11 Coolest Small Towns in the Poconos for a Summer Vacation

Lyla

The Poconos region, with its 70,000 acres of mountainous beauty, is a natural four-season resort range for endless romance and adventure, with views and things to do in nature and on the town for every group and taste. These cool small towns, nearly all off the beaten path along the foothills, are the real gems of the state. Each one offers a unique insight into the local culture of rural Pennsylvania living and a town center that bursts with life. Guests from across the East Coast come for seasonal pursuits.

Target the Poconos for your next unforgettable summer vacation with sunny hikes along the stunning nature trails and sparkling waters, amid refreshing mountain scenery, and air. Choose from a range of romantic resorts, spiritual places, or campgrounds to immerse yourself in nature one-on-one or with a close group. For bold and exhilarating natural beauty, discover the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Lake Wallenpaupack with its 52-mile shoreline, plus more of the varied landscape that inspires a range of experiences.

Bangor

Bangor, Pennsylvania, Labyrinth of stones at Columcille Megalith Park, a non-profit park rooted in Celtic spirituality on the Kittatinny Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains
Labyrinth of stones at Columcille Megalith Park.

This small town is a cool summertime respite from the city in the beautiful Poconos. There is something epic for everyone in Bangor, like getting personal with South American alpacas at Smith Krekk for the kiddos and faux ancient megaliths at the Columcille Megalith Park, the host of the annual Celtic festival. The Broadway Pub is a popular place for a hearty meal or an evening brew, complimented by the old British vibes in this part of town. Enjoy a romantic vineyard stroll and tastings at Tolino Vineyards, with estate-grown wine, local cheese, and stunning mountain views from the patio on a sunny summer day.

Chill out in Bangor, the mountainous spiritual retreat hub with a super-peaceful atmosphere to relax mind, body, and soul. Bangor lets you be in command of your fresh air activities, whether you are after the holistic vibe in the natural environment or pursuing the small town, easygoing vibe while perusing its hotspots. Visit a lavish spa as a couple or a bonding yoga or tai chi session, and end the night at one of the many romantic restaurants.

Blakeslee

The Blakeslee Flea Market in Blakeslee, Pennsylvania
The Blakeslee Flea Market. Image credit https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blakeslee_Flea_Market.jpg

This tiny town with a rural feel is ideal for every taste of vacation amid the beautiful Poconos. Get to know pedestrian-friendly Blakeslee on a relaxing stroll along the scenically historic streets in the fresh mountain air. The town started with a post office in 1884 and took its name from its first postmaster, Jacob Blakeslee. Its enchanting views on all sides captivate you to stay outdoors and enjoy the array of cool activities in the fresh air.

Escape the hot city with mundane sights, grime, and noise through mountain biking, waterparks, and many options for scenic hikes in the reinvigorating nature. Aim sky-high with an airplane tour or seek speed at the famous Pocono Raceway. The residents will happily share ways to make the most of your summer vacation, like sightseeing hikes to all those charming bridges around.

Hawley

Hungry black bear standing to look at a bird feeder for food in Hawley the Poconos Pennsylvania
Hungry black bear standing to look at a bird feeder for food in Hawley.

Hawley is a naturally scenic and tranquil town with a luxurious touch and a population of just over 1,200 that gets you all the best bits of summer on vacation. This colorful community is a joy to explore, relax in style, and rejuvenate in nature, all within the wholesome small-town feel. Take a walkthrough of the vibrant downtown with all the Instagrammable architecture and pop into the local shops and cultural attractions.

Follow the Hawley beverage trail for local brews and enjoy an evening bike ride along the Lake Region for gawk-worthy sunset views over the Poconos. Choose the Silver Birches resort with a spa or stay at a local cabin on Lake Wallenpaupack for immediate water access. The chill atmosphere and nature will leave you with an everlasting impression and a reinvigorated feeling despite all the sun on a summertime getaway.

Honesdale

Colorful buildings on Main Street Honesdale, Pennsylvania
Main Street Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Image credit Nina Alizada via Shutterstock

This quaint little town of around 4,500 boasts a European feel in its street sights and the big name of “Birthplace of the American Railroad.” Honesdale is the perfect place for all train fans, no matter the season, and bursts with cool sights and activities for the summertime. Grab a coffee at Black and Brass Coffee Roasting Company for the walkable downtown stroll, where the mountainous air tickles your nostrils amid all the eye candy around. Check out the old Victorian and red-brick buildings galore and Main Street filled with charming shops.

The red buildings are adorned with verdant green foliage in the summer, while the fall season attempts to match the walls in an autumnal haze. A quick hike up Irving Cliff to the sweeping vistas in the valley below is a dream come true for sightseers and photographers alike, where you might even sight a resident bald eagle. Tour through Honesdale’s dense forests on the iconic Stourbridge Line, the most atmospheric train ride in the Poconos. Return for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing during the winter holidays, and enjoy cozying up in cafes after nature treks.

Jim Thorpe

View of Jim Thorpe from Flagstaff Mountain, Pennsylvania.
Jim Thorpe from Flagstaff Mountain, Pennsylvania.

This town of some 4,500 in Carbon County is the “millionaire’s escape” in the eastern Poconos and is particularly popular for Victorian tourism. Check out the inspiring Jim Thorpe downtown for views that inspire and make you feel part of an old folklore amid all the 19th-century historic attractions. Jim Thorpe is an outdoor lover’s paradise, with plenty of adventures around for the warm seasons like serene hikes or adrenaline-pumping rafting with the town’s own Pocono Whitewater Rafting Company. Start your morning with a cup of Joe from Curiosities Coffee and Ice House and immerse yourself in the cool, timeless characteristics of old Victorian galore on a stroll along the cobblestone streets.

The town is famous for the family-friendly, dog-friendly bouldering just outside of town during the summer. Challenge yourself to this two-and-a-half-hour great bonding experience that lets you stay active in fresh and craggy scenery. Take it easy the next day on board the iconic red trolley tour with Lehigh River views and explore the riverside Lehigh Gorge State Park on a stroll. End the cool day at the Mad Hatter Winery and Smoke House with local banter over the town’s industrious past way of life or at Through the Looking Glass, one of Poconos’ best restaurants with lively music-filled evenings.

Lake Harmony

Looking out over Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania
Waterfront of Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania.

This unincorporated area of communities comprising around 1,000 people comes seamlessly together amid a series of diverse, clean glacial lakes and rolling hills for your best summer vacation. Enjoy the harmonious vibe along the laidback streets and the serene lake views to relax. Despite a peace-emanating name, Lake Harmony is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise, with cool sights and unforgettable all-season pursuits through state parks, areas for skiing, and summer sports.

Come rollerblading, strolling, or biking along the lake paths with a picnic by the water, or ride through the stunning scenery with an ATV tour. Choose from wet pursuits like water skiing, wake surfing, water tubing, and paddle boarding, and sightsee the fantastic Split Rock, Boulder Fields, and Hickory Run State Park. The lovely Terra Cottage Cafe and Gifts is a must-stop with an amazing menu and boutique with adorable home accents to remember this refreshing town with a relaxed atmosphere and its rejuvenating activities in nature.

Milford

French chateau-style home of the Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford, Pennsylvania.
Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford, Pennsylvania. Image credit Alizada Studios via Shutterstock

The beautiful Delaware River has a special sparkle in its eye as it rushes past this town, just a short walk from Milford downtown. Check out where it is on a quick hike down to the pristine Milford Beach with a boat launch and a scenic toll bridge. Enjoy canoeing and kayaking amid the lush greenery, and come back for the beautiful autumnal scenery surrounding the river.

The scenically historic town of Milford is both the northern gateway to the infamous Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and the region’s hub for one-of-a-kind shopping and dining. Check out the Grey Towers National Historic Landmark within nature and trek the Milford Knob Trail for a panoramic viewpoint over the town and area. Recharge at local places like La Posada, Felix’s Cantina, and Log Tavern Brewing Co. with beers on tap. The Earthly Treasures store along the Historic Upper Mill is a great place for some mystic shopping, with its next-door Waterwheel Bakery, Cafe, and Bar.

Plains

Wilkes-Barre Area CTC (The Wilkes Barre Area Career and Technical Center) in Plains Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.
Building in Plains, Pennsylvania.

Plains sits soaked with coolness amid one of Pennsylvania’s most unique landscapes to explore during the summer. With a distinct entertainment scene including shopping, restaurants, museums, and even a nightlife, you will always have something fun to return to in the evening. Reserve a day to get personal with the town, like visiting museums and historical sights. Venture outdoors to the nearby lakes and River Common, just 3 miles west, for watersports and relaxation. From kayaking, boating, canoeing, water skiing, swimming, and whitewater rafting, you are bound to find your niche amid the natural selection along the sunny shores.

Plains is also home to the first casino in the Poconos and the gateway to the most revered destination, the Seven Tubs Recreation Area, 5.7 miles to the east. The breathtaking, 7.2-mile-long Fall Trails in Ricketts Glen State Park, with over 20 waterfalls, is one of the state’s best and most majestic hikes, just 50 minutes away. The fresh mountain air and wholesome family times in the outdoors will rejuvenate and recharge you on a well-deserved summer vacation, while the kids love visiting the Lahey Family Fun Park, Kirby Park Splash Pad, and the Sky Zone Trampoline.

Stroudsburg

Monroe Hall, East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
Monroe Hall, East Stroudsburg University.

Stroudsburg is a small and cozy town with a big personality that oozes coolness. The Monroe County town, with a lively populace of 6,000, boasts all seasons’ vibrant nature that envelops its scenically historic places. Immerse yourself in this unique atmosphere amid the artsy streets and old buildings, perusing for hours through the street art, murals, and galleries, all under the fresh mountain air that adds to the cool vibe.

Stop by the revered Stroud Mansion and check out Helen Amhurst Park, lovely for summertime strolls and picnics that turns to skating during the winter. Check out the Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm with its 19th-century sights and the Klues Escape Room. Stroudsburg bursts with entertainment and ethnic cuisine for all groups and tastes to satisfy its own crazy food culture, including Thai, Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Portuguese.

Tannersville

View of the Aquatopia indoor waterpark at the Camelback Mountain Resort, a large ski resort in the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania, United States.
Aquatopia indoor waterpark at the Camelback Mountain Resort. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock

Tannersville is a hub of activity and adventure in the Pocono Mountains, with cool places to stay, eat, see, and do. Just northwest of Stroudsburg in Monroe County, the small fun town offers the best seasonal activities, like epic zip lines and aerial ropes courses. Get high with Tannersville’s Camelback Mountain Adventures on a flying adventure over the verdant canopies that turn a blur of colors in the fall. Get soaked with waves at the all-season indoor waterpark resorts, and come back for a winter break in the mountains with nearby skiing, tubing, and other snow fun.

Tannersville is the gateway to the wonderful Big Pocono State Park; real eye candy for nature lovers. Take on the mountainous region with epic ATV tours or take in the best panoramic views on a cool mountain coaster. The best entertainment awaits downtown amid local businesses, from superior shopping and dining to great gaming and spa experiences. Peruse through the Pocono Premium Outlets and stop by Smuggler’s Cove Restaurant for a filling meal and Barley Creek Brewing Company for drinks.

Tobyhanna

Spring Sunset on a Pennsylvania Lake in Tobyhanna State Park
Tobyhanna State Park.

This entertainment community nestled in the scenic Poconos is a really cool place to spend a vacation near the Camelbeach Mountain Waterpark. Enjoy all the fun under the sun along the streets as well as endless pursuits by the waters and through several state parks around. Tobyhanna State Park spreads across the two Monroe and Wayne counties for 5,440 acres, including a beautiful 170-acre lake. It is a hotspot for nature, but take a hike or bike ride with a picnic through the expansive perimeter, and you may not see another soul.

It is open year-round and ripe with every kind of pursuit that disperses all the outdoorsy types, so head to the waters for a cooling dip, sunbathing, or a shaded spot along the shores. Enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, and the stupendous mountain views all around you. Go ahead and camp during the summer for those unforgettable evenings and nights spent with only your closest peeps and the natural world.

The Pocono Mountains range is staycation-worthy throughout the year, with nothing in Pennsylvania that will tickle your scenic nature bone for fresh outdoor pursuits quite like it during the summer. The range satisfies the hunger of adventurers and delivers the fill for adrenaline junkies. The mountains are a cool place to spend a summer vacation or a relaxing getaway from the city amid the refreshing scenery like state parks, forests, lakes, and rivers. Find a sprinkling of small historic towns within the range and choose one from this list with guaranteed hiking trails around for the summer and nearby ski slopes to return to in the winter. Enjoy endless days in nature by the water and through camping, while the in-town entertainment scenes will fill up your evenings away from the campfire.

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