Luzerne County is where history, adventure, and fun intersect today

Stephanie Kalina-Metzger

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County has upped the ante in an attempt to make exploring its history and adventure sites a bit more enticing, according to Janet Hall, who promotes the area.

Hall says five new hotels have been built in Luzerne County in the past three years. And if you enjoy staying at bed-and-breakfasts, the Frederick Stegmaier Mansion in Wilkes-Barre comes highly recommended on Trip Advisor. “It was also featured in Victorian Homes magazine,” said Hall, adding that 14 pages were dedicated to the opulent B&B.

Families can take advantage of themed itineraries, described at tournepa.com, to help them make the most of their time and enjoy activities that interest them during two-day excursions.

Trails, farms, and ice cream

Luzerne MountainBikingExplore Frances Slocum State Park in Wyoming, where you can rent a boat and spend time on the lake. Hikers can explore 13 miles of trails and mountain bikers can traverse 4 miles of trails available just for them.

Afterward, consider paying a visit to The Lands at Hillside, a 412-acre educational dairy farm where the kids can enjoy a sample of the premium ice cream made from the cows who roam free on the premises.

Day two can be spent enjoying Rickett’s Glen State Park, located in Benton, where waterfalls provide perfect photo ops and there are 12-1/2 miles of horseback-riding trails. Families can spend hours there swimming, fishing, and boating on Lake Jean.

Paddles and bikes

Riding the rapids on the Lehigh River is another great way to start a two-day excursion. Ken Powley, of Whitewater Challengers in White Haven, said the river can adapt to many age levels. “There is a section of the river that is appropriate down to age five. Other trips are for ages nine and older.”

Convenient shuttle busses ferry intrepid adventurers to the launching areas where they pile into a raft and spend between three and four hours on the water. “We ask people to allow between five and six hours for the total experience so they can change clothes, visit the snack bar, and, if they choose, purchase a box lunch,” said Powley, noting that the group pulls over for a 30-minute lunch break.

Back in White Haven, you can spend day two pedaling 26 miles to scenic Jim Thorpe on the Lehigh Gorge. Local outfitters are available for bike rentals.

Waves, water, and boats

The Susquehanna River is a great place to take in the scenery, bird watch, fish, or even spot bald eagles. Rent a kayak or a canoe from Susquehanna Kayak and Canoe in Falls, Pa. The calm Susquehanna River is perfect for the inexperienced to “get their feet wet.”

Day two can be spent at Scranton’s Montage Mountain. A favorite with kids, it offers waterslides, wave pools, and other aquatic thrills.

Miners, trains and coal

Learn a little more about immigrants who labored in the coal fields at a living history site called Eckley Miners’ Village. Tour the museum, company store, and a miner’s home. Afterward, enjoy lunch at one of many Hazleton restaurants.

Begin day two of your educational journey by traveling 300 feet underground at the Lackawanna coal mine. Ride a coal car down a tunnel while listening to the stories of heroic efforts and methods used to extract coal from the depths of the mines.

After lunch, head to the Steamtown National Historic Site. Visit the museum to learn more about the history and technology of steam railroading, and view a film that follows one man’s career on the railroad.

Luzerne County is perfect for exploring, enjoying outdoor adventures, and learning about the rich history of the area, making the destination both pleasurable and educational (but you can keep that last part a secret from the kids).

For more information:

Luzerne Co. Tourism: tournepa.com

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