What to do in Wilkes-Barre / Scranton PA?
October 24, 2005 7:40 AM   Subscribe

Things to do in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania... more after the jump.

I'm going to be spending quit a bit of time in the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton, Pennsylvania area over the next few months. I will be busy during the day, but will likely have some free time to kill in the afternoons, evenings, and occasionally on the weekends. So, MeFites... what do I do? Good places to eat, shop, sightsee, tour, etc.?

Additional info about me:
- I'm from the Deep South, and haven't traveled in the Northeast at all (outside of a few brief trips to NYC)
- I will have a rental car
- I love the outdoors, but am somewhat limited in what I can do, due to a recent knee surgery. Should be back to full speed in a month or so.
- I may have the option of staying over on the weekends. Is the area close enough to big cities (Philly, NYC, etc.) to justify traveling in on the weekends?
- Anything I need to know, generally, about the history, demographics, culture (or lack thereof) of the area?
posted by fearless_yakov to Travel & Transportation around Wilkes-Barre, PA (10 answers total)
there are a couple clubs were some good bands play. cafe metropolis?
posted by chuckforthought.com at 8:00 AM on October 24, 2005

(former WB resident here...)

The Poconos are at your doorstep. Go to them. Camelback and the other ski resorts are decent.

Yeah, you can get to NYC on the weekend in about 2.5 hours; you can get to Philly in about 2.

There's a local alt-weekly that's not too bad; remember, there isn't really a dominant college around (although U of Scranton and King's are there).

WB/S has the highest concentration of elderly outside of Palm Beach County (so I remember hearing once). So that means there really hasn't been a lot of development, aside from the lopping off a mountain for the arena.

posted by sachinag at 8:23 AM on October 24, 2005

I grew up near Wilkes-Barre, though I've been away now for about a decade and it has changed and become alot more developed since I left. I think there is alot more shopping there now.

Downtown Wilkes-Barre has a public square, and there is also (or used to be) a theatre on the square that would do live performances and concerts sometimes. I think they have now also built a larger arena near the highway with all the shops.

By all means, take a drive to Philly or New York; there is a greyhound station on public square and you could also take a bus if you like. The foliage in the area is really beautiful in the fall, if you make the drive before all the leaves fall, that alone would make it worthwhile.

Also, check out this thread, too.

Good luck!
posted by onlyconnect at 8:23 AM on October 24, 2005

National Bohemian beer is brewed there; perhaps they have a tour?
posted by deadfather at 8:29 AM on October 24, 2005

Harvey's Lake is just outside Wilkes-Barre (9-10 miles) and is a nice ride during the Fall
posted by jjcurtis at 10:30 AM on October 24, 2005

Tour the coal mine. Seriously. Steamtown is nearby if you lke trains.
posted by fixedgear at 12:26 PM on October 24, 2005

Olde Good Thing's main warehouse is in Scranton. If you like old house and church things (architectural elements, hardware, relics, everything including the kitchen sink), you will love rooting through this place. It's the size of a football field, and it's amazing. I was just there yesterday to buy a door. About 100 yards away is a cool little old-fashioned diner called The Glider, which makes great breakfasts. You can sit at the counter and chat up the locals.
posted by iconomy at 12:29 PM on October 24, 2005

Sorry, Natty Bo isn't brewed in Wilkes-Barre (it's part of the Miller conglomerate now, I believe), but the Lion Brewery is in Wilkes-Barre. It brews a bunch of labels, including Stegmaier and Pocono Lagers (and Malta!). And, yep, it has tours. If you really like your beer, find the brewery's 100th annivesary IPA -- it's excellent and cheap.
posted by sixpack at 2:55 PM on October 24, 2005

I don't know much about Wilkes-Barre but I've spent some time in Scranton. Scranton is famous for coal and being the headquarters of the Lackawanna Railroad.

Be forewarned: the following list is heavily nerd-oriented.

As fixedgear said, the coal mine is not to be missed. You descend 300 ft. into the coal mine on an old lift, then do a tour while the guide tells stories about the old days (they're all affiliated with mining somehow; I think ours was a retired engineer.)

If you're into the train thing, after you visit Steamtown National Historic Site go get a drink or dinner at the Radisson Hotel, which is in what used to be the train station. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

If you're seriously into trains or public works, check out the largest concrete bridge in the U.S. in Nicholson, about a half hour north of Scranton on Rte. 11. Technical details on the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct. It stands as a monument to the human ego -- in the early 20th century the president of the DL&WRR decided his railroad needed a straighter route than the meandering one dictated by regional geography, and he wasn't going to let a 2000+ foot-long, 200+ foot-deep valley stand in his way. The bridge towers over the little town and is still an impressive sight.

If you are really, really into the public works thing, the oldest existing wire suspension bridge in America, built as an aqueduct on the D&H canal by John A. Roebling, is about an hour east of Scranton in Lackawaxen, PA. Not far from there is Port Jervis, which is interesting to map weenies as it's at the intersection of three states. Just south of Port Jervis is High Point State Park in NJ (at, duh, the state's highest point) which has great views from the summit.
posted by Opposite George at 4:21 PM on October 24, 2005

Francis Slocum is an all around good state park for hiking, fishing, hunting which is about 10 miles from WB.

We have the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins if you're into hockey, with a lot of shopping and restaurants nearby.

There's the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, which is a standard bred horse racing track. Live racing ends on Nov. 12th, but there is simulcasting year round and a restaurant inside.

The Poconos being close is nice with outlet malls and skiing. (There is no sales tax on clothing and shoes in PA)

There are also a lot of geocaches in the area.
posted by phox at 7:59 PM on October 24, 2005

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