When you leisurely walk around the historic neighborhoods of Bloomsburg, Pa., map in hand, spying the beauties that stand like works of art beneath the shady old growth trees, you to want to live there. Each home is unique and all are beautiful with ornamental brickwork, cornices, cupolas, wrought ironwork, and massive porches where you imagine sitting on rockers with sweating glasses of cold lemonade. The homes are meticulously landscaped with pink rhododendron or deep purple irises.
There was big money in Bloomsburg back in the 1800s, brought in by the lumber, iron, textile, and railroading industries. This famous Pennsylvania college town in Columbia County has plenty to offer visitors today, and one of the best ways to enjoy the historic past is on a walk through the neighborhoods. Downtown also features a dramatic fountain, historic hotel, a 1914 jeweler’s sidewalk clock, and the restored Art Deco Grand Opera House.
The Opera House is now home to the nearly 45-year-old Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. At least six shows a year are offered by the professional troup. Some are classic favorites but others are contemporary plays, encouraging audiences to look at life, ask tough questions, and think about the future of society. Talk-backs after the show aid theatre-goers in deeper understanding. A “pay what you wish” night and a “pay what you decide” (afterwards) night makes the gift of live theatre available, no matter your budget. Allow extra time before the show to see Artspace Gallery, a fine art and craft gallery located across the street. The gallery features the work of 15 artists, with a guest artist or featured member, rotating every 6-8 weeks.
For a completely different night-out event, grab a few friends and head to ‘Can U Xcape?’, an immersive, problem-solving mystery experience where participants choose one of three themed rooms. The idea is to figure out how to get out of a locked room by using dozens of clues and ciphers cleverly placed throughout the room. A series of correct choices and solves will lead to the exit passcode for the locked door. Participants are under constant video surveillance and connected via walkie-talkie for clues if needed. We chose the Tornado Room, a room which appeared to have been impacted by disaster. We had to figure how to get out before the next tornado struck. Besides being great fun and stretching our problem-solving skills, we enjoyed the camaraderie of working and playing together as a group. For an after-the-show treat, take a short stroll up the street to Brennan’s Big Chill, a cozy mom and pop family shop that makes its own delicious ice cream.
There’s probably no finer place to spend the night in the Bloomsburg area than The Inn at Turkey Hill. Located right outside of town atop Turkey Hill, the property was obtained by the Pruden family way back in 1773 as a grant from the Penn brothers. The original house was built in 1839 and today’s owner, Andrew Pruden, played there when visiting his grandfather’s farm. A new inn was subsequently anchored to the old farmhouse. In 2011, Andrew added a brew pub in the refurbished 1839 bank barn. Although the family has fond memories of the property, good times abound today for visitors as well. Guest can enjoy a great meal, delicious brew, and relaxing night in one of the inn’s exquisite stable rooms, all featuring fireplaces and whirlpool tubs. Grandpa would approve! While in the neighborhood, stop across the street at the Columbia Montour Visitor’s Bureau for the best advice on what to see and do in this beautiful jewel of a destination.
Columbia-Montour Tourism: iTourColumbiaMontour.com.