family friendly activities to fill a weekend getaway or an entire summer vacation. Truly a four season resort area, during the winter people flock to the region for skiing and other winter sports, and the cool lake-dotted mountains draw families for swimming, hiking, boating, horseback riding and more in the summer.
My family has been to the Poconos a few times, but this summer we visited the area for several weeks, checking out as many activities as we could to create our Poconos Family Vacation Guide and compile this list of the best 50 things to do with kids in the Poconos.
Since it's a fairly large region I've separated the list by area to make it easier to find what's near you if you're only there for a weekend. For a longer stay, it's definitely worth exploring all the great attractions across the Poconos.
- Swim and picnic at well-maintained Ricketts Glenn, Tobyhanna, Gouldsboro or Promised Land state park beaches
- Go horseback riding at Malibu Dude Ranch, Triple W Riding Stables, Pocono Manor Stable, or Fernwood Resort
- Bowl away a rainy day at Summit Lanes or Wallenpaupack Bowling Center
- Enjoy rides, shows and agricultural expos at the Wayne County Fair or Carbon County Fair
- Add some extra fun to your hike with geocaching at Hickory Run State Park, Big Pocono State Park or Promised Land State Park
- Ski Shawnee Mountain or attend one of their popular Summer or Fall festivals
- Poconos Go Karts and Play Park has a kiddie cart track where younger drivers can drive on their own.
- Make your own souvenir at Poke a Nose Pottery
- Learn about local natives at the Pocono Indian Museum
- Visit the main Delaware Water Gap attractions and learn at once and learn about the history aboard a trolley.
- Canoe, kayak or raft the delaware river with Adventure Sports
- See a kid show at the Shawnee Playhouse
- Enjoy unlimited samples of 60 flavors of popcorn and fudge at Popcorn Buddha
- Treat yourselves to the $2.50 pie and a hot dog deal at Village Farmer and Bakery
- Pet the animals, participate in family programs and learn how people lived 150 years ago at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm
- Browse for used childrens and adult books at Carroll & Carroll Booksellers
Tannersville and Mt Pocono
- Snow tubing at Camelback, Jack Frost Big Boulder, or Fernwood Winter Fun Center
- Pick your own apples, pumpkins, or Christmas Tree at Heckman Orchards
- Challenge yourselves with the Treetop Adventure, brand new Alpine Coaster or Ziplines at Camelback Mountain Adventures
- Get wet and wild at the area's only major water park, Camelback Beach
- Teenagers can take aim at Sunset Hill Shooting Range
- Spend a rainy day on the tiny carousel, mini-golf, arcade games, old fashioned movie theater and ice cream shop at Casino Theater Entertainment Center
- Try pretzels in every imaginable variety watch them being made at Callie’s Pretzel Factory
- Then drive five minutes away to Callie's Candy Kitchen for delicious home made chocolates and candies of all kinds. Arrive on Saturday afternoons for free demos
- Stop at the Poconos' favorite breakfast spot, Piggy's in Lake Harmony, for massive plates of chocolate chip pancakes and cinnamon swirl French toast
- Find year-round water park fun at the Split Rock Indoor Water Park
- Feed the giraffes at Claws "N" Paws Animal Park
- There's endless fun, including water slides, laser tag, mini-golf, go-karts, bumper boats and more at Costas Family Fun Park
- Pick your own blueberries at Paupack Blueberry Farm
- LIttle kids will appreciate the kiddie kart track and wading pool while older kids will love the water slides, bumper boats, mini-golf and go-karts at Carousel Water and Fun Park
- Rent a boat from Rubber Duckie Boat Rentals on Lake Wallenpaupack for a day of fun on the lake.
- Pull your boat in for lunch at Ehrhardt's Restaurant using the dock-n-dine service, a drive in for boats.
Milford and the Delaware Water Gap
- Dingmans Falls part of delaware water gap National Historic Park
- Hike the beautiful Bushkill Falls and then enjoy a round of mini-golf or paddle boats.
- Or hike to one of five other water falls in the Delaware Water Gap, all easy hikes.
- Swim in the cool, clean Delaware River at one of three lifeguarded beaches.
- The Poconos Environmental Education Center in Dingman’s Ferry offers trails and public nature programs including weekend family visits where you stay in their cabins and enjoy nature programs
- Ride the 3000 ft zip line or play paint ball at Kittattiny Canoes
- Tour the castle-like Grey Towers National Historic SIte
- Raft the gentle white waters, appropriate for all ages, with Landers River Trips
- Learn how the massive, striking Boulder Field at Hickory Run State Park was created 20,000 years ago by permafrost (or just go swimming and hiking)
- Learn how the miners lived and worked at Eckley Miners Village Museum
- Travel 1600 feet underground to experience what miners did 200 years ago at No 9 Coal Mine and Museum
- Bike the flat Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail and cool off in the small trail-side waterfall
- Pick up some inexpensive toys at the old-fashioned Five & Dime
- Tour the Old Jail Museum for added leverage to keep your kids in line
- See how the other half lived during Victorian times a the Asa Packer Mansion
- Get hands on with butterflies at the Bear Mountain Butterfly Sanctuary
- Ride the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway or one of the themed rides
- Buy old fashioned candies or ice cream at Rainbow's End
You can find more great information for planning your Poconos Mountain vacation at 800Poconos.com. They were a great resource for us in planning our trip. Huge thanks!
Originally published on September 9, 2013.