by Nicole Pensiero | CNBNewsnet
Last fall, during a stay at the beautiful Split Rock Resort in the Pocono Mountains with a group of college friends, we decided to take a side trip to the charming, historic town of Jim Thorpe, Pa., 30-minutes away.
Little did we know, we had stumbled into the first of an annual three-weekend long Fall Festival event in Jim Thorpe (this coming weekend, October 15 & 16th, is the last Festival weekend for 2016). Caught in a massive traffic jam, we eventually found parking and then proceeded to enjoy every aspect of the autumn-themed event.
This year, we planned things out a bit better. On the Jim Thorpe Fall Festival website, we learned that an inexpensive shuttle from Mauch Chunk Lake (Jim Thorpe’s original name, by the way, was Mauch Chunk) to the downtown area runs from morning ‘til evening throughout the festival for only $4. It ended up being a great way to avoid traffic and parking hassles during this year’s visit.
The rain-or-shine Fall Festival, which attracts hundreds of visitors on weekends it’s held (from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), features crafts, food, and live music near the Visitors Center gazebo at Josiah White Park. We especially enjoyed hearing Beatles songs performed on steel drums, and various singer-songwriters playing along public streets. Strolling along Broadway past the famed Inn at Jim Thorpe, we visited several fun boutiques offering everything from antiques to fun gifts.
Another worthwhile stop in Jim Thorpe is the Asa Packer Mansion, home of philanthropist/railroad magnate/Lehigh University founder Asa Packer. A docent-guided tour of the 1861 home, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is $10 for adults; seniors and children get a discount. And of course, no visit is complete without paying homage to the famed American-Indian athlete for home the town is named at the impressive memorial for him in town. For more information about Jim Thorpe, Pa., visit www.jimthorpe.org
After our day-trip, we made the half-hour drive to our spacious and modern accommodations at the Willowbrook section of Split Rock in Lake Harmony, Pa., for a relaxing one-night stay. We loved our two-bedroom condominium there, complete with an air-jet Jacuzzi and fully-appointed kitchen (where we prepared a leisurely breakfast the next morning).
After checking out, we decided to enjoy a fun round of bowling at the resort’s Town Center bowling alley. (The $8 price for adults includes shoes). There’s also a massive indoor water park at Split Rock (separate admission), a spacious indoor pool, a movie theatre and a game room, not to mention numerous dining options. I am determined to make it back there next summer when the lake is open for boating and swimming.
Coming up at Split Rock next month is its 26th annual Great Brews Beer Festival, November 19 – 20th. The event features food and craft vendors, beer games, and live music. Each ticket includes a complimentary beer glass for sampling. Tickets are $35 per day; two day tickets and special lodging packages are also available. Visit www.splitrockresort.com for more information.
Before heading home, we made a quick stop to see the actual split rock that the resort is named for; it’s only a five minute drive away, straight up – you guessed it – Split Rock Road. The massive nature structure is about 70,000 years old and was result of the last ice sheet that covered the earth. There’s also a lookout station just feet away that gives a sweeping view of the Poconos region.
We also enjoyed quick meal at the nearby Terra Cotta Café in Lake Harmony; between the charming “shabby-chic” décor, adorable gift shop options and delicious breakfast and lunch options, we were quite content.
For more information about the Pocono Mountains, visit www.poconomountains.com or call -800-POCONOS (1-800-762-6667).
Nicole Pensiero is a South Jersey-based freelance travel writer and a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.