Mauch Chunk, Little Switzerland: The quaint town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania has had many names. But one thing you can’t call it boring. As soon as you arrive, whether for a few hours or a long weekend, the charm of the old awaits you.
Take a peek at Victorian-style structures, the historic railway station, cute shops, pedestrian streets – and the occasional horse and buggy.
This mountain town in the heart of coal country changed its name from Mauch Chunk to Jim Thorpe in 1954 in honor of the Olympic gold medalist, who attended school nearby for a time and is buried in a mausoleum on North Street. The name is not without controversy, as the Native American athlete’s family fought for years to have his remains returned to them and some locals have also called for the town’s original name to be restored.
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Whichever side you land on, Jim Thorpe – known for white-water rafting, biking and more – is a fun destination any time of the year, with winter bringing its own pleasures.
We’ve rounded up some things to do on a day or overnight trip to Jim Thorpe:
Cocktails, cocoa and delicacies
Come rain or shine, Molly Maguires Pub and Steakhouse awaits.
Located opposite the train station, on the ground floor of the Hotel Switzerland (one of the oldest structures in the city), the restaurant has a heated covered tent ideal for winter meals.
The menu consists of standard pub fare including the chicken wings ($14.95), the veggie wrap ($11.95), and the cheeseburger ($13.95).
Reservations are not accepted, so be prepared to wait on busy weekends.
Information: 5 Hazard Square, Jim Thorpe, 570-325-4563, jimthorpedining.com
Hip cocktails and sophisticated snacks set the scene at the Broadway Grille and Pub at the Inn at Jim Thorpe, one of the city’s iconic Victorian lodgings.
Ask to sit by the gas fireplace and order one of the fancy drinks such as the Merry Mimosa ($9) or the White Cranberry Cosmo ($12).
Meal suggestions: lamb lollipops ($15), brie and figs ($14), short rib grilled cheese ($15), chicken marsala ($26) and chunk crab cakes ($31).
On weekends, concerts take place in the bar area.
Information: 24 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, 570-732-4343, broadwaygrillepub.com
Something magical awaits you at Muggles Mug, a Harry Potter-themed café.
Serving coffee from Philadelphia-based Greenstreet Coffee Co., house selections include classic drips, cold brews, lattes, chai, and seasonal beverages such as spiced teas and hot cocoa.
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Sit down on one of the comfortable sofas and watch one of eight rotating “Harry Potter” films.
While you’re there, say hello to Mr. Charlie, the store’s resident pup.
Information: 79 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, 570-325-8530, mugglesmug.com/menus
From whites to reds, at Big Creek Vineyard and Winery’s satellite shop (the current vineyard is located in Kunkletown, PA), you can sip by the glass or buy a bottle.
There’s also an antipasto menu with cheeses, fruits, meats, and other small bites.
information: 41 Susquehanna St., Jim Thorpe, 570-325-8138, bigcreekvineyard.com
Crafts and handmade gifts
If you’re looking for something original, you’ll find plenty of fun finds on Trend and Source Marketplace.
The shop is adorned with handmade jewelry, locally made beauty products and food (pasta and spices), bohemian clothing, accessories and home decor with humorous and sarcastic sayings.
information: 101 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, bit.ly/3A7fvNm
Fans of the Grateful Dead or all things tie-dye might want to check out the sons of Horizons, a tobacco shop specializing in Dead merchandise (drinks, candles, stickers, patches), Blue Sky clothing and incense creations from Delaware.
Information: 105 Race Street, Jim Thorpe, 570-325-2079, facebook.com/horizons420
Artisanal Gifts’ Mabacol brand sells handmade products (inspired by Native American and South American art), including wallets, jewelry, and winter wear made from recycled materials and vegan leathers.
Information: 103 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, 570-657-7675, mabacol.com
There are shamrocks galore at Peggy’s Treasure Shop, which sells imports from Ireland (clothing, jewellery, glasses and mugs and other home accessories), as well as religious items (rosaries, saint medallions) and other unique trinkets.
For further information: 44 Broadway, Jim Thorpe, 570-325-8380, peggystreasureshop.com
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One of the best ways to experience Jim Thorpe’s rich railroad history is to take the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway.
The 70-minute tour, which features round-trip live narration of historic treats, offers scenic views of the Lehigh River and the bridges leading to Glen Onoko and Lehigh Gorge State Park.
Relax in a renovated old stagecoach listening to the sounds of the diesel locomotive’s roaring engine as it moves through steep turns and mountains.
Choose a seat in the first-class dome car for a first-class experience. Tickets cost between $17 and $35. Departure on Saturdays and Sundays in January and February.
Selfie stations and must-see mansions
After hanging out at Jim Thorpe, snap some pics and follow her for clues online.
The Jim Thorpe Travel Agency’s list of selfie stations puts you at 10 different landmarks, including the Asa Packer Mansion museum (closed for tours until April 2022) and the nearby Harry Packer Mansion Inn (which has inspired by the Disney attraction Word’s Haunted Mansion).
The Libations Lounge (19 Packer Hill Ave.) inside Harry Packer’s former estate is open Fridays and Saturdays and decorated with Victorian-era furniture.
Other stops include the Mauch Chunk Opera House (entertainment hall at 14 W. Broadway) and the Marion Hose Bar (16 W. Broadway).
Add a hashtag to your snaps and see if the city puts you on their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
If you are going to
You have questions ? ; The Jim Thorpe Visitor Center is located inside Mauch Chunk Station (2 Susquehanna St.).
Parking is available next to the station starting at $12 for six hours.
The town’s annual WinterFest takes place February 19-20 and will include ice sculptures and ice bars, live entertainment, train rides, horse-drawn carriage rides, food and drink specials, and the traditional Mug Walk. For $30, Mug Walkers bring the official Jim Thorpe souvenir mug to participating stores and restaurants for special discounts.
For more information, visit jimthorpe.org
Micaela Hood is a reporter for the Pocono Record and the USA TODAY Mid-Atlantic Region reporting team. Contact her at [email protected].