Scranton is the county seat and largest city in Lackawanna County in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and it is the sixth-largest city in this state. It is known for its industry, transportation, and mining history, and for being the cultural center of the Lackawanna River valley. If this is your chosen destination for a short break or a longer vacation, then you will find a diverse range of activities and attractions to enjoy during your stay, with something to suit everyone. To help you plan your vacation and make the most of your time in this city, here are the 20 best things to do in Scranton, PA for first-timers.
20. Enjoy Family Fun at the Lahey Family Fun Park
Those who are visiting Scranton with children should spend a day at Lahey Family Fun Park. This park is just on the outskirts of the city in Clark’s Summit. There is plenty to keep children of all ages entertained, including mini-golf, go-karts, a soft play area, bumper boats, arcade games, and batting cages. You can spend a full day at this fun park and still find plenty to enjoy, or even make several visits during your vacation to enjoy the different activities.
19. Dine at Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant
If you want a fun dining experience during your vacation, then head to Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant. This 70-year-old established dining venue is shaped like a ship, so there is a sense of fun before you even enter. The bar area has taxidermy on the walls, and the dining area is divided into the Whale Room and the Train Room. As its name suggests, the seafood dishes are the highlight of the menu. Children’s meals are served in a boat-shaped vessel that they can take home after their meal, so children find eating in this restaurant very appealing.
18. Watch a Race at Mohegan Sun
Mommy Popkins recommends watching a horse race at the Mohegan Sun Casino. This is a family-friendly activity, and there are lots of restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with the family after the race. If you do not have children in your traveling party, then you can also enjoy some adults-only fun at the casino and enjoy a few drinks in the bars.
17. Enjoy Outdoor Fun at Montage Mountain
To enjoy outdoor activities in Scranton, you should go to Montage Mountain. There are plenty of activities to enjoy for people of all ages and abilities at this attraction. It is most popular for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing during the winter months. In the summer, visitors can enjoy the large water park that boasts a huge wave pool, various slides, poolside cabanas, and a canal for floating. There are also zipline wires, which is another fun activity. Therefore, there is plenty to enjoy at any time of the year.
16. Walk the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail
If you enjoy spending time outdoors exploring the area while on vacation, then you should walk the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail. This trail is 70 miles long, and it passes through both rural and urban areas. Most people do not complete the entire trail during their stay, but it is divided into different sections, so you can choose which walks to enjoy. As most of the trail is paved, you can choose whether to walk, run, or cycle. It also means that the paths are accessible for most people, regardless of their ability.
15. Visit The Caitlin House
The Caitlin House is a Tudor-style mansion that was the home of George H. Caitlin and was built in 1912. There are 16 beautifully preserved rooms inside this property, and each is furnished with period-specific furniture, antiques, and décor. Some of the features of this house include stained-glass windows, wood paneling, and a wooden staircase. Visitors can take tours of this house between 1 pm and 3 pm on Tuesdays through to Saturdays.
14. Go to the Houdini Museum
An unusual museum to visit is the Houdini Museum, which is a tribute to Harry Houdini. Within the museum, there are artifacts, posters, and pictures that relate to this magician and illusionist’s life and career. Visitors enjoy a film about Houdini during the tour, and there is a live magic show performed by world-renowned magicians. The tour takes approximately three hours, and there are only limited seats available for the shows. Therefore, it is best to book tickets for this museum in advance.
13. Enjoy a Meal on the Dining Cars of the Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society
A unique experience to enjoy in Scranton is a meal on the dining cars preserved by the Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society, says Vacation Idea. The Erie Lackawanna Railroad served gourmet meals to passengers for almost 100 years. Now, the Erie Lackawanna Dining Car Preservation Society is trying to preserve this history. They have restored three dining cars, two Dieseliner coaches, and one sleeper car. You can take a tour of these cars by appointment. There is also the option to enjoy a meal on a train ride during one of the various events that take place throughout the year.
12. Watch a Game at PNC Field
Located in downtown Scranton, the PNC Field is home to the Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. This team is an AAA affiliate of the New York Yankees. If you watch a game at this field, it is possible that you will see one of the best baseball players of the future, as players often progress to the New York Yankees. If you want to catch a game, then check out the dates before visiting and get your tickets in advance. You will not regret it as there is an electric atmosphere among the locals who support this team, and this makes it exciting for visitors.
11. Learn About Local History at the Lackawanna Historical Society Museum
Lackawanna County is the youngest county in Pennsylvania. The Lackawanna Historical Society Museum showcases the history of the county, and it covers the contributions its citizens have made to both the United States and world history. The way that former residents and industries have shaped the county is also covered by the exhibits in this museum. Some of the diverse collections include coal mining tools and 19th-century fashion.
10. Explore Archibald Pothole State Park
An amazing outdoor space to enjoy in Scranton is Archibald Pothole State Park. The park is so-called because it is home to the Archibald Pothole, which is the largest glacial pothole in the world. Although the park is the smallest state park in Pennsylvania, this natural feature alone makes the park worth a visit. The pothole is surrounded by fences for safety, but you can see right to the bottom of the chasm. It will not take long to explore the rest of the park after seeing this natural oddity.
9. Spend a Few Hours at the Anthracite Heritage Museum
Many of the immigrants who arrived in Pennsylvania during the 1800s had come to start a new life while working in the anthracite coal mining industry. This museum educates visitors about the stories of the immigrants, how they lived, their work, their traditions, and their family lives. Some of the exhibits that visitors will see in this museum include photographs of the workers and their families. A replica saloon, and a replica of the home of a typical coal miner. Nearby, there is an exhibit of four iron furnaces, which is where the Lackawanna Iron and Steel Company smelted their iron.
8. Visit Rattlesnake Falls
Scranton has many hidden waterfalls, and it is often the case that only the locals know of their existence. One set of pretty waterfalls that are often missed by tourists is the Rattlesnake Falls. These are located near Nesbitt Reservoir in Pinchot State Forest. To reach the waterfall, there is an easy hike through the forest that will take about 15 minutes. The falls have two drops, and the main drop is approximately 15 feet where the water cascaded through a narrow chasm. Take your camera along to capture the scenery.
7. Go to the Electric City Trolley Museum
In the past, Scranton was known as the Electric City because of its passenger trolley line, which was the first in the state. The Electric City Trolley Museum is dedicated to preserving this element of the city’s history. Some of the exhibits include model trolleys, a restored trolley car, railway lights, headlights, mine trolley equipment, and an interactive trolley exhibit for children to enjoy. Visitors can also take a ride on the working trolley car that leaves the museum and heads through Scranton, passing various local landmarks along the way.
6. Check Out Nay Aug Park and Falls
Nay Aug Park is the largest park in Scranton. There are two playgrounds for children, picnic areas, and paved walking trails. You will see various interesting sights along the trails, including the Nay Aug urban falls, streams, and rocky gorges. This is also a place where you can have some fun, as there are two outdoor pools with water slides and a treehouse that features aerial walkways. Navy Aug Park hosts a variety of outdoor events throughout the year.
5. See Choke Creek Falls
One of the prettiest spots in Scranton is Choke Creek Falls. This is located in the southern corner of Lackawanna County. Many visitors to the area are even aware that this beautiful waterfall even exists. However, it is a wonderful place to see along the Pinchot Trail. This picturesque spot in Instagram-worthy, so take some photographs while you are there.
4. Eat Old Forge Pizza
Old Forge is on the outskirts of Scranton, and the residents describe it as the Pizza Capital of the World. The local style of pizza is called Old Forge Pizza, and this is served in the dozen or more pizza shops you will find in this town. Choose your favorite pizzeria for a whole pie or visit a few and order a slice at each. Due to the popularity of the pizza shops in Old Forge, there is often a queue.
3. Take the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour
Coal mining has played an important role in the history and economy of Pennsylvania. Lackawanna County Coal Mine offers visitors the unique experience of discovering what it was like to work underground in the mines by taking a tour. First, visitors to this attraction take an elevator 300 feet underground. The tour guides then take them across three veins of coal, while explaining the history of mining in the area and demonstrating the methods and equipment used.
2. Visit the Everhart Museum
In 1907, Dr. Isiah Everhart donated the Everhart museum to the city. It contains a diverse range of exhibits covering science, art, and natural history. In addition to the exhibits, there are various events and programs hosted at this attraction throughout the year, so check if there are any events taking place that interest you before you visit Scranton.
1. Go to Steamtown National Historic Site
According to Uncovering Pennsylvania, the best thing to do in Scranton, PA for first-timers is to go to the Steamtown National Historic Site. Transportation is one of the things for which Scranton is best known, so a visit to this museum will give you a better insight into this aspect of the city’s history. It is dedicated to restoring steam locomotives, which are the highlight of the exhibits at this museum. There are also photographs and memorabilia relating to the railroad. Further exhibitions include a roundhouse where the rail technicians performed repairs and maintenance on the trains and an exhibition that depicts the life of a rail hand. Visitors can also watch a brief film about the history of the railroad at the museum’s theater.
Written by Liz Flynn
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