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Pocono Mountains Area, PA

Best Attractions in the Pocono Mountains AreaIn a destination with dozens of attractions, you may have trouble deciding where to spend your time. Here are the highlights for this destination, as chosen by AAA editors. GEMs are “Great Experiences for Members.”

The Pocono Mountains Area is well known for its recreational pursuits. Folks converge on the 2,400-square-mile area largely to take advantage of the mountains, rivers and lakes affording wonderful opportunities for water sports and snowy recreation. In winter months, skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing and tubing are popular activities at a number of local ski resorts. Among the best are Big Boulder Ski Area and Jack Frost Mountain , within miles of each other in Blakeslee; Shawnee Mountain in Shawnee on Delaware; and the largest, Camelback Mountain Resort in Tannersville.

When the summer sun shines, it's time to hit the water. The 5,700-acre Lake Wallenpaupack is usually packed with boaters, anglers, water-skiers and jet-skiers, and its sandy beach at Palmyra Township is popular with swimmers and sunbathers. If you're interested in a more adventurous water experience, try white-water rafting on the Lehigh River. Trips guided by Pocono Whitewater Rafting depart just north of the Lehigh River Bridge in Jim Thorpe . Lehighton Outdoor Center trips depart 4 miles south of the bridge in Lehighton. Take to the water in a kayak, canoe or raft, and brave the frothy rapids of this scenic river, flanked on either side by verdant cliffs bearing tiny waterfalls.

Hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails are common in this pastoral region. Trails and charming roadways also weave through the scenic Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area , which abuts the Delaware River as it follows the Kittatinny Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. A portion of the historic Appalachian Trail passes through the 70,000-acre gap, and splashy Dingmans Falls can be reached by a boardwalk trail.

In Bushkill, follow a nature trail and cross a couple of rickety bridges to reach Bushkill Falls , a set of eight tumbling cascades. The main waterfall drops some 100 feet into a cool pool. Another of the region's scenic spots is the overlook at Pocono Knob in Mount Pocono. On a clear day, you can see over the mountains, lakes and rivers into New York state.

While the Pocono Mountains area is better known for its natural attractions and recreational pursuits, its reputation as a family resort commands that there be some fun diversions for the younger set. Claws 'n' Paws Wild Animal Park in Hamlin is home to monkeys, bears, big cats, tropical birds, reptiles, alligators and other animals. Kids can feed apples to lories in the aviary, and can pet deer, lambs and giant turtles.

During summer, the attractions at Camelbeach Waterpark in Tannersville are a great way to cool off. The park has more than 35 waterslides, a tubing river and a giant wave pool, among other child-pleasing diversions. Try the 8-story Titan waterslide, the 6-story Triple Venom speed slide, or the Vortex and Spin Cycle, a pair of slides that dump riders into a huge bowl for some head-spinning twirling.

The Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm is a good spot for hands-on educational experiences. A AAA GEM attraction, this living-history museum in Stroudsburg comprises restored farm buildings that were once home to a Pennsylvania German family who lived here from 1780 to 1913. Find a house, barn, schoolhouse, smokehouse, springhouse, icehouse, sugar house and tool sheds. Farm animals take residence here, guides in period costume give tours and craftspeople demonstrate household tasks and crafts.

Other points of interest in the Pocono Mountains highlight its former residents. In Bushkill, visit the Pocono Indian Museum , which educates about the Delaware Indians through exhibits featuring artifacts uncovered in the region. As a tribute to the industrialist, the interior of the Asa Packer Mansion in Jim Thorpe is almost exactly as Packer left it: After the death of the house's last owner, the Italianate villa was closed for 44 years, its contents remaining intact. The result is an excellent example of an ornately furnished, 18-room Victorian home straight out of 1878. Notable pieces include a bookcase belonging to Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Grand Welte Cottage Orchestrion, an enormous, working music box that Mrs. Packer had packed and shipped with her on vacations.

The Zane Grey Museum is in the Western author's former home, which is a bit more modest than the Packers' quarters. Grey called the town of Lackawaxen home from 1905 to 1918, and he published his first and most popular novels while residing here. Photographs, books and personal items are displayed. Home to former Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot, the stone Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford is styled as a French chateau, complete with turrets and meticulous gardens.

Once you've explored the mountainsides, board a train and head deep underground into the No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum in Lansford to see the dark, gritty workplace of miners who toiled here from 1855 to 1972. A AAA GEM attraction, the anthracite mine tour explores its paths and gangways, the old mine shaft and even an underground hospital. The site also comprises an above-ground museum crammed with drills, picks, shovels, axes, saws, miners' caps and lamps, blasting equipment and a mucking machine.

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Pocono Mountains Area, PA

Top AAA Diamond Hotels

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Hampton Inn by Hilton Lehighton (Jim Thorpe Area)

877 Interchange Rd. Lehighton, PA 18235

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Save 5% or more when booking AAA/CAA rates plus earn bonus points with the AAA Preferred™ BWR Program

Best Western Plus Poconos Hotel

2647 Rt 715. Tannersville, PA 18372

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Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott - Stroudsburg Bartonsville Poconos

294 Frantz Rd. Stroudsburg, PA 18360

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Hampton Inn & Suites Stroudsburg Bartonsville

700 Commerce Blvd. Stroudsburg, PA 18360

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