NEPA's "Must-Do" Activities for Visitors & Locals Alike
Beginning a bucket list can be daunting, especially when the world has so much to offer. Well, you don’t have to go too far to kick off your adventures. NEPA has plenty of opportunities to accomplish some lifelong dreams and ambitions, all while having the time of your life.
We’ve compiled what we’re calling the official DiscoverNEPA Bucket List. This collection of once-in-a-lifetime activities features some of the area’s most unique locations and action-packed experiences. It’s not final though. When you check off one item, you can always add another. There’s certainly enough to see and do in NEPA to keep the list running.
Join us as we embrace the spirit of adventure and let us know what’s on your DiscoverNEPA Bucket List.
The DiscoverNEPA Bucket List
#1 Jump Out of an Airplane...
PA Skydive Center
…with a professional and a parachute. It takes a bit of courage to step out of a perfectly good airplane, but all the best experiences do. Take flight with the help of PA Skydive Center.
#2 Race in a Snowtube
It might not be as “extreme” as skiing or snowboarding, but it’s just as much (if not more) fun. Challenge friends to a race down the hill or take a few solo slides.
#3 Hike an Icy Waterfall Trail
Valley to Summit Guided Wilderness Adventures
Bundle up and venture out into the frozen ravines of Ricketts Glen State Park. A professional guided tour is the safest way to see the wonders of these ice-covered waterfalls and snowy trails.
#4 Eat the Most Tomatoes Possible
Pittston Tomato Festival
It’s not a NEPA summer without the Pittston Tomato Festival. Fill up on delicious tomato-centric dishes from your favorite vendors and restaurants. When you need a breather, stop and enjoy the annual parade or check out some live music.
#5 Take a Polar Plunge
Mauch Chunk Lake Polar Plunge
It takes a certain kind of person to willingly jump into a frozen lake or pond. Leave it to the hearty citizens of Northeastern PA to make it look easy. Break out the bathing suit mid-January and show everyone who’s boss.
#6 Drive Fast... No, Real Fast.
Stock Car Racing Experience at Pocono Raceway
Pocono Raceway was designed for the most skilled drivers in the world…and the amateur daredevils looking for a 600-horsepower, 150 mph challenge. Get behind the wheel and floor it around the “tricky triangle.”
#7 Tame a Wild River
Gather a trusty team to navigate the rapids of the Lehigh River. From the swashbuckling adventure of a Pocono Pirate Rafting excursion to a bit of laidback floating on a Moonlight Rafting trip, Pocono Whitewater will meet you at your level.
#8 Ride the Phoenix
Knoebels Amusement Resort
It’s been around for decades and it’s consistently ranked one of the greatest wooden coasters in the country. Most NEPA natives have probably sat front row since they were tall enough to ride and they would all agree: no trip to Knoebels is complete without a visit to the Phoenix.
#9 Tour Italy (without leaving Scranton)
La Festa Italiana
There is no shortage of great Italian food in NEPA. The area’s best restaurants and vendors set up shop to dish out traditional Italian favorites at La Festa. Be sure to save room for a cannoli or two…or three.
#10 Run a Marathon
It might seem impossible now, but with a few months of training and a bit of determination, no marathon is out of reach. Set your goal, put in the work and, come October, hit the streets of Scranton.
#11 Get a Close Up of the Stars
The Friedman Observatory
Penn State Wilkes-Barre is home to a little secret. Every Friday evening, the university’s observatory opens to the public, inviting guests to get a rare look at the cosmos using their high-powered telescope. Just check the forecast beforehand.
#12 Have a Pint at America's Oldest Brewery
Open since 1829, Yuengling probably knows what they’re doing when it comes to brewing. Take a tour of the historic brewery before sampling a pint or two in the tasting room.
#13 Bury the Hatchet
The Hatchet Factory
Sometimes you just need to let a few axes fly. Grab some beers and snacks, round up your friends and embrace your inner Viking. The good people at The Hatchet Factory won’t judge.
#14 Put in a Long Day on the Farm
The Lands at Hillside Farms
Go behind the scenes at this beloved Shavertown farm by rolling up your sleeves and putting in some work. Volunteers keep Hillside running smoothly, from planning events and gardening to feeding animals and shoveling…well, you know what. Don’t worry, you can enjoy a cone after.
#15 Soar Over NEPA
Get a bird’s eye view of the Wyoming Valley with a personal airplane or helicopter sightseeing tour. And if you’re feeling daring, strap in to an original WWII era plane for a War Bird flight. No matter how or why you decide to take to the sky, you’ll see stunning scenery year-round.
#16 Survive a Giant Corn Maze
Mazezilla at Klingel’s Farm
Corn mazes these days do not play around. This is especially true of Klingel’s Farm’s Mazezilla. As the name implies, this huge 11-acre maze is a beast. You’ll have earned a rest around the campfire, and a s’more or two, once you find your way out.
#17 Don a Kilt and Drink Green Beer
Scranton St. Patrick’s Parade
Even if you begin the day without a kilt you might go home wearing one after a day at the country’s 2nd largest St. Patrick’s Parade. Everyone in Scranton is Irish on parade day, so don’t be afraid to party it up.
#18 Shred It
Montage Mountain Resorts
Drop in on Montage Mountain. Whether you’re shredding on skis or a snowboard (or even a snow tube), the second steepest slope on the East coast is thrilling for even the most experienced.
#19 Take the Ultimate Ice Cream Tour
The NEPA Ice Cream List
Spend the summer finding your new favorite NEPA ice cream spot. Luckily, we have a comprehensive list of over 70 sweet shops and stands. Each location has something totally unique to offer, so be sure to try as many sundaes, shakes and cones as possible.
#20 Go Off Road
The Lost Trails ATV Adventure Park
Experience the great outdoors like never before on a wide range of ATV trails at this adventure park in Dunmore. Bring your own ride or rent one and explore over 2,000 acres including rock crawls, mud runs and scenic overlooks.
#21 Float Among the Clouds
Endless Mountains Hot Air Balloons
All this talk of plans and parachutes feels very high energy. You can always just take it easy with a laidback float in a hot air balloon. Soar over incredible farm lands and stunning forests before celebrating a successful trip with a champagne toast.
#22 Get in Touch with the Past
Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour
Make the 300-foot descent (by mine car) into Scranton’s preserved 19th century anthracite mine. This award-winning tour takes guests through a day-in-the-life of the miners who powered the Industrial Revolution.
#23 Hit the Open Road
When you’re riding in a cross between a motorcycle and a sports car, you’re going to want to go fast. Head out to some of NEPA’s most scenic locations by way of a high-speed Polaris Slingshot or Can-Am Ryker. You can always ask the folks at Pocono Slingshot for favorite routes and secret spots.
#24 Face the Pierogi Challenge
Edwardsville Pierogi Festival
Okay, there’s no such thing as the pierogi challenge. But you can certainly make your own at the Edwardsville Pierogi Festival. Featuring NEPA’s best of the best, you really have to try one from each vendor. It’s the unspoken rule.
#25 Drive Through a Holiday Lights Paradise
Festival of Lights
You know it’s the holiday season once Stone Hedge Golf Course lights up in late-November. Each year the displays get bigger and brighter and more cars line up to get in the holiday spirit.
#26 Bike 100 Miles… or 20, or 10
Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo
Hundreds of cyclists from all across the region come together to bike a hundred miles through NEPA at this legendary ride. Not only is this a huge accomplishment, but a chance to take in the beautiful springtime scenery of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties.
#27 Experience NEPA by Train
The Stourbridge Line
There’s no better way to see the quaint towns and majestic mountains of the Poconos than by an old school train. The Stourbridge Line takes passengers on a 25-mile scenic tour of the area. No matter what time of year you decide to climb aboard, you’ll always get incredible views.
#28 Complete the Famous Waterfall Loop
Falls Trail, Ricketts Glen State Park
Some of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls are just a short hiking distance into Ricketts Glen. Take the more challenging 7.2-mile loop or opt for the more chill 3.2 mile stretch. Just be sure to check trail conditions before heading out.
#29 Sleep Under the Stars (in style)
Glamping at Shawnee Inn and Golf Resort
Some of us can only go camping under very specific conditions and that’s okay. At Shawnee Inn, you can still experience all beauty of the great outdoors…and all the joys of modern amenities (including a real bed).
#30 Eat More Kielbasa than Any Human Ever Should
Plymouth Kielbasa Festival
No one ever said kielbasa can’t be a summer food and every August the Plymouth Kielbasa Festival proves this to be true. Make your rounds, catch some live entertainment and taste test as many samples as possible.
#31 Join an Epic Paintball Battle
Gather your troops and gear up for the paintball battle of a lifetime. With special games structured after real, historical battles, you and a bunch of friends can get down and dirty in an attempt to walk away the victors.
#32 Discover the Wonderful World of NEPA Beer
DiscoverNEPA Brewer’s Loop
Between 40 publicly-accessible breweries stretched across 10 counties, 29 towns and over 400 miles, our Brewer’s Loop showcases the best places to simply grab a pint or learn the artistry of craft brewing.
#33 Land a Trophy Trout
Even if you’ve been holding a pole since you could walk, there’s always something new to learn when it comes to the art of fishing. Luckily, the folks at A&G always know a guy willing to give a few pointers.
#34 Taste Your Way Through the Bloomsburg Fair
The Bloomsburg Fair
The fair is filled with sights, from animals to attractions and beyond, but the real star of the Bloomsburg Fair is the unique food creations you find along the way. Wash down a peanut butter bacon hot dog with a blue birch beer before grabbing some deep-fried dessert.
#35 Explore America's Largest Indoor Waterpark
Kalahari Resorts & Conventions
This isn’t your ordinary indoor waterpark. You’ll find more than 220,000 square feet of fun at Kalahari. With plenty of thrill rides, children’s play areas and even the world’s first VR Waterslide, the whole family is in for a good time.
#36 Become a Crack Shot
Hausmann’s Hidden Hollow
Located on 110 acres of rolling Susquehanna countryside, you can blast some sporting clays in peace. Whether you’re an old pro or a first-timer, everyone is welcome to fire off a few shots at Hausmann’s.
#37 Pedal Down a Historic Railroad
Pennsylvania Rail Bike
Hop on a custom-made railbike for a tour of incredible natural scenery and charming Pocono towns. Led by a guide, this laidback excursion makes for both a fun and informational trip.
#38 Saddle Up
Happy Trails Stables
This year-round, family-owned stable will have even the most uncoordinated individuals on horseback in no time. Go for a leisurely, guided ride on stunning trails or take an indoor lesson to perfect your form.
#39 Make a Difference
Support a Cause
All of the experiences on this list are rewarding in one way or another, but none more so than giving back to the community. Take some time to support the causes and organizations that make life in NEPA better for everyone.
#40 Enjoy a NEPA Sunset
Big Pocono State Park
It might happen every day, but it never gets old. We can’t pass up a good sunset here in NEPA and there’s no better way to experience one than from the summit of a scenic mountain. Breathe, take in the silence, snap a few photos and rediscover the beauty of home.
Article Updated from its Original Version Published on 1/28/2019.